Season 5 Episode 5 “Self Help”
This is a story about two liars. One lies to everyone and the other is lying to himself. As we watch this episode though, the two lies are about to completely come undone.
We get the origin story of Abraham and Eugene through very brief flashbacks spattered throughout the episode. I think the parallels to what we see present day with the quick bursts of flashbacks are really well done. As we learn more about Abraham and Eugene present day, we also find out how it all started. One of the more perplexing themes surrounding Abraham is his need to “complete the mission”. He’s often quick to irritate at any sign of delay and don’t even ask him to turn back. At first it seems like he’s just a man following orders, but as the flashbacks reveal it is much darker. He savagely beat some men to death to protect his family, but they were so frightened of him after that they ran away. Of course, though, they wind up dead and Abraham is about to kill himself when he meets Eugene who gives him the mission. This is eye-opening into Abraham as a person. For the first time you can actually understand why he is the way he is. As many of our friends have, he’s lost everything and lost the will to live. Only the hope for some sort of future to make it all better could stop him. Eugene gives him that hope.
Abraham was the perfect person for Eugene to give the mission to. And I wonder how much of that was a choice and how much of it was random. When Eugene meets Abraham, he’s ridiculously running away from three walkers and screaming for help. Abraham is sticking a gun in his mouth. The fact that Abraham stopped to help Eugene I believe was a tip-off that Eugene found the right guy. Someone who was strong enough to take out multiple walkers and protect him and someone who was at the end of their rope with nothing to live for. The perfect person who would be open to a story about saving the world.
While Abraham has survived believing he’s going to save the world, Eugene has spent every minute of being alive lying to everyone he meets. The biggest reveal of the episode is that Eugene is not a scientist and he can’t cure everyone. On one hand this is shocking news. On the other, it did always seem a bit too good to be true. It’s such a casual announcement back when Glenn and Tara meet Eugene. Too casual. I had no idea when first watching if what Eugene was saying was true but I wanted to believe. So, it was a letdown when he announces he’s been lying this whole time. It’s also a bit of shocker to learn exactly how much of a coward Eugene is. Not only has he been telling tales the whole time, but he almost gets them all killed on the bus when he sabotages it to cause a delay. And just to put the cherry on top, he also likes to creepily watch Abraham and Rosita do it. Yes, I’d have to say we learned a lot about Eugene this episode and most of it is unpleasant. He’s a coward, a creep, selfish and utterly useless. At this point, my least favorite person on the show.
One of the more positive events of this episode is the friendship beginning between Tara and Eugene. Tara becomes quite the influence over Eugene. I think when she speaks to him, the words actually get through to him. He also enjoys talking to her I find. He secretly confesses to Tara that he sabotaged the bus. This is directly following her catching him peeping on Rosita and Abraham. But Tara takes it all in stride and she’s still able to be a confidante to Eugene and not openly pass too much judgement on him. I think she’s a major factor in Eugene admitting the truth later on.
That conversation about strong vs. weak comes up again when Abraham talks privately to Glenn. Abraham believes everyone alive now is strong. The weak have been weeded out so to speak or they are with people who are willing to kill for them to stay alive. Glenn hopes that will change. I would argue that the real strong people are the ones who are trying to not be the ultimate warriors or killing machines. Harkening back to the days of Shane, it is still increasingly easier to kill someone in your way then it is to find compromise. The strong are the ones like Glenn, Maggie and Tara who are trying to maintain their humanity instead of relinquishing it to some lie that there’s no place for it anymore.
Best of the Episode
Fire truck spray down. Still nothing better than a great walker take-down. In one of Eugene’s more useful moments, he uses the fire hose on top of the fire truck to spray down the walkers. As the intense spray hits the decaying walkers, their body parts come flying off in chunks. Eugene hoses them down one by one like it’s a game at a carnival. It’s enjoyable to watch and gives me a giggle every time.
Eugene ruins everything. It’s an intense moment for the group when they realize that a giant herd is blocking their only path forward. Abraham is freaking out about going back and he grabs Eugene by the collar to put him in the fire truck. Everyone is trying to stop Abraham when you hear Eugene shout over all of them, “I’m not a scientist!”. They all stop and Eugene spills out his story. What makes this stunning moment even better is that Eugene has no filter at this point and he starts to say to Abraham that he’s still smarter than him. Well, Abraham responds the only way he knows how and swiftly punches him in the face. He only gets a couple of hits in before he’s restrained by the others but that’s all it takes. I weirdly enjoy watching Eugene’s head bounce off the front of the firetruck and fall face first onto the pavement. He did kinda deserve that.