THE WALKING DEAD RECAP: Self Help Season 5, Episode 5

Episode Self Help, in which the show runners show us exactly what they think of their audience…

twd1STEVE  (James’ commentary will be incorporated later on today – we had to go to press a little earlier than usual owing to ‘family’ business.)

…and now we spend some time with the other group, this one helmed by Abraham, accompanied by Glenn and Maggie, Rosita, Tara and Eugene.

Lest we lose track: Beth and now Carol are at the slave hospital, Rick, MIchone, and Daryl, Sasha and Tyrese, along with Gabriel, the pastor, are all back at the church.

twd2The showrunners have now split the show into three separate threads; no doubt they will come back together in varying ways over the next couple of weeks, but the essential wrongness of splitting up – which has always resulted in – nope, didn’t work out – continues to plague the show. I’d sound whiney and obsessive if I pounded on this again, so I won’t, other than to stick in this reminder that the group itself has, time and again, had twd3the value of sticking together consistently reinforced as a good thing, and yet they keep on going against their own hard-won survival knowledge.

That stupid is greatly diminished by the utter stupid on display in this episode.

Summary: Abraham Ford was doing an ok job of protecting his family (or adopted family, it wasn’t clear to me if the woman and the girl twd4with him during flashbacks was his actual family or survivors he adopted AFTER losing his own family) when he slips up and both the woman and the girl get et. Abraham has obviously been running from himself ever since. Finding Eugene (who he rescued from a small pack of zombies, presumably in Texas somewhere) was a god send for his psychological well being – especially after Eugene reveals to him that he is on a – to twd5steal shamelessly from the Blues Brothers – on a mission from god.

Abraham is determined to continue that mission, even if it means the group splits up; in an effort to make peace between the group factions, Glenn and Maggie agree to go along if Abraham delays his departure for a day (previous episodes), which he does. The following morning, they load up the short bus twd6(all “short bus” jokes apply here – it truly is a metaphor for stupid here) and head off for DC so that Eugene can get into the secret laboratory maintained by ten people working on the “Human Genome Project” where he will be able to unleash his awesome but still secret solution to the zombie plague.

When Eugene first showed up last season and explained his mission (that Ford and his twd7followers had all righteously adopted), I didn’t buy it for a second. I cringe at the possibility that a majority of the show’s audience did, because it was so obvious, so telegraphed and so lame that – well, I don’t really want to insult anyone who swallowed that horse puckey so, suffice to say, if the zombie apocalypse actually happens, whenever I hook up with other survivors, one of MY three questions is going to be twd8“did you believe Eugene’s story?”. If the answer is yes, you are NOT joining my band of plucky survivors!

Anyway, we finally get the big reveal that Eugene has been lying all along, which is no doubt crushing to Abraham’s sense of purpose. But that only happens after Eugene makes some awesome moves with an unconventional weapon during a zombie attack. He’s obviously got some smarts, just twd9not the right kind.

His heroic play was, in the greater scheme of things, also pretty predictable; if some sort of preemptive redemption had not occurred, I expect that the whole group would have gleefully tied one of his ankles to the bumper of the short bus and continued their trip to DC while singing “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore” in a round.

twd10I also strongly suspect that the Eugene Reveal was a comment by the showrunners to their audience: which they obviously have absolutely no respect for, at least not anymore. No one bought Eugene’s story and to drop it on us like this is basically thumbing their nose at the audience while issuing a raspberry: see, we can do any stupid ol’ thang and you dead heads will lap it up and beg for more.

twd12There’s one scene at the beginning of this episode that kind of foreshadows the whole thing: Glenn and Maggie as Eugene (who is acting pensive and thoughtful – obviously worrying his lie around in his own head – how long it will take to solve the zombie problem after he gains access to a terminal in DC. Eugene answers with his version of technobabble “Depends on a number of factors including the density of the infected twd13around target sites worldwide.” Glenn suggests that the response means “missiles” and questions Eugene who responds with “That’s classified.” To which Glenn reacts the way any half intelligent person would by saying “Aren’t we past all of that?”

Yes. We were past ALL of that way back when Ford first rescued Eugene. Human Genome project? What are a bunch of digital geneticists going to do about infectious disease? How in the hell would the Human Genome Project have access to missiles? Why assume that the “secret base” is still secret and not overrun? Who in the world believes anything coming out of the mouth of a guy with a mullet?

Eugene’s been shining all the other characters on for far too long, just like the show has been shining its audience on.

If I weren’t committed to this series of recap posts for the rest of the season, this is the episode that would have convinced me that it was time to stop watching the show.

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