Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 5 Review ‘Self Help’

Abraham and Eugene get fleshed out. Spoilers (but not too many) ahoy…

If you were still hanging on tenterhooks after last week’s cliffhanger, then it looks like you’ll have to cling on for a bit longer. After the welcome return of Beth (Emily Kinney) last week, this week we shift to another group, with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) getting some much-needed spotlight.

Abraham notably benefits from increased screen time. Before this episode he had been a bit one-note, driven by his mission to protect Eugene by any means necessary and escort him to Washington – with this desire to look after his charge extending to his tolerating him watching while him and Rosita (Christina Serratos) get it on. There’s being accommodating and then there’s this.

Via the aid of some brief and near wordless (albeit highly unambiguous) flashbacks, we see that Abraham, like many of the characters, has both a dark past AND skeletons in his closet. His mission doesn’t just define his life; it IS his life. This applies to the extent that upon failing his ‘mission’ in the flashback, he’s just about to jack it all in until Eugene pops up, with a new mission at hand and thus a reason to go on living.

It’s this that makes the subsequent revelation – although unsurprising, especially for those who’ve read the comics – all the more affecting. Yet another slice of hope has evaporated, and the way forward looks even more uncertain than before. It looks like some of the characters are really paying for the snatched glimpses of light that lay in reach in the first two episodes of this season, with Abraham being foremost among them. The wounds on his fists that refuse to heal are as on-the-nose a metaphor as it’s possible to be, but there’s no denying how apt they are.

Eugene doesn’t fare too much better by the episode’s end. To say why would be to give too much away, so you’ll just have to wait and see. Near wordless and unassuming, by this point it seems the rest of the cast are getting just as baffled by his presence as the rest of us – upon being fobbed off yet again, Glen (Steven Yeun) echoes a million thoughts by asking the mulleted one “Why the hair?” – although now, his future seems just as foggy as everyone else’s.

Aside from that, standout moments include Eugene’s water-cannon takedown of a herd of walkers (turns out their brains are soluble – who knew?) and some great eye-rolling action from Tara (Alanna Masterson) – hopefully she’ll be the next to get fleshed out, with Rosita just behind. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since Glen and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) have done something apart from break up fights, so I’ll lump them in too…