Last week in episode 504 titled 'Slabtown," we finally found out what was happening to Beth, so this week TWD took us on the school bus with Sgt Abraham, Dr. Eugene and the group heading to Washington, D.C., in their effort to save the world.
"Self Help" is an episode that focuses on deep character development between Sgt. Abraham and Dr. Eugene and what is revealed isn't pretty. Much of the horror that is depicted in TWD is not really about the newest disgusting looking zombie coming to eat you, but rather the horrors inflicted on ourselves and others because of fears of survival, inadequacies and the horrible things done to stay alive including the lies we've told to ourselves and others to keep breathing for another day. And a lie can be just as destructive as The Governor or Gareth ever was.
It's always been a given that Sgt. Abraham is a soldier on a mission to bring doctor Eugene to D.C., but we find out in flashbacks that while Abraham was indeed a soldier, he also had a wife named Ellen and two kids named AJ and Becca and wasn't active when the zombies came a callin'.
The episode takes place soon after Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita, Dr. Eugene and Tara leave the church. They are making small talk trying to minimize how shaken up they still are by the way they massacred the Terminus cannibals when conversation shifted over to haircuts and Eugene's mullet. He suddenly looked not like a scientist, but an Elvis impersonator and as soon he invoked his patented "it's classified" answer again, I realized that he was full of shit. It was like a dam breaking and I felt stupid for not seeing it right away. What better way to ensure one's safety than to make believe you're the most important person alive to those that you wish to protect you. (It was only a hunch mind you and I was writing this out while the episode was playing.) The problem for Eugene is that if he is indeed lying then eventually he's going to be exposed and with all the deaths that are mounting on account of those lies, unless he's a sociopath, he won't be able to handle it. And what were the odds anyway that Rick's group would actually run into somebody who held the key to reversing the zombie plague?
When they took off from the church I did wonder how long the school bus would last and apparently it lasted all of fifteen miles because something blows up in the bus and it spirals out of control, flipping over into ruins.
Flashback: In the moments after the crash, Abraham flashes on himself beating a zombie to a pulp in a market with a can while several people lay dead, equally pulverized. He starts calling out his wife's name, Ellen and finds her huddled with his two kids,trembling with fear. Apparently they had been raped and abused by these dead friends.
As the group crawls out and recover from the shock, Walkers are upon them. Tara has been kind to Eugene during the trip and as frightened as he is, she coaxes him into fighting with them and he ends up helping save her life. They easily dispatch them all and figure out they aren't very far from the church and some want to go back. Sgt. Abraham starts melting down and is adamant about not going backwards. He barks at the group that there's no way they are retreating because if they do then they lose. Glenn ends up backs hs play and says he'll live up to the promise he made to him and his words convinces the rest of them to carry on forward.
They come upon a book store and set up camp there. We learn another thing about Eugene that we didn't know before. He's a dirty bird, who's into voyeurism. He's caught peeping in on Rosita and Abraham's passionate love making session in the "self help" section of the book store by Tara. Hurray for sex in the zombie apocalypse! He starts jabbering on about the pleasing elements of the human body when he suddenly admits he sabotaged the school bus by putting broken glass in the fuel line, only he had no idea that it would have exploded. Tara is stunned and when she asks why, he starts blabbering on about how he has no worth to anybody. Instead of pressing him further, she tells him not to breath a word of this to the group and explains to him that all they have are each other.
Flashback: Abraham finds his wife and kids looking at him in terror for the violence that's he's done.
The group loves this new location and wants to stay another day to gather up more supplies and rest, but Abraham shoots down this idea with his insane passion of keep on moving on. There's an abandoned fire truck outside and Abraham sees this as their way out. As he attempts to start it, another big group of zombies storm them from another doorway and it's only the ingenuity of Eugene that saves them. As they are about to be swallowed, he uses the high powered fire hose on top of the truck to turn the Walkers in a soupy meat jello.
Flashback: Abraham reads a letter from his wife telling him that they have abandoned him. “Don’t try to find us."
They get the fire engine running and proceed forward for a while until it breaks down again. The group begins to walk when they come across a vast area of land, covered by a herd of zombies so large that it fouls the air with its stench. There is no way past them so the group, including Rosita wants to find another route as Abraham quietly mutters to himself: "I will not abase, I will not give up the ship.
He starts freaking out about not turning back ever and Glenn, who originally sided with him to continue onward tells him that he's losing it, he's over and done and they start fighting. The lovely Rosita and tara get hit by Abraham's rage and Eugene screams out.
“I LIED! I’M NOT A SCIENTIST! I’M NOT A SCIENTIST!”
He says that he's a very smart man, definitely smarter than Abraham, but he's also a coward and figured that D.C., would be the safest place to be in order to survive so he lied to get there. Rosita flips out about all the lives that were lost to protect him and his bogus mission, Eugene recites all their names as if each death weighed on his heart.
After getting over the initial shock of what he's hearing from Eugene, Abraham strides over and punches him three times which crumples Eugene like an accordion and he smacks his head to the ground. Maggie and Rosita turn him over and Eugene looks dead.
Abraham sinks to the ground and has another flashback.
He finds his wife and kids torn apart by the zombies outside the market because they left him so he rips off his dog tags, puts his gun in his mouth and is about to pull the trigger when he hears somebody screaming for help. It's Eugene slinking away from three Walkers bearing down on him. Abraham gets up and easily kills the three, turns and walks away like he's in a trance as Eugene is calling out to him. Finally, Eugene yells out to him something that does make him stop.:
You can’t leave! I have a very important mission!”
Sgt. Abraham has found something that gives his shattered life a reason to live. We've finally come full circle with Eugene and ABraham and understand why the Sergeant was so annoyingly stubborn and single minded on his pursuit of D.C. It's the only thing keeping him alive one more day.
* When Eugene shot up their truck last season that was no accident either.
* As much death as Eugene's lie caused, his insane story saved Abraham's life.
*How will Abraham cope after realizing all the work he did on Eugene's mission was worthless?
*What's tragic about Eugene is that he is capable of surviving and defending himself and others because he showed he could do it in this episode at least twice, but his fears overwhelmed him to the point of being responsible for at least nine lives lost, including Bob's.
* Is Eugene dead? He looked like it, but I imagine he isn't.
*What will they do to him? Tara befriended him this episode and since she had a hand in Herschel's demise, I think she'll be his most vocal supporter.
* Will they double back and eventually find Rick's group? They need to know since they plan on following them to D.C.
*What would Rick's group do when they find out the truth about Eugene?
* How many of you have a Tennessee top hat?
(Please excuse all typos and errors and discuss in the comment section below)