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The Walking Dead: Self Help

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Walking Dead Self Help

This Walking Dead road trip goes horribly awry pretty much instantly. It’s time to learn the truth about Abraham and Eugene.

I love the way Walking Dead has been focusing on a specific subset of survivors in each episode lately. They’ve splintered a bit, and instead of bouncing around from story to story within each episode, we get to narrow our view to a single plot line. It’s a much better way of telling these structurally complex stories. In fact, Walking Dead is even messing around with nonlinear time, since we saw Carol arrive at the hospital last week, Daryl arriving at the church the week before, but we won’t see the events leading up to those things until next week.

Anyway, this week is focused on Abraham and the crew on the bus taking Eugene to Washington D.C. Remember that Eugene finally revealed his secret mission: that he worked with the human genome project and knows of a plan to release a virus that would infect the virus that’s infecting humans and causing them to become zombies (this is called a virophage, though Eugene doesn’t use the term). Everything seems cheery on the bus ride. They gently poke fun at Eugene’s mullet, but he claims a major scientist once told him he liked it. There’s a bunch of stuff about the Samson bible story. With all these biblical names and references being thrown around, you’d think it would link metaphorically to the story going on here, but there’s not even enough to hang a theory on.

Then something explodes, the bus goes out of control, and they crash. I thought they blew a tire, but we’ll find out the truth soon enough. A huge group of walkers surrounds the bus, so they have to fight their way out, even Eugene, who overcomes his skittishness to stab a walker threatening Tara. Some great special effects here, especially that old man zombie impaling itself on broken glass.

All their supplies are destroyed, but Abraham insists they go on toward D.C. They shelter overnight in a book store that’s remarkably untouched. There are some nice quiet moments with atmospheric twilight lighting that provided a nice contrast for all the gore and action. Kind of an interesting pensive line from Abraham, too: “Everyone left is strong now.” We even got some comic relief, as Abraham and Rosita enjoy some stress-relieving sex, and we discover that they sometimes let Eugene watch them. Tara pulls Eugene away and he sort of breaks down and admits that he sabotaged the bus and caused the crash by putting glass in the fuel lines.

I’d always suspected this, but I knew for sure right then that Eugene’s story about the cure and the mission was a bunch of crap. He almost admitted as much to Tara, babbling about not being needed if he couldn’t fix the zombie problem. She tells him to buck up and carry on.

They do, heading out in a firetruck that accidentally releases a horde of walkers. Eugene fends most of them off with the fire hose. The fire hose? I get that the zombies are rotted and kind of mushy, and I’ve complained before about how easy it seems to be to mush zombie heads on this show, but water? Well, ok. It was a really cool effects sequence in any case.

Further on up the road, they encounter a terrific stench. At the top of a crest in the road they see a massive mob of zombies ahead of them. Abraham wants them to go on, no detours, no hesitation. Everyone else knows this would be suicide.

This is probably a good place to talk about the Abraham flashbacks. All episode long we’ve been seeing glimpses of his past. I mentioned earlier this season that the season’s theme seems to be the danger of losing your humanity because of the things you have to do to survive, and that the show was going to beat us over the head with it. Welcome to Abraham’s past.

He had a wife and two kids. To save them, at some point he beat to death a whole grocery store full of dudes. Unfortunately, this made them so afraid of him that they ran away from him. Later we see him find their corpses. Abraham’s just about to eat a bullet when he hears someone calling for help. It’s Eugene. Just as Abraham is leaving Eugene, Eugene tells him he has a special mission.

What’s the mission? Nothing. A huge scuffle breaks out over Abraham forcing everyone to go through the zombie mob, and in the middle of it Eugene yells, “I’m not a scientist.” Made the whole story up. He’s smart, sure (and reads science fiction). He thinks there’s a good chance to survive in D.C. But there’s no cure. He’s never worked with the human genome project. He feels bad, you know, especially about the dozen or so people who died helping him.

At the same time, he gave those people a sense of purpose and hope. It’s exactly what Glen and Maggie talked about in the bookstore. In fact, I think Rosita and Abraham knew this all along, even if Abraham probably couldn’t admit it to himself. They knew, but it gave life meaning, so they went along with it.

Still, Abraham beat the everloving crap out of Eugene, then went off and collapsed on the road.

So, that all turned out to be pretty bleak.

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Posted by on Sunday, November 9th, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.