THE WALKING DEAD 5.05 ‘Self Help’ Recap

THE WALKING DEAD Season 5 Episode 5

Episode Title: “Self Help”

Writers: Heather Bellson & Seth Hoffman

Director: Ernest Dickerson

Previously on “The Walking Dead”:

Episode 5.04 “Slabtown”


It’s kind of hilarious to see “The Walking Dead’ attempt to make the return of Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) suspenseful by teasing the potential death of Carol (Melissa McBride) and leaving the fate of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) for yet another week. That entire plotline could have been wrapped up in a single episode… and hopefully it will be over next week.

In the meantime, “Self Help” catches up with the splinter group of survivors led by Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz). Two episodes ago, they left Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group behind at the church so they could get Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) to Washington D.C. in order to cure the zombie plague and “make the dead die.”

Yeah… that’ll happen.

Trouble on The Road

Walking Dead 505 Trouble on The Road 

We pick up with Abraham driving the bus as Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) and a few of the others tease Abraham and Eugene about their hair. But before anyone can start singing “The Wheels on The Bus,” their vehicle violently crashes for no apparent reason and it attracts a large walker herd.

Abraham and Glenn (Steven Yeun) clear a path among the zombies so that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Rosita can follow. Tara (Alanna Masterson) stays with Eugene to protect him, but he actually manages to save her life and kill his first zombie as well. The bus goes up in flames, leaving the group without supplies. But Abraham refuses to doubleback to Rick’s group and he insists that they move forward.

Bloody Hands

Walking Dead 505 Bloody Hands 

For the first time, we see that Abraham might be emotionally unstable. He’s got such tunnel vision for the mission to Washington that he easily angers at even the slightest suggestion that might delay their arrival. The only thing that really calms him down is Glenn’s assurance that they are still with him and committed to the same mission.

Overnight, the group holes up in a bookstore as Rosita attempts to close the constantly bleeding wounds on Abraham’s hands. Anyone else sensing a metaphor? Some time later, Abraham takes a moment to thank Glenn for keeping his word about joining his mission.

“He’s Watching Again”

Walking Dead 505 Watching 

There have been plenty of warning signs that Eugene was a creep… but it’s never more apparent than in this episode when Rosita and Abraham catch him watching while they have sex… and Eugene doesn’t even move when they look his way. That is a moment straight from the comics, although Tara’s presence changes things slightly when she interrupts Eugene to thank him for saving her life.

In a rare moment of honesty, Eugene admits that he sabotaged the bus because he didn’t want to split the group. He also voices his fears that the group will abandon him if he can’t cure the zombie plague. Tara berates him for almost getting them all killed, but she basically forgives him and tells him not to do it again before offering one of her trademark fistbumps to seal the deal.

Flight of The Family

Walking Dead 505 Flight 

Throughout the episode, we catch a few snippets of Abraham’s flashbacks to the last days of his family. However, the episode doesn’t give the audience a lot of context about why Abraham murdered several of his fellow survivors and terrified his family with his capacity for violence. In the comics, Abraham unleashed his wrath was because his fellow survivors raped his wife and daughter while forcing his son to watch.

Shortly thereafter, Abraham’s wife and children flee his presence after leaving a note for him to let them go. By the time that Abraham catches up to them, his wife and two children have already been killed by walkers.

The Truth Comes Out

 Walking Dead 505 The Truth

Eugene has a heroic moment when he uses the high pressure hose of a fire engine to blast a group of walkers and save his companions. Everybody piles into the fire engine, but it eventually runs out of gas. The entire group presses forward until they spot a massive herd of walkers in the distance.

Over everyone’s objections, Abraham begins dragging Eugene towards the herd because he refuses to stop or take a detour. Out of desperation, Eugene confesses that he’s not a scientist. He doesn’t have a way to cure the zombie plague and he only made up the story to get people to protect him on the way to Washington. Rosita angrily reminds Eugene that people died to get him there, and he recites their names to demonstrate that he hasn’t forgotten.

The Mission Is Everything

Walking Dead 505 The Mission 

Abraham takes the news about as well as you might expect… by pummeling Eugene with his fists and reopening his hand wounds once again. Rosita personally gets between them to save Eugene’s life, leaving Abraham to walk off alone and collapse to his knees as he gives into despair.

In one final flashback, we see Abraham prepare to commit suicide when he hears Eugene calling for help. Abraham kills the three walkers that were chasing Eugene and turns back to resume his suicide. But Eugene gets him to stop in his tracks when he says that he has an important mission for Abraham.

“Self Help” was one of the more faithfully adapted stories of the season, as the twists from the “Walking Dead” comic book played out pretty closely to the events on the series. More importantly, this wasn’t a filler episode like last week’s show and it gave Abraham and Eugene some much needed characterization.

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