The Walking Dead: Self Help Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)



Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“The road fights back, the plan gets jacked.”

On the road of life, buses travel to and fro with all manner of rider. In the case of The Walking Dead, that bus boasts Abraham, Eugene, and a slew of other folks who are proving to be pretty pivotal to the survival of the world. And it’s only fitting that the bus sees its own form of hardship in a controlled explosion that puts them on the side of the road. It did give the episode plenty of time to spend with Abraham and Eugene. The rest of their crew just so happens to be around as well, but they’re not nearly as interesting as the main two.

Abraham’s life is further fleshed out through a series of flashbacks. Those flashbacks show him doing very aggressive things to survive, things such as beating a man to death with a can of food. Abraham has brought a military approach to the proceedings and he’s so invested in that approach that he even scares those close to him. Of course, bludgeoning people to death will have that effect on others, which is good cause for his wife and kids to disappear and request he not follow them. Doing harsh things to protect the ones you love requires a certain level of a person and that approach has persisted with Abraham in his current mission.

Eugene has quickly became a much more interesting character. He was pitched as the savior of the entire human race, when it’s revealed that he’s actually just been using that as a crutch to survive. His reasoning for sabotaging the bus is that he’s worried he’s only useful because he can fix things and if he didn’t have his intelligence, he would’ve been kicked to the curb long ago. In his mind, the bus was supposed to break down sooner, in which case they’d simply return to the church and rejoin the others.

Much of the episode was about Eugene being more than just an “asset,” despite Abraham’s best efforts to pitch him as such. In fact, he even tries to prove his worth somewhat by turning the fire hose on the zombies swarming the group. Everyone continues to come up to him and asks him questions about his life, all the while assuring him that he is useful. They further try to console him, but all their affirmations essentially fall on deaf ears once he admits that he’s not actually a scientist. It’s good in a sense that this truth finally came out, because it proved a means to ending the climax of a simmering conflict between Abraham and Glenn.

Abraham’s stubborn insistence on getting to DC was getting to be a little outlandish until that truth was revealed. He was willing to go through a completely dangerous horde of zombies that was so big, their smell traveled with the wind towards the group. Abraham’s leadership style is a vast contrast to Rick’s. Abraham approach struggles to find meaning in the world as it exists now, while Rick simply fights to survive. Abraham’s “mission” is a way to avenge his family’s death and helping Eugene is a way to keep his mind off the recent loss. The end of the episode was very poignant, as it showed their initial meeting being born of Eugene’s survival instinct as channeled through his intelligence.

On the whole, “Self Help” was a pretty weak episode in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to get some backstory on Abraham and Eugene, as the two have quickly become rather pivotal to the storyline to this point. Delving into their intricate backstory felt a little forced, as it was crammed into one episode and really just took a lot of wind out of the season so far.  The dynamic between the two of them has been a breath of fresh air at times, because it gave the characters another reason to live besides just surviving in a comfortable base. It gave them something to work toward, but now that’s gone and Eugene was revealed to be essentially just a fraud. It’s likely they’ll make their way back to Rick and the others, assuming the group is still at the church.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. CourtneyNovember 13th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Poor Eugene didn’t deserve to die (or come damn near death) though.

  2. DanaNovember 15th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I am suspicious that Abraham is going to come to regret hitting Eugene like that. Yes, Eugene lied. Yes, his lies led to other people dying. But he also gave Abraham’s life meaning again, basically saving his life if you want to get right down to it. And in the end you can’t blame the guy for doing what he felt he had to do to survive. In his own way he’s no different from Abraham. But I guess we’ll see what happens. It didn’t look good for Eugene there at the end.

    I thought it was a good episode. But then I don’t get bored when they pause for character development.

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