The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 5 “Self Help” Review


In “Self Help”, Abraham’s persistence to get to DC as quickly as possible puts the group in danger plus a big secret is revealed.

Everything after the break will contain spoilers and a discussion of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 5.

Self Help

By the third episode of Season Five a sizeable contingent of the group splintered off.  A large cast poses certain challenges for the writers, by dividing them into smaller groups it works as a solution in a number of ways. For a survival horror series, it’s important for characters to face real life or death situations. It’s more believable that a bunch of bad-asses could be vulnerable to danger when they are in smaller numbers.

Of course, character development is another benefit when an episode focusses on a few survivors. The storytelling is actually less disjointed in these character centric episodes than if the writers tried to check in on each character every week.

“Self Help” is Abraham and Eugene’s much deserved turn in the spotlight having been introduced in Season Four but mainly kept in a supporting role until now. These two make for unlikely travelling companions yet in a strange way they need each other.

Eugene is fairly inept at fighting walkers so it makes sense that he needs Abraham to protect him. Escorting Eugene to DC gives Abraham a sense of purpose which “Self Help” reveals the back story as to why Abraham is incredibly determined to complete his mission.

Party At The Back

When the bus broke down I laughed at first because it reminded me of Lori’s car inexplicably flipping over back in Season 2. Finding out it’s an act of sabotage confirmed my suspensions from last season when Eugene shot the tanker that it was not an accident.

Eugene is given enough material to flesh out his character. His interactions with Tara helped to humanize him a bit more even though he is still very much an oddball (and a peeping tom). I can get why he would open up to Tara yet it felt a little out of character for him to confess he sabotaged the bus since he usually keeps everything close to the chest. However, he did admit, “I don’t know why I’m saying this to you”.

Eugene’s biggest confession of the episode has been a long time coming. In this situation, it made sense for him to come clean that he didn’t have the cure because Abraham was about to take the group into dangerous territory. I’m glad that his secret is revealed instead of dragging it out further since whenever Eugene gave an explanation about the cure it never made much sense but the group didn’t openly mention any suspicions, just stared with blank faces.


Keep On Moving

The glimpses into Abraham’s past when his family left after seeing him murder several men helped explain his current behaviour but it could have been better handled. One problem is that because the flashbacks were very limited, I didn’t feel the emotional loss of his family. This could have been a stronger moment that made me sympathize for Abraham more. Because his memories were internalized, no other character got to know what he was really going through.  I hope he eventually shares his back story so that the group knows the source of his anger and pain at a time when they need to come together the most.

As determined as Abraham was to get to DC, it’s less about a destination as it is he’s running away from something. Seconds away from a self-inflicted gun shot to his head, Eugene’s mission gave him a reason to keep on moving. Abraham wasn’t able to protect his family which shed some light on why he was overprotective of Eugene and his single-minded pursuit to save humanity. The camera shot of Abraham with his back turned, walking in the opposite direction is a great way to sum up where he’s at without the need for dialogue.

Abraham and Eugene both came to a revelation that I think will help them become stronger survivors in the long run. Eugene doesn’t need to hold onto the lie anymore, knowing that people will care and protect him as he is. I also liked how Eugene water hosed those walkers, proving his worth to the group that had nothing to do with the “cure”.

Abraham went berserk at the end but I think he’ll come around. His mission to get Eugene to DC was putting his people in danger and now that the secret is revealed, hopefully he’ll being to think more clearly and find a new purpose.

Despite some of my nitpicks, “Self Help” is a solid episode. Even though Rosita didn’t have as much to do as the others she had some good moments too.  Michael Cudlitz had a strong performance as Abraham and both he and Eugene got some much needed development. Hard to believe but there are only three more episodes to go in this half of the season.

What do you like or dislike about this episode?

More Posts You Might Like:

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 4 “Slabtown” Review

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 3 “Four Walls And A Roof” Review

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2 “Strangers” Review

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Posted on November 10, 2014, in Television, The Walking Dead and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. It says a lot about how far The Walking Dead has come that we can split the cast and not have it feel like a gimmick. I was totally on board with this group, and not just Glenn and Maggie. The revelation from Eugene made sense, though I really wonder what their goal will be now.

    • This group has a good mix of personalities and skill sets. I’m very curious what their next course of action will be now that Eugene has told the truth. I agree Eugene’s revelation made sense, looking back there were a number of things that made his “cure” very suspicious. Looking forward to whichever group we follow next episode!

  2. Why would you blindly believe that lie? The way it always looked was that he was given orders but clearly not. Silly boy 😦

  3. I wasn’t too surprised by the revelation that Eugene was making things up. He was always super shady about it. It was kind of neat to see some backstory on Abraham, but as you said the flashbacks could have been better. Overall I didn’t find myself as captivated by this episode as others this season, but it was still solid. I’m curious where this group will go next after Eugene’s confession. Great review!

    • That’s one of reasons why I liked that Eugene’s secret is revealed at this point because it was getting pretty obvious his claim about the cure was dodgy. On the other hand, I can understand how it might take away from the anticipation of getting to DC for those that believed in the possibility of a cure. Nice to see Abraham get a back story; one of the people I watched it with who hasn’t read the comics didn’t understand what was going on so I had to explain it. That’s a good way to put it, it wasn’t as captivating as it could have been. My takeaway is that we got some decent character development. Thanks!

  4. His claims about the cure were lies but his desire to get to DC was about self -preservation. I think they should keep going. Once they find a way to get around the mega herd that is. I liked this episode a lot more than last weeks. I like Beth but she can’t carry an hour. I didn’t like the flashbacks in this one either. They explained why his hair looks exactly the same but because he doesn’t change that much the flashbacks were a bit confusing for me. But I do want to get back to the hospital. I never watch the previews for next week so I don’t know what group they will show. I’m hoping it’s Darryl and Carol. Nice recap.

    • Yeah, Eugene mentioned that a place in DC was fortified, he just needed a way to get there and Abraham was his ticket. You know I was getting excited at the idea of the group going through that mega-herd. They are due to battle a mega-herd, maybe for the mid-season finale. I thought the flashbacks could have been more clear. I didn’t catch next week’s preview either, would love for it to be Daryl and Carol. There hasn’t been as much of Daryl so far this season as I would like. Thanks Mel!

  5. I found this to be a pretty weak episode. I think its mainly due to how much I don’t care for Eugene haha.

  6. Hey dude, I’m late to the party again haha. I would have commented sooner but as usual life doesn’t permit me to move as swiftly as I would like. I thought this episode was fine, however it wasn’t as compelling as the episodes that have come before. I just don’t care for Abraham and his little crew, they were the least interesting people to me, the only thing of interest is Abraham’s hair and how ginger and well-crafted it is haha. The highlight for me was seeing Eugene confess that he didn’t have the cure… I KNEW IT, I FRICKING KNEW IT! Since the time he was going on about this mission and this so-called cure, I’ve questioned whether he actually knows anything at all or if he’s just a big fibber and luckily it was the latter. So much happiness filled my heart. Why? Because he’s basically lead these other characters on a while goose chase just to save his own ass. What a terrible person, but hell I still find it kind of funny especially considering that Glenn and Maggie left the safety of Rick’s crew for this, what plums. Good review yo. 🙂

    • Hey man, never too late to join the party lol. Sorry for my late reply, I always look forward to your thoughts on each episode! 🙂 Yeah, I liked this episode but it wasn’t as compelling for me either since I’m not as invested in Abraham’s crew compared to Rick or Daryl. I think Abraham’s moustache has grown more since last season haha, it’s really something isn’t it? I like that they mentioned about getting haircuts since we don’t get to see how they keep their hair dues in shape. Judging by their dirty clothes, they don’t have time for cleaning much but their hair is usually pretty well kept. Eugene is a manipulator for putting everyone on a wild goose chase, kinda of surprised that no one saw through his lies beforehand. Maybe Rick had a hunch but didn’t say anything. That’s a good point that about Glenn and Maggie leaving Rick’s crew … I wonder what will happen if Maggie ever reunites with Beth, that’s going to awkward haha. Thanks a bunch!

  1. Pingback: The Comic-Verse: Awesome Art & The Top 15 Featured Links (11/07/14-11/13/14) | The Speech Bubble

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