Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Another week, another episode away from Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the core gang! This time viewers were treated to a focus around the Washington, D.C. bound group. There is an especially strong focus around Sergeant Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and his backstory. Most importantly though, a bombshell of a character revelation was thrown in the mix this week.
Dr. Porter (Josh McDermitt) and his cure is still the priority of Abraham and his tag alongs. Leaving the Rick group behind, they are trying to navigate the world with their precious cargo. An interesting aspect to this episode was the style in which information was dealt. For one, flashbacks are a mechanism that the show has used before to explain situations or character motivations in the past, but it seemed to be done in a different way in “Self Help.” Flashbacks have been used exclusively in the series previously as a revelation tool, meaning the truth and full story comes to head in the end. But in this episode, it is used to create more mystery around Abraham and his past.
By the end of the episode, viewers learn that his wife and children had to be killed by his hands, but there were other things shown that were unexplained. Tying into this, Abraham has a deep cut on the top of his hands that doesn’t seem to stop bleeding the entire episode. Shots of it are shown several times after he has either reached a high emotional state, or gone into fighting mode. In the mentioned flashbacks, there are also shots of his hands in frame that resemble the same bloody condition they are in presently. This is a nice symbol and parallel to what Abraham has and will have to do with his hands. The choices he will have to make and how they will effect him are literally manifesting themselves on his hands.
After the bus, the group is traveling in flips and Tara (Alanna Masterson) learns from Eugene that he sabotaged the bus to flip. He gives a non-answer to his actions, but it raised the red flag that something just wasn’t right with him. In the end, it was revealed that Eugene does not really have a cure or is even a doctor. Abraham’s response is to pummel Eugene with his fists, which of course is another tie to the sergeant’s hands. The flashback used to close the episode revealed Eugene and Abraham’s first meeting as well.
Overall, this revelation is shocking, but seemed to be set up in a few minutes over the run of this season. Eugene is a strange character because it’s hard to tell if he has a form of a disability or is just a legitimately odd guy. The plot point that the smart and tough Abraham would escort this cooky guy across the country always was a little hard to swallow. However, the writers did a good job tying up those concerns by showing Abraham at his lowest point in the flashback where he was going to commit suicide. Eugene strategically used the word “mission” for this military man to take important notice back in his life.
The biggest question left from this episode is what will happen now? This whole season has been jumping around in time across three different groups of people. The main concern and driving force behind the “cure” group was getting Eugene to D.C., but now that the truth is out, it seems like their best bet is to return to Rick. The condition of Eugene is still unknown too. The beautiful thing is that this episode continues the motif of the season, which is the danger of humans. The walkers weren’t the most threatening entity, it was the extreme lie of Dr. Porter and blind rage of Abraham. As the apocalypse has gone on, the surviving humans have become more unhinged and its very intriguing to see that play out in our star characters.
On another note, the killing of the zombie horde with the firetruck water hose was very entertaining. It’s nice that the show continues to use the walkers as a means to hark back to the fun of the horror genre.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday’s at 9/8c on AMC.
Overall Episode Grade: A