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  • The Walking Dead "Self Help" Review (Season 5.5)

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    The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Self Help"

    The Walking Dead Rebounds

    [caption id=attachment_1223" align="alignright" width="300]Tara helps Eugene open up and toughen up in "Self Help" Tara remains an outsider of the group but she's trying her best to fist bump her way into everyone's hearts. A bond with Eugene is budding after "Self Help."[/caption]

    After a stumble last week, the Walking Dead is back on track following a solid character building effort in “Self Help”. I am not a fan of how the show has divided the main group and taken the approach of focusing entire episodes on each faction, especially since this was done last season and the group reunited in the premiere episode "No Sanctuary," but it’s pretty clear that the quality of these episodes hinges on how much you care about who is in the spotlight. After Sunday’s episode, I can say I am a fan of Abraham and Eugene and I was always a fan of Glenn. Maggie has been hit or miss and Rosita is just simply there for the time being but the trio of males in this group provide good tension, emotional back stories, and some much needed humor in the post apocalyptic landscape.

    The writing and directing behind this episode was solid and I enjoyed the performances put in by Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene). I really appreciated the humor that was sprinkled in throughout and I don’t think any other characters can bring that to the table as well as this group. What drew me into this episode and sold me was the use of music. Director Ernest Dickerson, who’s been a solid member of the Walking Dead team since season one, created an ominous and mysterious tone throughout and the subtle humming that persisted as the hour progressed was just plain creepy. It was the sounds, not just the sights, that made it seem like they were building to something big, and build they did.


    Eugene Porter Comes Clean

    [caption id=attachment_1224" align="alignleft" width="300]Rosita steps in to try and calm Abraham down in the climax of "Self Help" Abraham's wound on his hand is a constant reminder of his painful past and how he lost his family. As he breaks down in "Self Help" we see that his wounds dig much deeper than just his hand.[/caption]

    What they were building to was another key moment from the comics finding its way to the season 5 plot. I am a sucker for these types of scenes, I spend a lot of time speculating how they will adapt different aspects from the comics and they always do a solid job. I didn't expect this reveal to come so soon but it was timed perfectly. The tone created by the first 3/4 of the episode was perfect for what they wanted to reveal. Ever since Eugene entered the show, he was always a huge question mark. Was he telling the truth? Could he possibly save the world? In a very tense moment where Abraham was just about losing his mind, Eugene shouted out the answer to our questions. He is not a scientist, he is not the savior of mankind.

    After a very ballsy reminder to Abraham about how the two stack up intelligence wise, Eugene finds himself knocked out as Abraham’s trek off the deep end closes with the sergeant on his knees about to sob. This scene was a fast and furious roller coaster ride that created more questions and the episode ends leaving us guessing what direction this group might take next. I’m glad they bucked their own trend of throwing in a quick cliffhanger in the closing moments and instead let the progression of the episode come to a clean end that still left us wondering and wanting more.


    Self Help Final Takeaways

    I thought Abraham’s flashbacks were well done. Much like the flashbacks to the prison in season 4’s Finale “A” and Gareth’s flashbacks in the season 5 premiere “No Sanctuary”, they accomplished a lot considering how brief they were. As a fan of the comics, I thought they missed an opportunity to fully flesh out what happened to Abraham and his family but it was still moving and made me care more about this character which is ultimately the goal of these character driven episodes.


    [caption id=attachment_1225" align="alignright" width="300]Abraham speaks to the group in "Self Help" Abraham had his morale lifted and seemed very pleased with the turn of events after a clutch save from Eugene. I can't complain about some dark humor working its way into the show.[/caption]

    Speaking of those flashbacks, the final one was a little bit of a letdown. Having Abraham about to kill himself as Eugene appears at just the right moment to stop him seemed very typical and unsurprising. Were we supposed to think Eugene’s attempt at running (I use that term loosely) from the walkers was anything else but silly?

    Another nod to the comics has Eugene creeping on Abraham and Rosita going at it, season 5 is following Robert Kirkman’s comics closely.

    The most light-hearted moment of the night actually came in a tense scene as walkers pushed through a stack of tires and attacked the group. Eugene taking them out with water from the fire truck was executed nicely on all fronts and Abraham’s reaction turned it into one of the most comical scenes on the show so far. If anything, I hope this group sticks around for a long while so we can keep getting moments like these.


    Slabtown” didn't create any newfound faith that the Walking Dead could improve on these character driven episodes but “Self Help” raised the bar to a level I hope it stays at. Taking into account the second half of season 4 and what we’ve seen so far in season 5, I would say this episode ranks as the best non-Rick episode of the “separated group” series. It didn't have much competition but it blew most of those episodes out of the water. I could see this episode getting mixed reviews from fans, as I stated earlier these types of episodes live or die on the strength of your feelings for the characters. I always felt Abraham and Eugene’s characters had potential and “Self Help” showed it’s there. Now, they just need to keep the wheels spinning.



    [caption id=attachment_1226" align="aligncenter" width="600]Abraham saves his family but it's all for not in "Self Help" Abraham shows us it isn't so easy to move on from past pains and "Self Help" doesn't leave him in a great spot. How do you think Abraham will move forward after Eugene's big reveal?[/caption]

    What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!

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