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

Content Warning:

Language – There is a lot of cursing in this episode (a**, d***, f***, s***, b****) and some of the references are offensive (sexual innuendo and violent intentions)

Sexual Content – Nudity during sex, voyeurism, conversation about sex

Graphic Violence – Blood and entrails, undead attacks, injuries

Once again, Rick and the gang are noticeably absent in the latest installment of The Walking Dead. This week, however, the result wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it was with Beth’s story.

Following Glen, Maggie, and a bus full of new characters, episode five starts us on the road to Washington, D.C. Not far in, the bus suffers from some major issues and the usual undead antics ensue. As our plucky band of survivors continues down the road, we are treated to a series of flashbacks and one-on-one conversations which serve to give viewers a deeper understanding of Abraham and Eugene.

Abraham is the loud, demanding soldier-boy who always manages to speak in a cliched rhyme that makes me want to hit the mute button. Throughout the episode, it becomes clear that he’s mostly talk and that he’s barely holding on. He didn’t want to be a killer, but became one to protect the people he cared about, and that’s what drove them away. The only thing that is keeping him going is his faith in Eugene and the hope that he will be able to save the world.

Eugene, who has always been in the background and protected from potential harm, comes fully to center stage in this episode as well. Protecting a friend, he makes what appears to be his first kill, and he quickly progresses to defending the group when they need help. Throughout, it’s clear that Eugene is just beginning to realize that he might be able to contribute to the group’s survival in a real way, and that he may not be as helpless as everyone thought.

All of this character development is basically in place to lead viewers up to Eugene’s shocking revelation that’s really not that shocking to anyone who’s been paying attention. As it turns out, Eugene isn’t who he says he is. Instead of a scientist who holds the secret to saving the world, he’s just a scared guy with a Tennessee top hat trying to survive. Did anyone not see that coming?!?

What did surprise me, however, was the way everyone reacted. Of course there were questions and a lot of disappointment and anger, but there was also acceptance. When Abraham, who had always been Eugene’s most vocal supporter, attacks him, the rest of the group doesn’t sit and watch while he gets what he deserves. They step in to help and are concerned that he’s hurt, even though he lied to them again and again.

Some of us go through our lives like Eugene. We try to figure out what people want from us and what it will take to be accepted. As Christians, we put on our “church face” and try to convince everyone that we have the answers and that we’ve got it all together. But we’re probably not fooling people as well as we think, and the mask has to slip sometime. There is always some degree of sin present in our lives and it’s only compounded by the lengths we go to in order to hide it. Eventually, we all have to come face-to-face with who we really are and face the damage we’ve done to the people around us. We have to face the anger and answer the questions.

On the other hand, at some point we will all be disappointed. A friend, parent, mentor, or some other person will fail to live up to who we thought they were, and we will have to decide what happens next. There are three options: 1) get mad and demand restitution, 2) lose hope in what we believed and walk away, or 3) try to understand and forgive.

What I try to remember is that nothing surprises God. He knows what is under the mask no matter how good I am with cover stories and spinning the situation. He knows what is going on in other people’s lives, even when I’m blindsided by something I never saw coming. What really matters is that His forgiveness and love was offered regardless of what I (or anyone else) had done, and, because of that, mine should be as well.

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The Bottom Line

A slow episode focused on character development and ending with a shocking revelation that's really not that shocking.



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Lari Burkhart

A life-long book addict, I spend most of my time trying to find a way to avoid reality through sci-fi and fantasy. I've been a Christian for quite some time (no numbers, please) and I'm always ready for a discussion about how fiction mirrors the Bible and its principles even when it's trying not to.

1 Comment

  1. Drew Koehler on November 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Fantastic review!!! Hit the nail on the head. Way to bring some Christianity into it as well.

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