'Walking Dead' Recap: Eugene's Big Secret Is Finally Out

Walking Dead recap Self Help

Boy did I hate last week’s Walking Dead. I mean, I really didn’t like it, and if you missed my recap where I bitched and moaned about the bad acting and lame story and overall suckitude, it’s here. But let’s move on to this week’s show, which I instantly felt better about after seeing the teaser with Eugene’s nerdy rapid-fire dialogue and Glenn asking him what everyone really wants to know: what’s with the hair?

If you’re caught up with the latest Walking Dead, let’s talk about what happened in last night’s episode, titled “Self Help.”

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The episode opens with the DC group driving the church bus down an abandoned highway. Rosita’s teasing Abraham about his hair, he jokes that he’s going to become a plumber. Ha ha! It’s funny because there are no working toilets. Maggie asks Eugene how long it will take to save the world after he “gets on that terminal” (wait, is he going to play WarGames in DC or what?) and Eugene rattles off something about it depending on a number of factors including density of the infected and weather patterns, which were modeled without the assumption that cars, planes, boats, and trains would be pouring hydrocarbons into the atmosphere this long. It’s a very Rainman moment which Glenn interrupts with the following: "Why the hair?" Ha ha! It’s funny because Eugene has a mullet.

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The bus passes some walkers and then something comical happens where the engine blows out and it INSTANTLY flips in the air. It’s like a Toonces skit from SNL, or that time Lori crashed her car in a world with no traffic. Walkers descend, and everyone fights them off except Eugene, who pretty much cowers in fear, although he does manage to summon his courage long enough to save Tara from a zombie.

We’re treated to a flashback to Abraham’s past in a storyline that slowly reveals itself over the course of the episode. Basically Abraham had to beat a man to death back in the bad old early-infection days, which horrified his wife and children, who left him, who then were eaten by zombies as soon as they stepped out the front door. Sad. I mean, of course it’s sad, everyone has a sad backstory, but Michael Cudlitz isn’t a strong enough actor — at least in this particular role — to really carry it off. This is only my opinion, mind you, but I feel like he has this goofy element he can’t shake despite the muscles, the tank top, and the badass attitude. It’s like ... you know Wash from Firefly? It’s like if his character was forced to play a macho drill sergeant type. It just wouldn’t work.

Anyway, they’re about to retrieve their supplies when the bus bursts into flames. Well, so much for that. But they’re not going to backtrack, god dammit! They have a mission! Even though EVERYONE should really be questioning Eugene’s story at this point!

Tara stands by Eugene even when he flat-out admits he sabotaged the bus. “You can’t do that again,” she says worriedly, after she catches him peeping on Abraham and Rosita having sex and doesn’t even seem to have a problem with it, which COME ON. And what do you mean, you can’t do that again? You can’t do that NOW. You have to tell someone, Tara! But she doesn’t, she’s Eugene’s little buddy now. And so is Maggie, who sidles over at one point to tell Eugene he’s a big brave man for doing what he’s doing. Anyone with half a brain cell could tell that he’s squirming with a secret like a toddler who’s about to pee his pants, but they’re totally oblivious, at least until the group is faced by a massive herd of walkers and can’t move forward but Abraham flips out because MUST COMPLETE MISSION WORLD HAS NO MEANING EXCEPT THIS ONE THING ON ACCOUNT OF HOW EUGENE CAME TO HIM RIGHT AFTER HE WAS SUICIDAL OVER HIS DEAD FAMILY and Eugene finally blurts it out: “I’m not a scientist! I’m not a scientist!”

Comics readers and sharp-eyed viewers knew this a long time ago, but the rest of the group is properly flabbergasted. Abraham beats the crap out of Eugene, horrifying everyone else. Before the screen goes black, we see Abraham dropped to his knees in the road, agonizing over the fact that he is soul-sick and lost once again.

I felt like the episode redeemed itself by the end, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the acting chops behind the various stories. It’s too easy to mock the characters for being a little one-dimensional onscreen, despite their complex histories. Eugene is robotic and dorky and kind of ridiculous, Abraham is supposed to be tortured but he comes off as cartoonish, Tara is simpering and heading into annoying-Walking-Dead-female territory, Rosita isn’t playing her part with enough oomph to make me care about HER past. This episode lacked all the grit and scary sizzle of the premiere — either because the writing isn't on par, or because we lack the power players that made that show come alive.

What did you think of this episode?


Image via AMC

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