After last week’s disappointing entry, it would be pretty hard for ‘The Walking Dead’ not to rebound with the latest episode. Although I’m pretty sure that this week’s story won’t be remembered as a highlight of Season 5, it’s nice to see the show get back to basics, with a lot of action, a lot of humor and, of course, a lot of Walkers.
This episode is all about Abraham Ford and Eugene Porter. Fans finally find out more about both men’s pasts. Before we get there, though, the episode begins with a very chatty segment (that ultimately doesn’t amount to much) with Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Tara, Maggie and Glenn all having various conversations aboard the church bus bound for Washington, D.C. Eventually, they come across some Walkers and some abandoned cars on the road. Abraham seems to lose his concentration for a minute and hits some debris on the road, causing the bus to flip over on its side and crash.
Both the noise of the large crash and, naturally, the opportunity for a tasty lunch draw every Walker in the vicinity to the bus. Abraham smashes open the emergency exit and our heroes head out to do battle. Still inside the bus, Tara gives Eugene a knife to protect himself. The two then head outside, but Eugene is paralyzed with fear and just watches the rest of the group fend for their lives. Eventually, Eugene helps Tara dispatch one of the Walkers and – with all of them now taken care of – Eugene bends down and spits on the one he just helped kill.
At the beginning of each segment, starting with the one immediately following the first commercial break, viewers get flashback/dream sequences of an event that happened in Abraham’s past. We see him in a mostly abandoned grocery store, beating and killing a man (note: a man, not a Walker) with a soup can. The camera pulls back and we can see several dead men on the floor. Abraham then starts yelling for someone named “Ellen.” I think she’s hosting the Oscars, Abe.
Back in the present day, the group makes it into a small town and takes shelter in a bookstore. Of all the things I’ve seen on ‘The Walking Dead’, I think I was most upset by our heroes tearing out the pages of books to help stoke some fires. Hopefully, they made sure to only burn ones that had plenty of extra copies.
Anyway, Rosita also pulls a thread from the binding of a hardback to stitch up a wound on Abraham’s hand that keeps re-opening. I only mention the wound because it’s obviously a symbol of the emotional wound (as seen in the flashback) that Abraham keeps dealing with. In other words, whatever happened in Abe’s past is something that he’s been unable to put behind him. Again, more about that later.
That night, Glenn and Abe have a bit of a bonding experience as they switch guard duty. Glenn tells Abraham that he needs to get some rest, to which Abe replies that first, “I really need some ass.” Sure enough, in the very next scene we see him going at it with girlfriend Rosita. The creepy part is that they’re being watched all along by Eugene. (Abe and Rosita are aware of it, cracking a joke that Eugene is in the “Self Help” section of the bookstore.) Tara catches our resident pervert and admonishes him for watching. The two then have a conversation where Eugene admits to putting glass in the church bus gas tank, which probably caused the crash. When asked why he would do that, Eugene claims that he’s not sure that he’ll be able to solve the Walker apocalypse when they get to D.C., and he knows that if he can’t, he’ll be useless to the group. In this world, useless people wind up dead. Tara promises that she’ll keep Eugene’s secret.
In another flashback/dream, we see Abraham finding Ellen, as well as two kids named A.J. and Becca. They look as if they’re scared to death of Abe, but he assures him that they don’t need to be frightened anymore. However, in the very next flashback, we see Abe waking up alone. He’s been left a note that says, “Don’t try to find us.” The inference here, of course, is that these are Abe’s wife and children and they’ve been horrified at witnessing Abe kill the other men in the grocery store.
Once again back in the present, Abe decides to use a fire truck as the group’s next mode of transportation. He gets the vehicle started, but only moves about ten feet before it stalls out on him again. Moving the truck also releases a bunch of Walkers from the fire station (the truck was blocking the door) and they attack our group. On top of the fire truck, Eugene uses its water hose on the Walkers, which rips them to shreds and kills them all. So much for Eugene not having any value to the group.
The fire truck only makes it so far before Abraham and the others have to take to foot. They smell something in the distance and come across a large farm or plantation or factory (the episode never really clarifies) that’s completely infested with Walkers. Everyone in the group but Abe wants to turn around and look for another route, but Abraham is adamant about pressing forward. This leads to an argument, which starts to turn into a violent fight. Seeing the group turn on each other, Eugene starts yelling, “I’m not a scientist… I’m not a scientist!” Yes, that’s right, in case you hadn’t already figured this out from all the b.s. Eugene has spouted since his first appearance on this show, he’s been lying through his teeth about being able to save the world.
Abraham hits Eugene hard several times, and the last punch knocks him out, causing him to land face first on the road’s hard concrete. In one final flashback, viewers learn that Abraham came across the rotting corpses of his wife and children and was just about to commit suicide when he heard Eugene screaming for help behind him, running away from several Walkers. Abe saved Eugene’s life, then started to walk away from him when Eugene yelled back that he had a very important mission that he needs Abraham’s help with.
So now we know how Abe and Eugene got together, we’ve confirmed that Eugene is not who he’s been saying he is, and we have a better idea about Abraham’s tortured past. As I’ve mentioned in prior recaps, I’m not caught up in the comics, but I learned on this week’s ‘Talking Dead’ that Abraham’s family were actually raped by those men in the grocery store, and that’s why Abe killed them. Of course, that was only hinted at in this episode, and I think only comic book readers would pick up on that fact.
Also of interest: I believe in the comics (perhaps one of our readers can confirm this), the group actually made it to D.C. before Eugene confessed he wasn’t a scientist. My guess is it happened much earlier on the series because the producers want to keep the show in the same locale it is now. From a production standpoint, of course, this makes a lot of sense. From a viewer standpoint, it means we’re going to have to get used to our characters staying in and around the Atlanta area for most likely the remainder of the series’ run.
While I’m pretty sure that Eugene isn’t dead (I think Abe just knocked him out and didn’t actually kill him), it will be interesting to see how far the show can take that character before killing him off. He’s certainly the most annoying of our group, but that also makes him the character with the most room for development as the storyline progresses.
Overall, this is not a bad episode and is a nice return to form after last week’s debacle.