The Walking Dead: A Coward’s Guide To Self-Help

Photo Courtesy Of AMC
Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

For a really tough-looking dude, Abraham doesn’t mind it when Rosita pets him like he’s a lap-dog. He’s driving the bus, headed along a leaf-covered state highway, heading north (presumably), and Rosita’s chiding him about how his hair is longer than a military man should have it.

He was getting ready to retire, he explains. Slacking on the grooming, thinking about he might become a plumber or a sheep-herder (two very logical careers for a military man, right?) The group has a laugh, but Eugene continues to wear his thousand-yard stare. But is he staring off into the distance, or is he burning a hole in the back of Rosita’s hand and Abraham’s head?

Tara ribs him about how wild his mullet is getting. If he’s not too worried about his powers being stunted with a haircut, she suggests that he let Rosita take a run at him with some clippers after she finishes to Abraham. Eugene is still completely unamused. Flatly, he relates the story of how T. Brooks Ellis, the head of the Human Genome Project, liked his haircut, and isn’t that as good a reason as any to keep such a distinctive style? The group laughs again, but he retreats into his own world before the chuckles die out. Oh, well. Everyone has become used to Eugene’s weird-antisocial-scientist thing. If he’s going to save the world, he’s maybe allowed his personality quirks.

Their drive continues quietly. They pass along a dozen or so walkers doing the dead-thing shuffle along the road, but the walkers don’t seem to notice the vehicle much. They’re not very far ahead of the pack when something explodes beneath the bus, sending the it careening into some wrecked and abandoned vehicles, up into the air, and onto its side along the highway with a fire burning the engine.

By the time everyone comes to, the walkers have reached them, and they’re beginning to flail at the windows of the bus. The group springs into action, Glenn and Abraham leading the way, with Tara covering Eugene in the rear. The fighters begin dispatching the walkers, but the herd is coming faster than the group can handle them. Tara implores Eugene to help fight. He refuses, stating that he knows he can’t and doesn’t want to try. Tara points out that they’re in a bus that’s on fire, surrounded by walkers. He’s screwed either way. Might as well at least try, right?

The crowd of walkers is thinning, but there are still plenty moving around. Tara is attempting to cover Eugene and gets taken by surprise from behind. Eugene manages to snap out of his horrified daze to stab it in the back of its head. He looks disgusted, but he’s killed very first walker. If it weren’t the zombie apocalypse, I’m sure someone would have posted a picture on Facebook.

Once the walkers have gotten eliminated (and the bus explodes), Abraham pushes for the group to move on. Eugene protests—the church is only 15 miles back. They can turn around and regroup and maybe even meet up with everyone they left behind before they set out again.

Abraham isn’t moved. They’ve been delayed enough, he reminds them. And, in his military-man fashion, he begins shouting about war and retreat and winning and losing. The failures he’s experienced in this mission are beginning to wear on him, even as he claims to the group that they’ve only made him more determined. Glenn, who has had some experience with leaders going a little bananas, assures Abraham that the group is on his side. They know he’s in charge, and they’ll follow his orders.

Shortly, they come across a bookstore in a small town, where they decide to spend the night. Some of the group secures the perimeter and windows, some start fires so that they can boil water to drink, and Rosita pulls apart a hardcover book to stitch Abraham’s hand back together. It’s been torn open again and again over the last few weeks and the cut is beginning to tear deeper.

Glenn has the first watch at the door. He’s gazing into the twilight as the walkers begin to stagger around. Abraham approaches him to thank him for being so solid earlier. Glenn doesn’t think a thank-you is necessary. He’s helping the world change. He needs the world to be able to change. Abraham and his mission’s about more than just surviving, and he’s grateful to have that purpose.

That seems reasonable enough to Abraham. The world, he says, is still changing. The only people who are left are those who are strong. And they’re either strong like Rick and Glenn, and try to help people so that everyone can be stronger, or they’re strong enough to overtake you and kill you, in which case, they have to be killed themselves. Even though people say “it never gets any easier”, he hasn’t found that to be the truth. Killing the people who would try to kill them first is the easiest thing in the world for him. Glenn might be strong, but he’s uncomfortable with Abraham’s matter-of-fact manner. He isn’t prepared when Abraham announces that he’s going to go pull some ass, either.

Abraham and Rosita are going at it on a table in the corner of the library. Eugene watches them from the self-help section. The couple know that he’s watching, but can’t be bothered to do more than make a quick joke at his expense.

Tara finds Eugene and delicately tries to interrupt his live-porn session. She wants to thank him for saving her life. Awkwardly, he dismisses her thanks. She persists, trying to impress upon him that joining the fight and taking out that walker were important for him. Ruefully, he suggests that if he weren’t going to be saving the world, that they would have left him die already. Tara denies that any one of them would leave him behind. He’s a friend. Friends mean something, especially in a world where mostly everything else is trying to kill you.

Eugene, perhaps feeling a little guilty, admits that he sabotaged the bus as he was fixing it. He didn’t want to go on the road to DC without the rest of the group, he claims. He put broken glass in the fuel line, to cause the bus to fail before they were so far away from the church. Tara’s stunned, but she promises to keep Eugene’s secret. She understands that he became scared to move on, she says. But they’re on their way now and must continue.

Glenn and Maggie are settling in to sleep, finally getting to share a night spent under a roof without a dying or missing companion. Maggie feels guilty for leaving the rest of the group behind, but the pull of trying to fix the world is important to her right now. Glenn echoes her sentiment. The two of them finally have each other and something to look forward to.

The next morning, Rosita redresses Abraham’s wound and tries to convince him to stay in town for a day. The bookstore is a secure location, she reasons, and they’ll have time to gather supplies. Abraham, of course, wants none of it. He’ll waste no more time. Rosita counters that maybe the reason they’ve had so many delays is because they’ve never started at full strength.

Maggie and Glenn join the conversation, trying to reinforce Rosita’s ideas. Rosita, though, has had a change of heart. With a stern look at Abraham, she declares that she wants to keep moving. Abraham seems glad for the support. He then introduces the gang to their new ride—a big red fire engine that’s sitting across the road.

They clear the area around the truck, and Abraham and Eugene climb into the cab. It takes a few tries, but the engine finally turns over. Abraham’s spirits get buoyed, but the truck sputters and dies once its twenty feet from the door. The air intake’s clogged, Abraham reasons. And, since the truck’s smeared with blood and walker chunks, it’s a pretty reasonable guess. He moves to clear the intake (once Rosita informs him that the intake is on top of the truck, and the screen he’s pulling body parts from is for the radiator), but the door that swung open when they pulled the truck away now has walkers pouring out of it.

The group goes to work, but there are more walkers coming from the building than they’ve had to deal with in some time. Thinking fast, Eugene climbs to the top of the truck and turns on the fire house. These walkers have been hanging around for some time, and their bodies are basically rotting sacks of detritus hanging on a skeleton. The pressure from the fire house virtually explodes them on contact; they burst like undead water balloons.

Abraham’s delighted, once the walkers are all dead. He climbs to the top of the fire truck to finally clear out the air intake, and from his vantage point, sees the warning that’s been spray painted on the sidewalk: Sick inside, let them die. This warning, received too late, is just another punch in the balls for Team Abraham. What else can you do but burst into unhinged-sounding laughter? If you’re Abraham, there’s nothing else in the world you can do.

Throughout the episode, we’ve seen flashbacks of Abraham’s life before he began escorting Eugene to Washington. He’s in a post-looting grocery store, punching someone’s face in with a can of soup in his fist. The man quits fighting so hard, and Abraham finishes him off with a boot in his throat. Abraham seems lost in a violence-induced haze, but the blood on his hands snaps him back to life. He needs to find someone—Ellen, he needs to find Ellen. He finds her and two children cowering behind a register at the front of the store. He’s relieved. They’re okay. His family is okay. They’re possibly intact, but they’re absolutely terrified to see just how blood soaked Abraham is. The signs of his recent fighting seem to disturb them more than anything, undead or otherwise. They settle down to sleep in the store that night, but when he wakes the next morning, his family is gone. They’ve left a note telling him not to look for them.

Back in the present, the crew isn’t far out-of-town, and the truck has broken down again. Abraham is attempting to fix it, the rest of the group is standing watch, and Eugene is reading some H. G. Wells and sitting on the back bumper.

Maggie approaches him. She’s been puzzled by him since she’s known him, but she thinks she’s at least figured out his hair. It makes him different, she explains. And she knows that he wants people to know that he’s different. Even if he’s just a socially inept scientist, there’s a part of him that has more to offer.

Well, it’s a thought, at least. The wind picks up, and brings some truly awful stench with it. Abraham choses to abandon the truck and press forward. Over the next hill, though, they come across the odor’s source. There’s an industrial farm ahead, and it’s teeming with walkers on either side of the road. They’ve covered the highway as well.

Abraham has a full-on, ants-in-his-pants-to-get-to-DC meltdown. The rest of the group protests, even Rosita and Glenn. There are hundreds of walkers ahead, there’s no way they’ll be able to get through, even if they could manage to fix the truck. Abraham again maintains that they continue to Washington and proclaims every detour or retreat a sign of failure. The group tries to reason with him, but Abraham has gone beyond reason. He grabs Eugene and begins to pull him forward. His mission won’t wait a minute longer.

Eugene tries to struggle away, but he’s no match for Abraham. Glenn and Rosita try to push Abraham back, and a scrum breaks out. Everyone begins shoving and shouting. Tempers are lost. Punches get thrown. Eugene, who has lost his sense of triumph from the walkers he took out earlier, gets panicked by the violence around him. He has something to say, and it can’t wait a minute longer.

He’s not a scientist.

He’s NOT A SCIENTIST.

HE MADE THE WHOLE THING UP.

Everyone stops, and he explains. He’s smarter than most people. He wanted to go to DC because he knew that if anyone had survived, that would be the place to be. So, he concocted this mission to get some people who were good at surviving in this world to escort him there. He knew his lie would come out eventually, and he owns up to sabotaging the bus and doing other things to delay their arrival.  The news devastates Maggie and Glenn. Rosita’s incensed—people died trying to protect him! But Abraham? That man has just lost his last marble.

He lunges at Eugene, striking him in the face again and again before slamming him into the front of the truck. Eugene goes stiff as a board and then falls flat onto the ground, bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth. The group tears Abraham off of Eugene, and they attend to Eugene as Abraham staggers away.

He sinks to his knees on the road behind the truck. His hands now covered in blood again. Eugene’s, and his own—the stitches in his hand got torn out. Focusing on the blood, he slips into the past again…

He’s wandering through the streets of a carnage-wrecked town when he finds the eaten bodies of the his wife and kids. They died without him, but they wouldn’t let him protect them. He’s about to eat his own bullet when he hears screams for help.

Down the street, a pale, chubby man with a mullet is barely jogging away from a couple of walkers. Abraham, needing some sort of violent outlet, systematically stabs them in the head before turning back to his deceased family. He doesn’t have any time for the man who was shouting for help.

That is, until Eugene tells him that he’s on an important mission.

So, I guess the big question is, will we find out any sort of resolution to this episode next week, or are we going to switch to a totally different story all over again?

I don’t care either way, I just want it to be Sunday night again.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on AMC.

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