Liar liar bus on fire! Episode 5 ‘Self Help’ offers up some good ‘ole fashioned wisdom and definitive answers a question fans have been asking all season. So buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy bus ride and as always the following episode recap may contain spoilers and bad taste, reader discretion is advised.
We open with Sergeant Ford and company enjoying a relaxing bus ride through the post-apocalyptic landscape. While still focused on the mission the crew seems to be taking a breather. They are making creepy shaving references and giving Eugene shit about his mullet. Captain Serious doesn’t get the good natured ribbing and brings everyone down with talk about air transmissible pathogens. Glenn makes another attempt to understand the hair, Eugene name drops, and then the bus drops. There is an explosion and the bus careens out of control, flipping over and creating a lot of noise in the process. The dinner bell has sounded and a bunch of hungry Walkers converge. We roll credits and get this party in the back started.
We open with a Ford flashback! Looks like everyone’s favorite ginger is about to get some well-deserved backstory. Abraham is beating some guy to death with a fist full of mmm mmm goodness. He wakes up and everyone is in bad shape from the bus crash, which isn’t good because Walkers are snarling outside and trying to get in. Oh yeah, the engine is on fire too. Time to come up with a hastily formed plan and escape. Which they do, but not before an old-timey prospector Walker busts through the window enabling Tara to give Eugene a motivational speech on survival that Chris Farley would be proud of. She even gives him a knife before following the others off the bus. The fighting is continuing outside, everyone is knifing Walkers in the head, even Eugene gets one, kind of. He stabs one in the shoulder just before it gets to Tara, who wields around and finishes the job. Ford is a bleeder. Now, there is this pretty slick underlying symbolism running through the entire episode for Abraham about opening old wounds. Since this is an Abraham episode, replete with flashbacks, that hand’s gonna bleed a lot before we’re done. Oh, remember that overturned bus with the engine fire? It is now engulfed in flames, taking all of their supplies with it. Bummer. The group questions moving forward, perhaps it’s better to forage for some supplies first? Ford will have none of that. “We don’t go back!” All righty then, Eugene hocks a loogie on the Walker he almost killed and we follow the group off into a commercial.
We come back to a flashback sequence. Ford has just brutally killed the bad guy but his wife and kids don’t seem too happy about it. In fact, now they look downright terrified of him. There is a whole backstory of what set Ford off in this scene, and fans of the comic series will have a pretty good idea. Long story short, the guy was bad and deserved it.
Back in the present we find our friends in a book store. That’s right; they managed to find the only bookstore left in America! Now they get to read and drink toilet water, which Tara has been kindly fetching for them all night. No worries though, she’s boiling it. Wouldn’t want to catch some horrible disease, right? We have a nice couple of scenes back to back. Ford is up watching Walkers through the window. He is happy to have Glenn with them. Glen is happy to be there and would have come even without the horse trading. They talk about the nature of killing and how it’s a double edged sword. Then it’s sexy time. Ford and Rosita treat the bookstore like a pharmacy while Eugene watches from the Self Help section. <Insert your own masturbation joke here> Tara catches Eugene watching and listens to his creepy justification. Then Eugene launches into the first of his two big confessions of the episode. See, he put crushed glass into the fuel tank of the bus. He really didn’t want to go on this trip. He cryptically mentions that he has no value if he can’t cure the disease. Oookay. Tara tells him not to do it again. They have a moment, punctuated by an awkward fist bump. Glenn and Maggie are also having a moment. They are thinking about the group. It’s much better to be moving forward. Why dwell on what was when you can look forward to what will be. Snuggles. We close on Ford, back at the window and dwelling on the past.
Another flashback finds Ford’s family still terrified. He lets them know he stopped him. They don’t have to be afraid anymore… says the bloody rage monster who makes the Hulk look like Jigglypuff. It’s morning now and everyone is starting to feel just how banged up they are from the crash. It’s suggested that they stay a day. They can recover a bit, scout for food, and otherwise get ready for the next leg of their journey. Ford gets angry, overly so in fact. Must. Go. Forward. Well, there is that fire tanker truck outside. Comes with its own supply of water! Move out. Kinda. They get a few feet when the truck dies. Looks like the air intake is clogged with body parts. Unfortunately, when the truck moved out it pulled away from a door, which was housing a bunch of Walkers.
The Walkers swarm out and it doesn’t look good for our heroes, that is until Eugene saves the day. Yes, you read that right. Eugene made his way to the top of the tanker and let loose with the hose. The force of that water stream just cuts the walkers to pieces. They basically disintegrate on contact. It is by far my favorite sequence of the new season so far. Ford has a good laugh as he climbs up top to take the body parts out of the intakes and get the truck moving. Shit is screwed up. Lol.
Flashback to Ford waking up to find his family gone. There is a note from his wife telling him not to follow them. What the what!? We find our heroes in real time on the side of the road, the truck broke down. Time to hoof it. Maggie let’s Eugene know that she gets it. The hair. He’s not like everyone else. “You’re not the person everyone thinks you are.” It’s part pep talk, part bonding. Seems everyone is trying to make Eugene feel comfortable, like he is part of the group.
Ooh, what’s that smell? They are downwind of something awful. Considering everything they have been through, smell-wise, this has to be something horrendous. And it is. Over the hill is a horde. Walkers as far as the eye can see. Time to find a detour. Everyone is in agreement. Well, everyone except Abraham. Ford refuses to go around. There have been too many detours. He’s got a crazy twinkle in his eye. He grabs Eugene and starts dragging him. Glenn does a Rick impression and gets all up in Abraham’s grill. The two look like they are about to come to blows when Eugene reveals his big secret. Time for another confession.
It looks like Eugene is not a scientist after all. Nope, no cure for the plague of walking dead here. Oh sure, he is still arguably the smartest person in the room, and if there is any place on earth that might be surviving and holding out it’s D.C. See, Eugene is a survivor. He can’t do much for himself so he found a way to have other people do it for him by making himself the most important person in the world. The looks on everyone’s faces tell the tale. Ford’s is WTF? Maggie’s is one of horror. Tara’s is profound disappointment. Glenn’s is bewildered. Rosita’s voice cracks as she reminds him that people died to get him here. Eugene needs no reminder of that and recites the names of everyone who has died to protect him. It’s a long list. They were getting close and Eugene just couldn’t lie anymore. The cost of keeping the secret was no longer less than the cost of telling the truth. Ford snaps and hits him so hard he lost a tooth! Eugene slams his head into the fire truck before falling flat on his face. He moves in to finish the job when Rosita blocks his way, hand on her gun. Abraham takes a few steps down the road and falls to his knees.
Hand busted open yet again, it’s flashback time. Ford comes across his family, all dead. He has nothing left to live for and puts a gun in his mouth. Right before he pulls the trigger he hears someone calling for help. It’s Eugene. He is “running” from some Walkers. He pleads with Ford to kill them. He does and begins to walk away. Eugene desperately shouts out to him. You see, he has a very important mission. The lie is told, the dye is cast, and Abraham has a reason to keep on living.