This week, there were a number of articles talking about how this season of The Walking Dead is the best ever. (I would also agree with those sentiments.)
Many of the critics behind those episodes credit the mission to get to DC as one of the reasons why — for the first time ever, the characters on the show had a sense of hope and an actual goal.
We learn in this week’s episode, however, that hope is lost. In fact, there is no hope. And there never was.
The Walking Dead Nominated at 2014 People’s Choice Awards >>>
The episode begins with Abraham driving the church bus while the other passengers are chit-chatting amongst themselves. Of note, Eugene refuses to explain the entire plan to save humanity, but apparently weather patterns will affect it. All of the passengers also make multiple references making fun of his hair, but Eugene claims his old boss, the head of the Human Genome Project, loved it.
Just after they pass by a load of walkers on the road, a tire on the bus suddenly blows out, causing the bus to flip over on one side and come to a stop.
Abraham is knocked out temporarily and we’re treated to the first of many sequential flashbacks in this episode from an important moment in Abraham’s life. In the first one, we see him beating the hell out of some guy with a tin can of food in a grocery store, where other dead bodies are (likely a result from him). He’s yelling out for someone named Ellen.
Back in the present, everyone is okay but trapped in the bus. They bust out the emergency exit in the back and fight their way through the walkers. Eugene is scared to come out at first, but Tara leads him out by giving him a knife. He sees everyone killing walkers left and right but remains paralyzed with fear until one walker almost gets Tara. He helps save her and she kind of saves him right back.
After defeating the walkers, the bus catches on fire and is rendered completely useless. Abraham wants to continue on the road, yelling, “We don’t go back.” Everyone is a little worried about him, but he assures them he’s all right. Before they head out on the road, Eugene randomly spits on one of the dead walkers.
The next flashback scene shows that Abraham has found Ellen, who looks very, very scared as she cowers with two children., who we later learn are named AJ and Becca.
Back in the present, the group arrives at a library for the night. They prepare it to become a temporary safe haven by moving bookshelves into strategic places and taking water from the top of the toilet to drink. Rosita also sews up a cut on Abraham that opened up again on him. That night, Glenn and Abraham are chatting and talking about their hope for the world changing.
Despite privacy being very hard to come by, Abraham and Rosita have sex that night. But Rosita is disturbed by the fact that Eugene is once again watching them while they’re having sex. “Cards on the table, I was watching them,” Eugene tells Tara. He apparently sees this as a “victim-less crime.”
Eugene continues to be very, very weird in the way he struggles to accept Tara’s thanks for helping him earlier with the walker. He then awkwardly confesses that the bus crashed because of him. He put crushed glass in the gas line. He didn’t expect the bus to explode, but clearly he wanted it to fail. He refuses to tell Tara why, however.
He says he doesn’t believe the group will keep him around if he fails to cure the disease. Is his endgame to ensure that the mission is always ongoing? That they’re always trying to get to DC so that they never get there and find out he can’t actually cure the disease? I make the connection. You probably make the connection. But does Tara? No, of course not.
Tara doesn’t press, and when Eugene walks off, she takes a moment to admire Rosita and Abraham having sex before she wanders off. Tara, you’re the worst.
Maggie, in a heart-to-heart with Glenn that night, has a different view than most. She’s not focused on the past — she’s focused on what’s going to be. Namely being Glenn’s wife in the not-so-distant future. That convo pretty much pegs one or the other for death by the end of the season, right?
We learn in the next flashback what Ellen was afraid of: Abraham. She and the children are terrified of Abraham after what he did to all the now-dead humans in the grocery store. The cut on Abraham’s hand in the present may very well be the cuts he sustained from the beatings he doled out in the grocery store back then.
The Fire Truck
Back in the present, it’s the next morning and the group is deciding whether or not to sweep for supplies and then head out to DC, or scavenge while they’re on their way. Abraham’s suggested mode of transport for the next phase of the journey? A fire truck. Because those are very quiet.
The truck starts pretty easily but then suddenly stops about 10 seconds in. In a funny moment, Abraham starts explaining what’s wrong with the truck, but Rosita points out what’s actually wrong with it. A single tire rolls by and the group is soon overrun by about 20 walkers.
Eugene switches on the hose of the fire truck and is able to kill a lot of walkers with it. Their bodies are so decayed, the insanely high water pressure is able to “wash away” their heads, their torsos, etc. A very cool moment that shows producers still haven’t run out of unique ways to kill walkers on this show.
Abraham climbs to the top of the truck and starts laughing when he notices painted words on the road that no one noticed before. They read: SICK INSIDE. LET THEM DIE.
Back in another flashback, Abraham wakes to find Ellen, AJ and Becca gone. They left behind a note saying not to find them.
The group is stuck on the side of the road again thanks to the worthless truck. They get a whiff of an impending massive walker herd. Abraham wants to continue, but for the first time this episode, Glenn protests that it’s madness. Abraham refuses to listen to reason in taking a detour to DC, and even Rosita won’t stick up for him this time.
Abraham grabs Eugene and starts to walk off, with everyone screaming at him. Suddenly, Eugene yells, “I’m not a scientist. I lied.” He admits what every fan of the show has speculated since day one: he is a fraud.
Eugene the Fraud
Abraham is in shock. Maggie’s horrified. Tara just looks forlorn.
Eugene explains that he believes DC is the safest place to be and he wanted to convince someone to take him there. Rosita says the obvious when she says, “People died to get you here.” He then admits that he was slowing their journey but then realized there was no point in lying anymore.
Eugene is, no doubt, actually a very smart person. But he’s also lacking some serious personal skills, which makes me think he’s got Asperger’s.
Before I can give it much thought, Abraham punches him so hard, Eugene falls unconscious and Abraham’s hand is severely bleeding. He storms off while Maggie tends to Eugene, who very likely is actually dead. Just down the road, Abraham falls to his knees and tries to avoid crying.
In the final flashback, Abraham finds the dead bodies of his family. It’s unclear how far away they were from the home they were staying in with Abraham, who’s about to eat a bullet from his own gun when he sees Eugene yelling for help. Abraham brutally kills the walkers that were chasing Eugene without even saying a single word to him.
Abraham continues walking off, but Eugene follows him before blurting out, “I have a very important mission.”
Eugene’s fake mission gave Abraham a new lease on his life, which he was about to end in the past. Without that purpose, what will Abraham become?
Other Odds and Ends
— If you read the comics, or at least knew the key storylines as I do, you already knew Eugene was a fraud. But if you didn’t or don’t, let us know below if you were surprised by the revelation or not.
— Commenters correctly pointed out last week that Beth had attempted suicide in an earlier season. Good catch! Sorry I missed it. It’s hard to keep track of plotlines from earlier seasons, especially with a previous non-entity of a character like Beth. But I still should have remembered.
— I wish the flashbacks weren’t doled out as frequently as they were in this week’s episode. I much preferred the first episode this season that put one at the top of the hour and one at the very end of the hour. It was more impactful and effective using them as bookends that informed the present, as opposed to serving as breadcrumbs to explain Abraham’s psyche.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.
(Image courtesy of AMC)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV