After months of build-up, this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" finally unveiled Eugene's big secret: He likes to watch other people having sex!
Oh, yeah, and he's also not really a scientist, and doesn't actually have any kind of plan to save everyone from the zombie apocalypse after all.
I didn't exactly find the latter revelation surprising – I smelled something fishy during his vague "fight fire with fire" monologue from the season premiere – but I still very much enjoyed its unraveling, especially since it involved multiple conversations centered around his mullet. (Can a hairdo apply for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy? I haven't seen someone's follicles define their character this much since the halcyon days of The Rachel on "Friends.") First, on the bus, as Eugene, Abraham, Rosita, Glenn, Maggie, and Tara leave the rest of Rick's camp behind and begin their sojourn to D.C., Tara quips that "the party's getting a little long in the back." Then, after Eugene changes the subject back to his zombie eradication plan (still classified, by the way, and still completely nonsensical – seriously, how did no one figure out he was full of shit sooner?), Glenn pauses to let the confusion wash over him before offering up the non sequitur, "Why the hair?"
That question launches Eugene into one of his best lines of the night (and trust me, this episode was bursting with gems; I could probably write an entire recap filled only with his bon mots), about how his former boss, a man named T. Brooks Ellis, "said my hair made me look like, and I quote, 'a fun guy.' Which I am." Imagine this line delivered in Josh McDermitt's pitch perfect hillbilly-flavored deadpan, and you've got comedy gold.
Suddenly, his stand-up routine is interrupted by the bus crashing (later revealed to be the result of Eugene sabotaging the fuel line), and the group having to fight off a herd of walkers. Eugene suggests that the gang turn back and reunite with Rick (and put off him being found out as a fraud), but Abraham insists that they trudge on – "We're at war, and retreat means we lose" – and the gang eventually finds an abandoned bookstore in which to hole up for the night. That's where Eugene spies Abraham and Rosita going at it, leading to one of the episode's most awkward scenes: The couple see him spying, laugh, and continue getting busy; Eugene knows he's been caught, and keeps intently staring at them anyway. The shot of his face looming behind the books (in the Self Help section, giving the episode its title) was both insanely creepy and kind of hilarious. Please enjoy these grainy screenshots I took with my phone to illustrate:Abraham says to Rosita, "Don't worry about it, baby, he's harmless." That face does not say "harmless" to me so much as it says, "I will jerk off to this, and then murder you in your sleep."
Thankfully, the episode decides to turn in a very different direction, and we're left with The Big Reveal. And though I knew what was coming, it was still pretty damn entertaining. (That sentence could also apply to Abraham and Rosita's sex scene. Hey-o!) Abraham, who's nursing wounds both literal and figurative (more on that below), insists that the group push on down the road – and right through a ranch that's teeming with walkers as far as the eye can see. Realizing he's delusional, the others try to plead with him to take a detour, but he's relentless; he grabs Eugene by the arm and begins dragging him back to their comandeered fire truck until Eugene blurts out his bombshell: "I'm not a scientist!"
That leads to another great Eugene monologue, as he explains, "I know I'm smarter than most people. I know I'm a very good liar. And I know I needed to get to D.C. ... If I could cheat some people into taking me there, well, I just reasoned that I'd be doing them a solid, too." The rest of the gang is blindsided, and don't exactly take kindly to his trickery. Rosita brings up all the people that have died as a result of trying to protect Eugene, and see that he reaches Washington safely. Abraham makes this face:
And Eugene makes a second reference to T. Brooks Ellis (who's in the running for my favorite "Walking Dead" character to not appear onscreen), admitting that he lied about the man liking his hair, because he's never met him. "But I did read one of his books, and he looked like one of those guys who wouldn't blink twice at a Tennessee top hat."
Whether it was that priceless mullet moniker, or Eugene's second time telling the gang, "I'm smarter than you," this is the moment when Abraham starts beating the everloving crap out of him, eventually slamming him into the truck and letting him fall to the ground, where he lands smack on his face. It almost seemed as if Eugene might be a goner, but I'm betting that "TWD" doesn't want to say goodbye to this character – or his lush, luxurious mane – just yet. I'm also almost certain that Abraham won't be letting Eugene watch him have sex with his ladyfriend again anytime soon.
- "Self Help" gives us Abraham's back story, which involves him savagely killing anyone he comes across in order to protect his family. Unfortunately, showing up at their camp covered in blood scares his wife and two kids so much that they end up abandoning him; he later discovers their zombie-ravaged corpses in a heap. At the moment he's about to stick a gun in his mouth, Eugene stumbles into the picture, crying out for help from an encroaching horde and claiming that he needs Abraham's assistance because he has "a very important mission."
- I've given Eugene most of the credit for the episode's best lines, but Abraham really held his own in the comic relief department this week. He assures Rosita that she can shave him "dolphin smooth" once they arrive in D.C. (Thanks for that image, by the way.) After the bus crash, he tells Glenn that he "took a pretty hard shot to the sack," and needs to "rub some dirt on it and move on." ("I'm not rubbing dirt on anything," Maggie shoots back at Glenn.) Later, on zombie watch with Glenn, he announces he's off to bed – but: "I really need some ass first." ("Didn't need to know that, but...cool," Glenn mutters to himself.) After Eugene takes the initiative to spray down a group of walkers with the fire truck hose, Abraham is impressed. "I've been to eight county fairs and one goat rodeo," he remarks. "I've never seen anything like that."
- Speaking of the fire hose, it wins this week's award for Best Zombie Kill in a Walking Dead Episode: Its stream is so powerful that it sprays a zombie's head clean off. (And takes care of various other walkers' appendages, too.)
- For some reason, Tara is still trying to make her awkward fist bump happen. Much like "fetch," it's not going to happen, Tara.
- I did, however, appreciate the quick, comical peek she took at Abraham and Rosita doing the deed. It's probably lonely being the only lesbian in the group.
- "You're not the person people think you are," Maggie says sweetly to Eugene, shortly before he spills his secret to the group. You don't know the half of it, honey.
- Abraham utters the phrase "we can't go back" several times during this episode, words that have already echoed throughout "The Walking Dead"'s fifth season. I imagine that that repetition is a deliberate choice on the writers' part, hinting at the changes that all of these characters have gone through, and how they must keep pushing forward into different surroundings – and really, different versions of themselves – rather than fall back on the familiar. During his pre-coital conversation with Glenn, Abraham talks about how ruthless the world has become since the apocalypse arrived, with a "kill or be killed" mentality reigning supreme. "'It's never easy' – that's not the truth," Abraham tells Glenn of taking another life. "It's the easiest thing in the world now." "The world's gonna change, right?" Glenn asks. While Abraham assures him that it will, those four words still hum silently in the background: "We can't go back." I suspect that the rest of season five will further explore that theme.
Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC