Spoiler alert! The following recap contains spoilers.
While last week's episode focused on Beth's saga at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Sunday night's episode of "The Walking Dead" zeroed in on the survivors headed to Washington, D.C., and revealed the harsh reality of their perceived mission.
We have no new information on Rick's group at the church, or more importantly, which person has returned with Daryl, but here are the four main things we learned about Sgt. Abraham's troops in "Self Help."
1. "Dr." Eugene Porter is not who he claimed to be.
Let's start with the big one: Mr. Mullet has been scamming other survivors since day one. At the top of the episode, the church bus is rolling toward D.C. with Tara, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita on board, and Eugene is still spouting science babble and playing the "classified" card when questions about his big plan become too specific. He still claims to have worked for T. Brooks Ellis, the Director of the Human Genome Project, and that Ellis liked his choice of hairstyle. Now, if that wasn't an indicator that he was lying about everything, I don't know what is.
Before the opening credits roll, the bus suffers a major malfunction, flips over and crashes in front of a horde of walkers. Everyone's okay, for the most part, but Tara has to save a stunned Eugene, frozen in fear and probably guilt, and even encourage him to start killing walkers. Eugene starts pulling his weight, barely, to fight them off before the bus eventually explodes. Abraham wants to press on, insisting "the mission hasn't changed," but Eugene suggests they go back to the church, now 15 miles away. Another indicator that something's up. Everyone rallies behind the Sarge and they press on to find a bookstore to stay in for the night, which is when Eugene's first big secret is revealed: he's the reason the bus crashed. He put glass shards in the fuel line in order to sabotage the mission.
Now, because Eugene initially tells Tara that he tried to stop the D.C. trip because he's afraid of failure and relying too much on others -- hey, saving the world does come with a lot of pressure -- Tara agrees to keep his secret as long as he agrees to move on. This leads to a painfully misguided conversation later on between Eugene and Maggie, in which Maggie says, "You're not the person people think you are," but in an encouraging, "be proud of yourself" kind of way. Finally, after the group is forced to travel on foot and sees the biggest horde of walkers ever assembled in the distance, the truth comes out: Eugene is not a scientist. He, "Just knows things," thinks he's smarter than other people and believes that Washington, D.C. is the safest place to go, even without access to secret government projects. He considers himself a good liar, so he tricked Honest Abe (and many others) to get himself there. He even lists all the people who died doing so.
Everyone is shocked beyond belief, except for Tara, who doesn't look too surprised. Abraham takes things a step further by knocking him out cold. Whatever this group decides to do next, they have to consider the fact that they gave Rick's group a map detailing their route to D.C. and have no way of knowing if they've decided to follow or not. Damn it, Eugene!
2. Sex is reeeeeaaally awkward in the apocalypse.
Let's talk about that night in the bookstore. Not only do we see Rosita and Abraham getting it on right in the middle of the place, but Eugene is caught watching them do so from the "Self Help" section (I know, I know, *insert masturbation joke here*). Rosita even comments on his voyeurism while she does her thing with Abe, so apparently this is nothing new. Tara, whom Eugene clearly had eyes for before she told him, "I like girls," is understandably surprised to hear Eugene rationalize his tendency to stare. It's pretty awkward.
Meanwhile, Maggie and Glenn cuddle up in another corner of the store to comfort each other in a more verbal way, save for a few pecks on the mouth. Married life, amiright?!
3. You can kill walkers with a fire hose! But it's a huge waste of water.
Another memorable scene from this week's episode showed us a new way to kill a bunch of walkers at once. Before leaving the bookstore, Maggie and Rosita suggest that the group look for supplies, like water that didn't come from a toilet, in this area of town that wasn't overly ransacked. Abraham has other ideas, mainly to ride out of there in a fire truck containing "500 gallons" of water that happens to be parked (strategically, they later realize) in front of the door of an adjacent building. After moving it and realizing the air filter is clogged with human remains (natch) the group gets bombarded by walkers who had been quarantined inside. Eugene thinks fast and uses the truck's fire house to blast the decaying walkers away, making for a pretty incredible visual, as long as you don't think about all the water they wasted.
4. We now know how Eugene and Sgt. Abraham met, making his deception even more messed up.
In a series of flashbacks throughout the episode, it is revealed how the Sarge and "Doctor" Eugene first crossed paths. Unlike Eugene, Abraham really was a military man, as evidenced by his dog tags. But his priority wasn't to protect America when the sh*t first hit the fan. He was trying to protect his family: a wife (presumably, since he still wears a wedding ring) named Ellen, and two children. We see them in a supermarket or store, Abe bludgeoning people -- not necessarily walkers -- to death with a can of vegetables while his family cowers in fear. He tries to comfort them, but his bloody fists, and the wounds that still open up in the present time, frighten them even more. When he wakes up the next morning, his family is gone, leaving only a note: "Do not try to find us."
Unfortunately, Abe does find them, dead, as soon as he heads outside. In a heartbreaking moment, he rips off his dog tags and puts his gun in his mouth, about to take his own life until he hears a shout for help. It's Eugene, trailed by a trio of walkers, pleading with Abraham to do something. Abe complies and then walks away, presumably to carry out his plan to join his family, but Eugene stops him in his tracks (and gives him a renewed purpose in life) by saying, "I have an important mission."
Which leads us to the present: Eugene is badly hurt after Abraham took his anger out on him, and Abe isn't in great shape, either. The rest of the group is still trying to process what happened when we see him drop to his knees in tears, painfully realizing what this entire journey was really about. Again, damnit Eugene!
In a preview for next week's episode, titled "Consumed," we see a little of what happened after Carol and Daryl drove off into the night to look for Beth. For now, we know that Carol is now at the hospital, clearly injured, along with Beth and that Daryl has made it back to the church with someone else. My money is on Noah. What do you think?