"Walking Dead" grumble thread: You mean the guy with the mullet isn't a brilliant scientist?

Don’t e-mail me to complain that there’s a spoiler in the headline. It’s not a spoiler. No one seriously believed this goober was going to save the world. Not even Abraham Ford, I think.

After 55 minutes of this one, I was set to do a grumbly “grumble thread” about how Abraham and Eugene are less characters than caricatures and how silly it is that anyone on the show could have thought mullethead had the secret to curing the plague. It never made sense that Abraham would let Eugene hoard that information; the risk that they’d be ambushed on the way to D.C. and that a zombie would tear Eugene’s throat out, thus dooming the planet, was too great. It was ridiculous. But the last five minutes did an elegant job of cleaning that up. Eugene was an avatar of hope, first for the Ford gang and then for the Grimes gang. He gave Abraham a purpose when his purpose in life had been lost. Is it plausible that a shattered man like Abraham would cling to a ridiculous fantasy to protect himself from despair, even if he would have seen right through it in better days? Sure. Plausible enough for this show, at least. Orson Welles once said of the big reveal in “Citizen Kane” that it was “dollar-book Freud,” a pat way to explain the motivations of a complex character. The Abraham/Eugene relationship comes from the same book and Abraham isn’t even all that complex. And yet, the reveal was satisfying — not just for his character but for Eugene’s. In a world where you do what you need to do to survive, why should telling a grand lie to boost your value to survivors be any more foul than Rick Grimes machete-ing the Terminus creep in the head?

But that logic is also the big hole in the episode. If, as all survivors quickly come to understand, you do what you need to do to survive, why are Abraham’s wife and kids so horrified by him beating other people to a pulp? They’re more afraid of him than they are of the millions of zombies running around on the streets, to the point where they’d rather run away and try to make it on their own without him? After the first few flashbacks last night I thought the writers meant to imply that Abraham had beaten up his own family, but none of the recaps I’ve read online today are pushing that theory. If you watch the video below, you’ll hear someone suggest that Abraham’s wife and daughter had been raped and that he was exacting revenge against the rapists. I … didn’t get that at all from the show. If Abraham’s wife had just been raped, wouldn’t she be glad that her husband was willing and able to kick that much ass as revenge afterward, even if he’d left her undefended long enough to make her prey for someone else? Holding a man’s brutality against him during the apocalypse is an odd response. In the end she takes the kids and flees; from the looks of it, she made it about 10 feet outside the supermarket before someone turned her and the little ones into zombie chow. What did I miss here? Why’d she do that?

I’m going to assume that Eugene survives, if only as comic relief, and that Abraham eventually comes to realize during a stirring monologue that deep down he knew Eugene was fibbing all along. He talked himself into believing in salvation because he needed to believe in it to keep going. Eventually Eugene will die in the course of saving Abraham’s life somehow, thus justifying Abraham’s many sacrifices on his behalf. And then Abraham will reveal his own terrible secret — how he keeps his hair that stiff in a world without gel. Exit question: Now that the D.C. plans are off, what’s next for the Ford crew?