Here’s part two of my The Walking Dead minithon. The last episode of season one is “TS-19.” In “Wildfire”, we left the gang in front of the C.D.C with the locked door opening just as a nasty-looking group of walkers was assembling.
This episode starts with a flashback to Smarmy Shane visiting Rick in the hospital. The military is executing the staff and there are walkers wandering around–the dead, not the metal things that old people use to get around. That would almost make sense since it’s a hospital and hospitals are full of old people. Anyway, Shane tries to carry Rick out but he’s hooked up to life support. Then the power goes out and he can’t hear a heart beat. I do feel pity for him. I can’t imagine how much it would suck to leave my best friend behind at a hospital during the apocalypse. I’m practical, though, so, like Dwight Schrute, I would leave a backpack full of dehydrated goods, water, and an axe, just in case.
Back in the present, they’re met by Dr. Edwin Jenner. I wonder if this is a reference to Edward Jenner, the father of inoculation who pioneered the smallpox vaccine in the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century, people were still using leeches then and talking of humours yet this man was able to successfully inoculate against smallpox. I’d like to take this moment to tell Jenny McCarthy to suck it. Now back to our regularly scheduled zombie discourse…
The cost of admission to the C.D.C.? A blood test to prove that you’re not infected. Plus, once the door closes it doesn’t open again. Remember that. The place is like a tomb, just Jenner and his version of HAL, VI. The asperger’s case in me got really distracted by the name, VI. I kept trying to figure out what it stood for. The closest I’ve come is maybe Voice-activated Interface. This is why I can’t watch sci-fi movies with people, I’m always trying to figure things like that out and, apparently, that’s really annoying. The C.D.C. has room for everyone in their underground lair of secrecy, plus, hot showers and food. We’re treated to a montage of the gang showering. The only people who seem less than happy are Shane and Andrea.
Shane ups his creepiness factor by trying to rape Lori in the rec room, next to a Ms. Pac Man game, like some kind of knock-off of The Accused. There just aren’t words for his grossness, although I like him as an example of how crisis brings out the worst in some people.
On a lighter note, Jenner tells the kids not to turn on the video games in the rec room because they need to conserve power. I have to tell you, that would be the hardest thing on earth for me to do. I love pinball! And it looked like there were loads of pinball games, along with the Ms. Pac Man. If you share this love, and are near NYC, you should hit Barcade in Williamsburg. You can combine two things I love, drinking and old-school video games.
The next morning, the group starts to ask Jenner the hard questions that we all have. What started the disease? Where are the rest of the researchers? Is anyone else trying to research the disease? Dr. Jenner shows a time-lapsed MRI of a patient known as Test Subject Nineteen, who was bitten and allowed themselves to be worked on to try to solve the mystery. We see normal brain activity until the person dies, then there’s no activity. Within three hours, the brain lights up again but this time all the activity is confined to the brain stem, the reptilian brain. That keeps a human’s minimum power going but you’ll have no memories or any of that fun brain activity that makes us human. Dr. Jenner described the disease as similar to meningitis, in how it invades your brain fluids. Unfortunately, meningitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, other microorganisms, and some drugs, so that doesn’t really narrow down the cause.
Dale notices a countdown clock on the wall. Dr. Jenner tells him that the clock is counting down the supply of fuel for the generator and that once the fuel is empty the center will undergo automatic decontamination i.e. everything will explode. Uhm…is this standard C.D.C. procedure? I read nothing of this in The Hot Zone. The generator has about an hour to go. Do they have some sort of separate fuel used to light the whole place on fire? Isn’t there a way that could be rerouted for the generators?
Rick and Lori beg Dr. Jenner to let them out and Shane and Daryl practically kill him. Dr. Jenner says that their world is basically finished and he’s offering them a painless way out. Andrea agrees with him.
I knew that the show would be departing from the comic. I also only just finished volume three, Safety Behind Bars and I know that there are about a bazillion more volumes so things could change within the comics. But, I have to say, I like the Andrea of the comics much more than the Andrea of the show. It’s not the acting, Laurie Holden is doing a good job and I find her to be very believable. It’s just that the Andrea in the comic is much stronger than the one on the show. It’s as if t.v. executives think that there’s only room for one strong bitch per t.v. show. I never thought that I’d found comics, a media form full of women with double-D’s fighting crime in G-strings–essentially, male fantasies–less sexist than t.v.
Lori guesses that Test Subject Nineteen was Dr. Jenner’s wife. Jenner also confesses that the last research group he heard from was French but their generators ran out too. I find that to be kind of weird Her and Rick finally convince him to open the door to the underground but upstairs is still locked-down. Everyone leaves except for Jacqui and Andrea, who decide to stay with Dr. Jenner. Really? You couldn’t have the black woman survive? It’s like they decided to embody every negative female stereotype in this episode. Plus, there’s the whole black people don’t survive the scary movie thing. Even Jada Pinkett’s character in Scream talked about that. Dale stays behind with Andrea.
This is something else I miss from the comics, I love their relationship. Dale eventually forces Andrea’s hand and she decides to leave, sans Jacqui or Jenner. Uhm, did anyone think to get Jenner to join them? I think he’s pretty crazy but he could be useful. None of them are a doctor and, with the right setup, he could be useful in solving the mystery of where the walkers came from.
Jenner whispers something to Rick as he leaves. So far, it hasn’t been revealed what Jenner said. I hope this isn’t going to be some Lost in Translation situation where we never know what’s said.
Carol retrieves the hand grenade that she found in Rick’s pocket way back in the beginning and they blow a whole through one of the windows. Everybody sprints to the convoy and are getting ready to go when Dale and Andrea jump through the window. The whole building proceeds to blow up. Your tax-payer money, ladies and gentlemen. Teh episode ends with them back on the road with Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow is a Long Time” playing.
This episode raised more questions than answers, plotwise and where the show is going. I liked the tone and thought it was an interesting story and appropriate for the season finale. But there are some things that I can’t avoid disliking–Jacqui’s death and the direction that Andrea’s character is going in. I know that Frank Darabont is no longer working on the show, due to disagreements between him and the execs at AMC. I’d planned to discuss this more in my post about the season premier, but I thought I’d mention it here as well. I wonder what his issues with the execs were. It seems a shame to lose someone with a background in horror and “regular” film.
I really liked the Bob Dylan song they played at the end, so here’s a Youtube version of it. Apparently, there are several different cuts. One’s an earlier version from 1960, the one they played in the show is a live version from 1963. Here’s hoping that this is the same version;