Oh “The Walking Dead”, I felt like I was just getting to know you. The very shortened first season of the zombie apocalypse show is already over and it has definitely left me wanting more, both in a good and a bad way. Confusing? Once we get through last night’s episode, titled “TS-19”, I’ll explain.
There really two really fantastic scenes from last night. The first of which was a flashback that began the episode and it makes me feel a tiny bit guilty for despising Shane so much. Again, just a tiny bit. It turns out that Shane was in the hospital watching over Rick’s comatose body as it was overrun by zombies and soldiers. Apparently, military orders were sent out to shoot anyone potentially infected on sight, which seemed to be interpreted by these soldiers as shoot anyone that moves. This, and the fact that the hospital was being invaded by zombies, left Shane in a very precarious situation. With Rick being comatose and Shane unsure of what to do regarding the machines potentially keeping him alive, he panicked. Then, the power went out, thus the machines. He tried to hear his heartbeat and did not hear anything, so he left.
It was quite surprising to then learn that Shane legitimately thought Rick was dead. This entire time, I was fairly convinced that Shane had simply lied about Rick’s death in order to get closer to Lori. It turns out that he only used what he thought was his death to get closer to her. So take your the normal thought that Shane is a scumbag, back it off about 20%, and you’ve still got a pretty sleazy guy on your hands.
The show jumps back to the present, as the gang is let into the Center for Disease Control by Dr. Edwin Jenner. He lets them in on one condition: they all submit to a blood test. He then tells them the story about TS-19.
TS-19 is test subject 19, a person that was bitten by a zombie and volunteered to be studied as they transformed. Dr. Jenner shows them analysis of what happens to the human brain during this transformation. As far as I know, this is the most scientific explanation of zombieism ever explained in a movie or TV show. Your brain eventually dies, illustrated by all the pretty blue and white lights in Dr. Jenner’s video going dark. Then, they slowly come back as red, ominous strands of slow moving light, only bringing the brain stem back to life, which allows basic motor skills. In other words, the zombies have no memory of living, no idea they were once people. If you really think about it, it’s unbelievably depressing and there is no way anyone in the group should feel guilty about putting a person out of their misery before turning into a zombie ever again.
In the first odd turn of events, after learning the depressing zombie information, the gang sits down to dinner and mostly everyone gets rip roaring drunk. Rick drunkenly tells Dr. Jenner that he kept his belief that the entire world is dead from his family, showing the first sign of a chink in his superhero-like armor.
While Rick expresses his true, drunken feelings, Shane drunkenly attempts to apologize to Lori and explain to her that he truly believed Rick to be dead. For the first time, I actually felt pity for Shane. That is, until he tried to force himself onto Lori. Who would have thought that the second the entire group gets to a place that is 100% safe, would one person try to hurt another person in such a way? It is foreshadowing that at some point, Shane will do something irresponsible that will cause some serious problems.
The next morning, the gang has more bad news. You see, there is a clock running down in the main room at the CDC. Turns out, when the clock hits zero, the building runs out of emergency back up fuel. When that happens, the computers in the building automatically blow the entire place up. It also means that the entire building is on lock down, as the harmful diseases that the CDC has prevented from killing us over the years cannot be allowed to escape. This was all explained by Dr. Jenner, in a fantastically intense performance from Noah Emmerich.
Dr. Jenner, whose argument for blowing the place up makes sense, also had an idea in mind that isn’t so good. Turns out, he decided to lock everyone in the main control room and is forcing them to embrace death, rather than leave the facility and face eventual death. This does not go over so well with most of the group, other than Andrea and Jacqui, who from the second the doors slammed shut seemed perfectly willing to accept death.
This is the second great scene that I mentioned earlier. The entire thing was fantastic. Shane and Daryl frantically tried to break open the doors with an ax. Rick pleads with Dr. Jenner to open the doors. The kids are crying. Daryl tries to ax, then shoot Dr. Jenner. It was extremely intense and uncomfortable. Finally, Rick convinces Dr. Jenner to open the door and give them a chance to choose their fate, rather than accept defeat. But, right before leaving, Dr. Jenner whispers something into Rick’s ear, which the audience could not hear. It doesn’t seem like good news as Rick’s face looked quite worried.
Jenner opens the gates and everyone runs, except Jacqui and Andrea. Dale (easily my favorite character so far) tried to talk Andrea out of it, but she was not going anywhere. So, he decided to stay behind with her. I internally panicked, certain that they were going to die.
The gang rushed to the first floor, carrying a handful of supplies, the guns, and tried to break out of the locked tight building. The windows would not break, even after being shot with a shotgun. Luckily, Rick had a grenade that he took while he found shelter in that empty tank back in Atlanta. He set the grenade and blew open a window. The gang rushed back to their vehicles, killing a handful of zombies (including a badass beheading by Daryl) along the way. Then, Dale and Andrea crawled out of the blow out window and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was not ready to see Dale go.
The building explodes. I mean, it really, really exploded. The entire thing burst into flames and then almost imploded. It was more like an explosion/implosion combo…
…and that was it. They started up their cars and drove off. Really? That’s how they ended it? It is ambiguous an ending of a television show season as I’ve ever seen. No cliff hanger? No sense of tying anything up? Instead, we are left with an ending of these people that you’ve made us care about for six episodes just driving off, with no closure of any kind. I understand that there will be another season of the show, but to leave us hanging completely is not a great way to end a season. At least with a cliffhanger, fans have something to talk about. This type of ending is very, very forgettable.
The only question is this: What did Jenner say to Rick? I haven’t looked around online yet for fan speculation, as I’m sure there is plenty of it. My opinion is that one of the survivors is actually infected and Jenner told Rick who it was. I’m probably 100% wrong and fans of the comic book series will rip me apart, but that’s my uneducated guess.
The first season of “The Walking Dead” shows some promise. However, as I said earlier, the last episode left me wanting more. The good news is that I want to see more of this show and I’m glad there will be another season. The bad news is that the season finale gave us no closure. No real ending. Nothing to think about until the next time the show starts up again. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.