Well, this season of The Walking Dead certainly went out with a bang, didn’t it? Sorry, I never met a bad pun I didn’t like. Once again, we don’t see many zombies, but there was tension running rampant throughout the entire episode as members of the group find themselves in one predicament after another.
I thought it was a stellar episode to cap off the season, and thankfully, the writers took a little mercy on us. They didn’t leave us with a gigantic cliffhanger that we have to wait a whole year to resolve.
Well, except for what the heck did Dr. Jenner whisper in Rick’s ear? Are you going to be obsessed as I am over the answer to that?
The episode, entitled “TS-19,” begins with a flashback of Shane back at the hospital. It is revealed that he actually did make a valiant attempt to save Rick, but became overwhelmed by the military (who were indiscriminately shooting anyone they saw) and Rick’s medical fragility.
Rick was hooked up to lots of equipment, and Shane simply didn’t know what to do. Add to that the walkers lurching about, and Shane did what any sane person would -he left (but not before placing a rudimentary barricade in front of Rick’s door).
After watching this opening, I am curious why Shane has not told Lori the way things really went down. He certainly seems a lot more sympathetic now, and he definitely didn’t premeditate leaving Rick, like I thought earlier on in the season.
Back to the present. Dr. Jenner admits the group into the CDC “zone 5” contingent upon everyone giving a blood sample. After everyone begins questioning him as to the whereabouts of the staff, Jenner explains that there is no one else, everyone is gone.
Later, he further explains that many left to be with their families when the shit started hitting the fan, and then there was a wave of suicides, or rather people who “opted out” in lieu of facing their bleak future. If you remember, Jenner seemed poised to do the same on the last episode.
That evening there is a feast, complete with wine. The group is even afforded hot showers. I could have done without the shower montage, but whatever. It establishes the different states of mind of the characters. Most are in sheer bliss, Shane bitterly drinks from a bottle, and Andrea sits on the floor, nearly catatonic.
Everyone has a bit too much to drink at dinner, and inhibitions are lowered, so several things occur.
First, Shane is very confrontational with Jenner, almost accusatory. He demands answers and is a serious buzz kill for the rest of the group. This is when Jenner admits the mass suicides.
Later, he [Shane] becomes very creepy/stalkerish as he confronts Lori. He wants to tell his side of the story in the hospital, but boy does he go about it the wrong way. He physically starts to assault Lori, and as he becomes more aggressive, she lashes out and claws him with her fingernails across the face.
Shane seems to snap back to reality (like he did when he aimed his weapon at Rick last week) and leaves. Lori is very shaken by the encounter. There is no doubt Shane was going to rape her.
Later that night, when a (drunk) Rick snuggles up to her in bed, he reminds her how safe they are now. He doesn’t know that she is now terrified of being in this confined space with Shane. Even worse, she can’t tell a soul about it.
Jenner shows the group some video footage of TS-19 (test subject 19), someone who was diseased who volunteered to have their brain activity monitored. The group gets to see a normal brain with all the neurological synapses functioning correctly, then the dead/dying brain, then a resurrection of the same brain.
The new brain does not resemble the old brain in any capacity, which is not exactly revelatory from my end. Did they really need that explained?
Someone notices a clock on the wall, counting down to something. Jenner admits that when it reaches zero, the backup generators in the basement will go out. As if that weren’t problematic enough, this in turn will start the countdown to a decontamination of the building. Uh oh.
Powerful explosives are programmed to take out the whole building. As the group grasps what that means, they start running for the exit, but the good doctor locks down the exits, effectively sealing their fate within the CDC.
To be fair, I don’t think Jenner is a bad guy. He truly believes that this is a more humane option than letting them fend for themselves outside. He also believes that this will lead to the extinction of the human race. He reveals that TS-19 was his brilliant wife, who was in a far better position to solve the epidemic than he.
The only reason he has stayed as long as he has is because he promised her before she died. That makes his plight quite tragic.
After a scuffle and quick lesson about free will and determinism, Jenner lets them out of the exit. Rick says, “I’m grateful.” Jenner replies ominously with, “The day will come when you won’t be.” Then he whispers something quite lengthy in Rick’s ear. What the hell?
Jenner, Jacqui, and Andrea choose to stay. This prompts Dale to stay as well, he pleads with Andrea, and at the last minute convinces her to go. Meanwhile, the rest of the group cannot break the glass on the outside of zone 5 to get out.
It is bulletproof. Suddenly Carol remembers that she has a grenade in her possession. Did she really just nonchalantly pull a grenade out of her purse? A very silly plot contrivance, which of course does the job of shattering the glass.
The group barely makes it to the vehicles when the CDC is blown to smithereens; completely razed. I really liked the whole idea behind wiping out the building. The CDC is symbolic of protection, and is the last line of defense between human beings and disease. Now it is just gone. Things just got a little more bleak, if that was possible.
The episode ends quietly. Where is the caravan going? What happens when they run out of gas? We’ve got plenty of time to think about it.
Anybody have a good theory about what Jenner’s parting words were to Rick? Do you get the feeling that Shane is seriously losing his shit? Are you relieved Andrea changed her mind about staying? Until next season, fellow zombie-philes.