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10 October, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 1 - Episode 6 (Season Finale)

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5

Please understand that, while some plot points are revealed in the course of these writings, my intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community.  Some spoilers will be included, however, so proceed at your own risk.

This was the finale episode of the first season.  The season was a short one (basically,like a long mini-series event), I assume, because AMC wanted to be sure the ratings were there, before committing the big bucks.  Needless to say, audiences loved it, and it was quickly renewed for a 13 episode second season. 

We begin with a flashback sequence to WTSHTF where we see Shane, still in his Sheriff's Deputy uniform in the hospital, frantically trying to save the unconscious Rick.  As the staff flees, abandoning their patients, he witnesses soldiers shooting infected patients and hospital staff alike in the hallways as well as some full-fledged Walkers who have already risen.  He can't figure out how to move Rick, because of the machines he's hooked-up to, begs him that -- if he is ever going to wake-up -- he needs him to wake-up now, and put his head to his chest to listen for a heartbeat.  Reluctantly, he abandons his best-friend and partner there, but not before barricading the door, making it more difficult for Walkers to get to him.

Back to present, Dr. Jenner agrees to take them all in if they submit to blood tests to prove they aren't infected.  It may just be me, but I sort of got the impression that he was hoping one or more of them was, so that he could continue his experiments, looking for a cure.  Andrea becomes weak after he draws her blood, and when they tell him they haven't eaten in days, a feast of sorts is held in the underground CDC facility that includes lots of wine.  Jenner tells them that he's alone because many abandoned their posts and others "opted out" by committing suicide.  He sets everyone up with accommodations and hot showers, which folks are understandably pretty excited about.

Shane and Lori have it out.  He claims he didn't hear Ricks heartbeat, maybe because of the gunfire and screams in the hallways; he's not sure, but he knew that she never would have left if she thought Rick was still alive.  He tells her he loves her and becomes aggressive, nearly rapes her, before she fights him off.  Rick still has no clue any of this is going on.

The next morning, it's powdered eggs and hangovers for breakfast and everyone wants answers from Jenner.  He shows them a computer video simulation of the disease's affect on the human brain.  The video is of a test subject who was infected and volunteered to let them record her death as the disease took her, so they might learn more about it.  He explains that it invades the brain like meningitis, causing the adrenal glands to burst and the organs to shut down.  They are able to see on the video as the brain synapses, appearing as a veritable light-show before, all go dark as they die.  They are then able to see as some small amount of activity returns when the disease revives the subject as a Walker.  The things is that it is only the brain stem, not any of the rest of the brain where higher functions are controlled and a person's personality resides.  It leaves the infected as, not people, but simply shells, driven by base instinct alone.  This was all especially interesting to me, learning concrete information about the disease from an actual scientist.

They want to know how far it's spread, and he admits to them that he has "been in the dark," with no outside contact for almost a month.  He has no idea if anyone else is still alive anywhere in the world; though, he will later admit that the French held-out the longest -- working diligently while others fled -- and were close to an answer, before they too went silent. 

Dale then notices a clocking counting-down and asks what it's counting-down to; Jenner cryptically answers that it's counting-down to the generators running out of power, then slips-off by himself.  The computer tells them that, when the power is gone, it will trigger "facility-wide decontamination."  Rick, Shane, and several others go to the basement and find only one generator still running.  Energy use is soon prioritized by the computer, shutting things down little by little. 

Realizing that something bad is about to occur, they try to flee, but Jenner locks them in.  He theorizes that it's better they die quickly there with him as the facility consumes itself in flame in a fuel air explosion, rather than out in the harsh, dangerous world.  He tells them that it will be virtually painless, except for one brief instant as the very air is set aflame.  It seems this final security protocol is a hold-over from before TEOTWAWKI, in which the ensuing fireball was designed to keep Ebola and other nasty stuff they store and work with at the CDC from escaping into then environment in the event of a catestrophic failure/terrorist attack/etc.  I've got to be honest, I hope that is a real system they have in place in real-life.  Jenner tells them that there is no longer any hope -- that this disease represents mankind's extinction event.

Finally, they convince him to give them a chance to survive and go on, though some do choose to stay and seek an end.  Before they leave, Jenner tells Rick that a day will come when he will wish they had died there, whispering something to him that we as viewers aren't privy to, but it obviously stuns Rick (this will become important later).

They escape as the facility explodes spectacularly, and the first season fades to black with a shot of their convoy leaving Atlanta.

Honestly, there wasn't a great deal in this finale episode for me to review from a Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist perspective, other than seeing them eating powdered eggs.  The only other thing that stuck with me was to say that, faced with the same choice as the characters, I too would want to, at least, have the opportunity to make a life somehow.  I can't see me ever being the type to just give-up and sit in that CDC joint, watching as the clock ticked-down to my death.

But, then again, we in this community pride ourselves on being survivors, don't we?

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