harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Walking Dead reviewed: "TS-19"




The Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 6


Writers: Frank Darabont, Adam Fierro
DIR: Guy Ferland

Blurb (imdb): At the C.D.C., Rick and the others find Dr. Edwin Jenner, a scientist who is on the verge of suicide. But just when they think they're safe, Jenner tells them [spoiled climax].

My Blurb: Some of my comments can be construed as minor future spoilers.

Scene 01: We open in a flashback to a scene of chaos in the hospital. Army is ordering people to leave, herding the ones who can walk out.

Shane opens the door from within Rick's room, to witness this. Army men keep shouting barely intelligible orders. Shane tries to grab a nurse for help, but she yanks herself from his grip to follow the soldiers.

He runs down the hallway for a gurney.

Scene 02: Around the bend, he sees soldiers gunning down resisting civilians - both patients and a doctor in seeming cold blood. The soldiers follow up the shootings with a single gunshot to all of the victims' heads.


We can't tell if these were infected, or just the too ill to retreat and their crusading doctor. More chaos erupts, as the Cafeteria doors open up to reveal [dramatic backlight! oh, noooes!!] walkers. They grab up the soldiers nearest, while one wild shooter starts blasting his own men in a panic.

Shane grabs the gurney gets the hell away from there.

Scene 03: Back in Rick's room, he tries to dead lift his partner out. There is a moment of indecision, as Shane realizes all of the equipment Rick has been attached to. As he starts to wonder what he's supposed to do, the door opens. He quickly ducks down out of the soldier's view.

Our soldier is ordered to continue moving, and leaves Rick lying still. Shane, meanwhile is assessing his odds of getting out successfully with a comatose Rick, and bangs his hands against the floor in frustration. Shane pleads with Rick to wake up now. With him begging Rick to show any sign that he's still there, an explosion goes off from nearby the hospital. Power is cut to all of the equipment.


Shane desperately listens to Rick's chest to see if his heart is still beating without the machinery. He hears nothing. After a moment to break down, he realizes there is no hope and leaves.

Scene 04: Leaving Rick behind, Shane pulls his gun in case he needs to shoot his way out. There is more shooting deaths of civilians. From the opposite end of the hallway, the walkers shamble in his direction. He looks in on Rick once more, shoves a gurney in front of his door and puts a rag over his face before rushing away.

Commentary: Obvs, this is meant to explain to us why Shane told Lori that Rick was dead. It points to Shane legitimately not setting out to betray his partner by hooking up with his wife. In addition, we can understand why he may have genuinely thought that Rick was dead after the machinery goes off. Clearly he didn't know if any of it was keeping Rick alive, which is why he hesitated to remove any of the monitors from him. With his adrenaline rush and the concussive blast of the explosions, it's believable that he wouldn't have heard Rick's heart rate or felt his shallow breathing.

I think we needed this, even though I had made the assumption that he and Lori hooked up because they'd assumed Rick died in the hospital before this scene. But, with the obvious tensions going on between Rick and Shane, we needed something to keep Shane from being the outright villain... at least to start... going forward Shane becomes extremely problematic and then... well, he gets worse. Later one of the things that I'll regret with the writing on this series is how the show loses that dark grey with the character and leaps full bore into villain-mode. Some of this may be due to having to write Jon out in order for him to take his new job in "Mob City" but I think it went beyond that. By the end, it was tough to see how they could've kept Shane swerving back-n-forth when they kept having him do outrageous things... like lining up Rick in his gun sights.

I liked the ambiguity we had.

I did like the touch, also, of having Shane grab a rag to put over his face as soon as the walking dead came toward him. It points to the chaos of the larger situation, with everyone clearly not knowing where this thing came from or how it is spread.

Insert Credits - still love the theme

Scene 05: Back in the present, we're with our gang standing gobsmacked at the open security doors leading into the CDC. With walkers bearing down on them from all directions, I'm failing to understand why they stand there frozen.

[Except, it'd make a good bumper ad image.]

The gang enter into a deserted lobby. They're confronted by our suicidal scientist with guns drawn on both sides. After a bit of conversation and a pledge by Rick that everyone will submit to a blood test, Jenner allows them to join him. He tells them all that they need to grab anything they left outside now, for once the doors slam shut again, they'll stay closed.

Scene 06: After they get in, Jenner swipes a security card and orders "Vi" to seal the entrance and kill the power on the main floor.

Scene 07: The gang is led to the control room for the CDC underground. Rick notes that no one else is there and asks. Jenner breaks the news that the CDC is not the savior that Rick was looking for, as he is the only person left. It's just him and the computer.

They're led to have their blood drawn. Andrea points out that if any of them were infected, they'd have the fever but Jenner wants to be thorough, after having already broken quarantine just letting them in. Andrea gets dizzy and Jenner is concerned, but Jacqui tells him that none of them have eaten in days.

Scene 08: That is one thing that Dr. Jenner can fix. Everyone is treated to a real meal and, better, wine with dinner. For perhaps the first time in months, everyone can relax and laugh. Except for Jenner - Rick notices his distracted, somber mood.

He toasts the Doctor and thanks him for saving them. Shane in turn asks what happened to everyone else. Rick tries to forestall bringing the mood down, but Shane throws it in Rick's face that they were supposed to have found answers and salvation by risking everything to get here. They've found, instead, one man. He'd like to know why.

Jenner reports that many of the staff left when the outbreak first began to spin out of control to be with their families. The rest bolted when the cordon fell. Shane expresses skepticism that everyone left, so Jenner admits that there were those who couldn't face walking out the door and couldn't see any reason to stay, so they "opted out". Andrea asks why he stayed and he says he just wanted to do some good.


Glenn berates Shane for being a buzzkill.

Commentary: I'm going to stop here to talk about a few things. First, this is one of those times when it feels like Shane was being written as an asshole, just because. While we needed a little background on what happened at the CDC, it was pretty much covered last episode for us. The characters needed to be brought up to speed, and Shane's question was a natural one, but the writers just had to insist that he ask about what happened and bring down the party's mood just to show that he's in opposition to our designated hero, Rick. It was heavy-handed, and unnecessary. It's also going to be just one example of the confusion that the creative team are having over these characters. This episode is going to put Shane in villain territory, but then they're going to draw back from that later, only to then heavy-handedly return him to villainy... and the writers will continue to do that.

It gets worse, because they also end up doing the same thing to Lori, where her emotions and interactions almost make sense, but then the character is completely undercut as she's presented as... I don't even know what... bi-polar might be a good guess. In fact, if they had made her character emotionally ill and trying to cope without her meds, her character could've worked as written because she is so haphazardly presented to us.

This scene has a really odd, little detail that I can't explain as to why it caught my attention so. But right after Jenner throws that he's watched his colleagues "opt out" in Shane's face, Andrea gives this long, shocked reaction-face that I don't understand. At first, I thought it was some sort of set-up for them to have a "relief sex" encounter later on - sympathy over their having to watch their friends die [in Andrea's case, also her sister] but this isn't the case. The only thing done with that reaction shot, is to explain later that Andrea recognized the look of hopelessness on Jenner's face and intuited that there was no miracle coming their way. It was just an odd thing to focus so much attention on Andrea's reaction to his tale. The scene where this comes up again would've worked just fine without it.

This table scene also brought to mind the opening. I expected there to be some sort of tie from the opening in the overrun hospital to Jenner's story about what happened at the CDC. That also doesn't happen. And, I think it's because the flashback is out of order. Now maybe it should've gone here, or maybe it would've fit in better elsewhere [like when Shane is alone, isolated and thinking about Lori and Rick's return]. The point though, is that the opening scene of Shane trying and failing to save Rick in the chaos of the hospital feels completely unmoored to anything happening now because of its placement. I can only think that it was felt we needed to start the episode with an action scene, but I think that flashback would've worked much better later in this episode as things sort of sit for a bit, until Jenner's reveal about the facility coming up. The opening was just the wrong place for that flashback.

Finally, on first watch I kept having this really weird feeling about Jenner. I had at first put it down to the actor and thought that I just didn't like the way he was treating his role, but by the end of the episode it all made sense. So, I want to give Noah a kudo for making me feel like there was something not right about this setup, without doing anything overt or over the top.

Scene 09: Later, Jenner is leading them down a hallway of offices and explains that unnecessary power to the housing sections of the complex have been shut down. He asks them not to plug in any unnecessary devices and to go easy on the hot water.

Hot Water brings huge, surprised grins.

Scene 10: We get shower-montage of everyone ignoring Jenner's request to go easy on the water. Lori and Rick get romantic, Glenn luxuriates, T-Dog laughs under the shower head, Shane guzzles red wine and huffs and puffs his frustration and Andrea sits in grief that Amy didn't make it this far to apparent safety [or so I thought -- the next scene presents another possibility, instead].

Commentary: Ordinarily, I'm not a montage kinda guy -- I've had my fill with 80's movies, thanks. But I did like this one. It was nice how we started with the string of "happy" before transitioning to Shane and Andrea both filled with darker thoughts despite being in a place where they should feel relief.

Scene 11: A bit later, Rick is also carrying a bottle of wine when he passes Dale in the hallway and they share happy smiles. Rick continues onto his room, while Dale stops as he hears Andrea puking up and crying. Andrea is upset that everything is gone, and Dale thinks she's drunkenly referring to the wine [weird -- my first thought would be that she's dealing with Amy's loss again].

Andrea clarifies that there isn't a future, but Dale offers that this is their chance to start anew. She's shocked that he was blind to Jenner's face. She insists that there isn't anything left of the world they knew... and by intimation, no going back to "normal life".

Scene 12: In the control room, Jenner is sitting alone again. Rick joins him unexpectedly, still carrying his bottle of wine.

Rick has come to thank Jenner again for saving them. And to relieve himself of the burden that he'd kept from everyone else... that he felt that they were doomed and without any hope of finding a safe haven. He was keeping their morale up, but he didn't believe anything he was saying.


Jenner tells Rick that it'll all be okay. The look on his face suggests otherwise.

Scene 13: With Lori, she's made her way to the lounge, where there is a tiki bar in a corner, books on shelves for light reading and Carol. She's with Carl and Sophie, who are playing checkers but Carol soon sends them off to bed.

Lori decides to look over the books, while Carol contentedly says that this may be the first night in forever that everyone gets a good night's sleep and calls it a miracle.

Scene 14: After Carol and the kids make their way out, we see Drunken Shane eye-spying Lori in her sleeping shirt and socks checking out the book shelf.

He startles her purposely by slamming the door shut. Drunken Shane tells Lori that he has a few truths to speak and she's gonna shut up and hear what he has to say. She tries to walk out, but he steps in her way and asks about the way that she's treating him to which she responds with incredulity. Lori throws the misinformation about Rick in Shane's face, but he insists that he didn't lie and tries to describe the utter chaos and the free-shooting soldiers in the hallways.

As Shane tries to impress on Lori that he didn't just leave his best friend to die on purpose, he gets more frantic as Lori tries to calm the situation. She still trying to walk around him, but he pushes her back and insists that he saved her and Carl's life by telling her Rick had died so that she wouldn't stay behind for no purpose waiting on a husband that Shane thought was dead on that gurney. He tells Lori that if he could have, he'd have traded places with Rick; That he still feels that way.

But Lori isn't left in a position to feel any better about Shane because he's busy grabbing at her and standing too fucking close. It doesn't take long, despite Lori's protests, for him to tell her that he loves her and that he knows that she loves him to. He wants to force her to say it, but she's starts to panic, because he has her pinned and his behavior is... well... getting nuts.

To her growing horror, Shane starts shoving his hand down on her crotch and insisting that they love each other, despite her fiercely trying to push him off. When he won't take the hint that she's seriously scared, she scratches him across the neck - forcing him to take a few steps backward. Lori glares at him. Seeing her face, Shane suddenly appears to realize what he was on the verge of doing to her and they both stand breathing heavy with Lori staring him down, and he unable to meet her eyes.

Shane finally leaves, while Lori breaks down into terrorized tears and hyperventilates.

Commentary: I feel the need to address this scene because first: I'm really tired of the rape as drama trope. REALLY TIRED of it. But saying that, I want to give props to both Sarah and Jon for their performance in this scene. But, I have extremely conflicted feelings about it, because it feels like we were deliberately shown Shane trying to save Rick so that we'd understand that he isn't the bad guy [and Lori isn't either] for ending up in bed together. Rick was dead, as far as they knew, and Shane had made a valiant effort under impossible circumstances to get him out of the hospital.

But then, they keep undercutting that 'message' by first having Shane pull a bead on Rick suddenly and out of nowhere and now they have him do this. We can't see Shane as a flawed hero who is missing the mark or as a man who is cracking under the pressure if they keep having him do such clearly villainous things!

I keep feeling like they want us to stay on Shane's side enough for him to be seen as someone stuck in the greyzone, to oppose Rick's White Knight. But, they're going too far for this to work. When Shane was beating on Ed, that was a Grey Knight thing. When Shane was fighting with Rick over whether to go back for Merle or leave him to a ghastly fate for the good of the whole, that was a Grey Knight thing. Shane's lining up a shot into Rick's head because he came back and interrupted his savior fantasy for Lori is not a Grey Knight action... or at least it's skating really fucking close to the line. And then this action, this forcing himself upon her cannot be seen as a Grey Knight/Flawed Good Man Who's Cracking behavior. And no -- the fact that he's drunk isn't going to make me forgive this! But, I have this horrible feeling that I'm supposed to wave this off later when Shane doesn't face a comeuppance [does anyone really think Shane is going to get banished this early in the series?] for this assault.

There were much better ways to keep us on a like/fear line with Shane and this attempt at assault on Lori should've [if they were really committed to it] come much later, to show that Shane had lost his Grey Knight status and finally tipped into being the villain, even if he didn't realize how far he'd fallen.

This is just too soon in the narrative for Shane's character, because the audience isn't meant to hate him yet or to not see that he's trying to protect the group just as hard as Rick but in a different, more aggressive way and remain sympathetic and even agreeable to some of his points going forward. Everything now has to be seen through the prism of Shane maybe trying to rape Lori and murder Rick which makes their future scenes of friendship and sympathy problematic for us as the audience, when the script is clearly trying to get us to see Shane's side.

Having Shane swerve so far into the dark side this soon in the production was a major misstep for the audience's relationship with the character.

Scene 15: Sometime later, Rick comes stumbling into the room set up for his family. Carl is deep asleep on the sofa. Lori is huddled in on herself on the wide cot. She's still crying over her brush with Shane, but is hiding this from her husband.

He crawls into bed. When he pulls her into his arms, he notices that she's crying. Obvs, he can't know why and tells her that they don't have to be afraid anymore. He tells her that they're safe now. She rolls over and he passes out, while she's left wondering just what she's going to do.

Scene 16: The following morning, everyone meets in the dimly lit cafeteria. Rick and especially Glenn are hungover, while T-Dog has whipped up a decent breakfast for everybody.

Shane joins the rest of the group. There is instant tension between Lori and he, but when T-Dog mentions the claw marks on Shane's neck and he claims that he must've done it in his sleep, she doesn't contradict him. When Rick tells Shane that he's never seen him leaving marks on himself before, he agrees that it isn't like him - with obvious heavy meaning directed at Lori who refuses to look up from her plate.

Dale innocently interrupts this possible ugly confrontation by turning attention to the arriving Jenner. He apologizes for being about to pepper Edwin so early with questions, but Andrea points out they didn't come here for the eggs.

Scene 17: Jenner leads the survivors into the main computer room. He orders a playback of T(est) S(ubject) 19. Jenner walks the group through a virtual scan of a patient of the zombie process on someone who'd been infected, died, resurrected and then was put down.

The thought of it upsets Andrea [no doubt thinking again of Amy], but Jenner assures us that the patient was a volunteer after they'd been bitten in an attempt to help them understand what was happening. It's pretty gruesome as we watch the person gasping for breath before expiring.


Jenner next orders the computer to advance to the "second event"... the resurrection, while informing the group that the CDC had received reports of widely varying event times. On the monitor, we see the former patient's brain stem start to hyper-stimulate.


As the gang watch the body re-animate, the image on screen reflects a foreign object tunneling through the brain... the walker being head-shot.



Andrea and Jacqui begin to badger Jenner impatiently for what exactly is happening, but he lists several possibilities giving the idea that they hadn't figured it out before everything went to pieces. Jenner does confirm that there were other facilities working the problem, but as we've seen from Jenner's video logs, he's not in contact with anyone else currently.

The next blow to the gang when Andrea figures out that it's not just happening in Georgia, or the USA, but that the walkers are a world wide phenomena. As the gang are trying to wrap their heads around the fact that there isn't going to be a massive rescue coming from somewhere else, Dale asks Jenner about a clock on the wall that is counting down. Jenner tells them that is how long before the last generator runs out of fuel, but the way he says it suggests that there is something more. When he won't answer what will happen when the generators shut down, Rick asks the computer who is more than happy to help: It will initiate a self-destruct to sterilize the entire facility to keep the dangerous bugs the CDC has in storage from escaping.

Commentary: This scene is particularly long, but it's so very important both for the mythology by suggesting a scientific cause behind the walkers which is going to play in a big moment at the end of next season. But it's also important in playing into Jacqui and Jenner's choices [as well as Andrea's before Dale gets involved] at the end of the episode. This tells us that it is a global event and suggests a bacteria or virus... something which in the early stages attacks the brain like meningitis.

Even though the scene goes on for an extended period, I love the whole thing. The computer visuals are striking and horrible and sad as we watch the "patient" struggle to breathe and then begin to struggle back to movement following the reviving. Noah does a wonderful job as Jenner who struggles to watch what is happening again and to explain to the group what they're facing and some reaction-acting by Laurie Holden and Jeryl Prescott helps sell the devastation of the realization that the CDC is not salvation.

The whole thing plays out so nicely, especially as Jenner just walks away while Rick is finding out that everyone is to be "sterilized" in less than an hour with Jenner being apparently wholly ready for this happenstance.

Scene 18: Rick, Shane, Glenn and Theodore rush to the basement to check on the generators, but what they're hoping to find that will help them is anyone's guess.

Despite "sterilization" seeming to be self-evident, they're apparently still confused about what is going to happen to the facility.

In the basement are barrels of fuel, mostly already spent, being used to drive the emergency generators. Even as they're realizing just how low on fuel the CDC is to keep things running, the lights go off and are replaced by emergency, low-wattage lighting [which, uh, should have already been a thing as soon as they'd switched to emergency fuel].

Scene 19: As the men in the basement are grasping their new predicament, upstairs Lori is finding that the air conditioning system has stopped.

Scene 20: In his office, Jenner sits and gazes at a picture of his long lost. He's teary eyed and maudlin.

Scene 21: Jenner returns to the residence hall and is bombarded with questions about the room lights going off and the air stopping. Everyone follows him to the main computer room. He's met also by the return of Rick's group from the basement, where Rick insists to know what is happening. Jenner explains that non-essential services, like fresh air, are being shut down automatically by the computer system to conserve computer power for as long as possible.

Jenner returns to Andrea's question suddenly, confusing her, about other facilities. He offers that the French lab thought they may be close to a solution but then they, like the CDC facility, ran out of their fossil fuel stores.

Rick, sensing that things have gone really wrong, orders Lori to go grab their stuff so they can all make a run for it.

Before anyone can leave, the computer sets off a warning alarm that they've only got 30 minutes left until decontamination. Jenner enters a code and shuts the escape proof doors to the computer room, locking everyone inside to await the end.

While everyone freaks out, Jenner begins recording and transmitting a final log, before Daryl gets shoving on him for locking them inside. To Rick's demand to be let out, Jenner reminds them all that the front doors are sealed shut. He also reminds them that he did state that once the front doors were closed again, they wouldn't be opening. He claims that he couldn't open them now if we wanted, as it has all gone over to computer control.

To Rick's shouting, Jenner shouts back about the contagions that the CDC has locked up. He has the computer explain the self-destruct, which basically involves an aerosol being released into the air and then ignited so that a temperature of over 5000F is maintained for several minutes anywhere there is oxygen... it literally sets the air on fire in a several second burn to destroy all organic organisms throughout the facility.

Everyone but Jenner and Andrea react accordingly. Those two seem... resigned. Although, Jenner has returned to seeming slightly crazed, too.

Scene 22: After a rather clumsily inserted not-commercial break, the gang attack the sealed doors rather uselessly.

Jenner tries to impress on them how this ending will be far easier than the one they'd face out in the world with the disease. He also points out to Shane and Daryl that axes aren't going to break through doors designed to repel a terrorist attack with a rocket launcher. Daryl offers that his head doesn't have such a design, but he's tackled before he can plant the blade into the scientist's head.

Once things have calmed down enough to speak again, Jenner accuses Rick of actually wanting what Edwin is offering. He throws Rick's drunken confession of knowing everyone is in for a brutal death in the world back in his face, shocking Lori as she realizes that Rick's been lying about them having a chance.

Shane is angered at Rick's "lie" about having hope, while Jenner tells them that there is no hope and never was. Rick insists that somebody somewhere will find the cure, but Andrea angrily asks him which part of "nothing is left" didn't he understand. Edwin explains to them that this is the extinction event for the human race. Carol isn't buying and insists that Sophia deserves a chance but Jenner thinks it's cruel. Shane is also pissed and grabs a shotgun to shut Jenner up. He's grabbed and wrestled by Rick. Rick and Lori try to talk Shane down, pointing out that if Edwin dies now, they have zero chance of getting out.

He takes his frustration on the computer consoles next to Jenner's chair, until Rick knocks him down and takes the gun. Shane glares at Rick for getting them into this mess. Everyone stares at Rick for leadership.

He turns on Jenner again and calls him a liar about there being no hope. He forces Jenner to tell him why, if he believes it's all over, he didn't take the easy way out with the others or left the facility to run for it in the beginning. Edwin tells them all that he didn't keep working at it because he wanted to, but because he promised TS-19... his wife, that he'd keep trying until there wasn't anything left to try with.

While Daryl continues trying to cut through the blast door with his axe, Rick and Lori impress on Edwin that all they're pleading for is a chance to make their own choice.

With a frustrated sigh, Edwin gives in and lets them out of the computer room -- but reiterates that he can't do anything to open the outer doors as he wasn't lying about that being under Vi's control now.

Jenner tells Rick to go and he tells him that he's grateful for him giving them all a chance to live. Jenner assures Rick that the day will come when he won't be. He then shakes his hand, but it's a pretense to pull Rick close and whisper a GREAT SECRET into Rick's ear. Whatever it is, Rick looks shocked and dismayed.

Scene 23: With everyone rushing out, Jacqui pulls herself out of the arms of T-Dog's arms and tells the others that she's not leaving with their four minutes left.

[NOOOOO, not Jeryl! We hardly got into her character!]

T-Dog tries to tell her how insane that sounds, but she insists that staying is the sane choice. She urges the others to run now, rather than waste their breath trying to argue the point with her.


Scene 24: Dale makes shocked-face at Jacqui, but her mind is set to stay with Jenner. He then notices that Andrea hasn't run anywhere either and she confirms that she's decided to stay put. Well, Jacqui was one thing, but there isn't any way that Busybody is going to let Andrea choose her own fate.

Scene 25: Everyone else rushes up the stairs with time ticking down and no plan to get past the outer security doors.

Scene 26: Dale tries to guilt trip that Amy wouldn't want Andrea's end to come this way, but she flatly tells him that Amy is dead and he needs to leave. He tries a staredown.

Scene 27: Upstairs, the gang reach the lobby. As Jenner warned, the doors won't open. But in addition, they now find that the windows are made with impact resistant glass and once again their axes aren't useful to escape.

Scene 28: In the computer room, Jacqui walks around nervously with just over three minutes left. Andrea notes to Dale that time is almost up.

Scene 29: In the lobby, T-Dog desperately tries a chair on the windows that wouldn't break with an axe head... the result won't shock you.

Shane takes the shot gun to it, but that is shrugged off by their nemesis as well. But thankfully for everyone, that first morning that Rick showed up at the camp and Carole washed his uniform, she'd found the grenade that he'd taken from the soldier inside the tank he'd been barricaded in! She'd been keeping it safe in her napsack this entire time since he'd never asked for it and she didn't want it floating around camp.

The grenade's pin is pulled and as Rick rushes away, a CGI light flash pushes him off of his feet. But it does the job that the axe, chair and gun couldn't.

Scene 30: In the Computer Room, Dale gives in to Andrea. Rather than try any further to argue her out of suicide, he'll accept her choice. As long as she can accept his choice to not leave her behind. Andrea tells Dale not to pull this crap on her, but he's adamant that if she won't leave, he won't leave. His face reflects his dread and fear at their impending death, but he offers that he can't face the outside alone.

Andrea tells Dale that she doesn't want him there, but he returns that she doesn't get to decide for him. He passive-aggressives that she doesn't get to come into somebody's life, make them care about her and then check out. She gets the guilty-tears....

Commentary: I really do like Andrea's character, especially after next season but it really bugs me that she lets Dale guilt her into leaving & then has the gall to blame him for her decision to give in to his obvious desire to run. Sorry Andrea - Dale may have been pulling a guilt trip, but he's right. He does have the choice to stay or go just like you and Jacqui.

If he wants to stay because you're staying, I'd be like "Okay. Stay. But this is your choice and I'm not running for it just because you're being passive-aggressive and pulling your guilt fest on me. This is your choice."

I feel more badly for Jacqui, who nobody is interested in arguing with to live. Nice for her, huh?

Dale: "Jacqui can just die here for all I care, Andrea. But, I expect you to care that somebody cares for you this much to stay even though you know I don't want to."

Scene 31: Outside, the gang have gotten out but now face the impending explosion of the CDC with not enough time to vacate the area and the walkers who are wandering about.

As everyone is getting ready to take off in their vehicles, Lori spots Dale and Andrea slowly climbing out of the lobby window.

Scene 32: Jenner and Jacqui watch the gang's escape on a monitor. With 20 seconds left, Jenner expresses surprise that they got out. Jacqui gives a teary smile.

Scene 33: Outside, Dale and Andrea run for cover.

Scene 34: Inside, it's less than 10 seconds to go. Jenner and Jacqui hold one anothers' hand. They stare at one another, rather than the clock. Jenner looks suddenly scared, but Jacqui is relieved and smiles at him.

Scene 35: Outside, Rick looks at the second hand on his watch while Andrea and Dale pick their way around the bodies to reach safety. Lori and Rick shout at everyone out of the windows to get down, get down!

The entire CDC explodes, then implodes in a huge CGI fireball. Thankfully with the fireball being CGI, it doesn't generate convection heating so the group sitting nearly on top of it doesn't combust. It also lacks the concussive force that would've ordinarily knocked that huge RV onto its side and smashed out all of the windows. Fortunately as well, all of the debris didn't cut Shane to ribbons in his ill-advised open-air Jeep.

Really, it's just CGI-lucky all around for our survivors.


Commentary: Yeah, can you guess that I found the CGI destruction to be ridiculously over the top? I thought the idea was to incinerate everything, not destroy a city block and pulverize a perfectly good building. It really wasn't necessary to have this silly explosion, especially since CGI really only works well in space scenes or other not-real-life situations. And fire is notoriously bad on a computer.


Scene 36: Everyone gawks at the flaming wreckage where they were all standing less than 5 minutes ago.

Behind a bunker placement of sandbags, Dale checks on Andrea and urges her to get up and moving. They run stunned to the RV. Andrea shoots glares at Dale's general direction.

Our team rolls out.


Scene 37: Behind them, the CDC site continues to burn in a huge blaze. We follow the dark smoke upward into end credits.

The Good: I'm really glad we got the flashback explaining Shane's actions in trying to save Rick in the hospital to explain that yes, he really did think Rick was dead before moving in on his partner's grieving wife.

I really liked Noah Emmerich's portrayal of Edwin Jenner, especially in the beginning when you could tell that something just wasn't right with him and yet he wasn't doing anything villainous.

I loved the entire scene with Jenner explaining what they've found out about the walker epidemic and the graphic scans of his wife dying, coming back and being shot dead-dead.

I liked the ending of everyone making a choice about staying for a clean, quick death or going back out into a world that is overrun and likely to end in a gruesome fate. I also like the way that Jeryl handled Jacqui's decision, even though I hate that her character was already lost before we got to really know her.

The Bad: The assault by Shane on Lori is completely out of place and is awkwardly handled by the scripting to boot. I hate this having happened this soon in the series, and I hate that there isn't a way to deal with it realistically so it's shunted off to the side, because Shane's not a character we're ready to write out of the show yet.

I don't like that we've lost both Jim and Jacqui... characters who'd we'd spent some time with being lost in quick succession before we've really had time to know them. This is especially because when they were given dialog, they handled it well but they were both pretty much also-rans in the cast. If you want us to care about losing people, we need to know them and the writers have been pretty poor about spreading the big scenes around.

Stop with the CGI OTT fireworks - fire is like water, it's just not convincing in bytes of data.

Other Thoughts: There are a few very minor pacing issues that come in the end of the plot. The scenes of the guys checking empty barrels in the basement run a bit long [but at least T-Dog gets some lines of dialog] and the screaming/threatening in the computer room when Jenner locks them in goes on a bit long. It's easy enough to wave that aside.

The Score: 3.75 out of 5 Stars. I really liked the episode due to some fine acting and the entire explanation scene.

Next Up: BTVS, "Dead Man's Party"

Tags: walking dead season 1 review

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