'The Walking Dead' Season 1, Episode 6 (Season Finale) Recap (VIDEO)
by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 6th 2010 8:50AM
['The Walking Dead' - 'TS-19' Recap]
In fiction, a bright light often signifies hope, or the coming of some greatness. It can also mean the end of one's life, perhaps the light at the end of that proverbial tunnel. For the survivors of the outbreak of the dead, Jenner's light at the CDC meant both of those things.
It also shined brightly upon them, asking them to question their drive and motivation. Their very will to live in such a world.
In a dramatic departure from the source material, 'The Walking Dead' did a fantastic job of setting us up for the remainder of this story by stripping these characters down to their emotional cores to see what they're made of. It's what they faced inside themselves here that will speak to how they can face the world out there.
It also, at least temporarily, created a bond of survival and will among this disparate group that they will need if they are to persevere and forge ahead. And all because one lonely and frightened scientist had himself given up all hope. Why else did Jenner even let them into the facility if he knew it was less than a day away from the decontamination that would kill them all?
Perhaps, after all that time alone, he truly felt he'd be doing them a favor by offering them a painless death. But what he failed to do was offer them a choice. He'd made his and was at peace with it, but just as he almost denied them sanctuary, he nearly denied them even the choice of the quiet death (so to speak) he offered, or a slim chance of freedom.
Jenner had been strong and hung in there after the loss of his wife, the woman who once ran that CDC facility, and who would go on to become "Test Subject 19." His despair mirrored that felt by Andrea over the loss of her sister. And so it was unsurprising that she lapsed into that state of abject misery he seemed to be infecting everyone with. Only Dale's loyalty forced her to follow the others to freedom. Jacqui, it would seem, had no such advocate. I wonder how that felt, seeing Dale fight for Andrea to find the will to go on, while just letting her sit there, completely ignored.
That freedom Dale argued for wouldn't have come at all had Carol not found, and hung onto, the grenade that Rick had on him when he first joined the camp. A little bit of hope and luck, and some well-handled zombie hacking, maybe there's something better out there. Perhaps there are more like Jenner, still fighting for a cure. Maybe they can still find Morgan and Duane on the road and we'll make our way to somewhere safe to hole up for awhile. Somewhere like a prison, perhaps. Somewhere they can rebuild lost hope.
Whether the series goes back to the comic books source for plot direction -- and I suspect it will, as we already know some key characters like Michonne and Tyreese are upcoming -- or it heads in a wholly new direction, I am completely confident that the beautiful quality and complexity of these first six episodes will be intact. And with thirteen episodes in next year's Season 2, there will be time to let some of them stretch and breathe.
This finale was framed very much like a potential series finale. Obviously, they had no idea how this would play to US audiences, so they gave us a finale that would be emotionally satisfying, and it was. We got to see everyone share those brief glimpses of normalcy with over-drinking, clean showers and even a library.
It wasn't a coincidence, I'm sure, that Lori was holding the book 'Reasonable Doubt' when she and Shane finally addressed what she'd been feeling since Rick came back. She was convinced that Shane had abandoned him, and I guess the producers wanted to make sure we knew that Shane had done no such thing. He'd been afraid to unhook Rick from the machines as the zombies began to overrun the hospital, but you could see the anguish on his face as he left his friend. It also looks like he may have truly believed he was dead; he at least told Lori that, and we did see him listen for a heartbeat.
It doesn't forgive his subsequent attempt to sexually assault her, but we at least see some depth to his motives. He's probably been in love with her for a long time -- we still don't know if they were intimate prior to Rick getting shot in the premiere -- and at least for a while, she reciprocated. Then, for her to feel he lied and betrayed her when it's such a wrong accusation for what he truly did for her; it would be a difficult thing for anyone to sit on, much less someone with Shane's unpredictable temperament.
It created a poignant reminder for us, as well, of the very real danger they're facing. When Rick came to bed that night, in a moment of blind optimism, he told his wife, "We don't have to be afraid anymore. We're safe here." At that moment, with the feeling of her nails in Shane's face still fresh, safe was probably the last thing Lori felt. And now they're back on the road and there Shane will be, and all that baggage. We saw it with Ed and with Merle. Their own worst enemies could well be themselves.
We are petty and ugly creatures at times. The zombies, as Jenner pointed out, are little more than instinct and enough brain function to move around. In that regard, they can be forgiven their actions. What are our excuses?
'The Walking Dead' airs Sundays, 10PM ET on AMC.
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