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It's only been six episodes, and we're already at the end of The Walking Dead's first season. I'll be The Walking Disappointed Guy until next year I guess. How do the British get by on these shortened seasons? I don't know how to feel about Frank Darabont's recent boohooing about writing that only seemed shaky when his own name was on top of it. But it'll be ten months or so before the change can be judged properly, so I'll just go on with this week's entry.
Dr. Jenner allows the group into the Center for Disease Control, so long as each person supplies a blood test. Much appreciation is given to Jenner, especially when he provides the first meal they've had in days, complete with mucho alcohol and some background information. They're in an area called Zone 5, run by a computer program called "Vi"; while it eventually kills people, it's done without the stereotypical techno-malice. Shane demands to know why no one else is in the CDC, focusing his ire on Rick for bringing the group there. Jenner admits everyone else either fled in fear or stayed and committed suicide. Downtrodden, the group is allowed to wash their worries away in hot showers. Hot showers!
This paragraph is about what the group does when drunk. Carl grimaces at the taste of wine. Andrea goes on about how depressed the hopelessness is making her. Rick admits to Jenner how shaken his faith in survival had become. Daryl swings a bourbon bottle around. Lori looks through books, and Shane corners her against her will, angrily explaining the events of the show's opening scene; it depicted his moral and physical dilemma in the failed rescue of Rick from his hospital room. Any sense of his righteousness disappears once he threateningly backs her into a table. Lori scratches the side of his neck, a non-devastating move that can only stop an attempting rapist if he really cares about you. When later asked about the scratch, Shane avoids a straight answer.
The next morning is a hungover one for everyone. It's the perfect time to notice a huge clock on the while with numbers that are constantly counting down to zero! But first, Jenner goofily presents a video of Subject 19's brain scan, part of an experiment used to track human brain activity once zombie infection sets in. When reanimated, only the brain stem is active, which is a blow to the idea that the situation can be cured. The patient is then shot through the head. That bit of euthanasia causes the group to rage on Jenner. This is when the clock is noticed.
There is only an hour left on the clock! This countdown coincides with the amount of power available to the Center by the basement generators. When this power is depleted, there will be a facility-wide decontamination, which no one quite understands at first. After getting little done in the generator room, the group convenes in the main room, and Jenner locks them inside. He informs everyone that, due to the number of highly dangerous substances within the CDC, everything within will be destroyed by an ignited airborne aerosol. Tempers are flaring all over, and Shane gets maniacal with a gun, blowing away a bunch of computer terminals. Rick forcibly calms him down, and has a chance to hurt him but doesn't take it.
Jenner gets his swan song, confessing that Subject 19 was his wife. She was the one standing behind him, forcing him forward with the experiments after the infections hit. He isn't brave at all, just a man who keeps his promises. The group then uses this story to extract sympathy from Jenner, saying that his promise of continual research would include letting them live. He opens the room's doors, warning that the ground level's doors won't open. Luckily, a grenade Rick took from the police station has remained in Carol's possession, and it blows open a window, allowing escape.
On a sad note, Jacqui decides to stay with Jenner inside the CDC, finding no reason to seek further refuge. Andrea temporarily shares this idea, until a lovingly wide-eyed Dale sits next to her, offering up his own life with hers. They're the last two to leave, following the group, who has reached the vehicles after bullet-riddling some zombies. BOOM!! The building explodes in a ball of fire, and the group drives away to Bob Dylan telling us "Tomorrow is a Long Time."
All in all, it was an interesting episode, even though it wasn't handled as well as it could have been. It's not the show's fault that I hate "countdown" plotlines, especially the way this is set up. The computer is in charge of the power supply, shutting off lights and air conditioning when the time gets low. Why was there air conditioning in the first place? They're underground. Why are hundreds of lights on instead of just emergency lights? Why aren't there low-pressure showerheads in the bathroom? I'm thinking the computer could have been a little smarter. As well, I was waiting for more of a Rick/Shane ending to balance out the opening scene. I'm not finding anything to chew on over the show's long hiatus. This episode's plot was cleared up, but no loose threads do any kind of cliffhanging. Whatever happened to Merle? Whatever happened to the canon of the comic? Baby Jane? It's only been over for an hour, and already I'm talking crazy. I could possibly be another year older by the time this show starts again. I hope it matures better than I do. Thanks for following with me guys. Look for me between the walkers.
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