AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 6: “TS-19”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Frank Darabont & Adam Fierro; Based on comics by Charlie Adlard, Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore.
* For a review of the previous episode, “Wildfire” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “What Lies Ahead” – click here
The Season 1 finale “TS-19” shows us Officer Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) in the hospital where Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) lies motionless, stuck in a coma. The military has descended upon the building, killing people indiscriminately. Zombies wander the halls. Nobody worries about Rick, as he looks about dead anyways. They leave him, and lucky for Shane he isn’t noticed either. He tries his best to wake the comatose Sheriff, but to no such luck. Things slowly get worse and finally Shane does the only thing he can do: run. Can we blame him? I do. Maybe it’s too much to expect that Shane would take Rick, bad shape or not and get the hell out of there. Instead, he bars the door and leaves. Then tells Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) her husband is dead, taking over husband duties. I don’t know about anyone else, but the more I found out about those last moments, the more I hated Shane for it. Sure, maybe Rick would’ve died off the machines after awhile. Shane could have at least tried.
Cut back to the CDC.
Rick and the gang are let inside by Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich). On edge, they have a tense first meeting with Jenner. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) – everyone is sceptical. But then again, so is the doctor. He requires a blood test as “the price of admission,” to which Rick agrees quickly.
Such a stark, striking contrast between the outside crumbling world and the inside, sterile, healthy environment of the Center for Disease Control. Everything is so white, so clean and orderly, as opposed to the absolute chaos outdoors. Stranger still is the dinner table scene where everyone sits around eating, drinking wine, laughing and generally having a good time. Yet in the background, Dr. Jenner is sitting morbidly quiet. He knows too much, that’s the problem.
We watch as the survivors lean back into normal life. If only for a moment. Andrea (Laurie Holden) ends up on the bathroom floor vomiting into the toilet. Dale comes to her aid, talking with her and trying to be there. Only she’s all doom and gloom, she does not see light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, Lori browses through books, drinking more wine. She and a drunk Shane have a confrontation, one which reveals further and further how much he is hooked on Lori. A bit of a violent moment transpires between the two, changing things for the worse, as Shane almost rapes her. Hideous.
The next morning things are semi-normal. Everyone hungover, eating breakfast. Lots of chat and laughs. “You feel as bad as I do?” asks Rick – “Worse,” replies Shane. When Dr. Jenner arrives everyone, of course, has their questions. He shows them information on the TS-19 sample. It turns out TS-19 was infected, they gave themselves over to be willingly studied. The information Jenner shows includes lots of in-depth MRI data, scans of the subject’s brain. Even though there is a lot of talk about the virus, maybe some think it’s too much, I dig it because the way it’s presented is intense. Watching everyone slowly understand what Jenner is showing them can be emotional.
Things get scarier once Rick and the group discover not much time is left until the generators run out of power. The computer system says a facility-wide decontamination will begin after that time. It sounds ominous, especially considering Dr. Jenner leaves them all casually when asked about it himself.
Slowly, the building’s energy starts to shut down. Various lights and air conditioning systems begin powering off. Daryl, Rick, everyone is on edge. With a half hour left on the big red digital clock, it looks as if there are dark, dangerous times ahead. Rick and Shane start rounding everyone up to get going. Jenner starts his camera up again, as if conducting further experiments. The doors shut locking everybody inside. Jenner tells them all about what’s about to happen when the timer hits zero. And doesn’t it make sense for what the CDC is (at least in this series; it isn’t really like that)? Clearly the place would have intense, extreme and definitive measures for situations such as this, apocalypse and all. A foreboding few minutes pass while the survivors learn all this, clock ticking down in the foggy background. It is terrifying really.
The try to break down the doors, but that clearly isn’t going to work. Meanwhile, Jenner wants to convince them all instant death is better than being in this world, out there with zombies everywhere, the virus bearing down on everybody. “There is no hope,” says Jenner: “There never was.” The doctor sees the zombie virus as “our extinction event“.
In the end, we discover Jenner’s wife was TS-19. She wanted him to keep going, as long as possible. Rick and a few of the others convince him to open the door, to let them out. Despite his protest.
On the way out, Jenner tells Rick something none of us hear. No one else there does, either. What is it? Later this will be an intense revelation. For now, Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott) decides to stay with Jenner and doesn’t want to leave, neither Dale nor T-Dog (Irone Singleton) can convince her. Even worse, Andrea says she wants to stay. Dale is terrified and tries to tell her the best option is to go. He refuses to leave without her, as the others are up top trying to get out of the locked down building.
Carol (Melissa McBride) proves to be crafty and provides a solution: a grenade she found in Rick’s pocket during his first day at the camp. A risky move, but one that needed to be made.When Rick and the others make it outside, it is a zombie wasteland. Far as the eyes can see. They get back into their vehicles and head out. Just as we watch Andrea and Dale crawl out the front of the building, as well. Inside, Jenner and Jacqui await the inevitable and hold hands before eternity comes in death. A massive explosion destroys the CDC and crumbles the building into bits, rocking the entire city block around it.
As Bob Dylan sings “Tomorrow Is a Long Time”, the survivors begin their journey. Headed somewhere, anywhere else. What is it that Jenner told Rick? He hasn’t told the rest of them yet, so what will Season 2 hold for Rick and the others? No telling (except I already know because I’ve seen the series
too many three times over).
Stay with me. I’m heading into Season 2 again. Each review will be posted as I go along, so if you’re reading them thanks for sticking around, and I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do. Whether it’s your first viewing, or your fourth. Or tenth. Next episode is Season 2’s “What Lies Ahead“. See you soon.