by Billie Doux
This is an episode that had to happen. Our group would have gone to the CDC to look for answers sooner or later. And of course, since this is The Walking Dead, the answers were not happy ones.
It seemed like things were cool at first. Our group was just so happy to have found a safe place with couches, decent food and hot showers, that they couldn't help having a party. Thematically, that party was so obviously a "last supper" -- a dozen survivors and Edwin Jenner around a table, laughter, lots of red wine. I particularly liked Carl asking for wine and then deciding he didn't like the taste, because it reminded us of a world where little boys aren't supposed to drink wine. (Unless they're in France.) I also really loved seeing Rick and Glenn hung over. It was new and it was funny. This show is so rarely funny.
And then, after the last supper, we moved on to the death and resurrection portion of the episode: the MRI recording of Jenner's wife. It established what actually happens when someone dies and becomes a walker. It's the brain stem only; the "you" part of your brain never comes back. We knew that, but it was smart of the producers and writers to confirm it.
Some of the group cried for Jenner's wife, Test Subject 19. Or maybe they were crying because of what Jenner said, that she was a huge loss to the world because she was the one who could have found a cure. Jenner saw no value in himself and the long vigil he had kept, going through the motions after his wife was gone until he could die, too.
Observant Dale was the one who noticed the countdown clock (duh) and the subtext finally became text. The fuel was running out at that very moment, the CDC was about to evaporate in a cloud of fire, and Jenner saw absolutely no reason to stay alive any longer. Our survivors had gone to the CDC for answers, but what they found was the absence of hope. Jenner let them all in, knowing he was about to pull the plug. He believed deep down that suicide was a much better choice than trying to survive in the world as it is now.
It was understandable that Andrea, devastated with grief for Amy, decided to stay and die with Jenner and Jacqui -- and that Dale would refuse to leave her. What did Dale see in Andrea that he didn't see in Jacqui? Was it just that he had a close relationship with Andrea and a strong feeling that she wasn't ready to die? It felt odd to me that Dale didn't even try with Jacqui.
But whatever. I thought Jenner and Jacqui holding hands and looking into each other's eyes as the end came was quite lovely. Suicide under circumstances like these is understandable. Jenner's error was making that choice for everyone else. Especially the children, and the parents of children. One of those parents, Carol, had kept Rick's grenade after washing his clothes, and that grenade saved the day. What sort of person keeps a grenade in her handbag? Maybe one who always expects the worst.
What did Jenner whisper to Rick before he left?
Flashbacks and love triangles
We finally saw Shane's side of the Rick-in-a-coma story, and it made Shane's actions with Lori look somewhat better. Shane did try damned hard to get Rick's unconscious body out of the hospital, but when the power went off, he was convinced that Rick didn't have a heartbeat. And he did bar Rick's door with a gurney, which was what saved Rick's life. Shane didn't lie to Lori. Unless he was lying to himself about not hearing Rick's heartbeat.
But still. Shane needed Lori to understand how he felt and unfortunately, he chose to do that by trying to force himself on her (while she was, obvious symbolism, holding a copy of Reasonable Doubt in her hand.) Lori is in an impossible situation. What can she do? Tell Rick, and see Rick and Shane fight to the death? Keep her mouth shut and hope the situation doesn't eventually explode?
Bits and pieces:
-- Because of the obvious last supper reference, I counted our survivors and there were indeed twelve: Rick, Lori and Carl, Carol and Sophia, Shane, Andrea, Dale, Daryl, T-Dog, Glenn and Jacqui. And now Jacqui is gone.
-- Early in the episode, Jenner talked about a rash of suicides. A little foreshadowing there.
-- According to Jenner, the French held out the longest. I wonder if there's a cure in France that isn't making it to the U.S.?
-- The time it takes for a walker to resurrect is all over the place: three minutes to eight hours. Did the writers look back through the first season and make that fit?
-- The flashback showed soldiers killing hospital staff indiscriminately. In the present, Shane lost it in those final minutes in the CDC and fired wildly around him. Sort of lucky he didn't hit anyone. Daryl went pretty nuts with an axe, too.
Andrea: "You have no idea what it is, do you?"
Jenner: "It could be microbial, viral, parasitic, fungal…"
Jacqui: "Or the wrath of God?"
Jenner: "There is that."
Jenner: "It sets the air on fire. No pain. An end to sorrow, grief, regret. Everything."
Jenner: "This is what takes us down. This is our extinction event."
A lovely sentiment, Dr. Jenner. But I don't think so. I think eventually people will make it back. But that might just be because I'm a people.
Excellent season finale. Four out of four glasses of red wine,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.