The Walking Dead season 1 finale aired tonight, titled “TS-19.” At the end of the last episode, our band of survivors had potentially found the CDC. In this episode they hook up with Dr. Jenner, the only survivor of the CDC base. “VI,” an artificial intelligence, controls the base. First Jenner does what any reasonably intelligent scientist would do to make someone’s acquaintance; he takes a blood-sample. In Jenner’s case, it’s to make sure no one is carrying the zombie virus/germ/disease. Spoiler-alert: everyone’s clean.
Next they break out the wine. Rick even gives some to his son, Carl, who predictably thinks it is gross. Everyone laughs and laughs and laughs about the utter hilarity of their situation—a situation that can only be funny after five glasses of wine. Someone asks the question that everyone’s thinking: what happened here? Jenner tells everyone his sad story. When the outbreak occurred, some people left right away. Others bolted when the military took over. Some people were too afraid to leave and “opted out,” which is Jenner’s tactful way of saying they committed suicide. Jenner just kept working. Glenn breaks the tension by calling Jenner a buzz-kill. In case you missed the memo, Glenn rocks.
It’s nice that our little band of survivors have found hot water and couches and a library but isn’t this show called “Walking Dead”? Not “A Group of People Surviving What I’m Told Is The Zombie Apocalypse But I’m Not Sure Because I Never See Any Zombies”? It’s a longer title, I grant you, but it would more accurately describe what’s currently happening on my television screen.
“Wildfire” was talking, talking and some more talking. “TS-19” is just more of the same. We have two heart-to-heart conversations between Dale and Andrea, one between Rick and Jenner. Shane tries to rape Lori, which just cements him as a bad guy in my book. There’s some needed exposition and scientific discussion when Jenner shows the group some scans of an infected brain. This speech is lovely and poetic, but I’m itching from the lack of zombies.
The drama really picks up, not when walkers invade the CDC (unfortunately), but when Dale (the old guy) points out a countdown clock in the base. Jenner explains that when the clock his zero “facility-wide decontamination will occur.” Later on we’re told that this means VI will release chemicals into the air that will cause the oxygen to ignite. Jenner calmly points out that this is an instant, painless way to die. Jenner is crazy and no one is comforted by his assessment of a painless way to die.
There is a fine line between straight-up drama, and drama for the sake of drama. Especially when everyone who is watching your show knows that it has been picked up for a second season. We know that not everyone is going to die in VI’s fiery blast. However, we don’t know who will. For the first time in at least three or four episodes, Walking Dead walked this line like a pro.
Jenner has locked the group into the bridge-section of the compound and refuses to let them leave. Predictably, everyone freaks out. In the end, Rick convinces Jenner to let them go, but Jacqui decides to stay behind. It’s just as well—I had to look up her name on Walking Dead’s website. Before Rick books it out of the compound, Jenner whispers something in his ear. What does he say? I guess we’ll have to tune in next season to find out!
After a randomly produced grenade to blow up the nearly un-breakable glass, our plucky zombie fighters actually get to fight some zombies as they run to their… caravan of cars. Why do they need five cars? There are only ten of them! Even during the apocalypse, it’s important to carpool. Remember that.
“Walking Dead” season two starts airing next Fall on AMC. To satiate your thirst for zombies until then, check out “28 Days Later.” Like “Walking Dead,” it’s more about the relationships than about the zombies. Unlike “Walking Dead,” there are only four main characters, allowing the viewer to develop a connection to each one. Plus it’s always fun to stare at Cillian Murphy for an hour and a half.