Sunday, December 5, 2010
"The Walking Dead" season finale: "TS-19"
The shortened freshman season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" came to a fairly satisfying close tonight. Yes, a lot of questions are still unanswered, like "What happened to Merle Dixon?" "What happened to Morgan and his son?" and "Is Dale capable of uttering a single sentence that doesn't like it was lifted directly from the codgers' cliche handbook?"But there were some solid answers. For one thing, we finally learned that Shane wasn't lying (at least, not completely) when he told Lori that Rick was dead. In a flashback, we see Shane frantically attempting to get Rick out of the hospital, as it is overrun with zombies and trigger-happy military men. When the power goes of in Rick's room, Shane checks Rick for a heartbeat. I'm not sure what he hears. He later tells Lori that there was nothing. But he also says that he feared giving her any hope would lead her to stay behind, risking hers and Carl's lives. Maybe Rick's heartbeat was weak enough that Shane assumed he was a goner, and wanted to protect Lori and Carl while there was still a chance.
That's forgivable, but Shane later squanders that good will when he nearly rapes Lori in the CDC hatch. Sure, he's drunk and bitter, but that doesn't make his act any less ass-faced.
In other matters, the gang learns a little more about their presumed savior, former CDC worker Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich). After last week's episode, many fans compared the CDC facility to the hatch on "Lost." However, Jenner is no Desmond. Rather, he's more like Desmond would have been had Penny been turned into a zombie and he had been forced to watch her descent into the undead. Even Charles Widmore could never have envisioned something so cruel.
Yes, Jenner saves the band by letting them into the facility, but the gang quickly learns that the building is rigged to blow once the generators run out of power. Look, I know this is a facility that houses dangerous material, but isn't self combustion a bit extreme? And, if I may take a moment to unfairly bring real science into this, wouldn't an explosion of this sort run the risk of releasing some of the dangerous diseases housed at the CDC into the atmosphere?
At any rate, the news that their new home is about to burst into flames sends most of the survivors on the run except for Jacqui, who inexplicably decides it's better to burn than face certain doom outside. Hmm. Up to this point, Jacqui hadn't really struck me as a fatalist, so this seemed a bit random, but whatever.
Less random is the still shell-shocked Andrea's decision to stay behind. She's still having a massive pity party about the loss of her sister, and almost lets her grief and guilt kill her. Luckily, the Senior Wisdomatic (a.k.a. Dale) talks sense into her in time to save them both.
They flee, and soon our gang is on the road again. It's a fairly predictable conclusion, but it was a solid finale to a decent first season. "The Walking Dead" had its flaws -- an excess of melodrama, some unconvincing characters, really poor attempts at Southern accents -- but there was enough to keep me watching. The action sequences were excellent and the zombie effects were unassailable in their gruesome realism. I also liked many of the human performances, including the poignant work of Laurie Holden as Andrea, and Andrew Lincoln's strong, silent work as Rick.
While not perfect, it was still leagues above pretty much all of the new series launched by the broadcast networks this season. And, despite recent reports that Frank Darabont fired the show's writing staff, I have hope that its second season will be an improvement.