JEFF: It was as if some members of The Group were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, none more so than Andrea. The terror and despair of the horror-show grind that she had been keeping at bay caught up with her and nearly crushed her. "Everything is gone!" she wailed to Dale. "Hear what I am saying: There is nothing left!" The next morning, all of them awoke with hangovers -- physical and emotional -- and they marched into the Zone 5 "Big Room" control center and sought out Dr. Strangelove and his God-like virtual intelligence "Vi" (shades of: HAL from 2001?) to cure them of their profound pain by giving them “Answers” and “Hope.” Didn’t quite get them, did they Dan?
DAN: Jenner was running low on both of those -- especially the latter. He explained to our survivors what little he did know, with the aid of a video presentation -- a playback of a brain scan of Test Subject 19 (later revealed as his brilliant scientist wife, who ran the CDC.). Jenner smoothly narrated over the entrancing visuals: “Somewhere in all that organic wiring, all those ripples of lights...is you, a thing that makes you unique and human.” Things then took a darker turn, literally. We saw the vibrant lights dud out; it was the zombie sickness shutting down the brain and major organs before killing the subject. We witnessed the reanimation process -- as short as three minutes and as long as eight hours -- learning that it restarted the brainstem, not the brain, rendering the person “just a shell driven by mindless instinct.” But what caused it? What was it? Alas, Jenner didn't know: “Could be microbial, viral, parasitic, fungal....” “Or the wrath of god?” asked Jacqui. “There is that,” he said. Poor guy had been working in the dark for almost a month, and had reached the end of his hope rope. Rick & Co. pressed him for facts -- for a single reason to believe -- but Jenner couldn’t give them what they wanted. In a way, he'd become a zombie, his will to live rotted out, leaving behind a shell of a man. Gutted by grief over the loss of his wife (like Andrea, he had to end a loved one with a bullet to the brain), and facing down a drained fuel supply, he was left to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on his failed mission to solve the pandemic.
JEFF: We were left with the impression that a zombie plague remedy was either impossible (America’s best hope for solving the crisis died with Jenner's genius wife) or very remote. Jenner revealed that he had reason to believe that French scientists had made more headway in the quest for a cure. Will The Walking Dead ultimately conclude umpteen seasons from now with Team Rick boarding a cruise ship bound for The Continent? Or will the saga end with teams of Hazmat-clad French super-soldier/scientists landing at South Beach armed with syringes to liberate us from our Undead Occupation -- D-Day in World War Z? Whatever happens, the subtext of the scene confirmed that The Walking Dead is about survival and only about survival -- not rescue or resolution. For anyone that worried that the trip to the CDC portended a major break from the comic’s zombie-life-sucks harsh reality… Gotcha! “TS-19” diverted from the source material simply to affirm its fundamental point of view. For newcomers to the Walking Dead world, that may sound riveting enough to continue forging ahead (and if you’ve read the comics, you know it can be); for others, this may sound too bleak to make the commitment. Fittingly, this choice was reflected in the final act of the finale. As it happened, Team Rick had reached the CDC during its own final hours of existence; the facility was running out power. When the tanks reached EMPTY, Vi would initiate a protocol designed to keep all the "nasty stuff" inside the CDC from escaping by scorching the air with purifying fire. In other words: KABOOM!
NEXT: The great escape -- and Dale's big bluff.