The Walking Dead did not go out with the bang I had been hoping for on "TS-19."
The episode started out strong, by showing viewers a flashback of the frenetic moments during the initial onslaught of Walkers at the hospital. Moreover, Shane was telling the truth. He really did believe that Rick had died and there was nothing he could do.
This gave his character a little bit of redemption because he didn’t simply leave his friend behind. However, after the attempted rape scene, my view on Shane was altered.I also liked that because of the protection of the CDC, the group was allowed a chance to relax. However, that also meant everyone had time to think about more than survival and killing zombies. There was time to ponder over their fates, their loved ones and the unfortunate transformation of the world. It gave viewers a chance to see the group’s inner emotions and thoughts.
The best example was Rick’s drunken confession to Jenner. As much as he puts on a brave face as the group’s fearless leader, he is just as scared as the rest.
I’d like to add that Andrew Lincoln does a great job with delivery. The writing sometimes comes across as clunky, but Lincoln never really overacts his dialogue. He says his lines with believability.
Noah Emmerich as Dr. Jenner also brought a great performance in an otherwise very short-lived role. Unfortunately, as a character, Jenner was underused and a bit clichéd as the emotionally unstable scientist.
So began my problems with this episode.
First, the CDC could have been a very interesting place to explore, but the group literally entered and exited in one fell swoop. I felt rushed through an experience that didn’t really give me any informational payoff.
It was also unnecessary to spend a good chunk of time explaining that humans turn into zombies when they’re bitten, when we already knew that. I’d be more interested in learning about what caused the outbreak. Alas, that is simply unknown. So much time seemed to be spent weaseling information out of Dr. Jenner when he really didn’t have anything new to offer.
As much as Jenner became the enemy the group least expected, he didn’t come across as a real threat. Instead, in a frantic moment of everyone shouting to open the door, he simply did so. Even the revelation of his wife as TS-19, which led to his emotional and suicidal breakdown, came a little too late to save this character.
When it came time to escape, why did Jacqui choose to stay? The show hadn’t really divulged anything about her character, but apparently there was a relationship with T-Dog? It’s this lack of background that made me, unfortunately, not really care during her final moments.
But why was it that no one from the group seemed to really care that Jacqui stayed? They at least knew more about her than viewers, but instead it’s Dale that went out of his way to save only Andrea. When did he become so emotionally attached to her that he’d be willing to play a game of “leave or don’t leave” chicken?
I can, of course, forgive the cheesy explosions because of a TV budget, but the final moments seemed too obvious to leave me feeling satisfied. I never really felt the tension and danger that was prevalent during scenes with the zombies of previous episodes. In fact, there weren’t really zombies at all during the hour, although Daryl did have the nicely placed beheading near the end.
As a freshmen show, The Walking Dead certainly had its ups and downs. With plenty of plot possibilities, I hope season two focuses on a more specific story arc and strengthening of the character development. After all, if this show wants to survive, the audience needs to care about its characters.
I’ll leave you with some thoughts that are sure to come up when season two arrives:
What did Jenner whisper in Rick’s ear? Will Rick ever learn of Shane’s relations with Lori? Will Morgan find the group? What is the relationship of Dale and Andrea? Where is the group headed? What will happen when Merle reappears?
We'll find out in 2011. What did everyone else think of the finale?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.