What can you really say about this one except...DUDE!
The ugly details of this depressing look at the human reaction to the outbreak can be found here, courtesy of the all knowing Wikipedia.
The teaser raises more questions than answers...and the episode that follows dashes more hopes than it raises. And yet, in the final moments of the episode, it becomes a clear depiction of exactly what force it is that propels us to overcome disasters and propagate our species like none other than walks this Earth...and that is a remarkable thing. In so much desolation and despair, our heroes - such as they are - find reasons to live...for the most part. I could have found this episode extraordinarily depressing, but I choose, instead, to focus on the final message. That divine spark of love that beats within all of us - ignored by some for selfish reasons, but always there with the potential to save us from ourselves - that is what keeps us going and makes us unique.
I'll quote Dr. Jenner, from the final moments before the CDC goes up in flames:
Wouldn't it be merciful? Think what awaits you outside...there's nothing left...nothing but a short, painful life filled with hunger and fear and a brutal death. Why isn't it better just to stay here? The air will burn at 5000 degrees...so hot, you'll be gone in a few painless seconds. Think about that...no pain, no doubt, and you'll die in a way of your own choosing.Why, indeed, would anyone choose to go on fighting to survive when our best technology and science couldn't withstand this plague? Why did "lucky" survivors of the black death go on when 80% of their village was decimated? Dale gives us the answer:
When I lost my wife, for twenty-five years I died with her - cared for nothing - and then I found you girls...you and Amy. And you brought me back - gave me a reason to go on. And now you're just going to decide to take that away from me? You...can't...do that to people! So there it is...if you die...so do I.Our lives are not valued by their comfort, our possessions, our safety, our fortune...that pales in comparison with the infinite value of our potential to love others and to receive love. Dale may not have been trying to point out how selfish and devastating suicide really is, but he sure does a hell of a job of it here. It turns out that even the least fortunate among us probably will effect someone if we "opt out." Funny how in a later episode, Daryl will express contempt for suicide in his own colorful way too - you don't expect to hear wisdom from a red neck, but in a time of crisis, he might just be the one to give it.
It's also funny how, when Jenner sees the group break through the first floor glass, he seems almost glad to see that they have escaped, despite all of his protestations that suicide is the only humane way out now. The fight now continues...hopefully one of these survivors will grow a brain and try to commandeer a boat or a plane to get us to a deserted island or something, but for now...it's on to a military base for ammo and supplies. Of course, we do still need to deal with Officer Nutball, whose fall continues apace - today including the attempted rape of Lori and his refusal to admit that that is indeed what it was - but that will have to wait for another day.
Both sides in the ethical dilemma - which is the most humane course, the one that values life, even a hellish life, or the one that values comfort - are presented in a deeply compelling manner, and the story is told with such potency that the writing cannot possibly be found flawed.
Noah Emmerick (Dr. Jenner) plays the lifeless, hopeless last survivor with skill...my only complaint is that Jeryl Prescott (Jacqui) doesn't put much effort into her decision to stay with Jenner and die...and T-Dog (Irone Singleton...which BTW, is the stupidest name in the history of the universe...sorry, but I can't let these illogical urban spellings go without a comment) doesn't put up much of a fight for a man about to lose his wife.
The delivery of our key message was a bit limited (it was in plain spoken English, rather than delivered with the scientific authority that Jenner offered his opposing view)...but the characters giving those arguments demanded that form of language and the power of the message isn't lost. Life is sacred because it is a rare and wonderful combination of the physical world and the spiritual...not because we necessarily enjoy every moment of living it.