JEFF: My theory? The soldiers were wasting the patients because their infirmity made them more vulnerable to zombie infection — and certainly zombie munching. That hospital slaughter was a mass mercy killing to spare them from revenant resurrection — an idea that would resurface later in the episode. The flashback prologue was really just foreshadowing for the present-set drama that followed. Moses Rick had led the exodus away from Death Camp Hill to the Canaan of the Center for Disease Control. They hoped to find Happily Ever After — an end to suffering and chaos, the beginning of a brighter future. The gates opened; a seemingly saintly scientist granted them sanctuary. “Why are you here? What do you want?” Dr. Edwin Jenner asked, sounding downright Almighty Oz-ish. “A chance,” Rick replied. Impressed by their moxy, delighted by the prospect of company, and compelled by nature and profession to help, Jenner gave them that chance, anyway. His price? A blood sample, to prove them uncorrupted. (Given how we saw Jenner performing experiments on “necrotic tissue” last week, I initially wondered if Jenner was sizing up their lab rat potential.) Doc Jenner also warned them that when the doors closed, they’d never open again. They were too grateful to ask why.
DAN: Hot showers for all! Remember how our last shower scene was a tiny respite of joy from the horror? This one started the same way, as we saw Lori, Glenn and T-Dog wash that gray death out of their hair (or in T-Dog’s case, off his head) before Rick joined Lori for a sexy moment. But then we flashed on tortured Shane, whose showermate was the ol’ bottle of booze, and Andrea, who stared into the void of grief, reeling from the death of her sister. Their demons could not be swirled down the drain.
JEFF: That night, The Group gathered for a celebratory supper, oblivious to the secret that only Jenner knew, a secret that to his eyes must have rendered their meal a proverbial last supper. (“TS-19” was a very special “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we may…fry in apocalyptic fire” season finale.) Rick raised his glass: “It seems to me that we haven’t thanked our host properly.” T-Dog: “He’s more than just our host.” The rest of the sentiment went un-verbalized, but it was clear they viewed Jenner as their savior. Again, we see The Walking Dead layering in spiritual/existential subtext, all in service of a story that casts a skeptical regard for trusting all authority figures (religious, scientific, government) with our salvation. FUN FACT! “Dr. Edwin Jenner” must surely be named after Edward Jenner, the man who cured smallpox and the so-called “Father of Immunology.” Surely the connection was meant to be pointedly ironic, for the Dr. Jenner of The Walking Dead was no scientific savior.
DAN: The discomfort on Jenner’s face during the dinner was ominous and unsettling. Shane certainly didn’t trust him; he disrupted the toasts and light banter by pressing Jenner to explain why he was the last man standing. Jenner semi-answered (as he had a habit of doing) that when the situation turned dire, his fellow scientists had either fled or “opted out,” a.k.a. committed suicide. But he held strong, committed to his mission to “do some good.” Later that night, Rick came to him — soused — and confessed that his idealism and optimism were something of a crock: He had deep doubts about their prospects for survival — and had been keeping those doubts squirreled away from Lori and Carl. “It’ll be okay. It’ll all be okay,” Jenner replied with suspicious benevolence.
JEFF: Remember what Jim once said about anyone who promises you “It’ll all be okay.” That’s the biggest lie there is.
DAN: While Rick drunkenly confessed to Jenner, an equally inebriated Shane poured out his heart to a partially dressed Lori. Lori played the you-told-me-my-husband-was-dead! card, and Shane defended himself by reliving his rescue mission. “If I could’ve traded places with him, I would have,” he said. “I would trade places with him right now!” (Yes, you’d like that, Shane.) Things turned unseemly as he sloppily declared his love for her, forced his hand down between her legs, and tried to kiss her. She fought him off with a ninja neck scratch, and he left, angry and embarrassed. She collapsed in tears. Lori may have found temporary refuge from the zombies, but there was no safe haven from the lovesick….
NEXT: How do zombie brains work? Glad you asked!