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Episode Six: TS-19

December 15, 2010

We’re finally at the end of what has thus far been a disappointing season. Will it wrap up with a bang? Or continue its seemingly interminable downward spiral?

The episode opens with a flashback to the hospital evacuation that left Rick behind. Shane attempts to get him out while evading both the trigger-happy military personnel and the zombies who are busting in. Rick’s machine goes dark and he appears to be dead, so Shane leaves him behind, barricading the door to Rick’s room behind him.

After the credits we’re back where the last episode ended. The mysterious scientist welcomes the campers into the CDC by demanding a blood test. He leads them to Zone 5 where they become acquainted with Vi, the HAL of the CDC. After everyone is established as non-infected, they sit down to a convivial meal of booze.

Shane kills the mood by inquiring why their host, who has introduced himself as Edward Jenner, is the only one left. He explains that those who didn’t leave killed themselves, and he just kept working. That’s what most science-minded folk do in the midst of a mass suicide. It happened at Jonestown, too.

After dinner everyone takes a shower in a surprisingly unerotic montage. Dale hears Andrea vomiting and goes to comfort her. Again.

The booze continues to flow. Rick chats with Jenner in Zone 5 while Lori browses books in the rec room. Shane creeps up and they have the same conversation they always do where she says he lied about Rick being dead, he says he honestly believed it and just wanted to save her. Then he tries to force himself on her but she scratches him good.

The next morning everyone nurses a hangover. Dale digs for more information about what Jenner knows so he takes them into Zone 5 to show them a video of an MRI brain scan. This video shows the brain of an infected volunteer (Test Subject 19, or TS-19 – this episode’s title! Look at that!) as it deteriorates and reanimates.

Jenner can’t explain why this happens, and everyone is crushed to learn that there is no cure or even understanding of the disease in sight. Dale asks again about the clock that has been counting down, which is now at 59 minutes. Jenner explains that when it runs down a “facility-wide decontamination will occur.” I’m so glad this show isn’t resorting to a tired trope to “raise the stakes,” as a screenwriting instructor might say.

So the men run and check out the generators, which leads nowhere, and eventually everyone returns to Zone 5 where Jenner locks them in with 28 minutes to go on the clock.

Jenner finally reveals that the CDC is equipped with a self-destruct mechanism that “sets the air on fire” in order to destroy all organisms and prevent any of the nasty biological crap they work on from contaminating the public. Long story short, they’re all gonna die. They talk and talk, and Jenner tells them that TS-19 was his wife who begged him to continue research until the power grid failed. Rick begs him to let them go, to give them the choice to try to survive. With four minutes left, he finally opens the doors, because Rick made such a compelling argument. NOT. Anyway, as Rick goes Jenner whispers something we can’t hear in his ear. It’s weird.

So the campers hustle to beat their doomsday clock – except for Jacqui, who wants to die and get it over with. Why? Maybe we’d know if there was any sort of exposition of her character, but there wasn’t, so we don’t care. Andrea wants to stay too, but Dale convinces her to soldier onward. Because they have a deep relationship? Okay.


The main doors to the CDC are on auto lockdown, and the crew can’t smash the windows. But Carol happens to have a deus ex machina hand grenade, so: problem solved. They bust out the window and make it into the stranded vehicles just as everything goes kabloomers.

And the caravan continues along its merry way. What wacky hijinks will our intrepid team get into next season?

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