Saturday, July 13, 2013

Season One - Episode Six: TS-19

The characters in The Walking Dead are always confronted with various ethical dilemmas.  In episode "TS-19," they all have to answer Albert Camus' philosophical question: the choice to live and rebel or commit suicide.

Dr. Jenner is the man who let them into the CDC and they learn quickly that there is no hope for a cure but they are thankful for the food and shelter.  They learn, through a video from Test Subject 19, that a part of the infected brain will awaken before someone turns, but it doesn't have any of the same soul or mind that the person had prior to his death.  After they learn what they already suspected, they notice a clock counting down and inquire about it.
Dr. Jenner

Dr. Jenner tells them that when the clock gets to zero, the place will blow up to decontaminate all of the horrible diseases it contains and will also blow everyone up who is in the building.  He also tells them that they cannot leave and effectively locks them in the building to die with him.  We could interpret this as the government deciding what is "best" for its people, which it does entirely too often-and usually to everyone's detriment.

The group is broken into two groups of people: The group who wants to live and the group who sees this as the way to take a more dignified death.

Andrea, under the strain of watching her sister turn, decides to stay.  She also decides to stay because her role in society isn't useful anymore.  The guy who didn't get an education (Daryl) is able to protect the group and hunt; the two police officers are good shots, etc., but Andrea's previous life as a Civil Rights Lawyer leaves her whole role in this world completely useless.  She's lost her family and her identity and she decides she'd rather die.

Test Subject 19
Dale is very upset by this choice and begs Andrea to reconsider.  When she says no, he tells her that he will stay and die with her.  Before we meet either of them, apparently Andrea and Amy helped to create a friendship with Dale that gave him the will to live.  And if Andrea leaves, Dale cannot see the point of continuing.  It is also possible, that Dale is bluffing, knowing that what is best for Andrea is to force her hand out of guilt and make her rebel against suicide and embrace her "rock," like in Camus' essay "The Myth of Sisyphus."

Rick pleads with Dr. Jenner and tells him that he can't be so heartless as to kill everyone along with him and that he should give people the free will to decide if they want to stay or not.  Dr. Jenner finally decides to let them out, although they have to figure out how to exit the front of the building.  The only person who remains is Jacqui, who was the only survivor in her own family.  She and Dr. Jenner decide to die together.  Andrea is very resentful toward Dale, but ultimately she decides she doesn't want Dale's blood on her hands, even in death, and they leave too.

The group safely makes it on their way on down the road, to the tune of Bob Dylan's, "Tomorrow is a Long Time."