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Discovering A Pandemic

Defining A Pandemic: The Elusive Perfect Chapter

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DISCLAIMER: The following blog may contain material some may consider to be spoiler worthy. It is recommended that you read at your own risk. I could claim responsibility for you not paying attention to this warning, but I won't. That said, I'm going to forego any further warnings of spoilers within the blog.

I'd also like to take a brief moment to apologize for my absence over the last few months? Has it been months since the last issue? I can't remember. Doesn't matter, I'm back and I've got a lot of ground to cover and a lot of lost time to make up for. Enough cheese, let's get to the meat.

It was recently put to the community, via Facebook and Twitter, which chapter should be submitted for consideration in an unnamed contest. What a question! There’s so many to choose from! It’s like asking someone, “Which of the following women is hottest?” and then handing them a copy of FHM’s 100 hottest women. It’s too subjective, it’s too broad a question. So we’re given the restrictions of choosing from chapters twenty-five through thirty-six—as if that’s going to make it easier to narrow it down.

You’re a mean one for doing this to me, Kc. Terribly mean.

My initial reaction was to go with one of those big moment chapters. The kind where something is revealed, something I’ve been waiting to hear for so long! That first reaction was to choose Chapter Twenty-Nine– Beyond Our Walls, the chapter that answers the burning question: Did Burt make it out alive? I considered the chapter that gives us the most human look at the most-roundly-hated character in the We’re Alive world: Chapter Thirty-One – Family Ties. The season finale makes a good case for itself as well. But in the end, one chapter stands out above the rest.

Chapter Twenty-Seven – The Thirty-First

It’s by far the most cohesive chapter in the entire series. It has one of the best performances of the series, great big ups to Kevin Flood for that. It’s a whole lot of exposition, sure, but it’s not needless. It gives you a compelling story from start to finish. Frankly, it’s the one chapter of the entire series that stands on its own in more ways than one. It would be the one, single chapter of the story that would be perfectly suited for novelization, as it is Kalani’s story in toto. Sure, it answers the question we’d all been asking: Who’s the rat? It doesn’t just tell us the who, but it tells us the why. It gives us something that the other chapters don’t give us, a complete portrait of a man’s story of survival, all in one shot. There isn’t another chapter that pulls that off. You get bits and pieces of history from characters, but nothing like twenty-seven gives us.

It also provides us with an experience that no other chapter gives us. It gives us a taste of the cast in its entirety. Each of the main characters has interaction with the chapter’s central protagonist. It gives us all the action you could ask for. It gives you a chance to experience a range of emotion. It moves not only through time, but through space, taking the listener from Hawaii to Los Angeles, from the airport to the mall, from the mall, and then from one tower to the next. You meet new and old characters in a way that feels natural, and makes sense. There’s a linear feel to the story that just feels right. It’s a single arc told from various perspectives, but the central protagonist remains constant in his voice, his choices, and his motivation. There is a simplicity to the complex nature of this episode, as much exposition as it’s giving us, at its heart it is just a story about a man who loves his daughter, and will stop at nothing to save her life. It’s a brilliant piece of writing on Kc’s part, and deserves far more recognition than it gets. He’s taken an almost convoluted bit of plot, and smoothed out the wrinkles, slowed it down, and fed it to us like a campfire tale. The pacing is beautiful; the sound design supports the story in a way that really is far more subtle than other chapters, from the sound-effects to the music—oh don’t get me started on the music!

The chapter unfolds like a great novel. It drops you into a lifeboat on the middle of the ocean with a bunch of strangers, and then pokes a hole in it. Imagine for a moment that you were given a paperback called “The Thirty-First” by a friend. You read the blurb on the back:

“Kalani is a pilot, a skill that comes in handy when the world ends. A catastrophic viral outbreak hits his home in Hawaii, forcing him and his daughter to flee the state. He manages to rescue a group of survivors, flying them into Los Angeles, only to discover that the plague has already brought the city to its knees, and when his daughter is kidnapped, and held for ransom, Kalani is forced to do anything and everything to get her back.”
Now, sit down and experience the chapter again. It’s an amazing tale of survival, treachery, loss, and redemption. The arc of the character is not only defined, but brought to resolution, a feat that no other chapter can boast. It’s an impressive piece of storytelling. I’ve sung Kevin’s praises in another blog, but there’s no harm in reiterating. His performance is pitch-perfect.

To be entirely inclusive with regard to Kalani’s complete arc, it would be necessary to include parts one and two of chapter twenty-eight into the mix, along with the last half of chapter 25. I would argue that this story would have been better served as a single ninety-eight minute drama, considering it is the only storyline that has tied up all its loose ends. See, this is where it all falls apart, because you really do need Kalani’s redemption, which I had forgotten was not included in his confessional.

That said, the story in The Thirty-First still stands on its own. Damn you for making me defeat my own argument. Sound off—if you’re still reading—
and tell me which season three chapter that really defines We’re Alive, showcases its strengths, and the talents of the cast and crew?

Osiris—formerly known as Satan—
enjoys long walks on the beach, dramatic
readings of grocery lists, and Elmore Leonard.
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Updated Feb 4th, 2013 at 03:25 PM by Osiris

Discovering A Pandemic


  1. Kc's Avatar
    Yup, I think we should make this a thread. it's getting a bit lost in the blogs...
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  2. LiamKerrington's Avatar
    I concur, Osiris. Well spoken. Nothing to add. #27 it should be ...
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  3. Osiris's Avatar
    I'll be listening to season three again from the beginning, so I'll have a chance to view things with a new set of eyes. It's possible that the chapters play differently when they're run as a whole, and not broken up with commercials and so on. Gives you a different vibe when the tension or mood never breaks.
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