In the tenth chapter of Deadline, Shaun suffers a brutal breakdown. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
Just a warning that we’ll have to talk about sanity and mental health, and there is use of ableist slurs below!
I really love this chapter and what it means for the book.
It’s hard talking about sanity because there isn’t a way to even make general statements about it. Our experiences with sanity are so varied and different that we risk being simplistic and reductive. But what I came to enjoy about this chapter is that Mira Grant portrays Shaun’s struggle with his own sanity in a very direct, complicated way. While Shaun certainly has violence issues he’s going to need to work on, Grant ultimately shows us that there’s nothing wrong with what Shaun is going through. Hearing his sister in his head is a perfectly valid coping mechanism, and it’s one that he should be allowed to have. Does that make him “insane”? At the end of this chapter, Grant’s conclusion is WHO CARES? Who cares if Shaun isn’t sane?
Yet at the same time, this chapter is about confrontation. After learning the painful truth about reservoir conditions, it’s like all of Shaun’s healing since Georgia died is instantly undone, unraveled before him as he realizes there was a chance she could have survived. So he runs to where everything ended for him: that van. His nervous breakdown includes a full-on hallucination of Georgia standing before him. But this moment needed to happen. In the previous nine chapters, Shaun had been pushing the rapidly approaching world away from him. He refused to move on. As Georgia says, he’s treading water, and that’s it. His team deserves better than this! And that’s an important point that she makes: Shaun is either up for this, or he is not. Georgia’s appearance here actually reminded me more of Shaun than anyone else, but I suppose that could be because she exists in his mind. But this stubborn, determined vision of Shaun’s dead sister is what this man needs to get past this very moment.
Essentially, Shaun is at a crossroads. He breaks down and tells Georgia how much he misses her, but she points out that this can’t matter anymore. Her advice to him is brutal, but it’s what he has to hear:
“This isn’t a news story, Shaun. The only reward you get for making it to the end is making it to the end – you get to know the truth, and that’s it. I don’t come back. The last year doesn’t unhappen. Life doesn’t go back to the way that it was; life never goes back to the way it was, no matter how hard we try to make it. But you’ll know. You’ll have the truth. You’ll have the pieces that we’re still missing.”
In a way, this feels like Mira Grant talking to the reader at some points. It’s a warning that this isn’t going to be a pleasant journey and that there’s no real happy ending when we reach the conclusion. The world we are experiencing in Newsflesh is one of terror and tragedy, and nothing that comes in the future will erase that. Hearing that? I think it gives Shaun a reason to keep going. He needs to see the end, to see this finished. His conversation with Becks pretty much confirms that. Shaun speaks to her openly, echoing the words Georgia spoke to him, telling her that this is it. They are going to stop treading water or they are going to drown. What’s it going to be?
Well, it looks like After the End Times are going to stop treading water. And Becks is totally crushing on Shaun, isn’t she? YES? THIS IS AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT, one that makes me just as amused as Georgia is.
“Come on, George. Check this out.”
Oh god, right in the feelings, y’all.
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