In the eleventh chapter of Deadline, we learn the true implications of Dr. Abbey’s revelations. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
Mira Grant could have taken the easy way out, and so I appreciate that we, the reader, are left with a moral conundrum that isn’t simpler to figure out than it was before. I love a good bout of exposition, and this chapter packs in the information within an emotionally charged conversation between the two doctors and the After the End Times team.
I’m pleased to see how many of you are willing to approach this story critically, including the way Shaun treats other people. I think in this chapter in particular, Shaun’s violent tendencies, while held back, are more present than ever. I think that without Georgia and without the need for more information, Shaun would probably have killed Dr. Kelly right on the spot. Hell, every character in this chapter doesn’t hold back their anger. (Though Dr. Abbey’s fury totally took me off guard, especially since I didn’t know her personal stake in this.) What Dr. Abbey revealed to these people changes everything they’ve known about the world they’ve grown up in, and it’s changed Georgia’s death, and it infuriates them. Still, things aren’t that simple. The world doesn’t become any more easy to understand in a moral sense. Initially, Shaun creates a very obvious dichotomy: these people, the CDC, are evil, and he and his team are on the good side. That’s evident when Shaun calls Dr. Wynne. (HELP ME, THIS SCENE IS SO TENSE, BY THE WAY.) He does this specifically to start the process of holding people accountable for what they’ve done. And I don’t fault Shaun one bit for this! The people at the CDC have withheld vital information from the general public; they’re complicit in the cover-up; they’re part of the conspiracy. And for Shaun, it’s someone he can blame. He can blame Dr. Kelly and Dr. Wynne for the death of Georgia, and at least for the moment, it’s a way to process all of this:
She tucked the phone into the pocket of her lab coat. “Satisfied now?”
“No. But it’s a start.”
And it’s a start that is then IMMEDIATELY FUCKING RUINED. And this is what I love so much about what Grant has crafted here: She could have left it like this. But Grant takes care (through Kelly) to show us how this came about, expanding on the complicated set of circumstances that would lead people to hide this information, and then to… well, do what Dr. Wynne and Dr. Kelly did. Oh god, can we talk about what’s revealed here?
- The CDC used prisoners as volunteers for their initial tests, one of which involved CROSS-INFECTION TESTS that produced disastrous results and a new strain of Kellis-Amberlee.
- It’s fascinating, then, that this initially seems like the CDC did their best to try and find out what this virus was, what it did, and what reservoir conditions were. So why did things end up the way that they are? If they were doing exactly what they should have as a group of scientists concerned with disease, why had this all remained such a secret? Maggie is the first to point out why this never worked: fear. I know that it may seem like a silly trope or even shaky reasoning, but fear is a motivation for oppression, repression, and evil. It is a powerful factor, and I do believe that we’ll see more of this theme in the future. All of American society has been rewritten specifically around the fear of amplification, so it stands to reason that there would be those who would have a marked interest in maintaining that fear.
- And then comes the kicker: early exposure to Kellis-Amberlee might be the explanation for reservoir conditions. Like childhood vaccinations or exposure to chicken pox, the body’s immune system can possibly develop a resistance to the strain. It’s not guaranteed, and it’s not even certain, and that single detail is, I think, the most important aspect of this chapter. The CDC lacked certainty. And while I think it’s horrific that this information has been withheld for decades, there was a risk present the whole time, too. (And my god, I had chicken pox as a child, and I still have various scars on my body from it, too. My mother specifically kept my brother close by so he’d get sick, too, and he did just a week later.)
- Spontaneous remission. My god, that’s real. It’s now in this series, and I have to re-think everything I’ve read. How different would this world be had they known this?
“Two in ten thousand,” said Kelly sharply.
“What?” I asked.
“Two in ten thousand.” She stood, ignoring the gun Becks had trained on her. “That’s how many people with existing reservoir conditions are likely to recover from a live infection. Two in ten thousand. No one who didn’t have a reservoir condition has ever recovered. The rate of recovery seems to be tied to the density of the viral particles in the individual reservoir, but we don’t have any hard-and-fast proof of that.”
And thus, this whole thing becomes a complicated mess. There is no certainty. Only a small population of people get reservoir conditions; only a small part of that group can develop a spontaneous remission. For all of Shaun’s anger (which is, honestly, justified), that hope he had that he could still have Georgia with him is nearly extinguished with this revelation. Without access to full testing, no certifiable conclusions can be drawn. Just two in ten thousand out of a small percentage of the human population. Kelly finally makes a point they can’t disagree with: Would Shaun have allowed Georgia to live on those odds? Would people expose their babies to Kellis-Amberlee, making them ticking time bomb zombies with those odds? The entire “shoot first, ask questions later” cultural mantra would have fallen apart. There’s even evidence of this in Rick. His baby was born with the live virus within him, and that kid didn’t survive.
I admit that, like Shaun, I was immensely disturbed by the thought that the CDC had Georgia’s blood after her death, and they experimented on it without Shaun’s knowledge. I don’t want to make it seem like I think that the CDC is totally reasonable and awesome. Um, THEY ARE NOT. They don’t deserve much credit at all. I think that Dr. Abbey’s heart-shattering backstory really puts this into the right context. When it comes down to it, this is about how fear and money intersect. Ultimately, the CDC chose to align itself with whoever is in “in charge” of this conspiracy. (It’s so strange to talk about the conspiracy because I have no way to quantify it. There is no name to the organization. We only know of one person who was a part of it, and it’s still this ambiguous threat that is VERY, VERY REAL.)
Oh god, so I HAVE BEEN TO SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY. I went there during my day off in Vancouver after the last day of the Mark Does Stuff tour this year. It’s a gorgeous and gigantic campus, and I stood in the courtyard where the marketplace on Caprica was filmed, and it was fucking surreal, let me tell you. So it was incredibly easy to place a lot of the visual cues that Grant writes about here when she reveals how Dr. Abbey came to run this specific lab. My god, I want to know what happened there. How did such a small outbreak turn out to be the cause of OVER ELEVEN THOUSAND DEATHS? Why did the government order the place firebombed for such a small threat? Unfortunately, I bet the answer is as simple as the one Dr. Abbey gave: It simply would have cost too much money to save those people.
It’s appropriate, then, that Dr. Abbey reminds Dr. Kelly what she lost because people refused the more difficult option. The CDC refused to “let anyone watch over [their] shoulder,” and now look at the mess everyone is in.
My god, what are these people going to do?
Mark Links Stuff
– You can follow me on Twitter for any updates and live commentary on upcoming reviews I’m writing.
– You should read this very important post about supporting Mark Does Stuff!
– Video commissions are just $25! You can commission me to read, watch, or play anything for current, past, or upcoming projects right here!
– The glorious Mark Watches Doctor Who: Series 4 ebook is now out and available for only $3.99!
– I’ve started reading The Shoebox Project for Mark Reads, the first fanfic “series” I’ve ever covered!
– Both Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince are now available in paperback form!