In the thirty-fifth chapter of Blackout, the team finally learns the secret that the CDC has known since the beginning of the series. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Blackout.
Everything hurts, and I am just so sad.
I’m sad because this entire conspiracy rests on the fact that those in power, as Becks says in her blog post at the end of this chapter, are more concerned about maintaining this power. The CDC and the American government inherently distrust their own populace, believing them to be unable to handle the most uncomfortable of truths: There is no cure for Kellis-Amberlee. It is impossible. It can never be done. And the CDC truly believes that it is better for them to lie to the public forever, to infect them with another strain of KA without their consent, and to assume that this is the only option they have. That’s not surprising, given how complicit they’ve been in all of this since the very beginning.
On top of that, these characters have to deal with the CDC’s callous behavior amidst the betrayal they feel from Rick and President Ryman. This is some serious emotional devastation y’all, especially from Georgia’s point of view. There’s that moment early on where Georgia realizes the true impact of her existence. She was never supposed to leave the lab because she could not manipulate Shaun. So while Rick and Ryman might be happy to see her, she’s a flawed version in more ways than she previously thought. She’s not just 97% of the original; she’s a failed version of the CDC’s plan. God, how must that feel? How is she supposed to deal with this? She’s not perfect to anyone in her life, good or bad, and I can only imagine how traumatizing this must be for her.
Granted, it’s not like these characters get much time to process their horror, their disbelief, and their disgust. That’s not to say it isn’t here! We will talk about Alaric in a second, I promise. It’s just that this chapter is so in-the-moment. The team reacts, but it’s not a full-scale breakdown. They are sitting in a room with the President, the Vice President, and this horrifying doctor from the CDC. Who, by the way, is so detached from the bullshit he’s spewing that he has literally no concept of how fucked up his words are. That is scary, y’all, and it’s something Becks touches on in the end. He has no perspective on himself and what it means for the After the End Times team to hear that death of Dave was merely a “response” to an outbreak, one they definitely know was planted. He has no idea the personal, emotional ramifications of the mosquitoes that were swept up in the storm. God, he says that “sacrifices must be made,” but he is so completely enthralled with his own ideas that he can’t even recognize that no one was sacrificed. They were murdered. There is no martyrdom here at all. The CDC (and perhaps Rick/Ryman) murdered millions upon millions of people, including Alaric’s parents, and it’s easier for those responsible to hide the truth in politically safe language. (For real, this is an example of being politically correct, a term that’s often misused in a pejorative sense to describe people being decent human beings.)
So I’m glad that of all the reactions in this chapter, Alaric gets the most dramatic one. He deserves it. It fits his character, especially since he’s existed largely on the fringes of the narrative of Blackout. This asshole is trying to explain how there was no intent for the mosquitoes to make it out of Cuba, but what does that mean to Alaric, who lost his parents due to the CDC’s good intentions? What does it mean that an organization that prides itself on its science being unable to read the science of the weather? I would not feel the slightest bit of guilt if Alaric had killed the man.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president, not at the whim of the CDC.”
PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS A WEST WING REFERENCE. OH MY GOD, I JUST SAW “LET BARLET BE BARTLET” SO THIS HAS TO BE REAL.
“They can’t reproduce?” said Shaun incredulously. “That’s your big solution? They won’t fuck? Did none of you people ever see Jurassic Park?”
T H A N K Y O U. Holy shit, the CDC is so endlessly short-sighted! IS THIS THEIR CONTINGENCY PLAN? Look, I didn’t really need yet another reason to distrust the CDC, but there it is!
Of course, humans have always been largely disposable to the CDC since this series began, and the reveals in this chapter finally help to explain why they’d be willing to go to the lengths they have to protect themselves. It’s such a horrifying moment when Shaun and Georgia realize Georgia’s original purpose, then, because they now know just how truly expendable they are. Obviously, I mean that in a literal sense, since the CDC man pulls out what I’m guessing is a syringe full of the virus. But I’m also referring to the fact that the CDC wanted to manipulate Shaun into supporting their version of the “truth,” one that might be scientifically sound, but is devoid of all morality. It’s no surprise that Georgia immediately rejects such a proposition because as much as she always wanted to tell the truth, it wasn’t meant to be told like this.
Jesus, this is all so fucked up.
Mark Links Stuff
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
– I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
– Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
– Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!