Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 21 ("By Bread Alone")

This is the twenty-first in a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. "Survivors" followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Today's episode was titled "By Bread Alone." We were reminded that Whitecross has more than our core group of survivors living and working together. We saw most of the regulars (Greg, Charles, Pet, Jenny, Lizzie, John, Arthur, Hubert, Ruth, Jack, and Daniella), but we also met some new people, such as Lewis and Alan -- plus we saw a few other adults and children.

Not to mention, Phil and Judy. They are a young pair that recently crossed paths with the folks at Whitecross. Judy was feeling sick when they first met her. Which prompted Ruth to actually use the settlement's isolation building! It turns out that Judy just had a bit of food poisoning. This episode began on Day Ten of their isolation journey, which means that our new pair got to come out and meet everyone!

Phil & Judy
It was nice to meet this handsome young couple, but this story is pretty much all about Lewis (played by Roy Herrick). We learn pretty quickly that Lewis is pretty much hopeless in a farm community. He couldn't figure out how to get a cow out of Pet's garden. He struggles to dig a water ditch with another new fellow. Pet correctly observes that he's a square peg in a community filled with round holes!

Lewis Fearns
We quickly learn that Lewis was an Anglican parson before the Death. He had "lost" his dog-collar and kept his former position to himself, but suddenly felt called to come up with an improvised dog-collar on this day after seeing some flowers growing within a pile of rocks.

The people of Whitecross bounce back and forth about whether or not they like having a parson in their midst. Some -- like Daniella and Arthur -- are excited about the prospect of a religious leader to provide spiritual guidance and solace. Others, like Jack and Alan vacillate on whether or not a parson is needed. And then people like Greg and Jenny find the whole idea of faith in this post-Death world to be absurd!

Did I mention Jenny? It seems that she's suffering from Post-Apocalyptic Postpartum Depression! She has been struggling with her responsibilities to the community and her new family, while still grappling with Paul's death back at the beginning of this season. What kind of world did she bring their baby into?

Greg and Charles start noticing a trend within Whitecross. Everyone is starting to slack with her chores in reaction to Lewis' coming out as a faith of the cloth. Daniella created a new outfit for Lewis. Jack stopped work on a plow in order to repair an old prayer desk. Hubert and Alan begged off work on the ditch in order to track down some hymnals (as well as some communal wine -- which they promptly drank!).

Meanwhile, we learn that Lewis continues to struggle with his own faith and his own abilities. He has no problem letting the other know that he's a parson, but he feels useless as a spiritual leader. He's not even sure that he wants to lead Sunday worship services. He probably wouldn't except that most of the people seem to be pushing him towards that.

It all comes to a head when Charles blows up at Lewis and the others for avoiding their assigned chores in favor of their preferred activities. This prompts Phil and Judy to leave Whitecross and Charles to come to a realization: Whitecross needs to lighten up!

In other words, they need to give everyone the ability to find their place and to choose their tasks -- even if other tasks get delayed a bit. It delay tasks like a broken plow or an undug ditch, but at least they will have something to place Lewis' Bible on come Sunday morning! Which is snarky, I'll admit. But I get what Charles is saying. Whitecross needs to work on more than just survival. The people also need to work on personal enrichment.

Lewis ends up having a heart-to-heart discussion with Jenny about his own struggles. He admits that he joined the church because he felt inadequate. He figured that he could muddle through his religious roles and ultimately sort things out in the afterlife. He struggles with the notion that so many other religious leaders -- those with stronger faith than him -- died and left him to lead those who survived. She helped him realize that the others needed him and vice versa. And, in the process, was able to work through some of her own depression.

The episode ended with Lewis leading the community -- including one lamb (!!) -- with Sunday worship.

Compared to most previous episodes, "By Bread Alone" was quite sleepy. No murders. No illness. No major tragedies. Just discussions of faith and leadership. Which is actually quite important -- but fortunately not the focus of every episode.

I mentioned Alan (played by Stephen Tate) earlier in this post. He's a young man who will be seen in subsequent episodes. He's a little dull-witted, but he's got strong opinions and he's easy on the eyes.

Greg also began work on a pilot project of his. He's attempting to produce methane gas for the community to use. It's just the beginning stage of this project, but it too will become a major plot-point in a few weeks.

We return next week with a bit more action in "The Chosen."

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