Netflix’s ‘Daybreak’ is set in a world that has been destroyed after a series of bomb blasts, leaving only the teenagers alive. All of the adults have been wiped off of the face of the Earth, and the kids have formed their own societies. In the midst of all this mess, Josh is on the mission to find Sam, his girlfriend before the apocalypse. On the way, he picks up Angelica, a girl he used to babysit, and Wesley, a jock who wants to be a samurai. The search was going smoothly until they crossed paths with a faction that has earned the reputation for being the merciless bunch under the ruthless leadership of Turbo Bro Jock.
What Caused the Apocalypse?
‘Daybreak’ begins with Ms Crumble marking class attendance, with kids being their usual kind of rude. When she comes to Josh Wheeler, who happens to be the narrator of this story, we are told about the horrific event that took place and set the stage for the things to come. Josh turns around, effectively breaking the fourth wall, and tells us how none of the small things that we worry about don’t matter because the adults who are in charge of the world will mess up and the world will come to an end. He makes a passing reference to a short dictator with the control of some nukes (wonder who that might be!) and with that, all the walls around him break and crumble, people disappear, and we know we are in the era after the apocalypse.
Going back to when it happened, Josh tells us that it was the night of Homecoming and he was just outside the stadium, ready to meet the girl of his dreams when suddenly, a series of bomb blasts decimated everything. At that time, it looks like the attack is the result of just another political conflict between one country or another, but the question remains: why did it not affect the children? This hints towards the possibility that it was a targeted attack.
Moreover, it wasn’t supposed to be a massacre. The enemy didn’t want to wipe out the entire country. They left the kids behind, for some reason. Later, it is revealed that it had, in fact, been a biological weapon. It contained something that would twist and change the DNA and turn people into zombies. We don’t know who dropped that bomb, but because it has been dropped all over the world, wiping out all adult population, we infer that it was indeed the countries fighting each other.
Why Didn’t the Children Become Zombies?
See, no one trusts adults. They don’t have a reputation for being responsible. They have led the world to a catastrophic point, with the broken economy, the warring sections and, not to forget, climate change. So, if they really did fuck up at such a massive scale that it led to their own destruction, then it all seems doable, on their part. But then, why come up with a biological weapon that only targets adults? Why leave the children alive? Of course, they are the future and, with kids like Greta Thunberg, the only hope for the survival of this Earth. But there’s still a nagging that I can’t let go of. How can they be so compassionate as to leave the kids unharmed? What war has ever done that before?
Maybe, just maybe, some kid did this. Some genius kid who hacked into the systems of all the countries and decided to pull the plug on the adults before they could do that to the world. I did entertain this theory for a while, but then other theories came along.
To not be affected by the virus, the kids would have ingested something that the adults didn’t. My first thought went to the slime made by Angelica, the thing that she circulates in the entire school. Maybe, it had something that prevented the effect of the virus. But then, not all kids took that slime. Also, Principal Burr ingested it in some form, and above all, it was not available in other parts of the world. And we are aware of the presence of other kids, who are in touch with each other through the gaming community. So, this possibility is crossed out.
The second, more logical explanation arrives when Principal Burr arrives at the conclusion that it has something to do with the HPV vaccination. It was given to every teenager in the school. The teenagers who didn’t get it died. The vaccine doesn’t work on adults, so, of course, they didn’t get it. Moreover, it was given “only” to teenagers.
The age for vaccination actually ranges from 9 to 25. We are willing to omit the age-group that goes beyond teenage years, for the sake of the story. But the other end of the spectrum brings Angelica in the target group. So, maybe, she too got it; she did hang out at the school so much that she was almost a student there. What this means is that no kid below 9 got the vaccine, which is why we don’t see any of the kids in the story. There are just teenagers.
But then, this theory can be discredited too. First of all, it was proposed by Principal Burr, who is the bad guy, so we can’t trust him. Also, as I said, the upper age-group of the vaccine creates a massive loophole in the story. Next, we can explain why the younger kids didn’t survive. They died. And even if they didn’t die from the blast or the virus, they were killed by zombies. Teenagers are grown enough to take care of themselves. But that is not the only reason they survived.
Remember when Principal Burr told them that the school was special. Because of its lead paint and the asbestos infested room(!), it had survived some difficult times. And there was even a safe-room next to the principal’s office. This could mean that the school was made to survive the nuclear attack. That night, the kids were inside the school. Is that why they were saved? It seems plausible, but there is still a glitch. When the bomb went off, Josh was not inside the school!
Zombies of Daybreak
Every zombie TV show or movie tries to bring something new to the table when it comes to zombies. There is a basic structure that makes up the constitution of this monster, but if you can’t add something more to it if you don’t use your imagination, why are you even trying to get into this genre! Luckily, ‘Daybreak’ is fully aware of this responsibility and brings its own twist on the make and model of zombies.
First of all, keeping up the spirit of not using the Z-word, they are Ghoulies. The adults that survived the bomb blast couldn’t save themselves from the biochemical effect of it. They were infected by some unknown virus, which affected their DNA and turned them into dumb cannibals. Like any other zombie, ghoulies like to eat flesh. The reasoning behind it is that they need iron to keep themselves alive. While most of them can’t make that differentiation, there are some, like Principal Burr and Ms Crumble, who have been able to keep their wits to themselves. Both of them are in control of their thoughts, unlike other ghoulies, who keep repeating the last thing on their mind before the explosion.
Another thing that sets them apart from others, especially the walkers from ‘The Walking Dead’, is the pre-conceived notion that their bites can turn you into one of them. The origin story is different here. This virus does not affect children, so if it didn’t affect them during the blast, it would not affect them no matter how much they are bitten. If you are a kid, you are not turning into a ghoulie. So, if you ever find yourself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and are bitten by one, before cutting off your hand or even killing yourself, do think about the reason that everyone else has turned into a zombie and you haven’t. Don’t be as stupid as Josh!
Then there is the thing where the ghoulies don’t like loud noises, but that could just be the characteristic of Ms Crumble. She survived the apocalypse because moments before the blast, she had become brain dead. Due to a fall-out with the principal, she had fallen down the stairs and was hit pretty bad. So, when she woke up as a ghoulie, she wasn’t completely turned. She had the thirst for blood, but she knew what she was doing, so she was able to control it.
One last thing to consider is the mutation of the animals. Because the DNA has been reworked, the fauna of Glendale has changed significantly (much like what happens in ‘Annihilation’), and though it isn’t explored much in this season, it could become an important detail in the second.
The Ending: Is Sam the New Dictator?
By the final episode, Josh is able to achieve the one thing he wanted to do since the beginning. He finds Sam. In order to defeat Burr, he brings together all the factions of the society. They defeat Burr and stop the apocalypse from happening all over again. Apparently, he was under the impression that he was the Jesus of this new world and needed to restart it by wiping off the remaining kids. So, he wanted to launch another missile but was stopped just in time.
A lot of credit for that goes to Ms Crumble, who decides to sacrifice herself to the cause, but magically survives the explosion. Even though we are happy to see her back, we wonder, what really is she? With everyone celebrating, Josh asks Sam to come live with him in their happily ever after that he had always imagined for them. But, in a shocking turn of events, she refuses to do so. She doesn’t reciprocate Josh’s feeling and declares herself everyone’s new leader. Her claim receives support from at least half of the population, leaving Josh and his allies in a state of disbelief.
With such an ending, the stage for the second season of ‘Daybreak’ has been set pretty well. Will Josh agree to Sam’s leadership? Will he accept another tyrant after rooting out one only recently? Also, if he and his friends don’t agree to live under her rule, will Sam allow them to go away and form their own society or will she use force to keep them under her thumb?
Then there is also the situation of Ms Crumble. What is she? Since the first episode, she has proved herself to be a great exception. She had exhibited the qualities that no other ghoulie has and her survival skill have almost turned her into the show’s own superhero. What is her condition and is there a way to turn her back into a human? If the answer to this turns out to be yes, this could mean that there is still hope for the adults. But, with the teenagers becoming comfortable with the world where they are in charge, it could become a difficult feat to accomplish.
On top of all this, we still need clear-cut answers about the bomb blast. Why did it really happen? Who pushed that button? And does it really mean all adults are gone? Could there be some who are immune to this, like the kids? Or are there some more hybrids like Ms Crumble? Speaking of whom, what is her real name, again?
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