Global disasters take all shapes and forms these days: climate change, viral pandemics, economic downturns that ripple across the world, violence and governmental turmoil resulting in waves of refugees and people suddenly with no homes.
The threat of alien attack and human genocide is not really high on our list these days, but such an event, though fictitious (at the moment), can be very instructive. War of the Worlds has lots to say about how we might think, feel, and act when faced with the extraordinary. Not all of the “lessons” noted below really work in a viral pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing (DO NOT STICK TOGETHER–STAND 6 FEET APART, you crazy people!), but some do.
So: Let the lessons begin.
Lesson 1: Stick together, no matter what.
Lesson 2: Enjoy the simple things: birthday cake, scotch, a nap, a hug. These opportunities will magically appear out of nowhere. Be ready for them. Give presents. Share food. Tell stories. Make love. Do all of the things that make us human. These might be your last chances to live life. Relish them.
Lesson 3: Never stop looking for answers, even when you sometimes say “fuck science,” and remember to share your knowledge with the young ones because, well, it IS a global disaster and disastrous things are bound to happen. And remember: sometimes life is a science experiment.
Lesson 4: Don’t give in to the dark side, the selfish side, the fearful side. Hang onto your best instincts, your empathy, and your desire to see one more day.
Lesson 5: Don’t give up.
The series is now over. I hesitate to share the last screencaps I have made.
The finale for Season 1 was Sunday, April 5. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. The series ending was left quite open and the story is not complete; Season 2 had been announced before the first season began in the USA, but there is no way to know when production might begin.
So, perhaps we will leave it at that. Maybe the final lesson is:
Listen to the experts.
Experts like the astronomer, Catherine, who works feverishly in France, determined to discover the origin of the attack and its nature, fearful that we, in our attempts to find life in the universe, may have brought this attack on ourselves.
And experts like Bill, tenacious neuroscientist and hapless ex-husband, who stands as a reminder that, even when faced with alien robot dogs and the end of the world, there is always a way to understand what is going on around you. You just have to keep trying.
And that’s a pretty good lesson for our times, I would say.
Do you have a favorite lesson from War of the Worlds? What did I miss? Tell me in the comments! heart