The Walking Dead Review: Survival of the Fittest
A dark twisted road lies in wait. Better shave your head and get ready.
I knew something wasn't right when Shane returned without Otis, and we hadn't been given the visual information of the final escape. As soon as Shane started to explain, I couldn't believe his muttered words. Then it dawned on me: What if he shot Otis, so the zombies would only go after one of them?
And then Shane shaved his head, the amount of bullets left were mentioned again, and a close up on the gun was shown. Even in guessing the act, watching Shane make his choice was jaw-dropping. Sure, it was fit for his character and something of a logical decision in the context of living... but oh, so, cold.
Did he do it to save himself? Did he do it to save Carl? Both?
Either way, it depicted just how far a man is willing to go to survive. Is it a glimpse into Shane's unraveling or simply a hard decision no one ever wishes they would have to make? I can't imagine being in the same position, but I guess that's what a zombie apocalypse will do to you. It's all about base instincts and adapting to the surroundings, even if its not the "nice" way to do things.
I certainly can't see Rick making the same decision, although if he did, I'm sure he'd have the decency to shoot Otis in the head. Getting betrayed, shot, and then eaten alive is a crappy way to go. Poor Otis, we hardly knew ye. I've got a feeling karma is coming for you, Shane.
Once again, The Walking Dead really went nowhere but managed to hang onto the tension and action that makes this show a thrill ride every week. I'm sure for some the slow pace in real time is something of a bother, but for me it adds to the intensity of the characters' situation and the show itself.
It's not like the characters have anywhere they need to be and no matter where they go, they aren't ever really safe. It is the simple situations like a lost child or one on the verge of death that can be equally horrifying for a person to deal with emotionally and physically. The scene where Rick and Lori sat quietly with their backs against the wall, waiting for Shane to return or Carl to wake, said something boundless without saying anything. You don't always have to be headed somewhere for something to happen.
That said, I still have a bit of a problem with the quieter conversation moments.
For one, it's usually all about one person giving a drawn out exposition rather than a conversation between two people. I understand that it's meant to add depth to the characters, and we need much more of it, but sometimes it seems to drag a little too much.
Most notably, with all of the talk about the choice of life and death, religion and faith, I must wonder: how can every character seem to be thinking about it at the exact same time? I understand that it's a huge concept, but give it a rest for a moment. It's conceivable some folks are always such deep thinkers, isn't it?
Also, I still feel as if I only know the most basic of things about each character. It seems like Rick, Daryl, and especially Shane, are the characters that are being fleshed out the most. I care about this group (although I'm finding it hard to like Andrea with her consistent sour face and huffing about, or T-Dog and his ability to be clumsy and act like he's going to be the next to bite the big one). What would make me care more and be truly invested is to simply know more about them. That way, when they do take drastic action such as shooting someone to save themselves or praying out of the blue, we have a better understanding of their motivations. We get to see some sort of growth or falling apart.
"Save the Last One" did make attempts with respects to Daryl and his terrible home life, Shane and his reckless youth, and even Lori and her fears as a mother for her child. However, Rick needs to get some sense into her because there is a reason to keep on living. Don't just give up.
Despite a few shortcomings, I still found this episode to be fantastic. I was enraptured with Carl's struggle for life set against the hordes of zombies clawing and scratching for Shane and Otis. I think season two is doing a far better job of handling the pacing and ability to provide gripping scenes of shock, flesh-eating gross outs, and pure high tension. It's a show that continues to keep you fastened to your seat and craving for more.
A few extra thoughts:
- I recognize we haven't had time to start exploring Hershel's farm yet, but how is there electricity? Where is this running hot water (that Shane is wasting!) coming from? The milk, the orange juice, the sandwiches... is there a convenience store out back we haven't seen? How come not one zombie has found its way onto the farm? It feels way too safe, way too stocked with supplies (minus the respirator needed right away), and no one is keeping watch.
- How ripped is Jon Bernthal??!?
- And why did Dale leave the camper? What was he looking for? Did I miss something?
- Finally, what happens for the group now that Carl has been saved?
The Walking Dead: "Save the Last One"
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.