Last week, the Walking Dead was heavy on talk and light on action (save for the cliff hanger ending). I’ll be honest, it was probably the weakest episode the series had so far. It seemed to be devoid of tension, the character interaction was wooden and felt a little forced. This week? All is forgiven. This episode was one you’ll feel in your gut, the whole way through. It’s title ‘Save the Last One’ is a reference, a piece of advice even, to save your last bullet for yourself. If everything goes bad, you can end it all on your own terms. Is living after the undead rise really living, or are you just waiting to join them. Man, I still feel this episode in the pit of my stomach.
Little Sophia is still lost, Carl is still in a coma, Shane and Otis are trapped with the life saving supplies. The survivors are all faced with choices, grim choices, and questions about if its all really worth it.
If there is one thing that TV and movies taught me, it’s that when people snap, they shave their heads. The episodes cold opening is Shane going all Taxi Driver, crazy eyes in the mirror and all. Obviously he got out of the zombie dead end from last week, but how? Well, when you find out, you see just how dark things are getting, but lets not get to far ahead of ourselves.
With Sophia still lost in the woods and Carl still in a coma have the accidental shooting by Otis, we get a grim juxtaposition about the value of life after the zombies start walking. Let’s deal with Sophia first, the search continues but for how long? The gang back at the RV work through some issues, Andrea is starting to seem less suicidal and things start to smooth over with her and Dale. Daryl is still the best defense they have against the undead, on a late night walk he and Andrea have a heart to heart that makes you like him more. They come across a zombie pinata and the conversation changes to the question of why go on.
Back at the farmhouse, Carl is still in a coma and Dr. Herschel is still waiting for Shane and Otis to return. When the question comes up to go ahead without out the need equipment, Lori sales off the deep end. Is it worth saving Carls life so that he can continue to live in a world where walking worm farms want to make you lunch? It is an ugly scene that weaves throughout the episode one made worse when the boy wakes up only to have a violent seizure. In a show filled with gory images of rotting corpses with gnashy gore filled teeth, the image of a young boy on the cusp of life and death stands out as haunting.
Glen gets a lot more screen time this episode, the most he’s had this season. The writers don’t seem to know what to do with him, even though he is clearly the most relatable character. He enters into a debate about God with Maggie (one of the farmhouse dwellers) that roundabout connects to the episodes theme of living with a bleak future. Personally, I think it was a waste of what Glen has to offer. While Rick and Lori continue their debate, Rick gives a rather classic ‘live and persevere’ speech. The internal conflict the character has with trying to keep it all together is slowly bubbling to the top.
For action this episode, it had a lot. As we flash back to Shane and Otis trying to escape the zombie meat grinder that the FEMA/high school camp has become. Lots of tension, lots zombie kills, and one big ass sacrifice. You know the cliched scene where an injured character cries out ‘leave me here, save yourself’ but they take him anyway and save the day? This is not that scene. After a long struggle to make it out alive with the medical equipment, both Shane and Otis are down to their last bullet. I find myself still internally debating Shane’s motivation for what he did. Did he do it to save Carl’s life? Make it back with the surgical gear? Was it just to save his own? He is clearly the most mercenary of the survivors. I assume we will see, as Shane is clearly starting down a cracked path. He shoots Otis in the leg with his last bullet, hobbling him and making him zombie chow so he can escape.
As we saw at the episodes beginning, Shane is shaving his head. To hide the clump of hair a panicked and soon to be gnawed upon Otis tore out, either from the others, or more likely himself. He has a cover story, one of a self-sacrificing Otis. Whether it was intentional or just a matter of him not needing them anymore, Shane is given Otis’s clothes to change into. We can start the countdown to Shane fully snapping now.
It looks as though Carl will pull through. The survivors are slowly moving together and working on the main task at hand. Surviving. The show still has a lot to take care of. What did Jenner whisper to Rick at the end of last season? Where is brother Merle? Or Morgan and Duane for the matter? I hope as we get deeper into this season, the philosophical debates decrease a little and we start to learn more about the world of The Walking Dead. This episode nicely contained a base debate that would arise with the undead, what is the point in going on, without slapping an answer at the end. Let us debate that, but also let us in on the world you are creating for us.
Next week: Cherokee Rose