The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 3 - "Save The Last One"

As always, spoilers ahead. . .

Well, the most excellent Pruitt Taylor Vince had it good on The Walking Dead for about two-and-a-half episodes as the hefty, slightly bumbling but goodhearted Otis.  As you might remember, it's Otis who has shot Carl Grimes in a hunting accident, requiring Rick to make a mad dash for Hershel's Farm, and Hershel, a veterinarian, is able to stabilize Carl long enough for Shane and Otis to volunteer for a medical supplies run to the clinic at the local high school.  The previous episode hung on the cliff of Shane and Otis, having gotten the supplies to possibly save Carl's life, only to get trapped in the high school by a stirred-up-and-hungry hoard of ghouls.

"Save the Last One" opens with Shane returned (whew), and paying close attention to his personal hygiene.  In fact, he's decided to take the clippers to his manly mane and reduce his handsome head to a meager crop of scalp-stubble.  But why, Shane, why?  Turns out that Otis didn't make it back, as he and Shane had to shoot their way out, but Shane's at a loss for words.  There's not much time, as Hershel has to operate on Carl and two dramatic questions linger over this episode:  What really happened to Otis? and Will Carl make it?

Other questions linger from before -- Will the RV Gang ever find Sophia, whose disappearance set all this in motion in the first place?  Will Andrea continue to put up with the patronizing attitudes of the other alpha males -- especially Dale?  Will Daryl Dixon continue to be awesomely crossbow-riffic?  Is Rick going to figure out that Lori and Shane had an affair when they thought he was dead?  Is Hershel really this nice?  Will T-Dog and Glenn find something useful to do?

Glenn (Steven Yeun) appears to be a little more than dumbstruck in the presence of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) , Hershel's daughter, who rode in last episode and saved Glenn from a walker.  During one of the more compelling quiet scenes, Glenn and Maggie talk about faith, and he is more impressed with her than she with him.  Glenn's still carrying a great deal of self-doubt and hesitation, whereas Maggie seems to know much more clearly what she wants and how to act.

Another fine moment happens between Daryl and Andrea, off in the woods looking for Sophia, as they happen upon a rather pathetic zombie, a biting-victim who has hanged himself and then come back, only to be trapped in the noose long enough to have his lower limbs gnawed off.  The creators of the show are certainly finding interesting ways to "strand" zombies of late, and are finding a degree of humor with the walkers, who are, at times, almost a nuisance to be dealt with.  It seems clear that Daryl -- the ultimate pragmatist -- and Andrea -- who wants to be an independent survivor -- fit together well.

But as to the main dramatic questions, let's get to it.  Carl does indeed pull through.  And Shane, it turns out, has a dark survivor's streak -- driven perhaps out of his twisted love for Rick's family -- and, indeed, the reason Otis didn't make it back from the high school is revealed.  Shane shot him and left him behind as walker-bait while he hightailed it home.  Shane's shaving his head to cover up the tuft of hair Otis ripped from Shane's scalp in the struggle to get away.  Ugly business, but a decision that had to be made, and Shane's clearly the character to watch in upcoming episodes.  Not having lasted this long in the comic books means that Shane can be almost anything the producers need him to be.

While some viewers have complained about the slow pace of the series, I can't say that I agree.  Granted, there's got to be some degree of development between and among the characters, as most of them don't really know each other.  Drama is as much driven by internal conflicts based of love and loyalty as much as they are on external factors, so I don't see how later episodes are going to have much emotional payoff unless some investment is made in creating new relationship dynamics.  It might be worth some time and thought to devote a bit of attention to a flashback here and there -- I'm thinking a little borrowing from the narrative structure of Lost -- should one character or another need depth.  Dale is a bit of a mystery, as is Daryl.  But payoffs are coming, certainly -- between Andrea and the rest of the group, in the Rick-Lori-Shane triangle, between Hershel and Rick, between Maggie and Glenn, and between Daryl, T-Dog, and the others when old one-hand Merle makes his return.  Give me a couple of good zombie appearances a week and I'll stay with it.

Zombie Kill of the Week: Shane, with a shotgun -- take your pick.
Zombie Quotient - on a scale of 1 (none) to 10 (major herd): 6.5

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