TV Review: The Walking Dead – Save the Last One

This is what The Walking Dead should be doing every week. A good balance of action, creeps, and a little bit of character drama (even if The Walking Dead isn’t very good at that last one just yet). Let’s start with the character drama since that’s the least developed, and consequently least interesting. We get two flavors to choose from this week, both life affirming.

First, we have Lori considering whether Carl isn’t better off dead. After all, in a world of the living dead, what does one really have to look forward to beyond a life of constant peril and pain? I think it’s a little early in the series run to go to this sort of conflict, but the show handles it pretty well. Rick, weak from giving so much blood, tries to reason with Lori, but doesn’t have a lot to work with, at least until Carl suddenly wakes up and starts talking about the deer he saw before getting shot. In Rick’s mind, that deer represents life, beauty, and a reason to live. When it comes time to decide whether to risk an operation or let Carl fade away, Lori ultimately decides life. On a show with better developed characters this would be a pretty powerful moment, but here it doesn’t feel quite earned yet.

Yeah, I don't mean to panic you or anything, but there are, like, a lot of zombies behind you

Back in the other group we get some Daryl and Andrea bonding time. While the two search the woods at night for the missing Sophia, they come across a man who had hanged himself, only to have everything from the waist down eaten off by zeds before turning into one himself.  Andrea, looking at him, decides maybe she’s not so sure about dying after all, but then again, she’s not entirely sold on wanting to live either. Her existential drama is starting to get a little old, so I hope the show doesn’t return to the well too many more times.

Of course, Andrea’s moment did give us a nice scene a little later, when Dale returned her gun and apologized for making the life v. death decision for her. It was a strange scene, using a lot of language I’m used to hearing in the abortion debate, but I thought it worked. Speaking of abortions, between this scene and Lori’s decided whether Carl should live, there was a really abstract abortion theme going on last night.

Okay, so character drama out of the way, let’s sink our teeth into the zombie action, which continued to revolve entirely around Shane and Otis as they tried to escape from the high school. The post credit sequence of the two characters running while Rick talked was one of the most well presented on the show. It felt like the episode’s big moment, but that was yet to come. Following this, the characters separated in the gym to re-unite outside. They waste a lot of ammo in the process, but both get away without getting bitten, although Shane manages to hurt his leg pretty badly.

There’s a lot of running and gunning, and a lot of zombies get taken out. It’s well shot, and the low light adds to the creepiness factor. The only thing that bugs me is how little damage Shane’s shotgun is doing. I don’t like being that guy, but a twelve gauge round is going to do a lot more noticable damage than what we saw last night.

At any rare, with Shane limping, Otis completely out of shape, and both characters almost out of ammo, we get the setup for the biggest twist of the series to date. The horde of zombies is closing in fast, and our heroes are down to one round each. It looks like there’s no escape, and those last rounds will be used only to ease the agony of passing, hence the episode title. And then Shane does something that shocked me (even though I half-jokingly predicted it a few minutes earlier): he shoots Otis in the leg, grabs the supplies, and limps away while the wounded man is noisily devoured. The worst part is, he doesn’t even get away clean. Taking Otis’ supplies turns into a nasty, brutal fight with the zombies closing in quickly.

There’s a lot of build up to the big reveal, which I thought was quite well done. The show jumps back and forth between Shane back at the farmhouse and he and Otis at the school. We see Shane struggling with his decision, and seeing the repercussions (Carl lives, but Otis’ wife/girlfriend is devestates) before we ever know what’s going on. It’s quite an effective setup that telegraphs some darkness without tipping its hand too much. It was also technically quite nicely put together, with a couple really great transitions thrown in for good measure.

Save the Last One was a fantastic episode; maybe the best since the show’s outstanding pilot. If The Walking Dead can keep doing this, then it’s got a chance at becoming a legitimately great show, instead of merely a decent one that gets a nice bump for featuring zombies.

Grade: A-

54 Comments

Calicade

Well I have a head ache and I’m waiting for it to come on.. My day has been filled with zombies.. Kinda. I tried to mod my Minecraft to have the Humans+ mod so that I could do a sort of kingdom feel to it.. That failed so I decided to play PZ… I survived for a decently long time.. Until I forgot to hit pause and I left the computer to watch a little bit of the living zombie thing..

Me and my father both agreed that it was the same ol’ same ol that they talk about with any zombie philosophy conversion. And we’re both very disappointed at the fact that they never talked about Crossbows, or bows in the survival part.

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Calicade

You can replenish the ammo, and hand make it if you take the time and know the skill. You can add a scope to the crossbow for distance… You can replace the majority of the parts for a crossbow, and if you need to replace parts on a bow then.. Loly’u’sostupidtobreakbow? It also allows for distance and very very quiet attacks.

Dave

I’m a few minutes behind; I always pause for a big so I can fast forward through commercials.

Calicade

Hate commercials so hard core.. Fantasied about pushing those Victoria secrete angels off a cliff..

Dave

Of all the commercials to push off a cliff, the Victoria’s Secret girls? You really do hate commercials.

Calicade

Well they were dressed up like angles.. So I kinda assumed they would.. Fly?

Calicade

Holy hell O.o… They both could of ran.. There’s a certain way that you can run with a twisted ankle that really works. But nooo.. Mister insane-ass had to ignore all choices. This proves my distrust of my police officers.

Dave

Daryl “The only difference is Sophia has someone looking for her”. Yeah, that and all the zombies. Otherwise, same deal.

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Angelina

I am PISSED!!! I was really rooting for Shane to be a good guy. He’s gonna snap and it’s gonna be soon. DAMMIT!!!

On another note – “It ain’t the mountains of Tibet, it’s Georgia!” may be the best quote yet.

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Dave

Hah, I couldn’t imagine Shane being anything but a villain in the long run, but I was kind of rooting for him too.

And yes, more badassery from Daryl.

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zombiemutts

“Shane being anything but a villain in the long run, ”

whoa whoa whoa….Shane is not a villain as of yet….

Why does everyone think he shot Otis? What was his reasoning does everyone think? He made the right call….he did the right thing.

I don’t think Shane to this point has done a single thing to make him a villain. Noting.

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Dave

Shane may have shot Otis “for the greater good”, and it may be a decision he can justify, but it was still immoral. He still put his life (and Carl’s, which is the sticking point) before Otis’. Yeah, this isn’t pure villain territory yet, but it shows his morality getting slowly washed away.

And as far as doing nothing to make him a villain, I have to examples:
1. The attempted rape of Lori.
2. Pointing his gun at Rick and considering shooting him.

Granted, I thought the first was grossly out of character, and the second didn’t take any action, but they still give hints about his moral destination as a character.

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zombiemutts

First off let me not harp on the word villain…I know what you mean and I actually agree that from this point onward he will likely slip around the line of good & evil into villain status.

But from his actions to now…honestly I am not sure it was immoral by any means. The life of that kid over Otis? Who acted more immoral…Otis by slowing them down or Shane fixing the problem? And unless I am so tired and not thinking clearly…didn’t he give Otis the chance of escape by sacrificing his life first which Otis declined?

And for the other two points…yeah that’s true. It definitely shows him struggling greatly.

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Dave

Otis wasn’t slowing them down. Yes, he was fat and slow, but Shane was injured and going just as slow, if not slower. In fact, Otis practically carried Shane for a bit.

I may have missed Otis declining Shane’s sacrifice.

zombiemutts

But I still see Shane as the logical choice between the two of who is most capable of surviving.

And the offer was in the gym when he says to Shane “No way am I leaving you here” or something like that when they made the decision to draw them away and regroup.

Dave

Oh yeah, I do kind of remember that now.

Yes, from a completely logical perspective, Shane is the more likely to survive and deliver the stuff.

zombiemutts

Yeah and since its a philosophy question I don’t think there is a clear answer on right or wrong. Just opinion.

But I 100% agree the sanity is shattered now

Dave

It actually makes a sort of interesting debate. One of those doing something wrong (hurting a person so he gets ‘et ain’t right) for the greater good (saving a child and probably the general emotional wellbeing of the group) situations.

Angelina

I agree Mutt that Shane was making decisions that were hard but best for the group. That’s why I felt that he was getting the short end of the stick. As far as the attempted rape, he was drunk and I as a girl know that this is no excuse, he did back off from her then and then from the group in general. He really got shafted by Lori but just killing Otis was wrong.
He should have just let the horde catch up to them and take Otis on thier own. Helping them along was not cool.

Calicade

This is actually interesting.. I’m on the part of the humanity side.. In a group or a group focused project, one cannot simply limp into Mordor.. I mean.

His choices weren’t focused.. And hes becoming a danger to the group.. Just like blondie.. This is where my inhumane side comes in… You cannot carry people while trying to survive.

mistercantankerous

All I can say about this episode is that we finally got on the scoreboard. I lost track at some point of how many of us fell by the wayside to get that score (even if we got the assist from a human), but it is about time. Hopefully from here on out we can get back “in the game” and rack up higher body counts. Personally I think we could do the human team a favor and take out Andrea or Lori in the very near future.

Now you’re on your own.

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Angelina

I was so wrapped in Shane, I didn’t mention the hanging geek. How incredibly sad. To be forever trapped in the tree after being bitten, eaten and then dying … and coming back.

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zombiemutts

Sorry no. It only transfers between Kindle accounts.

Altho I am not sure if you have to have an actual Kindle or just a kindle app. I dunno.

But based on your comments here & there I really think you’ll love that series. I just finished the series up last week.

Angelina

I’ll definately check it out. I take forever to finish stuff though. I’m working on my bachelors so I read between homework assignments, Half way through Pride and Predjucie and Zombies but excited to write the review for that. It’s the prequal that I’m reading.

zombiemutts

Well I think the Kindle app only gives you 14 days per loan. Personally you could keep it for months but you’ll be hamstrung by their rules.

Oh and I am right there with ya on the bachelors. I am enjoying it tho!

Angelina

Wow! I just started so I have no clue when I’ll graduate. Good luck with the dual course thing.

BTW – you flicker page is awesome!!

zombiemutts

Thank you and thank you!

I haven’t updated my flikr page in a long time. I only have some lame photos but no other mocs to add. I am working on one that should be finished kinda soon tho.

Angelina

i love the old guy with no pants and the mexican zombie. too funny!

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