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The Walking Dead: Save the Last One

“Wherever you wander, wherever you roam, be happy and healthy and glad to come home.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. I’m really not a fan of blatant emotional manipulation in a show and it felt like this whole episode was leading up to that slap up the backside of my head at the end. Fortunately, this show is so well acted that it avoided being cliche. Maybe I was annoyed that the final reveal of Shane’s treachery overshadowed the more subtle relationship and character building that went on in the rest of the episode. I’d be really interested to hear how other people reacted.

We open with Shane shaving off all his hair. Cutting hair is usually a symbol of personal change, and I wondered what was going on for Shane that he had made a decision to so completely change his appearance. It’s only at the end that you realize he is shaving his head to cover the fact that some of his hair has been pulled out. Pulled out by the same guy who was unwilling to leave him to the zombies and who saved Shane’s life more than once in their escape.

This show certainly knows how to dish out moral ambiguity. Would they have survived if Shane hadn’t left Otis to the zombies? They definitely wouldn’t have gotten back in time to save Carl’s life. Has Shane gone over the edge and become an amoral animal who only wants to survive? Or did he just sell his soul to get that medical equipment back in time? He did ask Otis to leave him first. Otis wasn’t willing to do it. Jon Bernthal displayed his acting chops in the last few minutes when he went from conflicted, tortured soul to the final shot in the mirror where he looks evil. Maybe Shane just did what was necessary, but it has cost him dearly. Does the old Shane even exist anymore?

Lori is losing hope, and she asked the question many people have been thinking -- is this a world for children anymore? The answer seems to be that yes, it is, if the adults in their lives can hold onto their humanity in some way. You do this by searching for beauty and life, even when the world has gone to hell. Children do that much better than adults. It is also our relationships that keep us human. It was very touching when Glenn and T-dog showed up at the farmhouse, saw Carl lying there and offered their help and friendship to Lori and Rick. This was echoed in Andrea and Daryl going to look for Sophia in the dark, even though it was probably a waste of time, and the look on Dale’s face when Andrea returned safely.

In “All That and Braiiinsss, Too: A Few Thoughts About Zombies," Ben P. Duck talks about how many recent zombie stories see zombies as just a mean-ass part of our landscape (forgive me if I paraphrased this incorrectly). I was thinking about this as I watched Daryl tell his story about getting lost as a kid. Daryl is having trouble dealing with all these soft, middle-class city/suburban folk. He has no patience for the people who are, as he says, “opting out”. He’s grown up in a world where he has had a “knife at his throat” for his whole life. He is obviously kind-hearted because he gets up to go look for Sophia when Carol’s crying keeps him awake but he just doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. Ya, there are zombies, but there is always something. If it wasn’t zombies, it would be a crazy, drunk father, or bears, or child services, and the best way to deal with whatever is ruining your day is to meet it head on and save your arrows. Did I mention before that I really like Daryl?

I can't wait to see where they go next week. No real cliffhanger this time.

Bits and pieces

Shane was legendary in high school. He sounds like he was a fun kid.

Daryl got lost when he was a kid and nobody cared or noticed -- found his own way home and made a sandwich. And he seems like a pretty balanced guy, anyway.

T-dog says that they are past the time of being considerate, but Glenn knows and uses his manners. Maybe it’s that lovely farmhouse.

Rick looks to Lori to make the decision about operating on Carl. Men may be the ones fighting the zombies, but it looks like the women have to make the really tough decisions.

Gross moment I could have lived without: Otis being torn to bits.
Second gross moment: zombie in the tree with his legs eaten off.


Shane: “You're a crazy son of a bitch, aren’t ya?”
Otis: “I’m just trying to do right by that boy.”

Daryl: “You’ve got that look on your face same as everybody else. What the hell’s the matter with you people?”

Lori: “Maybe this isn’t a world for children anymore.”

Daryl: “Look at him hanging up there like a big pinata.”

Dale: “Do you forgive me for... do you forgive me?”
Andrea: “I’m trying.”

Maggie: “The thing is, you’ve got to make it okay somehow, no matter what happens.”

Rick: “There’s still a life for us, a place, maybe like this. It isn’t all death out there. It can’t be. We just have to be strong enough after everything we’ve seen to still believe that.”


  1. This one started to cross the line into too upsetting for me, and I agree that it felt a bit like I was being emotionally manipulated. But it was still an exceptionally strong and heavily dramatic episode. This series does work for me.

    Terrific review, Doc.

  2. The final reveal shook me. I really don't believe Shane did it to save himself, he was just trying to protect Carl. But still, jesus. He could have at least shot Otis in the head; whatever's left of him is gonna be zombified. I didn't see it coming. Although, I think in the time Shane spent trying to leave him to die, both of them could have made it.

    My brother summed up Shane's look in the mirror: "I'll do anything." sounds about right.

    I don't know if the rest of the group would feel the same way. People like Rick, Dale, Daryl, and, unfortunately, Otis are all about doing the right thing and protecting each other.

    The drama between Rick and Lori worked for me. I'm sure Lori didn't want Carl to die and be spared, I think that may just have been something to help her cope with his impending but averted death. I still like Rick, but his everlasting idealism is starting to become a little unbelievable to me. He's had his share of devastation and anguish, but he never seems to crack. It will be unsettling if he ever does.

    Maybe everyone would take the situation better if they thought the same way as Herschel or Daryl, who basically see this zombie apocalypse as just another harsh time in life. They know things are bad, they've even both lost family, but neither of them seem to acknowledge the seemingly hopeless situation. They just try to survive until things get better.

    This episode was great, and I'm interested to see where they go with this season.

  3. About a third of the way into this episode, I just knew Shane had sacrificed Otis deliberately, but I assumed it was because his primary loyalty is to Carl, Rick and Lori. I didn't think he'd done it so he himself could survive. Still, it was a horrible thing to do.

    This show is much more like non-zombie apocalyptic movies and shows I have seen than it is like more traditional zombie movies (I admit, I don't have a lot of knowledge on zombies). Though the apocalypse is still happening, TWD focuses on the hard choices survivors have to make it the aftermath of such a catastrophe, and the subsequent loss of humanity many survivors experience. Shane's humanity is slipping away, because his concern is not for humanity in general but for the specific group of people he cares about. I think this show is going to move in some dark directions that are only tangentially related to zombies.

    And I echo the love on Daryl. He is a wonderful character. His revelations to Andrea were both humorous and sad, and I think his miserable childhood explains much about who he is now. Though he is extremely capable of surviving, he seems damaged, but not like Merle and Shane seem damaged. Daryl seems immature: stunted and a bit child-like. His absolute faith that they would find Sophia and that she would be just fine is what you would expect a kid to believe, not a grown man who can peg a zombie through the head with a crossbow at 50 yards. Was he like this in the graphic novels? I really, really, really hope they don't kill him; that would fill me with uncontrollable rage.


  4. Oh, Shane. Just when I was starting to think you weren't all that bad you go and do a thing like that.

    Great review, Doc. The show can be depressing and often uncomfortable to watch but it still makes for gripping television.

    KAM, Daryl wasn't in the comic book, he's a completely original character. And a awesome one at that.

  5. Thanks for the info, Mark. Do you think Daryl not being in the books makes him more or less likely to die? Not being familiar with the books, I have no idea if beloved characters get axed on a regular basis. I guess you probably shouldn't tell me, huh? Spoilers = bad.


  6. KAM, while the show has been faithful to the source material, the fates of my many characters (I won't say who) have been changed from what they were in the comic. So its difficult for anyone, even those who read the comic, to accurately guess who will live and who will die. Personally speaking, I think Daryl's chances of survival are strong as he is a very popular character and it would be foolish to kill him off.

  7. Thanks for the shout out. I was thinking that the Doc was kind of making the same point in a previous episode, when he was talking about plagues and people being down before. He also rejected Rick's assertion that this was somehow different.

  8. Great review, Doc. I didn't understand why Shane really shave his head until you pointed out.

    KAM, to complement what Mark has said, yes, on the comics, beloved characters get axed on a regular basis. Of the characters that you've met so far, only about 5 or 6 made it to #90.

  9. Hi Billie - long time lurker, first time commenter, always loved your reviews, one of the few sites I check in everyday.
    Just catching up on Walking Dead and a few things occured to me.
    Shane's behaviour in this episode makes me wonder if this is why he appears as such a protagonist in the series (I have read the comics and I know what happens to Shane is very different but I am not sure about your policy regarding spoilers for the comics). The comics are so unremittingly grim that the humnity of all the characters (inckuding Rick)is chipped away piece by piece in a way that I think that TV audiences wouldn't accept. Shane's role in the series is not just as a love triangle to Rick and Lori, but also to show how quickly our humanity could disappear in such a situation. This contrasts with Ricks's unfailing belief in hope, even in the face of the loss of his son. This may have a major impact in future storylines (hoping that the comics will be followed here!)
    I too love Darryl in the series (I know you have already revealed he is an original character). I recently finished watching True Blood and I couldn't help comparing Darryl to Tommy Mickens. Both characters suffered neglect and/or abuse as a child, but whereas Tommy continously made the selfish, bad choices,Darryl has surprised us by rising above his childhood and has contiually shown his humanity. A true case of nurtue versus nature I wonder?
    Finally, as a Brit I wonder if a British series would have handled the disappearance of Sophia differently. I suspect the group would have abandonned the search by the end of this episode, possibly leaving the mother alone with a gun to continue the vigil. It's not cruel, just a more pragmatic view of the situation. I found it interesting that Dale used the "needs of the many argument" in this episode, which leads me to think that the shows writers are at least thinking about this option, even if they are unwilling to go ahead with it

  10. Hey, Otherwyrld -- great comment, and you have an interesting take. I bet a British version of TWD would indeed be quite different. I'm unaware of what happens in the comic, except for bits here and there, and we are definitely trying to keep anything super spoilery, like character deaths, etc., out of the review comments.


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