The Walking Dead season 2 episode 3 review: Save The Last One

The action quota is up, and there's big shock in store in this week's The Walking Dead. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.3 Save The Last One

Kids are nothing but trouble in The Walking Dead universe. For example, see Carl Grimes. Carl’s got internal bleeding, he needs surgery and a respirator to live, and Shane and Otis are trapped in the local high school, running from a whole marching band’s worth of zombies. Meanwhile, Sophia is still off in the woods, and Daryl and Andrea are still wasting time looking for him, while the rest of the group is either a) waiting around at the RV for her or b) heading towards the Greene farmhouse.

The main weapon in the arsenal of the remnants of humanity is hope. Some people, like Rick, still have it. Others, like Andrea and Lori, are struggling to hang onto it. Some, like the hangman zombie from this week’s episode and Jacqui from the first season of the show, gave up entirely and decided to take the easy way out.

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Is there hope in a world where the hungry dead outnumber the scared, hungry, and weary living? That’s the crux of the human element of this week’s The Walking Dead, and it’s an interesting thing to contemplate.

Would you give up if the situation looked hopeless? Would you keep fighting because, like Rick, you think it’s worth it? Would you keep fighting because, like Daryl, it’s all you know? More importantly, just how highly do you value survival? What would you do to make sure you and yours survive?

For those who have been complaining about a lack of action in The Walking Dead, this episode should hopefully quiet that gripe. You’ve got Shane and Otis creeping through a zombie-infested high school for most of the episode, juxtaposed with the standard character-driven drama. It’s a B-plot to Carl’s struggle to cling to life and the personal problems of the survivors, but it’s there, and it’s got ample amounts of gore.

Director Phil Abraham handles the action well, and he keeps the individual conversations well paced, too. We don’t linger too long on one pairing or the other. Instead, we get a well spread out episode, and some characters who haven’t said any lines in weeks (Glenn) actually get to speak.

Perhaps as important, the script from Scott M Gimple provides several intriguing moral questions for viewers, as well as for the characters on screen, and there will no doubt be multiple water cooler conversations about what happens in Save The Last One.

This next couple of paragraphs will contain serious spoilers, if you’re not one to read other recaps or frequent the IMDB webpage. I’ll do my best not to completely ruin things, but it is what it is. You have been warned.

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What Shane did at the end of the episode was one of the most jaw-dropping things I’ve seen on this show in a long time. Shane and Otis, both injured, both out of ammo, and Carl’s life is hanging in the balance. Shane did a terrible thing, that much is true. But he did a necessary thing, too. If Shane and Otis both die, Carl’s dead. If one of the makes it back to the farm with the equipment, Carl lives. One man died so that two people could continue living.

Obviously, the show makes Shane the bad guy here, because he’s a pragmatist. Does anyone really think that Otis could’ve outrun that horde given his physicial condition? He barely made it up the stairs. I know Shane’s not in much better shape, but he’s obviously a little more mobile and I think Shane would have the better chance at getting back.

To the credit of Scott Gimple, he has obviously taken what is a difficult action by a main character and written it in such a way that Shane obviously feels bad about what he’s done. There’s real guilt on Shane’s face (to Jon Bernthal’s credit), and when he sees Patricia break down after hearing the news, the expression on his face seems one of sheer misery. I don’t think he likes what he’s done, but I think, in his mind, he did what he had to do.

Whether or not he can justify that to other people is beside the point. Shane betrayed Otis, who earlier refused to leave him behind when Shane offered to sacrifice himself, but did Shane do this for the greater good (as he perceives it)? Is Shane just wanting to look good for Lori?

The fact that the show is even provoking this level of debate among the audience is a good thing, regardless of your feeling on Shane’s actions.

Read our review of episode two, here.

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US Correspondent Ron Hogan is very amused by the responses to this week’s The Walking Dead.Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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