When Shane (Jon Bernthal) returned from the FEMA shelter without Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who else had a sinking feeling that something bad happened? Or when Shane couldn’t tell Otis’ girlfriend Patricia (Jane McNeil) to her face what had gone down, did anyone else’s ears start ringing? The opening scene of “Save the Last One” left you with an ominous premonition, but no one could have expected what would be revealed at the end. In addition to a riveting escape from the FEMA shelter, this episode had two big conversations about what has so far been the central theme this season: Surviving vs. Forfeiting.
After what seemed like a never-ending battle with the walkers–one which Shane and Otis fought, protecting one another–Shane popped a cap in Otis’ knee in a final, hobbling attempt to escape. The zombies had a large feast to devour, and Shane got all of the supplies and booked it to the truck alone to work on his story on the drive back to the farmhouse. He made a sacrifice to keep Carl alive. Desperate times. Desperate measures. How desperate were the times? Did they justify the measures? Let’s take a deeper look into that pivotal event.
Let’s remember, accident or not, Otis shot Carl (Chandler Riggs), and he took Carl in as his own son when the apocalypse hit, knowing his father was in the hospital. Shane had no tie to Otis other than to let him know where the supplies were. Before Shane could get away, Otis put up a mighty struggle and ripped out a chunk of Shane’s hair. I watched every frame again to see if Shane was clawed or bitten by a zombie, Otis too, but both of them–well before Shane’s kill shot–miraculously made it out cleanly. Now, having to come up with a lie looked all too easy for Shane, but then again he is a survivor.
Was he really doing this to survive? Already slowed down with a sprained ankle and a fat farmhand, if he didn’t shoot Otis there’s a chance that both of them would have perished, along with Carl in surgery and Rick trying to keep him alive with transfusions. Hard and difficult decisions need to be made every day as the world is changing. And that is how Shane is going to justify his actions, whether he tells anyone or not. Could he have tried to get out without shooting Otis? Maybe but his plan worked.
All in the Plan
What people will be talking about this week is whether or not Shane planned all along that he was going to go back alone. I for one don’t think so. To me, he processed the situation, thought about his injury and the people he loved who were dying. He knew that the walkers wouldn’t stop unless they had a reason to. Nothing stops a walker than live food.
Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) asked Shane to stay after coming through with the medical supplies. Stunned at this discourse, does this fuel Shane’s desire to stick with the group? Was he serious in leaving? Does this force Andrea to stay too? Does this add to the guilt in staying with strangers knowing that he killed one of them. Will Shane crack and confide in someone with the truth? Should Shane die, will anyone from the farmhouse find out the truth? Will Shane or others try to take over and impose their will on the farmhouse? Will this episode reinforce Shane’s belief that he is a better leader (and better father to Carl)?
No doubt this is a turning point for Shane, and clipping his hair signifies that. Yes, he’s hiding the missing patch of hair that Otis ripped out, but the cold hard stare he gave himself in the mirror afterwards looked as if his primal instincts were kicking in. If Season 1 was about Rick (Andrew Lincoln) reuniting with his family, Season 2 might be about Shane taking back what he felt was his. Rick was hysterical in “Bloodletting” and couldn’t comprehend the idea of staying with his son to help give him blood. Clearly Rick is not in the best state of mind. Or is he?
Carl wakes and talks about the deer to his parents, just seconds before suffering a seizure. While mulling over the decision to go ahead with the surgery without the medical supplies, Rick and Lori have a key discussion about whether to fight on or give up. Lori wonders if it’s better to let Carl die and escape the madness, the fear, and the horror of seeing others torn to shreds, or fight for his survival. In fact, in her case, Lori was able to bring back Jacqui (who we all remember chose to die at the CDC, right?) into the conversation (it was nice to see someone talk about Jacqui and recognize her absence).
Rick: You really think it’d be better if Carl– if we just gave up?
Lori: Tell me why it’d be better the other way.
Rick didn’t have a good answer or at least a very convincing one. Eventually he remembered that Carl spoke about the beautiful, living deer when he woke, instead of the living nightmare they’re stuck in. But is Carl right? Or is Lori right? In Lori’s defese, Is it really giving up, or is it dying in a graceful way?
In another attempt to find Sophia, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) go out in the middle of night–mostly to escape Carol’s (Melissa McBride) whimpering. Now I find it silly that Sophia hasn’t gone out looking for her daughter herself and can’t carry a gun, but there was a grounding perspective on the situation from Daryl in that there stands a good chance that Sophia is alive and is finding her own way of surviving. When they come across a zombie hanging from a tree with a note that read:
“Got Bit, Fever Hit, and the Whole World’s Gone To Shit”
His legs were gnawed off to the bone and Andrea politely asked Daryl to use one of his arrows to put it out of its misery. In exchange she tells Daryl that she’s not sure if she wants to live or die. Right now Andrea is at the crossroads of who or what she wants to be in this messed up world: a hardened survivor, or another victim. Honestly, Andrea would be glad just not to be attacked for a single episode. Coming face to face with someone who was bitten and decided to take life into their own hands was an eye-opening experience for her. She had already made that choice once, but Dale took that away from her. Maybe seeing the hanging zombie showed her that there is a reason to continue on.
Finally, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) owned up to that mistake and gave Andrea her gun back, on the condition that she not make him regret doing so. You’ve gotta love Dale. He just finds more ways to piss Andrea off. I don’t want to spoil the comic for those who have not read it; I’ll just say that this too could be Andrea’s turning point in the show in becoming one of the stronger characters; she’s seen enough now to not let herself fall all the way down, hasn’t she? Have faith, folks. It’s the vogue thing to do. Even Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) have bonded over whether or not God exists. Glenn takes to prayer for the first time in life, whereas Maggie has already lost too much. It’s awfully hard to argue that given their experiences. But what else keeps you motivated in this world? As I said. Desperate times. Desperate measures.
The transformation or re-surfacing of a Shane who acts on primal instincts pushed the meter back up on Walking Dead after an episode of seeing Rick unravel. Where the two groups of survivors go from here keeps the interest high and the suspense on the edge. We may look back on “Save The Last One” as one of the more memorable episodes of Season 2. It was easily the most shocking.
• On Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick, The Walking Dead producer, Gale Anne Hurd was a guest who commented that Shane operated in shades of grey, that he justifies what he’s doing because the world’s changed. She also felt that it was necessary for Shane to do what he did. Then again, it’s her show.
• T-Dog (Irone Singleton) is still hopped up on more drugs was kept alive thanks to Merle’s clap. T-Dog just can’t separate himself from the Dixons and their ugly ways.
Catch the latest episode of The Walking Dead this Sunday night on AMC, 9/8C. Share your thoughts on what Shane did below and where you think his arc will go!