The Walking Dead
Season 02, Episode 03
“Save the Last One”
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
DIR: Phil Abraham
Blurb (imdb): As Carl's condition continues to deteriorate, Shane and Otis try to dodge the walkers as they head back to the farm.
Scene 01: When last we left Shane and Otis, they were locked in the high school with nothing between them and the walkers but a flimsy looking gate. Meanwhile, Carl is in desperate need of medical equipment if he has any hope of surviving the emergency surgery that Herschel, a vet by trade, needs to perform to remove bullet fragments he’s sustained.
Now, we open on a hot shower filling a bathroom with steam. We see dirty clothing that looks like Shane’s pants. We hear an electric razor buzzing and then see somebody who looks like it may be Shane buzz cutting his hair off. We see bits of hair falling into a bathroom sink. We pull out and see that this is, in fact, Shane. And the way he’s looking into the mirror doesn’t bode well for however he got out of the high school situation we last saw him in and into this bathroom.
I sense flashback territory ahead.
The way that Shane his huffing at himself in the mirror with a slightly deranged look, I also sense that we’re not going to see Shane redeem his recently awful behavior anytime sooner by turning back toward the light. I sense that we should worry about what happened at the high school and wonder where Otis is right now.
Commentary: And I like this opening and the way that it was handled. I think that, hmmm… damn, I hate to comment on subpar acting but…, I think that Jon tries a bit too hard with the intense glare at himself in the mirror. And, the mouth breathing isn’t helping any either. It’d be much better if he was tight lipped, his muscles tensed like he’s in rictus as he stares emotionlessly into the mirror. But that isn’t the choice that was made.
Credity-Credits of Crediting, with the theme music that I like for this series.
Scene 02: We fade in on Lori’s voiceover telling somebody they need to keep their strength up. She’s talking to her husband, who is telling her about something that he’d found legendary. In the meantime, we see a pair of legs running that I believe - judging by the pants and boots - is Shane in the high school earlier.
Yes, it is. And he’s with Otis. Rick meanwhile is regaling Lori with a tale of outrageousness by his best friend, Shane back when they were in high school involving his stealing the principal’s car during lunch and leaving it in a chicken yard with the windows rolled down and seed spread inside it for them. The car was the principal’s pride and he doted on keeping it neat and clean, y’see. Shane then sprinted back to school to finish his lunch before the bell rang. After the bell rang, he actually mentioned to the principal that the car wasn’t parked in its spot.
And now, he’s sprinting again… this time with a lot more at stake than getting caught joy riding and vandalism.
Lori’s heard the admiration story before. It’s interesting as it lets us know that Shane and Rick weren’t just partners. They were best buds through school and then ended up following the same career path. They really are the opposite side of the same coin. But more, Shane is also either reckless, fearless or both and is definitely audacious.
Scene 03: We fade into the room at Hershel’s where Carl is weakening as they wait for the arrival of the needed equipment. Rick is pale and sweaty from the blood transfusions. He uses the story to demonstrate that Shane can do anything he sets his mind to because of that audaciousness; He assures her that Carl is going to make it.
She gives him a long look and tells him that for her, he needs to keep his strength up. He reaches for the sandwich that had been sitting on the night stand untouched. They sit in silence… waiting….
Scene 04: Back at the highway, Daryl is lying awake in the RV, when he hears sobbing. It’s Carol crying for the lost Sophia. Nearby, Andrea is up as well and practicing disassembling and reassembling her gun. Daryl gives up on trying to sleep. He loads up his crossbow and a pistol and tells Andrea that he’s going to walk the road a bit and look for sign of Carol’s daughter. Andrea chooses to join him. The plan is to shine lights into the woods, give Sophia something to see that will lead their way if she’s out there looking.
Dale questions the wisdom of that, but Andrea shuts him down with a snotty attitude.
Commentary: I generally like our characters, but this feud between Andrea and Dale is really bothersome. Not so much because I don’t find it reasonable for them to still be at cross-purposes with one another, only flaring up when it seems to be put to rest when Andrea once again is faced with things she has to go through because she didn’t/couldn’t just stay with Jacqui at the imploding CDC but because she’s coming across as such a bitch about it. Her constant snotty attitude is grating, despite my attempting to maintain sympathy for her. But Dale isn’t any better: He keeps coming across as a busy body butting into everybody else’s decisions that is equally getting on my nerves.
I wish these two characters would just avoid each other for awhile, that Andrea would focus on her martial skills instead of throwing ‘tude around, and that Dale would keep his mouth shut on everybody else’s business.
Scene 05: Back in the high school, we’re in flashback land. And possibly we’ve been since Shane gazed into the mirror at himself, though you could make arguments that parts of this episode are in the present, too. Anyway, we’re definitely in the recent past now.
Shane and Otis have retreated deeper into the school. The walkers have broken in and they’re currently trapped up on the bleachers in the gym. Shane notes some small windows but Otis warns him there is a twenty foot drop through them with nothing to break a fall on the way down. He also points out the obvious that he can’t join Shane due to his size.
He lays out a plan. He’ll jump down and lay down distracting fire to draw the walkers to chase after him. Shane goes for the windows and the drop… and good luck not breaking an ankle… while he goes for the locker room. Otis assures him that he knows where windows are that are more Otis’ size so he’ll have a chance to make it out for a rendezvous near the truck for their getaway.
Shane sees this is the only way for one of them to have a chance so he clarifies the plan. Otis will fire three shots to draw them off and then jump, Shane will lay down a few shots at the closest walkers to Otis to give him some escape room and then go for the far bleachers and his means of escape.
The plan is carried out with Otis hurting his ankle but able to keep ahead of the walkers chasing after him. Shane hops down, but the noise and vibration against the floor draws attention and some of the walkers come after him. It’s worse for Shane because the bleachers he needs happen to have convenient stairs for them so the walkers don’t need to climb a vertical surface.
Shane hangs from the window to minimize the drop as much as possible and sizes up where to fall so he doesn’t splat on the sidewalk. A walker that he didn’t head shot appears at the window as he’s doing so and grabs his arms, leaning in and attempting to put the bite on him. Thankfully, he’s able to pull his pistol and shoot the thing right this time. Unfortunately, this sends him more into a fall than a controlled drop.
He lands hard and twist his knee. From somewhere close by, he hears Otis’ gunshots.
Commentary: This was a nice, tense scene and I appreciated that it appears Otis also made it. But what I liked was the zombie appearing at the window, even though I knew it was coming. I also really liked the way that Shane and Otis almost immediately work together to come up with a plan, rather than do what most of our characters have been doing: Whining.
Scene 06: We join a car on the dark road. It’s Glenn and T-Dog finding their way to the farm from the highway. Maggie surprises them from the porch to make sure they closed the gate on their way in.
Maggie notices Theodore’s wound and he assures her it’s not a bite, but that he did slice himself up pretty badly. Glenn offers up the antibiotics and pain meds of Merle’s for Carl if it’s needed and Maggie invites them in for something to eat and to get settled.
Scene 07: In the bedroom, Lori, Rick and Patricia sit tensely watching Carl deteriorate. Both T-Dog and Glenn are taken aback when they enter the room and see just how bad Carl is looking. They let them know they’re there for whatever they may need.
After they leave to eat, Hershel pulls the blanket down to check Carl and finds his abdomen distended and discolored from the blood collecting. He tells the parents that they can’t wait much longer and may need to go in after the fragments without the respirator despite Carl’s very poor chances of actually surviving it.
Lori can’t take the weight of this and leaves with Rick shortly following.
Scene 08: Meanwhile, out in the woods, Andrea is doubting they’re going to find Sophia. This annoys Daryl because he’s getting wore down by the looks on the faces of everyone that they’re not going to find her… as he says, they’re not in the mountains and the area is full of farmhouses where she could be hiding out.
Andrea points out she’s only twelve, but Daryl tells her that he was lost himself just as young for nine days out in the woods picking berries until he found his way back. He tells her that nobody was looking for him with his dad on a bender and Merle doing a stint in jail at the time. Sophia has them out there searching for her. Andrea can’t help but chuckle, despite his horrible story, because he’d been wiping his ass with poison oak leaves.
Commentary: I really like Daryl being the one who is so sure of finding Sophia because his introduction as a character was horribly rough and it seemed like they were setting him up to be the constant nightmare companion for the group. But they’re really turning him into somebody we can like and admire despite his rougher edges and Norman Reedus is really doing a lot with this part, which is so important because a lesser actor wouldn’t give us the touch of humanity that makes the character compelling instead of an empty jerk that we don’t want to see take up screen time.
Scene 09: At the house, Lori is outside when Rick finds her. She’s beside herself, not just with worry and fear, but with her own doubts about her son’s chances in this new world. She’s struggling with the concept that maybe… just maybe… it’d be better for Carl if he slips away right now. A thought that Rick finds appalling and shocking. He asks her what changed for her, confusing her.
He brings up Jenner’s offer to give them a quick and clean way out and how she begged him for the chance to live. So what changed?
She tells him that the other day, for just a moment, she forgot that Jacqui was dead. She turned to tell her something and almost said her name out loud before she remembered. And then the thought struck her that Jacqui didn’t have to see any of it anymore… not the walkers… not people they know being hunted and scared and hungry… and not each of them being torn apart one by one as they continued to run and run endlessly. For her, all of it ended.
She goes on to try to make him understand that this persistent thought isn’t about Carl dying, but afterward… his peace… his not having to be angry and horrified at every turn anymore. She admits that she doesn’t know if Jenner wasn’t right. Rick disagrees with Jenner’s giving in, and makes an oblique reference to what Jenner said [which seems to me to clearly be referring to the mysterious thing he whispered in Rick’s ear, and not to his public comments]. He turns on her and asks if she’s really saying it’d be better if their son died upstairs. He can’t believe she’d give up, but she asks him to tell her something that would make it better to keep going on the way they have to now. He has to look at her with tears as he tries to think what he can say to counter her argument.
Commentary: I want to talk about this scene a bit. Lori, as a character, gets a lot of shit and I’m going to say right here that some of it -- especially later with more Shane bullshit -- is justified. The writing really fails Sarah Wayne Callies often when it seems like each scripter has their own interpretation of the sort of woman Lori is and how she’s trying to deal with this awful situation she finds herself in and it leaves the character’s emotions and opinions confused and possibly even schizophrenic.
And it is a real shame, because scenes like this one show what the character could’ve been. She’s caught in an impossible situation, but she’s entirely pragmatic about it. Of course she doesn’t want her son to die, but she does want him to not have to suffer the apocalypse that shows no end in sight and has already seen the deaths of those around them in horrible ways. And the questions she’s asking about what is best for Carl are a reflection of that desperate pragmatism that I really like in the character.
She will make some harsh choices in future, but then the writers keep having her backtrack unconvincingly and it leaves the character more damaged than if they’d just kept having her question the value of what they’re doing day in and day out to survive with nothing much to show for it.
I also loved this scene because I don’t need the constant zombie attacks to keep me interested. It’s scenes like this one, where two people are interacting that helps build the characters as individual people handling the nightmare around them differently that keeps me engaged so that when the zombies do appear I care about who is going to get hurt or killed. I also loved this scene for the way that Sarah handles the material when she’s nearly begging Rick for some solid reason to shut the little voice in her head up that insists that Carl would be more fortunate to die now in his sleep of his wounds.
I really enjoy that some of our characters can think and express and do some awful things because this is the end of the world and not everybody is going to be able to be Rick, who seems to constantly be staring at the silver lining and ignoring just how horrible things actually are.
Scene 10: Back with Shane, he slipping his way quietly along a wall and looking for Otis. He’s limping along when he’s spotted. Instead of letting the walker come to him and quietly killing it, he shoots it which just puts himself in a worse situation than he was already in.
He makes a run for it, but with his knee he’s barely able to run any faster than the walkers chasing him. He soon finds himself cornered on all sides and readies for his last stand.
Scene 11: Thankfully for him, after the fade from black, Otis has teleported behind the Zs and is able to save his ass with a well placed shot. Together they open a gap for Shane to limp through so they can run/hobble for the truck.
Otis tells Shane that he’s just used his last rifle round, and Shane’s rifle is also tapped out.
Scene 12: At the farmhouse, Rick and Lori are sitting on the floor outside Carl’s sick room. They hear him coughing and gasping fearfully and in pain.
Carl gasps out about the deer and its beauty and how close he was able to get to it. While Carl is talking, he freezes up. A moment later he goes into violent convulsions with nothing to be done about it but let his body go through it.
When it stops agonizing seconds later, Herschel explains that his brain isn’t getting enough blood and they need another transfusion. Rick is warned that his own body is coming to the end of what it can give and he’s risking coma or heart attack; Rick doesn’t care, so Herschel leaps into action again with the transfusion kit.
Commentary: Oh my god, that was just brutal. The physical acting by Chandler during that convulsion just tore at me, so kudos to him. But this entire scenario is really wearing on me at this point and I just want Shane to make it back already. Seeing that we have 20+ minutes to go, I can tell you my stomach just knots… not because I think Carl or Rick are going to die with all of this gunshot/transfusion business, but just because I don’t want to see any more of this little boy suffering. It’s almost getting to be too much.
Scene 13: Back at the school, Otis and Shane are limping down the stairs to make their way over the football field to escape. Otis is out of breath… well, since he’s older and out of shape….
They stop so he can catch his breath only to find more walkers pressing their weight against the chain link fence behind them. By this point, Otis is huffing and puffing and limping, and Shane has a nearly useless leg and is hopping along with Otis’ assistance.
Scene 14: On the highway, Dale is keeping watch from atop the RV. He gets out a pack of smokes. Before he can decide whether to light up, he’s joined by Carol. She’s decided to keep watch for Daryl and Andrea’s return and offers that he can go inside to catch some sleep, but he wants to wait as well.
Scene 15: In the woods, Daryl and Andrea are wandering in the dark with their flashlights looking for any sign that Sophia is still out there. They come across a tent. They also find a walker hanging from a tree branch where a man has tried to kill himself off after getting bit, but he didn’t decide to destroy his own brain.
The sight, especially of his legs stripped of flesh by other walkers before he was turned has Andrea puking. Daryl jokes it’s payback for laughing over his itchy ass story. He tells her they should start heading back.
She asks about putting the walker down, but Daryl doesn’t want to waste an arrow. Daryl tells her that it was his choice to opt out so he can hang there, but she’s feeling an affinity for whoever this man was that had him realize what the bite was doing to him and choosing to end it for himself on his own terms… only to botch the job. He asks her if she wants to live now, or not and to her look offers that it’s just a question. She stares at the walker in the tree. She offers a deal: an answer to his question for one arrow.
She doesn’t know if she wants to live, if she has to, or if it’s become a habit. Daryl isn’t satisfied, but he puts the hanging walker down… not without a complaint about the waste of an arrow though.
Commentary: Y’know, I liked this little scene between Daryl and Andrea and it gets me thinking, looking forward, that they should’ve done a bit more of this in the earlier days. We don’t get much of different pair of characters talking to one another and it’d have been more interesting if there had been more combinations of different sorts of characters interacting between one another. It also would’ve been a great way to ensure that we can get a handle on, and therefore care more about, our secondary and tertiary characters. A weakness in the stories in these first few seasons is the amount of time we don’t spend with characters like T-Dog, Patricia, nearly-invisible Jimmy and even to an extent Beth. It would’ve been nice if the non-plot specific scenes of people going about their tasks and gabbing could’ve been spread out more evenly among these other characters so when they die - as many of them will - we can remember details about them enough to care for their loss.
Scene 16: At the RV, Carol notes Dale’s pensiveness and offers that he doesn’t have to worry about Andrea, that Daryl can protect them. Dale decides he needs to go for a walk and tells Carol if she sees anything to just call out.
Scene 17: In the kitchen at the Greene’s, Patricia is seeing to Theodore’s arm and is shocked by how badly infected it has gotten. She’s sewing the wound up and tells him that Merle’s clap was the best thing that happened to him since it is the source of the antibiotics that have surely saved his life. T-Dog snarks that he’d rather not think about why the medicine was available for Daryl to share.
Glenn ducks out on anymore of T-Dog’s pain-filled grunts.
Scene 18: Out on the porch, Maggie joins Glenn in the midst of his trying to pray for the first time, ever. They discuss God and faith and what it means with what has been happening. She offers to get a refill of Glenn’s cup.
She also tells Glenn that if he wants to believe in God, he should but ultimately he needs to find a way to make everything alright for himself.
Scene 19: Out on the highway, Dale wanders down the road and listens to the sounds of the woods in the dark, worrying over his missing flock.
Scene 20: In Carl’s sickroom, Rick is in a chair and Lori is sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around his legs, her chin resting on his knee. He tells her about Carl’s encounter with the deer before things went tragically wrong. He tries to capture that moment when Carl was looking at the deer and the deer was staring back at Carl and Rick was watching his boy’s face full of wonder and beauty.
He tells Lori that when Carl came around, he didn’t talk about being shot or the disappointment at the church, he talked about the deer and life. Rick insists to Lori that there is still a place, alive, for them. He tries to convince her that there is still value to life and that they just have to be strong enough to believe in it for it to be made real.
Commentary: Ugh, umm. This scene. I know what they were getting at, and I get it but the way that Rick insists on “He talked about the deer, Lori. He talked about the deer.” feels sooooo ham-fisted that I can’t barely stand it. And it’s another real shame because this quiet scene had me until Lincoln’s super-serious “Carl should live because he talked about the deer” thunking dialog delivery.
With that, it just struck me as funny… in a grim way maybe… but funny nonetheless. I wished he'd pulled back on his line delivery a bit.
Scene 21: Back with Otis and Shane. They tumble to the ground, exhausted. One struggling with a bad knee and one struggling with an ankle injury. Shane offers his pack to Otis to go but he refuses to leave a man behind.
Shane, frustrated, pounds his fist on the ground. He then finds out how many bullets their pistols have left. They try to limp away, but Shane has already offered that the both of them can’t make it.
Which means that Carl can’t make it.
Scene 22: With Carl, he’s back in deep unconsciousness. Hershel tells them that they can’t wait or he’s going to slip away. He forces them to make a choice on whether to risk Rick with more blood withdrawal and Carl with surgery or let Carl go.
Rick tells Lori she has to make this decision, he’s not strong enough to decide on whether to risk Carl bleeding internally or maybe killing him by trying to operate. The choice is to risk everything on starting the surgery.
It’s the word that Herschel and Patricia has been waiting on and they spring into immediate action.
But, hows about that? Shane drives up in the truck just in time! Alone. And looking like he is about to drop. Herschel asks about Otis, but Shane just says “no”. Those that knew him are left in shock, but Herschel tells them, including Maggie, not to tell Patricia anything until after the surgery is completed.
Shane looks like he’s struggling with what happened at the school in those last moments before he managed to escape but with Carl having a chance, Rick and he collapse into a brother-moment hug.
Shane goes on to tell Rick that the walkers kept blocking them at every turn. Their rounds were low. He tells Rick that Otis told him to keep going while he covered him, so he did but when he looked back, Otis hadn’t made it out of the way. They had swarmed him.
Lori puts a hand on Maggie’s back as she struggles with tears. In the meantime, Shane is also near tears as he explains that he tried to get them both out safely, but Rick puts a hand on his shoulder and offers that Otis wanted to make what happened to Carl right.
Commentary: I loved the acting in this scene because you can see Lori trying to comfort Maggie, but at the same time, she didn’t know him and it was due to his sacrifice that her son has a real chance. At the same time, Shane looks like he’s done in and is suffering with his own tears and exhaustion while trying to justify why he didn’t get Otis out of there with him. He’s obviously dealing with some heavy guilt. Lincoln and Jon are especially connecting their characters also in this scene and it feels good to see their bond again after all of the resentment we’ve seen from Shane toward Rick lately.
But then… think about how we started this episode… what is with the shaving his head? What is with that glare at himself in the mirror? What exactly, Shane, happened out in that parking lot?
I really enjoyed how for a moment I was really caught up in Otis’ loss on Shane and Carl’s behalf… but now, suddenly, I’m thinking “Wait… if this is the way things happened, then why does Shane look disgusted with himself in the opening scene?”
And yes, dammit... I did think all kinds of slashtastic thoughts, despite trying to appreciate Rick and Shane's entirely hetero affection for each other as the closest of friends and family. *Stupid brain.*
Scene 23: Out on the highway, our search team get back but without Sophia in tow. More tears for Carol as she slams her way back into the RV. Daryl follows her inside.
Dale calls to Andrea to return her pistol to her. He tells her that he realizes that he’d made choices for her that wasn’t his to make. He only pleads with her that she not make him regret returning it to her, whatever other choices she wants to make about her future.
She offers to take watch. Dale asks if he’s forgiven for guilting her out of the CDC. She can only give him that she’s trying.
Commentary: And once again… You Chose To Leave, Andrea. Dale made a choice to stay with you, that didn’t obligate you to leave so he would. You could’ve held his hand, said a fond farewell and been obliterated if you’d wanted. This isn’t totally his fault that you’re still standing.
And, it still bugs me that nobody bothered to try to convince Jacqui to leave!
Scene 24: At the Greene’s, Maggie is weeping for her neighbor that she’d known since she was a child. She shares that his farm was where his mother had died. Glenn asks her who else she’s lost. He leads her to the photos on her fridge and has her tell him about who they were to her.
Scene 25: Outside, Herschel reports to Rick, Lori and Shane that Carl seems to have stabilized. Patricia still hasn’t been told that her husband didn’t return.
Rick sends Lori to go to Carl’s bedside, while he accompanies Herschel to break the sad news to Patricia. Shane hangs back before limping for the house.
When Lori enters, she sees across the dining room into the kitchen as Patricia collapses from the news. Shane is next in and hears the sobbing and sees her bent over the kitchen table.
Scene 26: Elsewhere, Lori is holding Carl’s hand and stroking his head as Shane joins her momentarily. At first they don’t know what to say to one another. Lori tells him to stay with them.
He limps away.
Scene 27: In the hallway, Maggie meets him. She gives him some clean clothes but warns him that they won’t fit well as they were Otis’. She tells him where the bathroom is so he can get cleaned up and struggles to give him a half-smile of welcome.
Commentary: I liked this moment with Maggie, as she’s again showing a practicality that would be so important in this situation. She doesn’t offer Shane Otis’ clothing with sarcasm or spitefully as you might expect; She simply is recycling Otis’ things because he can’t use them now and Shane can.
Is it entirely innocent? I don’t know. It does feel a bit soon to be pawning Otis’ clothes off, especially to Shane of all people, but that acknowledgment toward Shane that she doesn’t seem to hold any hostility for the way things turned out puts me more at ease that I’m right in this not being a gesture of hostility.
Scene 28: We follow Shane into the bathroom. He runs the hot shower and looks at his injuries. We see scratches… but the injury that Shane seems most concerned about is a hunk of hair that he’s missing from his head.
He gets psycho-eyes [my stomach drops] as he remembers asking Otis about the rounds left between them.
Scene 29: Back at the school, Otis is hanging on Shane trying to keep moving through the exhaustion. The walkers are still catching up with them, able to limp faster than the injured humans.
Scene 30: Sound of the last of Otis struggling is over Shane in the bathroom, where he suddenly is tearing the shelves apart looking for something desperately.
[And tempting us that we’re going to see Jon in all his glory but no… not even on AMC.]
Scene 31: Back at the school, Shane turns and fires his remaining ammo at the walkers, but there are just too many of them.
Scene 32: In the bathroom, Shane finds the clippers under the sink.
Scene 33: At the school, he and Otis look at how desperate their situation is and how it’s getting worse. Shane apologizes to Otis. To his puzzled look, Shane shoots him in the leg!
They wrestle for the back pack Otis is carrying of the needed equipment, which is how Shane ends up with the incriminating shock of hair missing from his head.
Commentary: This really caught me off guard. I was really, despite myself, buying into Shane’s story about Otis holding them off so he could get away. I knew there had to be something more to the story, but I didn’t see Shane very deliberately setting him up to be eaten by the walkers. I figured we’d find out that he could’ve gone back for him but didn’t. And once again, my hope for Rick and Shane to be okay and work things out with Lori somehow are dashed on the rocks as clearly Shane is a bad guy and has been a bad guy since he first lined up his gunsights on his best friend over his best friend’s wife. He isn’t going to turn into a good guy again.
But worse for me: I was ready for Shane to keep crossing back and forth into the dirty gray for the group. I thought he’d be a nice counterpoint to Rick’s optimism by keeping a brutal pragmatism among the survivors that they’ll need. I could even forgive Shane abandoning Otis… after all, it’s between a guy he doesn’t know or getting equipment to save a boy that he loves like he was his own… that’s not even a real choice when you get down to brass tacks.
But this? I can’t forgive Shane for what actually happened. I cannot see how they’re going to keep this character with the group when we all know that he’s gone so far over the line.
Scene 34: Otis fights tooth and nail against Shane, but in the end, Shane has the backpacks and is running, while Otis lays on the ground wounded and yelling and then screaming as he’s torn apart.
[Which we get to see in gooey detail, thanks so much.]
Scene 35: Back in the bathroom, Shane completes his new hair buzz to cover the incriminating hair yank mark. He gives himself the madman stare in the mirror.
Commentary: And it is distracting and irritating that the hot water is left on this whole scene. We do remember that everybody is supposedly concerned with their resource use, right show?
I mean no matter what else is going on, you’d think that not letting hot water tanks runs empty by wasting water would be a thing that’d cross your mind -- especially when you’re a guest in somebody else’s house. Even Shane, right now, should have a thought for keeping their hosts on his side by not wasting all of their water.
The Good: Overall, I liked the way the walkers/Shane/Otis scene were handled with each step they take seemingly getting them into a worse overall position and the way it leads up to Shane's decision to sacrifice Otis for Carl.
And even though it wasn't anything heavy, I did like the way that Norman and Laurie interacted while they were on the search for the Sophia character.
I also really liked Sarah's work on the porch when Lori is considering whether it may be kinder for her son if he died now, rather than later. I enjoyed that she was able to explain why this thought won't leave her alone by tying it back to the peace that Jacqui found but I also love the way that Lincoln's physically acts with looks of both confusion and revulsion toward his wife for her even entertaining such thoughts. It would've been easy to make this a Rick vs. Lori situation with our focus being on Rick's side, but I feel like the scripting and acting sidesteps this by keeping Lori sympathetic and understandable in her pragmatic way.
That scene with Carl going quiet and then erupting into violent convulsion was brutal for me to watch. Good job on the physicality of it from Chandler.
I really enjoyed everyone's performance out on the lawn when Shane is struggling to explain Otis' absence. Especially when we find out what really happened that Shane is hiding.
The part of the flashback storytelling I did like was the shots between the high school and Shane in the bathroom remembering his and Otis' conversations and leading up to where we see Otis' not-self-sacrifice. That was very nicely handled. [But see the caveat on Other Thoughts]
I also liked the pacing in this one, because there are some long scenes that let things play out instead of the nearly constant scene switching we usually get, as you can tell by the lower number of scenes in my review than we'd normally have for this length of program.
The Bad: I really disliked Bernthal's over-the-top crazy glare into the mirror. I wished he'd gone with something less obvious and over-pantomimed.
There is something in the way that Lincoln over-earnestly delivered his lines about life worth living because Carl talked about a deer that just came over as really cheesy. We needed him to pull back that delivery quite a bit to make it a quieter, more thoughtful tone.
Other Thoughts: I do like the way that most of the episode, which is dialog heavy, was handled but I'm not convinced that he whole "flashback" thing was really necessary for this. It feels a bit too arty-farty.
While I can understand the leftover difficulties between Dale and Andrea over what happened between them, it's also getting repetitive and doesn't really show either character in an interesting light. We could use less of Andrea's feud with him everytime they glance at one another.
I do have one issue about Shane though and it's one I already expressed during his drunken assault on Lori: By having Shane be such a bad guy, he's being left with no subletely and without that, it's difficult to see how he can continue to act normally enough to stay in the group without everyone wondering what the hell is wrong with his head. It feels like too much villainy happening to him if he's supposed to be able to "blend in" and stay a major character. Which makes it frustrating for me, because I'd like to be put in the position of saying "well, okay, that was horrible, but in this situation...." and have that tug and pull with my relationship in him. But I can't. He's clearly just plain a bad guy and that makes me he rather be a minor secondary where we aren't asked to care about him. Watching him get on the Grimes' good side again and again after doing such shitty things is going to be tough to take episode after episode.
The Score: I really enjoyed this episode and the scene with Otis and Shane were tense and fun. My stomach started to ache when it became obvious that something had happened with Otis that we weren't yet seeing and yet I was still surprised when Shane shot him in the leg and left him to the walkers. I found the longer scenes to be great for the story telling and there was some really nice acting work done.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Next Up: BTVS, Season 10, Issue 10