Episode Title: "Save the Last One"
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
Director: Phil Abraham
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
While stranded on a highway, former Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of his group of survivors were forced to hide as a zombie horde passed by. T-Dog (IronE Singleton) badly injured his arm during the incident before he was narrowly saved by Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). However, Sophia (Madison Lintz) was chased into the woods by a pair of zombies. Although Rick managed to lead the zombies away from Sophia, she disappeared without a trace. As the group began actively looking for Sophia, Rick's young son, Carl (Chandler Riggs) joined him and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal).
Unfortunately, Rick and Shane saw Carl gunned down before their eyes as a man named Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) accidentally hit the young boy when his bullet passed through a buck. At Otis' behest, Rick ran to the farm of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), who attempted to save Carl and remove the bullet from his body. While Rick stayed to give his son blood transfusions, Hershel's daughter, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) caught up with Rick's wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and brought her back to the farm after alerting the other survivors. Meanwhile, Hershel told Rick that he needed more advanced medical equipment to save Carl's life.
Shane and Otis volunteered to get the equipment from an abandoned FEMA camp at a local high school. But once they found what they were looking for, Shane and Otis were surrounded by zombies and forced to retreat into the school.
Some time in the near future, Shane is alone in a bathroom as he begins to shave his hair. Back to the present, Shane and Otis desperately run through the high school as they attempt to elude the zombies. Back at the RV, Daryl is frustrated by Carol Peletier's (Melissa McBride) sobbing over her lost daughter and Andrea's (Laurie Holden) seemingly OCD reloading of pistol magazines. Daryl announces that he's going back out to look for Sophia and Andrea accompanies him. Back at the high school, Shane and Otis are cornered on top of the bleachers as they come up with a plan.
Otis leads the zombies away from Shane, allowing him to reach the unguarded windows. However, Otis injures his legs in the jump to the floor, almost derailing the plan before it begins. Shane makes it to the window, but it's a steep drop and he injuries his ankle in the landingl. Back at the farm, Glenn (Steven Yeun) arrives with the injured T-Dogg, as they pay their respects to Rick and Lori. T-Dogg also gets some much needed treatment for his arm as Maggie and Patricia (Jane McNeill) note that the drugs that Daryl gave him probably saved his life.
In the other room, Carl wakes up briefly and while experiencing a lot of pain. He tries to tell his mother about seeing the deer, but he goes into a seizure. Hershel warns them that Carl isn't getting enough blood to his brain and Rick can only give so much. He tells the Grimes that if Shane and Otis don't return in time, then they need to decide whether to try the life-saving surgery without the advanced medical equipment. Out in the woods, Daryl and Andrea bond and he tells her a story about how he was lost in the woods once and found his way out without the benefit of people looking for him.
Back at the school, Shane is about to be cornered when Otis shows up alive, but they're both injured and barely able to limp away from the zombie horde. Out in the woods, Andrea and Daryl come across a man who tried to hang himself to escape turning into a zombie, only to zombify in a hangman's noose while other zombies ate the flesh off of his legs. Andrea bargains with Daryl to spare an arrow to put the man out of his misery and he agrees if she'll tell him if she still wants to die. Daryl isn't satisfied with her inconclusive answer, but he shoots the zombie anyway. Back at the farm, Lori has an existential crisis over whether she and Rick should even try to save Carl's life if it means living in this world.
However, Rick counters that she begged Jenner at the CDC to let them out and take their own chances on surviving. He also points out that Carl's first thoughts upon waking up were about witnessing the deer and the beauty of that moment. According to Rick, there is still some beauty and hope in the world but it is up to them to find it. Outside, Maggie comes across Glenn as he tries to pray for his friends and they have a short conversation about God before she leaves him to it. Back at the RV, Andrea and Daryl return and Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) takes her aside and gives Andrea her gun back. He also asks for her forgiveness for keeping it away from her and for making decisions for her, and she says that she is trying to.
At the high school, Shane and Otis are down to their last bullets as the zombies close in on them. So, Shane apologizes and then shoots Otis in the leg. As he tries to strip Otis of his supplies, Shane finds Otis fighting back and he rips out a piece of Shane's hair before the zombies start horribly ripping him apart. At the farm, Hershel says that they have to operate now or never and Lori relents to save Carl's life. But Shane arrives just in time with the medical equipment and a lie about Otis sacrificing himself to let Shane escape. Maggie is devastated by the news and Glenn stays with her to offer comfort while Hershel performs the surgery on Carl.
Later, Carl is stabilized and Patricia mourns the loss of her boyfriend. A grateful Lori even tells Shane to "stay" instead of taking off on his own as he planed. Now caught up to the future sequence In the bathroom, Shane notices the bald spot on his head from his scuffle with Otis. So he shaves his head to hide the evidence and he finds that he can still look at himself in the mirror.
Given the millions of viewers who watch "The Walking Dead" and the considerably smaller audience that read the original comics, I'm going to try not too spoil anything major that happened in the comics and may still happen in the show.
However, I will say that Otis didn't die like this in the comic. He was never a major character, but he hung around for a while and he had his role to play. This deviation from the story is a welcome change because it caught me by surprise. And I can see why Robert Kirkman and company went for the change. Otis' original death in the comics was pretty meaningless. But his demise here changes the game for Shane and the other survivors.
Think about what Shane did. He didn't kill Otis because he hated him or he wanted revenge for what happened to Carl. There were a couple of moments when Shane was truly concerned for Otis' safety. And if he wanted him dead, Shane could have let the zombies kill Otis much earlier. No, what Shane did is much more cold blooded than an act of vengeance.
Shane killed Otis because it was the expedient thing to do. Shane knew that they both couldn't survive with their injuries and he choose to save himself over Otis. The audience may forgive Shane somewhat because Otis only appeared in two episodes and he clearly isn't going to be a main character in this incarnation of the story. But if Rick had been with Shane under the same circumstances, I can almost guarantee that Shane would have killed his friend in the exact same way.
What Shane did doesn't automatically make him a villain, but it does make him exceedingly more dangerous to the group. Now that Lori has offered Shane the brief hope that she might still be into him, who is to say he won't be a lot less likely to have Rick's back the next time they're surrounded by zombies? There's no better way to get away with murder than by letting the undead do it for you.
As much as I enjoyed this episode and the two that proceeded it, the pace for this season is maddeningly slow and it feels like the events are being needlessly padded out. Some of it is working very well, especially the Shane segments and the bonding between Daryl and the other survivors. However, I really want the search for Sophia to wrap up as soon as possible. At first it was a compelling angle, but it is definitely wearing out its welcome.
On a side note, the budding connection between Glenn and Maggie was nicely done and it's finally a chance for Steven Yeun to be more than just a background player. Aside from the dearly departed Otis, only Hershel and Maggie are strongly registering among the new characters. Regardless, I still want the characters to eventually move beyond Hershel's farm and into the larger story. This detour has been entertaining, but at some point the show has to go forward again.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.