Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead — "Save The Last One" — saw Shane chased by the student-body-eaters of a local high school, Andrea and Daryl go on a soul-searching walkabout, and Lori crib her dialogue from The Road. Mischief Night spoilers on!
After a minor lull in full-tilt undead horror last week, "Save The Last One" went whole hog with Otis and Shane's great escape from the high school. Of course, their escape had a 50% success rate — a veritable F- on the ZEAT (Zombie Escape Aptitude Test) — but more on that in a moment.
First things first, this episode opened with Shane giving himself a very ominous buzzcut. Because of the lights and running water, it's unclear whether this shearing occurs before or after the infection, but this much is certain: Shane = gangbusters abdominal muscles. This abrupt cold opening felt A.) very Breaking Bad; and B.) like the diametric opposite of a cold shower. Good work, show.
We're then launched into Shane and Otis' respirator retrieval mission, which was the highlight of the episode. "Save The Last One" did a fantastic job showing how the boring layout of average high school could easily become a labyrinthine deathtrap. Folded bleachers become deadfalls, backstops and athletic field fencing become dead ends, and second-story windows are great way to break your ankle.
Indeed, after retrieving the respirator and falling from high places, both Otis and Shane are left limping back to the truck. Saintly Otis — who made the dual mistakes of accidentally shooting Carl and accompanying Shane on this expedition — is shot by Shane as a sacrificial buffet for the shuffling horde. Pragmatism, thy name is Jon Bernthal.
Shane then realizes he left the respirator with Otis, who's pissed off that he's been reduced to 200-something pounds of free, bearded Salisbury steak. Otis begins cat-fighting with Shane, tearing out his hair. Remember, long hair is shit in the apocalypse, unless you pull a Pam Grier from Coffy (YouTube NSFW). I also enjoyed how it seemed like his torn hair was a zombie bite for a hot second there.
I like the fact that Season 2 is making Shane the dark-n-realist opposite to Rick's wide-brimmed messiah, but I can't help but think that this scene could have been teased out more with a third party, say an equally injured Glenn or Andrea. As it stands, Shane's guilt is all his own. Someone on Team Shane (like Andrea) could spice things up.
(Side note: I also like how Otis — with his EMT training and preexisting knowledge of firearms — could have been potentially more useful to the survivors than unstable Shane.)
Shane may be the most villainous of the gang, but he's also the only one we've seen make a dehumanizing decision of this caliber (and no, accidentally leaving clap-infected Merle handcuffed the roof doesn't compare to Carl versus Otis). Having someone share Shane's guilt could have added tension and prevented him from getting boring and bonkers all by his lonesome (which seemed to be his fate during the Season 1 finale).
I realize I've been hemming and hawing about Shane for the last few paragraphs, but as of now, he's the most interesting show in town. I do like that we're seeing a more human side of Daryl — see: his awful, itchy-ass childhood — but TWD needs to figure out how to imbue the non-zombie scenes with more dread and less wistful monologues. Whenever the action switches to the farmhouse, everyone yammers about praying and deer and Andrea's stale beef with Dale and dead Jacqui.
For fucking real, Lori began screaming about she forgot Jacqui was dead. Hey, Walking Dead, so did the audience! Why? Because you gave her approximately three lines (about urban planning and vibrators) and then blew her up for no reason. I mean, Lost didn't make us memorialize Dr. Arzt. Also, please make Lori do something awesome so that we're not rolling our eyes when she starts yelling about how she wants Carl to kick the bucket.
In short, RIP Otis. You were much more likable on the show, even if you lived way longer in the comic.