Review: The Walking Dead – Season 2 Episode 3 “Save the Last One”

Written by Chris Beaulieu November 02, 2011

While last week’s episode spent a great deal of time creating bonding moments between characters, “Save the Last One” strikes a perfect balance between delivering action and character growth. Beginning puzzlingly with Shane shaving his head, this episode is perhaps the most insightful the series has ever been in terms of exploring the minds of its characters.

Waiting for Shane and Otis to return with a respirator, Lori and Rick question the value of their son’s life in their post-apocalyptic world. This is a welcome change of pace considering that most conversations at the farm have revolved around the overused topic of how people keep their faith in crisis. Lori asks what the point of survival for Carl is if all that waits for him in life is running in fear; she is prepared to let her son die to relieve his pain. This hints at the greater question: Why should anybody, child or not, live if they are, as Lori puts it, “animals” that only live to survive? I feel that this is a key question in the series, which is put off a little too easily by Carl describing the deer he saw in a brief moment of consciousness, and Rick’s assertion that there is still beauty in the world that is worth living for.

The episode also takes some time to remind us of characters we may have forgotten to care about, specifically Glenn, and the relationship that begins to develop between him and the people at the Greene home. Its nice to see each character given their own little moment, (like Daryl’s stories from his childhood) but characters like Dale and T-Dog are left undeveloped, and consequentially, it remains difficult to care about them. I don’t know anything about Dale except that he feels guilty about Angela, which seems to be his only emotional function in the series. Hopefully there will be some more attention for Dale in the episodes to come.

The greatest moment of this episode comes at the very end with Shane. Shane returns bearing bad news that Otis tragically died in an escape attempt from the walkers. As I was watching and thinking about what to write for this review, I thought that the “Otis sacrifice” as atonement for shooting Carl was inevitable and expected, and that now Shane will have to live for Otis in a melancholic state. A good ending, but not great I thought—then they show what really happened. It’s revealed that Shane shot Otis in the leg so that he could escape, leaving Otis behind to be eaten alive by walkers. This moment gives the entire episode greater purpose, as Shane has become the animal of survival that Lori warned about.

Shane’s transformation seems to be the oppositional force to the positivity in the series, such as Lori’s revival of faith in life, and Carl’s survival at the end of the episode. While good things prevail at the moment, Shane makes the audience ask how long it will be before everyone else becomes an animal too. It’s clear now that each passing episode of The Walking Dead is increasingly better this season, which creates much anticipation for the episodes to come.

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About Chris Beaulieu

When Chris isn't studying film, reading English literature, fencing, or watching re-runs of Frasier on TV, it's because he's writing awesome reviews for We Eat Films.

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