Walking Dead “Save the Last One”

TV Review: Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 3 — “Save the Last One”

As a rule of thumb for serialized television, whether they involve zombies or not, each episode falls into one of two categories. The first are the wham-bam, stick to your ribs, all action all the time episodes, where characters get things done, keep their mouths shut, and mostly go from point a to point b, but usually end up at a surprising point q. Then there’s the other one, which is far more dreaded for most viewers: The contemplative talkies. Not since the 1930s has audible onscreen dialogue caused such disarray. “Where are the zombies?” they ask. As an audience, we want to be shown what’s happening, not hear about it.

The Walking Dead, on the other hand, as the title implies, gives us a little of both. The show successfully marries action with soft-spoken contemplation, and few episodes in the show’s short run has done that better than “Save the Last One,” a critical episode for several characters and one of the strongest of the series.

Things kick off in whirlwind of exactly what I’m talking about: a mix of poignant dialogue matched with tense zombie goodness. Rick, for, as he puts, the thousandth time, tells the story of his old buddy Shane, the rapscallion he is, using his unnatural determination and superhuman speed to steal a car and nearly getting away with it, if it weren’t for some snooping adult. Rick awaits Shane’s return with a respirator, so that his wounded son can receive a life saving operation. All the while, Shane, still trapped in the zombie infested school from last week, does his best to not become zombie chum and uses that speed to hightail it around the school’s many tight corridors.

The connection between the two stories gives the show its heart and pumps it, too. For the most part, Rick and Lori waiting over a dying Carl isn’t too exciting–although, the three nail of them the moment before Carl’s seizure, making it one of the most heart stopping (get it?) moments of an already scary episode. It gives purpose to Shane’s mission. It gives it weight. It also makes Shane’s final decisions all the more complex.

In between all this, we drop in on search party Sophia, which is going nowhere. They leave to look for the girl, talk about what it means to live, and return. Nothing groundbreaking, but its fun gaining some new perspectives on characters like Daryl. Watching him rant all last season was getting a bit taxing, so its nice to see this guy take his Sawyer-like spot on the show. We needed a rogue; just not one as easy to dislike as Shane.

The Walking Dead has some hard road ahead. For one thing, how much longer can these characters stay in the same spot without me losing interest. I’d stay at a farmhouse or on a highway forever, too, but not when there’s a whole world of panicky weirdos to probe and force us to question what it really means to live and survive in a world where the dead walk. Still, this episode is tense, thoughtful, and emotional. What more could you ask for in a show about the zombie apocalypse?

Grade: B+

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