Editor's Note: I posted this yesterday not realizing my last two bullet points had somehow been deleted. The have been added back to the review.
"Save the Last One" is a powerhouse episode that pretty much changes the group dynamic of The Walking Dead's not-so-merry band of survivors forever. For the previous eight episodes, the characters have been riding that fine line of maintaining sanity and humanity in the midst of a world gone mad. Rick, the moral compass of the group, is preoccupied with the health of Carl, who still lies gravely wounded at the hands of Otis, and Dale, the sage voice of wisdom, is still out on the highway.
Left to his own judgement, Shane takes one of the most shocking actions of the series to date. Hounded by the undead at the FEMA shelter, almost out of ammunition, and injured after jumping to safety from a tall window, he shoots Otis and leaves him on the ground as a distraction to the Walkers whle he escapes.
Frankly, I have had several days to ruminate on this plot twist, and I am still unsure of what to think. Some viewers have said Otis got what he deserved; after all, it was his fault they had to go there. Others see Shane's action as a cynical maneuver to both survive and get back into Lori's good graces.
|Crazy old man eyes: Can Shane live with himself?|
How will Rick react? I'm not really sure Shane cares anymore. He has done something unspeakable, and it has transformed him from within as surely as cutting his hair has changed his outward appearance. He has always been volatile; after all, he beat Ed viciously in the first season for hitting Carol. He nearly shot Rick in the back in the woods, then he attempted to rape Lori at the CDC.
It's almost as if he wants to be Rick; he wants to be the one others look to for answers, and to be the accepted leader. He also clearly still wants Lori's approval after being rejected by her. Whenever he is in charge of a situation, however, he makes disastrous decisions and reacts with violence and anger.
You need to know who you're surviving with, because when the chips are down, you need to know they have your back.
Rick led a party back into the teeth of the undead swarm in Atlanta to save Merle, a divisive, violent bigot, and retrieve the radio to maintain contact with Morgan and Duane. Shane tried to torpedo that mission, and when it came to a choice between sacrificing himself or using Otis for a human chew toy, he shot the man.
There are some who would argue that Otis got his rewards for shooting Carl, and that Shane was the more valuable of the two because he was more fit and better trained. Thus, he was more useful to the group. I don't buy that for a minute. First, despite being overweight, Otis was a good shot and kept his cool in the midst of a crisis, first devising an escape plan when the pair were trapped in the gym, then urging Shane not to give up. He always tried to do the right thing in the short time we knew the character -- just like Rick.
If anything, the writers have made it clear that every human life is "worth it" because there are so few of us left. The "needs of the many versus the needs of the few" argument is ridiculously obsolete when only the few remain.
Which one would you have in your survival group? Moreover. who would you be?
The Will To Survive - Gotta Have It
We have seen Andrea and others in the group struggle with the will to survive. This episode seems to see Andrea turning a corner, but Lori falters and debates with Rick whether they should let Carl die if he is just going to survive to live in a world filled with death.
If life is to have value, we have to value living and the lives of others. There is more to survival than surviving. Daryl and Andrea's talk in the woods, followed by Dale giving her gun back, hopefully indicates Andrea has turned a corner. The fact that she remains concerned for Sophie is a good sign. This theme is further explored with the discussion between Maggie and Glen.
That's a lot to think about for an episode of television. I am also beginning to wonder about the farm and how much fuel they have for their generator. Obviously they have a large tank for farm use, but there have to eventually run dry. Also, a little more light discipline would be in order regardless of the fences they erected to keep out the Walkers. Clearly they are stocked for a long duration bug-in event and feel secure within their perimeter. That will change should they found out about Shane's actions.
Preparedness Lessons for Episode 203:
- Every prepper needs to do some serious soul-searching. Know your values. Know what you stand for. When the time comes, you have to be true to yourself. Are you an Otis or a Shane?
- You need to get to know fellow members of your preparedness group well, and know that you can count on them not to sacrifice you in an emergency. Likewise, they need to know the same about you.
- You need to think about living, not just surviving.
- Think about light discipline. Forget walkers. If you are in a grid-down situation, and your house is the only one with a generator, neighbors are going to start looking your way with envy the longer the event drags out.
- My defense of Otis above notwithstanding, his lack of physical fitness did complicate their escape. Include a physical fitness plan in your preparations and execute it.
- Include some rope in your preps. Shane could have avoided injury climbing down from the window if he had used rope to loop around the top rail of the catwalk inside the gym, and lowered himself down. He could have retrieved the rope to use again. Just because you don't plan on climbing out of windows doesn't mean you won't.