"Save the Last One" Review
This episode continues with The Walking Dead’s condensed-time storyline. Like Breaking Bad and Lost, The Walking Dead tells its story as organically as possible. It accomplishes this by condensing the time frame to have each episode pick up immediately where the last one left off. In effect, a very short period of time progressing contextually in the weeks, months, and years we spend watching it. As a result, The Walking Dead sticks with all the issues established this season: Sophie is still missing, the group is scattered, Carl is still recovering, and so on.
Typically, this is my favorite kind of storytelling but I fear it can hinder The Walking Dead going forward. Though this episode is really well done, things need to change going forward before the show starts to stagnate. There’s only so long characters can search for Sophie, and I hope we get closure one way or another next week.
That’s not to say this season is poor in any way. I’m just talking about the future of the series and a few concerns. In fact, this season is much stronger than last, thanks to the smaller ensemble (a lot of characters got eaten last year) that allows for more intimate stories. “Save the Last One” demonstrates that well; I especially liked some of the farmhouse porch talks - the one between Lori and Rick was especially strong. Sarah Wayne Callies was great in that scene, as she tearfully explained the reason Carl might be better off dead.
Also, there were a ton of zombies in this episode. That hanging one spotted by Andrea and Daryl was so disturbing but in a dark-humor sort of way. In addition, their conversations and debates helped flesh out both characters a bit more. I like how Andrea’s at a place where she really doesn’t know how to feel. It feels fresh and realistic given all that she’s been through.
But let’s get to the ending… and the intro with Shane shaving his head to destroy the physical evidence of his crime. Don’t get me wrong; that was incredibly well-done and took me by surprise. The way the realization unfolds is interesting and unpredictable, adding a whole new (and really dark) layer to Shane. Still, I have some mixed feelings.
The biggest problem is that it feels out of character for Shane. I get the reasonings - and endless justifications - that Shane has for his brutal murder… but did he have to kill Otis so violently? There was a sense of enjoyment to the action, and I fear that it was to make Shane unlikeable. Who knows, though? Characters, a reflection of real people, are multi-dimensional and often do weird, unpredictable things - so we’ll have to see where this goes next week.
For now, “Save the Last One” is another strong episode of The Walking Dead. I think next week is going to have to change things up a bit to keep the story from getting stale. Closure on Sophia would be enough for me. What do you think?