The second season of The Walking Dead seemed to be off to a great start. Last week’s episode, Bloodletting, left all of us hungry for some serious action and movement in the plot. We sat on pins and needles all week waiting for the airing of Save the Last One until finally, finally it was here. I’m sure I am not the only one left with a sour taste in my mouth when it was all said and done.
Save the Last One zeroes in on Shane and Otis’ frantic escape from a school and Carl’s life hanging in the balance. Really though, that’s about it. I understand that the writers and producers are taking their time with the plot, and I wish for them to continue doing so, but we needed a little more from an episode that had to follow Bloodletting. Little Sophia is still missing and nothing happens with Carl until the end of the episode. We get a little action watching Shane and Otis fight off hordes of zombies on their own, but it started to feel a little stale — like a pacifier repeatedly shoved at us in an attempt to quell our craving for intense zombie thrills.
Regardless of the lack of plot movement this episode, we did get a deeper knowledge of our good buddy Shane. While Rick and Lori have a heated discussion about whether living as a zombocalypse survivor is better than death, Shane shows us just how willing he is to hang on to life. Finally, someone has decided to do something about his character and set his feet on the path all of us comic fans have anticipated. We also get a little more insight on our newly introduced characters from Hershel’s farm (Maggie, Hershel, Patricia), but not enough to mean much to us yet.
Let’s get back to that ‘Rick and Lori’ convo for a second. This was one of the least convincing scenes that I have seen from Sarah Wayne Callies. Basically, she’s trying to convince Rick that it may be better if Carl dies — that he would be spared a life of hunger, pain, and being on the run. An interesting “devil’s advocate” moment, and something that many people may agree with, but here we’re flirting with the whole ‘is euthanasia ethical’ thing. While this was a valid topic to toss around in an episode like this, she just couldn’t sell me on her being a “mother on the brink” who’s only thinking about son’s future life of turmoil. Lincoln did a good job convincing me that he totally disagreed, but overall the scene fell flat. A much better scene came shortly after in which the two of them sat against a wall corner — he on the left and her on the right –facing opposite directions. He was cast in soft light, but she was nearly swallowed by the shadows. No talking. Just a moving moment, allowing your brain to soak in all the meaning and foreshadowing as you revel in the genius of a simple, creative scene.
If you haven’t noticed, Daryl has been one of the best characters in this series so far. He’s simple, valuable, and lends us a little humor precisely where it’s needed. Yet again he was able to deliver a breath of fresh air, though he really wasn’t allowed to do much to help the plot. Andrea on the other hand, is quickly heading in the opposite direction. I realize that she’s on her character-development train, but it always feels like her train’s running late. Quite like Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden just isn’t selling it. Andrea is pissed off, whiny, and wallowing in self pity while trying to act like…a bad-ass? I’m just unclear whether it’s her lines, her directions, her performance, or a wild combination of these that is just not quite working in this role. All we can do now is sit and pray that things start changing for her.
As we saw in the preview for next week’s episode, it may be a while before Sophie is found. I just hope that we can expect something great from Cherokee Rose, and not another episode with the plot put on hold. Give us zombies or give us death. Seriously. Please TWD writers, give us something to keep your willingly captive audience right where they should be — Sunday nights, 9/8 central, glued to AMC.
I give Save the Last One 3.5 out of 5.