The Walking Dead 2.3 – Save the Last One

Does shaving your head really help get all the crazy out?


We start this episode with a Shane shaving his head and staring into steam-fogged mirror. From the expression on his face, what he sees looking back is something monstrous. I’m just glad he didn’t keep the whole thing going—shaving off eyebrows and nipples—like Pink, in The Wall. Shane is not doing well. There’s obviously some psychic turmoil going in that thick head of his.
Shane. Shane. What have you done?

Now Rick is regaling Lori with a tale of Shane’s high school exploits and, in particular, one where Shane turned the principal’s prize Hyundai into an impromptu chicken coup. (The story pairs nicely with cuts of what’s currently going on in the high school.) It’s a story she’s heard a thousand times, but it’s comforting in its normality and better than the silence that comes with their vigil over Carl.  Lori tells Rick that he needs to keep his strength up so he can keep providing transfusions to his son. (PB&J with a tall glass of milk. There’s hope for humanity if you can still enjoy a PB&J with milk.) They both know that Shane will come through with the medical supplies that he and Otis have gone to get. No question.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the Winnebago, Daryl is having a tough time catching a few winks with all of Carol’s blubbering. Look, if she’s not going to sleep and is going to just lie there and sob, she should at least give Daryl the bed. That way, he’ll be well rested for any zombie killing he needs to do. Andrea is making a bunch of noise, too. She’s loading clips with bullets and hands one to Daryl when he asks for it, saying that he’s going to walk the road looking for Sophia. (Maybe if he can find her, he can finally get a good night’s rest without all the boo-hoo-hooing, Jeez.)

As Daryl leaves, Andrea follows. Dale, who is on watch duty, asks them if they think shining a light around is a good idea. Andrea shuts him up and stalks away. That guy is a serious worrier. I can’t believe their looting efforts have failed to turn up ANY benzodiazepines. He and Carol need them as much as T-Dog needs antibiotics.

At the high school, things have gone all kinds of wrong. Shane and Otis are trapped at the very top of some folded up bleachers in the gym. There is a pep rally sign posted on  the wall behind them that reminds us all just how awful pep rallies actually were. Everyone might have looked better, but the people who were really into those things were pretty much zombies as well. Well, now Alice Cooper is finally right, “School’s out FOREVER!”

Anyway, Otis realizes that they don’t have enough ammunition to shoot their way out and that he won’t fit through the small window that is the most direct way to the outside. He’s going to need to make it to the locker rooms in order to escape. He is a nice guy. He just wants to do right by Carl. Shane seems to respect this and agrees to lay down some suppressing fire with their limited ammunition.

After a bit of trouble with a legless zombie, (guess that one’s not really a “walker”— Shane comes through with a gun blast through stumpy’s eye. Otis runs for the locker rooms, while Shane races in the other direction, pursued by a couple of walkers. He shoots the one clad in a FEMA vest and it falls against the other. They both go over the railing. A nice 2-for-1 shot. A real plus when you’re this low on ammo!

Shane chucks the purloined medical equipment and his rifle out of the window. He carefully prepares to follow, but the jump is a long one. He hesitates. And in that moment, a zombie grabs him from inside the window. He punches the undead guy a couple of times in his rotting face and then grabs his handgun and shoots him in the head. The uncontrolled fall results in an injured ankle. Uh oh.

Injury or no, he’s on a mission and is up and moving right away, especially when he hears three shots from somewhere inside the school. Apparently we shouldn’t count Otis out just yet.

Glenn and T-Dog finally reach the farmhouse in the old yellow Wagoneer. They notice drops of blood on the front porch first thing. Not a promising sign. Glenn asks if they should ring the bell since it looks like people live there. T-Dog, looking like he feels awful from the blood poisoning, replies, “We’re past this kinda stuff, aren’t we? Having to be considerate.”

From the porch, Maggie offers to make Glenn and T-Dog something to eat once she’s assured that they’ve locked the ranch gate, that T-Dog’s injury is not a bite, and that he’s on antibiotics and painkillers.

Inside, the vigil over Carl continues. T-Dog and Glenn visit Carl’s room. Glenn removes his ever-present baseball cap. Clearly he’s not ready to dispense with all social niceties just yet. They let Rick, Lori, and the Doctor know that they will do whatever they can.

Doc Herschel has grim news. Rick and Lori are going to have to make a decision if the medical equipment doesn’t arrive very soon. They will have give their okay to proceed with the operation to stop Carl’s internal bleeding even though there is no respirator and the chances of his survival are small. Lori leaves the room, too upset to comment.

Back in the woods, Daryl and Andrea are searching for Sophia by flashlight. Andrea wonders aloud to Daryl if he thinks that they might actually find Sophia. She thinks that since Sophia is only 12, her chances are slim. Daryl, on the other hand, comments, “It ain’t the mountains of Tibet, it’s Georgia.” He thinks Sophia could be holed up in a farmhouse anywhere.

He goes on to tell Andrea that when he was younger than Sophia, he got lost in the woods for 9 days, lived on berries, and wiped his ass with poison oak. Nobody missed him. (His dad was on a bender with some waitress and his brother was doing another stint in juvie.) He found his way back home on his own, went straight to the kitchen and made a sandwich. He was okay—aside from the itchy asshole. The only difference, he says, is that Sophia has people looking for her. He calls that an advantage. (Of course he neglects to mention the undead people who are also looking for her. Personally, I would call that a distinct disadvantage.)

Back on the farmhouse porch, Lori is having a bit of a meltdown. She wonders if this is a world where children have any place and if maybe it would be better to not live with constant fear and horror. A  place where all you can do is run and run and become an animal whose only goal is survival. This is not a fleeting thought she’s had. She has become fixated on the idea that maybe she should use her parental authority to sign Carl up to opt out. (She has a point. We’ll put a dog down when we judge its quality of life to be wretched or beyond hope. But, for some reason, a pillow pressed lightly over a dying kid’s face during the zombie apocalypse is frowned upon.)

Rick disagrees. He’s a “no surrender—die trying” kind of guy. He wants to keep on working to survive as long as there is even a “slim chance” that their situation could improve. He certainly isn’t ready to give up on his son. It’s out of the question.

Back at the high school, Shane is exhausted and slowed down by his injured ankle. Just as he is about to be attacked by a plaid-shirted walker, he shoots it in the face at the same time it is shot in the back of the head by Otis. He then takes out a second walker as Shane takes out the third. All right Otis! This is one stand up guy. He may be hefting around a lot of extra weight, but he’s the kind of guy who will do whatever it takes to make things right. (Sadly, you know that means things can’t end well for him.)

As Otis shoulders one of the heavy packs of medical supplies, he and Shane both comment that they are now completely out of rifle rounds.

At Doc Herschel’s Rick and Lori sit in tense silence, when suddenly Carl coughs and wakes up. He’s conscious and talking. Lori is all smiles. Then Carl starts to describe the deer he saw and how amazing it was to be so close. Then he freezes. A seizure wracks his small body.

When the seizure finally abates, Doc Herschel says that Carl needs another transfusion because his brain is not getting enough blood. Rick is ready without a second thought, even though the threat of coma and cardiac arrest is looming larger and larger for him. Even so, Doc readies the transfusion bottle.

At the high school, Otis needs to catch his breath, but as soon as a wall of gnashing and clawing zombies held back by chain-link surges forward, he unhesitatingly helps move the ankle-injured Shane quickly away.

On the highway, Dale keeps watch from the roof of his Winnebago. He’s thinking about having a smoke when Carol comes topside and offers to let Dale go down and sleep if he’d like. He decides to stay with her and points out the place where Daryl and Andrea set off.

In the woods, Daryl and Andrea hear a noise in the trees and come upon a campsite. Hanging from a noose in a tree is an undead man, er, poet. He’s left a note on the trunk of the tree. “Got bit. Fever Hit. World gone to Shit. Might as well quit.” Daryl, not very compassionately says, “Dumbass didn’t know enough to shoot himself in the head. Turned himself into a big swingin’ piece of bait. Look at that mess.”

Andrea, trying not to puke, asks to change the subject. She asks how Daryl learned to shoot. He says, “Gotta eat. That’s one thing we, and these walkers have in common. This is the closest he’s been to food since he turned. Look at him. Hangin’ up there like a big piñata. The other geeks came and ate all the flesh off his legs.” At this Andrea finally pukes and says, “I thought we were changing the subject.” Daryl replys, “Oh. That’s payback for laughing about my itchy ass.”

Andrea wants Daryl to put the poor dead poet out of his misery, but Daryl doesn’t want to waste an arrow on someone who isn’t hurting anybody and who has made his choice and opted out. As Andrea stares, transfixed, at the snarling thing in the tree, Daryl asks her, “You want to live now? Or not? It’s just a question.”

She replies, “An answer for an arrow. Fair?”

“Mmhmmm.” he says.

“I don’t know if I want to live, or if I have to, or if it’s just a habit.”

“That’s not much of an answer.” Daryl says. He shoots the zombie in the head and remarks that it’s a waste of an arrow.

On the roof of the Winnebago, Carol tries to get Dale to stop worrying about Andrea. He decides to take a break and wants to leave the rifle with Carol. “I don’t know how to use that!” she says incensed. (Girl, you better learn to use it! The mother-fucking zombie apocalypse is NOW. Your kid has disappeared. Grow some BALLS. Your helpless female crap is going to get you killed. And hopefully it will only be you! Not the people around you who try to save your sorry ass, because, “Oooooh guns are scary!” Um, not as scary as what’s been going down all around you!)

Back at the ranch, T-Dog is getting his arm sewn back together, but is still unwilling to be grateful for Daryl’s contribution of his brother’s antibiotics.

On the porch, Glenn gives praying a try for the first time in his life—for the safety of his friends. Maggie interrupts and Glenn asks if she thinks that God exists at all. She sounds like she’s pretty much all out of faith, but that she’s okay with the old, “God helps those who help themselves” thing.

Dale strolls through the cars and worries. (Look in the purses for the benzos, man! I’m not kidding!)

Rick tells Lori the story of the deer in the woods and how when Carl woke up and was talking about it, he was speaking of something beautiful. Something living. Not about the nightmarish ugliness they’ve been surrounded with constantly. So there’s your answer Lori. It’s better for Carl to live in this world—even as it is now— because he still finds beauty in it.

Um, yeah. But there is no beauty in the scene going down at the high school right now. In fact knowing what it would take to get the medical equipment to Carl, would probably make Lori certain that a simple pillow smothering would be merciful. It would make her doubt that there is any hope for mankind. And it would certainly snuff out any hot masturbation or 3-way fantasies about Shane.

Shane and Otis are almost to the truck. Otis explains what they need to do to get there. Shane is ready to give up. Otis says that he’s not leaving him behind.

Two men count their rounds.  Otis has four. Shane has five and one in the pipe. Ten shots. They pick off two walkers as they stumble ahead of the endless throngs of the undead.  Now they are down to eight shots.

It is now the 11th hour. Since Doc Herschel thinks Carl will die otherwise, the decision is made to do the surgery without a respirator.

Just as the doctor tells Rick and Lori that they may want to step out while he does the surgery, they hear a truck pull up outside. It’s Shane with the equipment. And without Otis. When Doc Herschel finds out that Otis did not make it, he says, “We say nothing to Patricia. Not till after. I need her.”

Shane says that Otis said he’d cover him, and that he should keep going. He looked back and… Rick finishes Shane’s statement for him, “He wanted to make it right.”

On the road Daryl and Andrea have returned, much to the relief of Daryl. When Carol sees that Sophia is not with them, she just goes inside and slams the door with a sob. As Andrea goes to take watch, Dale gives her gun back and apologizes for making decisions that weren’t his to make. He asks for forgiveness. Andrea says she’s trying.

During Carl’s surgery, Maggie opens up to Glenn about those she has lost. She’s broken up about Otis since she’s known him since she was a kid. She points out the photos of those she’s loved and lost.

The surgery goes well and Carl seems to have stabilized. Rick and Lori are ecstatic. But now someone has to tell Patricia that her husband did not make it back. Rick tells Lori to go to Carl and that he’ll go with Herschel, but Lori watches as Patricia gets the news about Otis. Shane watches as well and then limps in to see Lori with Carl.

Shane is out of it. Emotionally wrecked. As he leaves Carl’s room, Maggie brings him some clean clothes to wear after he showers. They’ll be big on him. They were Otis’s. Ooof!

As Shane runs the shower, he checks his injuries. He is scratched and bruised, but one injury stops him cold. A missing patch of hair. Angry scalp shows through from where a fist-sized patch was pulled out.

And then the flashback starts.

Two men count their rounds. Otis has four. Shane has five and one in the pipe. Ten shots. They pick off six walkers as they stumble ahead of the endless throngs of the undead.  And they keep shooting.

Now they are each down to one shot.

“I’m sorry.” Shane says. He shoots the totally unsuspecting Otis in the leg and immediately begins to pull his pack of supplies off. But as sweet tempered as he is, Otis is a fighter. He gets a hold of Shane’s hair and holds on. Shane keeps punching Otis—sometimes in his bullet wound—and finally wrenches his gun (and patch of hair) away, squeezing off the one remaining round. The monstrous, stinking horde falls on Otis and begins to tear at his flesh and eat him alive as he screams in agony and terror.

But the undead cannot choose to be monstrous. That choice is uniquely human.

Shane lurches away carrying both packs of supplies. He is a man who has made his choice.


NEXT WEEK: Will Shane be able to find a secret stash of GLH in order to cover his bald spot and allow him to live with what he has done? Will Carol finally grow a pair, pick up a gun, and ask someone to show her how the damn thing works? Wait. Who is Sophia again? Will the search for God finally be called off?