‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Save the Last One’: Lori’s choice

A review of tonight’s“The Walking Dead” (which AMC unsurprisingly just renewed for a third season) coming up just as soon as my venereal disease saves your life…

“Tell me why it would be better the other way. Please.” -Lori

I’ve seen some complaints in the comments the last two weeks that season 2 is moving very slowly, that we’ve spent a lot of time just lingering around that traffic jam and looking for Sophia, and that the show and its characters seem to be heading nowhere fast.

But I would counter that this is the show. These are characters trapped in a nightmare world that apparently can’t be fixed – and if it can, it will likely happen far, far away from our motley band of travelers. They’re just powering through, breathing by reflex and putting one foot in front of the other because they’ve been doing it all their lives. They’re trying to survive, even if – as Andrea has argued in the past, and as Lori very convincingly argues here – they may be at a point where survival is not only not worth the trouble, but perhaps less preferable to taking a bullet to the head and either moving on to the next life or ceasing to exist, depending on your spiritual beliefs.

Just look at what Shane does to Otis(*) to get away from the zombie herd and get the needed supplies back to Hershel’s house. It’s a calculated choice, but one born of animal survival instinct. For all that Shane feels guilty about what he’s done, and for all that he tells Otis to go on without him, he ultimately wants to live more than anything else, and as a result sentences a good man to a fate worse than death. (He doesn’t even shoot Otis in the head, which might have been more humane but also might have sicc’ed more of the zombies onto him, as they seem to enjoy preying on still living flesh.) Shane has become the thing that Lori feels Carl will grow up to be, assuming Carl even manages to stay alive long enough to grow up.

(*) In a twist I wish they hadn’t tried to treat as a twist, as it was clear from the moment Shane came back alone – without us seeing what happened – that he had in some way sacrificed Otis to save himself.

There are some obvious problems the show has to work on, some of which may be easier to fix than others. There needs to be a clearer sense of the zombie rules: how you can and can’t get infected, how fast or slow the walkers move, how they can and can’t detect you, etc. And, frankly, the characters need more depth. The show seems to be setting itself out to be a slow-burning character study in the context of a zombie apocalypse – and with enough chase scenes and other scares to entice folks who just want brain-eating action – and the characters need to be more complex than they’ve been shown to be so far. (And, for that matter, deeper than most of them were at this point in the comic book series, when Rick was the only person Robert Kirkman had even attempted to paint in three dimensions.) We’re getting there slowly but surely with some people – Daryl has become a vastly more interesting, entertaining character this year – but there’s still much more to be done. The actors – Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey DeMunn and Laurie Holden in particular – are doing great with what they’re given, but I feel like they can be given even more while still doing the things the show does well.

I think the structure of these three episodes has been just fine, and on the whole I would call this stronger than any three-episode stretch of season 1. But we still have a ways to travel before the people of “The Walking Dead” can live up to the tremendous sense of atmosphere and dread, the make-up work of Greg Nicotero and his team, etc.

Before we go to the comments, let me remind you once again about the no spoilers rules for this blog, and specifically how it relates to a show like this adapted from a popular source material:

1)No Spoilers.

2)This includes any discussion of the previews for the next episode.

3)This includes any discussion of storylines from the comic that haven’t happened yet in the timeline of the TV show. (And, yes, the show has and will continue to deviate from the comic in some ways, but for the sake of those instances where they’re going to be the same, I don’t want people talking about something from issue 50 when we’re watching episode 11.) 

4)This includes anything you’ve seen or read elsewhere about anything that has not happened within the context of the episodes that have already aired.

Got that? Good. So what did everybody else think?