Monday, October 31, 2011

"The Walking Dead" and Shambling Down a Side Trail: A Television Review ("Save the Last One")

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Director: Phil Abraham.

Writers: Scott M. Gimple, Robert Kirkman, and Frank Darabont.

"Save the Last One" is a reference to a bullet and that last bullet might not be used how you would expect. This is Epis. 3 of Seas. 2 of "The Walking Dead," which aired on the AMC October 30th, just before Halloween! Overall, the aside, which began at the traffic jam, has turned into much of the early part of Seas. 2. There has been no forward progression in the show's central plot, getting to Fort Benning. Yet, director Phil Abraham ("The Killing") and the rest of the creative team balance out the dramatic dialogue with elements of action. Only the constant dialogue of existentialism and spirituality takes something away from the series. This show is based on a comic book not Phil. 101, correct?

For those just catching up, a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse are holed up at a traffic jam on the highway just outside of Atlanga, GA. Events involving the shooting of one child (Carl) and the disappearance of another (Sofia) have split the survivors into plenty of little groups. This zombie television fan counted six separate groups in this showing at one point. That aside, the survivors seem to be regrouping at Herchel's (Scott Wilson) farm with Shane (Jon Bernthal), an ex-police officer, and Otis (Pruitt Taylor Prince) hunting for medical supplies. Carl will die without them.

For a short show of fourty-five minutes these storytellers are covering a lot of ground and a lot of situations. There is a diverse set of characters in "The Walking Dead," and they each get a little bit of screen time. While the show does not feel or seem to be unfocused, it does tend to cover characters in a shallow fashion. Each group of characters gets two to three minutes to shine here and there and usually the characters are talking of God, or religion in general. Not being familiar with the comic book, this is the only television show this zombie fan can think of with so much talk of existentialism. Spirituality's inherent circular nature should give a clue of why it is pointless to discuss, especially in a television series. Thankfully, Shane's scenes with Otis break the stranglehold of meaningless banter with some compelling and tense scenes.

This episode skips the cliffhanger ending seen in the previous episodes in favour of a surprise ending. That surprise should be enjoyed watching the show rather than reading it here. Suffice it to say that Shane's Taxi Driver like shaving of his head is a big signal that this character, like Robert De Niro's character Travis, has some deep psychological problems.

Also, this review would like to pause and go off the deep end to talk about a criticism regarding this episode or the season in general. Some commenters on message boards have critiqued the show's lack of character development; however, characters are changing on multiple levels. Otis is changing physically, into a zombie (oops, spoiler). Glenn (Steven Yeun) is turning into another philosopher like Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Andrea (Laurie Holden), while Shane is showing more and more mental instability every show. These characters are actually changing physically, emotionally and philosophically. Although each of these characters does not get much screen time they are not staying static. In fact, they are transforming (like the zombies into greyish horrors) and not always for the better.

"The Walking Dead" is definitely showing continued improvement. Gone mostly are the long dramatic rants of Seas. 1. As well, the first' seasons shambling zombies have been replaced by something much more thrilling and more mobile. The central plot seems to have been ignored, but the show is progressing (just sideways). However, the fun is not always in getting to the destination, but in the bloody journey to get there.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (please get rid of the spiritual).

Find out more about "The Walking Dead" Seas. 2 Epis. 3 ("Save the Last One") at the AMC:

Save the Last One at the AMC

Read a second, excellent review of this title at Paste Magazine (Josh Jackson):

Save the Last One at Paste Magazine

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