After a while, they become a part of the background, an ongoing disaster continuing to consume the world (or not) while the humans fight to survive. In order to keep the show interesting, certain conflicts must arise among the main characters for any sort of real drama. I'm as much for zombie-killin' action as the next guy, but the show can't depend on that alone to be compelling. Eventually the viewers will want more.
Therefore, last night's "Save The Last One" gave us the first real glimpse of a "villian" situation, in the form of the character of Shane. Sacrificing poor Otis to save his own life, while not entirely justifiable, did make sense given their plight. A zombie horde is closing in on them. Both of them are hurt. They're running out of ammo. And Carl needs that respirator, dammit! That's the thought process Shane is likely following before he made the executive decision to shoot Otis in the leg and offer the man up to the walkers. The only two things that make it truly sinister is that Otis did not agree with this decision, and Otis' wife Patricia is now a widow. No matter his intentions, this makes Shane a murderer.
At the start and finish of the episode, we see Shane alone in the bathroom, replaying Otis' death in his mind. He shaves all his hair off, because Otis took a piece of Shane's scalp in a last attempt to survive. Shane may feel guilty now, but we see what he's capable of in a tight situation. Who knows what he's willing to do later? The empty look on his face as he stares into the mirror speaks volumes.
Back on the farm, Rick and Lori share a moment about Carl and whether letting him live in the Walking Dead world is the right decision, a moment that doesn't feel entirely fresh since it was treaded on first at the end of season one. Basically, Lori doesn't see the reason to save Carl's life anymore since he'll only live under the constant threat of zombies until the day he does die. This point of view is a bit surprising coming from her. Sure, she's seen some shit since the beginning of the show, but I don't feel the writers have done enough with her to truly TRAUMATIZE her character and completely give up hope on her son. If anyone in the couple has to be talking this way, I feel it should be Rick and even that's a bit of a stretch. Thankfully, this plotline is wrapped up when back-stabbin' Shane returns with the supplies.
Other characters who got some facetime last night included Glenn (I don't think he's said more than two words so far this season) and Maggie who shared a nice scene on the porch. The writers may be setting up an unlikely romance between these two. Their conversation wasn't sexual or even flirtatious in any way, but it was nice and quietly intimate.
And speaking of unlikely, Daryl and Andrea decide to go off in the woods in the middle of the night, searching for lil' Sophia. A move that's not safe AT ALL, but ok, the writers need to get these two alone for some reason so I'll allow it. They swap stories and bond before they stumble upon a hanging zombie, which gave Daryl a chance to get his weekly kill in. But still no Sophia.
All in all, it was a solid episode for The Walking Dead. Lil' Carl is now stabilized, T-Dog's arm is all stitched up, and Shane has a new haircut. Zombie kill count: Shane and Otis took out a bunch at the high school, plus Daryl's one kill. Human kill count: poor Otis, we hardly knew ye. Grade: B
Kyle Waldrup is the film and TV writer for Groove Sandwich. Follow him on Twitter here.