“I don’t know if I want to live…Or if it’s just a habit.”
In the third installment of season two, The Walking Dead took a dark turn, which isn’t easy for a show about the zombie apocalypse. As the group continues to battle for survival, each character has fought their own personal skirmish—both trying to stay alive and working through whether or not they actually want to.
When we last left left off, Shane and Otis were trapped at a local school in possession of the medical equipment necessary to save Carl’s life, but were surrounded by hundreds of walkers. As the two fought their way out of the labyrinthine high campus, every turn seemed to yield yet another chain link fence.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, young Carl is hanging on by a thread and Lori is contemplating pulling the plug on her son. Finally hitting the breaking point after so much death and destruction, she tries to convince Rick that it might be better off for Carl if they let him go. “If he dies tonight, it ends for him,” Lori tells Rick. “It’s like we have a knife at our throats every second of every day.” In the end, Rick convinces her to keep on fighting, pointing out that when Carl briefly woke up, he talked about how amazing it was to see a deer up close. Rick believes that there is beauty left in the world. How long he can continue to believe that remains to be seen.
Perhaps the biggest personal revelation came from Andrea, who goes wandering through the woods with Daryl looking for still-lost Sophia. (The show really knows how to drag out a situation, doesn’t it?) They come across someone who had been bitten and tried to hang himself, only to turn into a walker who is now writhing in a tree. For Andrea, the decision of whether or not to kill herself has been a tough one ever since losing her sister, and she sums it up by telling Daryl, “I don’t know if I want to live, or if I have to. Or if it’s just a habit.”
Of course, some people never get the opportunity to decide. As Shane and Otis hobble along outside the school (Shane, with his badly sprained ankle, still moves faster than the overweight Otis), the two realize that they’re down to their last few bullets. Then Shane does something no one saw coming. He shoots Otis in the stomach, takes the medical supplies and leaves the man screaming on the ground. Dozens of walkers tear Otis limb from limb and Shane uses the distraction to hobble away.
Shane arrives back at the house with a thousand yard stare reminiscent of a veteran straight off the battlefield. The episode is bookended with scenes of Shane having a Taxi Driver moment: he slowly shaves his head while we see flashbacks and learn what he did to Otis. In order to try and save Carl, Shane was willing to risk his own life. Then in the end, he was willing to kill one of the weaker survivors. Now that this line has been crossed, where will it end?
Zombie Kill Count: A respectable three dozen or so. Shane’s up close head blast and Otis’s sniper shot (resulting in an exploding zombie head) were solid kills. This week was a major improvement over last week’s measly single walker death.
Most anticipated future development (fun version): A potential budding romance between Maggie Green and Glenn, who has been a non-factor this season. It’ll be nice to see if some spark develops between him and Maggie, the cute country girl.
Most anticipated future development (very serious version): At some point, Shane will have to come clean with Rick about what happened to Otis. Given Rick’s extremely rigid morale code and Shane’s now demonstrated willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, the showdown promises to be bigger than just a battle of two alpha males. The Rick/Shane divide is a battle of two leaders with different ideas of humanity and survival.
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