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'The Walking Dead' recap: Shane channels his inner Travis Bickle

October 31, 2011 |  6:30 am

The Walking Dead

Watching the opening sequence of "The Walking Dead" on Sunday, it was hard not to think of Martin Scorsese's landmark 1976 film, "Taxi Driver": a shirtless, battle-scarred Shane shears off his hair with clippers he's rummaged from the bathroom cabinet at Hershel's farm house. Actor Jon Bernthal seemed to be channeling Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle as he stared intensely at his reflection, something resembling defiance — or self-loathing — hardening his features.

Of course, it wasn't until the conclusion of the episode, "Save the Last One," that we really understood what that scene was all about. But the reveal? Seriously worth the wait.

Things begin with Rick relating to Lori one of Shane's famous high school exploits — one he admits she's heard plenty of times before — while the couple keep watch over their ailing son. As Rick speaks, Shane and Otis can be seen fleeing walkers in the high school where they've now become trapped. Rick tries to assure Lori that Shane will make it back with the medical supplies Hershel needs to perform surgery on Carl; Lori insists that Rick eat something to keep up his strength, presuming, rightly, that he will need to give more of his own blood to keep Carl alive in the meantime.

Back on the highway, Daryl heads out to search for Sophia in the darkness, and Andrea follows him into the woods. He tells her about the time he was lost as a child, pointing out that he made it back home safely. The pair discover a walker hanging from a tree, a man who had tried to committed suicide after being bitten by a zombie (but clearly didn't manage the job), which prompts Daryl to ask Andrea if she's still looking to end her own life. She responds that she's honestly not quite sure.

When they come back to the RV, the subject surfaces again in a way, when Dale, by way of apology for his actions at the CDC, finally returns Andrea's gun, begging her not to use it to do herself harm.

As Shane and Otis do their best to flee the hungry walkers — at one point, Shane's forced to jump out of a window and ends up with a nasty limp for his trouble — Glenn and T-Dog pull up to the farm, where Lori, wracked with worry, is suggesting to Rick that perhaps it was fate that sent that bullet Carl's way, to spare him the horror of growing up in a walker-ravaged world.

Miraculously, the boy suddenly wakes up and begins to tell his mother about seeing the deer in the woods, but after just a few moments, he goes into seizure. Hershel explains that his brain isn't getting enough blood, and Rick offers up his arm for another transfusion.

While T-Dog is having his wound attended to, Glenn ventures out on the porch to silently pray, but Hershel's daughter Maggie interrupts him. He asks her if she believes in the existence of God, and she tells Glenn that it's up to him to make things OK for himself. Rick's spirits, however, are buoyed by his belief that Carl's momentarily awakening. He insists that Carl's mentioning something beautiful — witnessing the deer in the woods rather than being shot — is a sign that he's meant to survive.

Still, the swelling in the boy's abdomen where the bullet fragments are lodged is worsening, and Hershel demands that Rick and Lori make a choice to proceed with the operation without the proper materials. Lori agrees, but Shane arrives in the nick of time — without Otis but with the supplies for Hershel, who is able to save the boy's life. 

Shane ultimately wanders upstairs to shower. It's then, finally, that we see what transpired at the high school. Shane, limping, and Otis, winded, are each down to one final bullet. Shane turns on the man and shoots him in the leg, leaving him as a sacrificial meal for the walkers to facilitate his own escape. In a violent tussle, Otis claims a handful of hair from Shane's head. Staring at his reflection, Shane spies the missing patch on his scalp in the mirror, and then grabs the clippers, perhaps to grieve, but most likely to cover up his crime.

What did you think? Will Shane's actions catch up to him? Will he be able to live with what he's done? Please leave your comments below.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!


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Photo: Jon Benthal as Shane in "The Walking Dead." Credit: AMC.