Jon Bernthal, who stars on "The Walking Dead" as the disgruntled Shane Walsh, ended last week's episode with his back against a wall, zombies literally nipping at his heels and no allies in sight, save for an overweight burden named Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) — the same man who accidentally shot Carl (Chandler Riggs) during a hunting accident gone wrong. Their mission to find medical supplies critical to Carl's surgery was all but doomed, but Shane found a way to survive — it's just a shame the same can't be said for Otis.
In order to flee an oncoming horde of flesh-hungry walkers, Shane shot Otis in the leg and abandoned him on the street after a violent scuffle, distracting the undead army with a hefty human meal as he escaped with his life intact. As a result, Shane made it back to Hershel's farm in time to bring the necessary tools for Carl's surgery, but not without sacrificing a huge chunk of his humanity in the process.
Shane's decision to murder Otis to save Carl's life (not to mention his own) is certainly a divisive one, but you can't say Bernthal didn't warn you about his character's dark turn.
"[Shane has figured out that] things like guilt, shame and trying to do things that are morally right are far less important and really have no place in this new world compared to surviving and doing what you have to do to stay alive and protect the people you love," the actor previously told MTV News. "If you're with a group of people and you're trying to survive and one person is holding you back or slowing you down, in this world, the right thing to do is to help that person and bring them along. In [the world of 'The Walking Dead'], the right thing to do is to kill that person and send them away."
Killing Otis certainly lives up to that philosophy, if nothing else. But the character's death is controversial for another important reason: Though he only appeared in two episodes of "The Walking Dead," Otis is alive for more than 20 issues in the comic book series created by Robert Kirkman. His death proves that the television series is more than willing to veer away from Kirkman's source material — and it's largely a result of the continued survival of Shane, who is dead in the comic books during the Hershel's farm story.
"Shane's presence in the show in general is one of the things that excites me the most about working on the TV show, because to a certain extent, I've told these stories before and I did them my own way in the comic book," Kirkman, who executive-produces "Walking Dead," told MTV News. "I work on the TV show, I'm in the writers room, and it's fun for me to look at it as a do-over. I can fiddle with things. I can play George Lucas, if you will, and I can think, 'Well, what would happen if Shane had lived? How would that change things?' "
Otis learned the hard way just how much can change because of Shane's stay of execution, and Kirkman teased that the deadly changes are far from over.
"Shane's presence radically alters a lot of different things," he warned. "Seeing how things are changed by his presence moving through the second season is a lot of fun for me. It ends up bringing in a lot of interesting twists and turns as you'll see from watching the season."
Are you surprised by Shane's actions? Let us know in the comments!