From the very beginning, "The Walking Dead" has never been shy about making changes and adjustments from the comics penned by Robert Kirkman. Some characters, like Donna and Allen, do not exist in the show at all, while others — Daryl Dixon, for example — are entirely new. Then there are folks like Shane, a man who survives only six issues in the comics but has a huge, prominent role on the show.
It was only a matter of time, then, that someone with some comic book staying power would get killed off early. Major spoilers after the jump.
Shane killing Otis was a shock for several reasons. For one, just the action itself: that Shane, who we already knew was teetering on the edge of stability, would push himself so far beyond the point of conventional humanity to achieve what he perceived to be a higher goal. In his eyes, shooting Otis and leaving him behind for the zombies was the only way to overcome his present situation and bring the medical equipment back in time for Carl's increasingly urgent surgery. He could have given the supplies to Otis to bring back, sure, but Shane believed himself to be the more physically capable of the two, the one who could see this mission through. It's a dark argument, but in the world Shane occupies, perhaps it's the only argument that makes any sense.
The other thing that's so haunting is the discrepancy from the "Walking Dead" source material. In the comics, Otis survives for over twenty issues. In the show, he appeared in a grand total of two episodes. In fairness, Otis is no Rick Grimes -- if Shane had turned the gun on Rick and killed him off in the second episode of the second season, that would be an unspeakably huge game-changer (and likely a game-ender for many viewers). But killing Otis off this early on when there's still more story that the character could have been a part of is a big, bold, and dangerous precedent to set. If someone who lasted 20 issues in the comics can die after only two episodes, who knows who else might be next. Suddenly, I'm a lot more worried about Sophia now than I was going into this episode.
Some other highlights from the night:
» Tonight's episode was all about pairs. Shane and Otis, two soldiers in a foxhole. Rick and Lori, two parents at odds over how to handle their son's failing condition. Glenn and Maggie, two strangers desperate to make a connection. Andrea and Daryl, two opposites trying to find a reason to move on. Great scenes with all of these duos, and it really goes to show just how fantastic the "Walking Dead" cast is, both in the loud and quiet moments.
» Speaking of Andrea and Daryl, did anyone else get a budding romance vibe from these two? Andrea's heart is spoken for by Dale in the comics, but Daryl doesn't exist in that world. With Andrea and Dale on the outs, and Daryl becoming increasingly less closed off, perhaps we're on the verge of yet another departure from the "Walking Dead" comics.
» I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Chandler Riggs as Carl. He didn't have too much to do last season, and already this year he's been shot, he's had seizures… really, Chandler has a lot to do, and he's kicking ass while doing it. Great to have him as part of the cast.
» Did you catch Rick's quick mention of "it doesn't matter what Jenner said" while arguing with Lori? We still don't know what the late scientist told our hero before blowing up at the CDC, but whatever it is, the influence on Rick still lingers. Hopefully it won't be too much longer until we know exactly what Jenner whisper into Rick's ear.
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