In tonight’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead titled “Killer Within”, the group within the prison is severed and lives are put in jeopardy. Who could it be? T-Dog (IronE Singleton), Glen (Steven Yeun), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), or Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies)? In Woodbury, Merle (Michael Rooker) has a request for the Governor (David Morrissey). What is the request? Who meets their fate in Sunday night’s gripping The Walking Dead!?
Note: Tonight’s review contains spoilers beyond this point. You have been warned.
Well, so THAT happened.
If you are talking about the death(s) featured in tonight’s episode, then yeah, it’s crazy.
Then again we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The opening of the episode was ominous more than usual for The Walking Dead, as someone took a deer and used it to lure some walkers into the prison as they also undid the chains that protected Rick's people and the other two prisoners. But who did it? Was it them or someone else in the group or a third party all together?
Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent M. Ward) beg for a chance to join the group, and only T-Dog seems to be concerned about them, somewhat revealing what I’d call a case of the Dales: a voice of reason. But is it reason? Honestly only Axel seems to be straight and narrow with his intentions while Oscar seems the opposite. And how fitting that T-Dog is the one that stands up for them.
Meanwhile, Michonne (Danai Gurira) has pieced together what happened to the National Guard and how The Governor took them down with brute force. “Weird, so many bullet holes. The dead must have learned how to use guns.” That’s paraphrased, but you get the gist. Michonne is one bad-ass and smart cookie, and while we knew that from the start, The Governor knows it and is trying to woo her to the dark side. Andrea though has fallen pray somewhat to The Governor’s false words and promises.
The prison is quickly overran by walkers and as the group, in a moment of joy and pride seeing Herschel (Scott Wilson) walk despite the loss of his leg, it is merely the calm before the storm as walkers spread like wildfire in the prison. The group is quickly separated into two groups: Lori, Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), then everyone else. And sadly, T-Dog is bit in the shoulder. His death is now evident; it’s just a matter of when and how. Will they mercy kill him or will he sacrifice himself or what? Sacrifice is the name of the game, as T-Dog and Carol mention the pact they made (and honestly, most audiences members, this examiner included, forgot about until it was brought up) before T-Dog follows God’s path as a yummy walker diversion to allow Carol to escape. Carol escapes, but not before seeing T-Dog’s throat ripped out and eaten.
And then there is the reveal that it is Andrew (Markice Moore) not Oscar who is the one behind everything in the prison.*
(*) Dear AMC, this would have been a bit more of a shock, if perhaps, you showing the ‘Previously on The Walking Dead’ clip of Andrew being thrown outside was a dead giveaway that it was Andrew the whole time. Maybe this is a note to the writers too, that there was more build up of distrust between Oscar and Rick, creating more of a Red Herring so when it was revealed to be Andrew, the idea that Oscar chooses Rick would feel more natural. Instead, we know instantly that Oscar will chose Rick because Rick is our lead character, they won’t kill him off. At least not like this. Everyone is not safe, except for Rick.
What is also interesting though is Merle asking the Governor for assistance in finding his brother. The Governor is quick to politely shoot him down, though, does it raise suspicions in Merle about his savior?
The episode overall was quite interesting, and also a bit depressing. A lot of people have slammed the writers and possibly unjustly the actor playing T-Dog for his character and the evident lack of anything to do. The general response of ‘kill the character’ is quickly mentioned by those on twitter and message boards, because, well, heck, it’s a zombie show. But why not be better writers and give T-Dog something genuine to do and make his death actually mean something? While I understand that season three is new and improved and as Robert Kirkman (creator of the comic book and executive producer of the series) has noted that the third season is amped up on overdrive in terms of pacing, I just feel that it is a disservice to the actor and the character. While sure, I might have mumbled the ‘just kill him’ mantra myself, but common sense and rational judgment always tends to win out after an episode is over. Perhaps this is a case of be careful what you wish for?
Perhaps… but then again, perhaps not.
I still find it to be gripping television for the moment but overall weak and lazy writing. I was very proud that in the past few episodes that T-Dog has been kicking-ass and taking names. I defended the series while those on twitter attacked what was the ‘lack of treating T-Dog with respect, not giving him a gun’ etc, (though clearly he was given a gun and bad-ass riot gear).
What was the biggest shock though, for “Killer Within” was the death of Lori Grimes.
Let’s be honest here, as gripping drama, the episode was fantastic. But there is a coincidence that is needed which is, if Lori is bleeding badly, and they cut her open, the walkers would smell the blood. They’d hear the cries of the baby. They’d come for Maggie, Carl and the baby. This is almost too big of a thing to skip over, despite Lori’s death and Carl being the one to put the final bullet into her was a sheer work of handiwork by the writers in terms of Carl’s arc.
Tonight’s episode, no matter how I cut it, feels like a backhanded compliment: it was a gripping hour of television like The Walking Dead always is, but yet, why is it that for all the amazing and great things that the series did tonight, it also felt too rushed or while it paid off storylines wonderfully it lacked the conviction and credibility within the context of the situation. This is upsetting to me, because emotionally I was present the entire episode. But during commercial breaks, the idea that the walkers wouldn’t turn around and hunt down Lori felt too easy. It was a scene that had to happen because that is the forgone conclusion to the arc for Lori, Rick and Carl. Walkers can’t interrupt such a scene because we need this to occur. What is more pressing to me is that all you needed was some common sense in that, they secured the door, and the walkers smelled T-Dog or someone else, we wouldn’t even be bringing this up right now.
Yet despite such thoughts and little problems with the episode, especially the T-Dog and Lori deaths, the real thing that brought me back was the amazing, and guys, I mean AMAZING performance from Andrew Lincoln. Every actor on this show, Singleton and Holden and Wayne Callies pull their weight like a pro, but Lincoln in that moment, collapsing from grief that really sells The Walking Dead.
Overall, The Walking Dead showed a few cracks in it’s armor with simple storytelling faux pas, but the pace continues to chug along at an exciting pace, so much so the series is almost hoping you don’t notice any problems. While this questions the validity of the rest of the season now in small ways (as if they let a few things like that slip what else will they allow to slip by?!) The Walking Dead is still one of the best hours of television, period.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC and can be found on channels 16 for Insight Communications Customers and channel 54 for Time Warner Customers . For HD channel versions, check your local cable or satellite provider for more information.
But what do YOU think?
You can read Nick’s additional reviews on The TV King.