Hark Reviews: Who is “The Killer Within” on THE WALKING DEAD?
Warning Spoilers Ahead!
Words like “game changer” are thrown around too easily, but last night’s bold, unforgettable episode of THE WALKING DEAD irreversibly altered the paths of both the show and all of its primary characters… at least the ones who still remain. Why was it necessary, were the survivors and us too comfortable with the prison, and where will the show go from here? We look at all of those questions and the losses incurred this week in our review of “The Killer Within”.
T-Dog We Hardly Knew Ye.
Though he has been with the survivors since the very beginning, T-Dog (Iron E. Singleton) has existed mostly as a beloved fringe player. Muscle when the situation called for it, but rarely asked to do more. That he died by bite is not surprising – its not like anyone is going to get a chance to fall down an abandoned elevator shaft or die of old age – but T-Dog’s unquestionably heroic end, pushing a concerned Carol toward her freedom, allowed the character to depart on high, much like they did with Dale.
One Tough Mother.
Sarah Wayne Callies’ “Lori” has always been the character we loved to hate, but her end was beyond shocking both in the fact that it happened (no matter the source material parallels) and in how it happened — during the birth of her baby.
Speaking of going out on high: Lori’s closing words to Carl helped to convey the strong maternal bond that his character truly had. For once, their relationship wasn’t about her fiercely protecting him or him rebelling or pushing back, it was a mother trying to draw out a bare but useful map for the road ahead, the road she knew she couldn’t walk down with her son.
In that moment, the moment before her death, Lori is clearly the bravest one in the room, pushing Maggie to do what has to be done and easing Carl into accepting the inevitable. Once it’s done, and her baby is born, it is Carl who takes his mothers cue and does what needs to be done. I can’t imagine how this trauma will shape Carl, I can’t imagine how Rick will react if he ever finds out that his son put down his wife, but I can’t wait too see.
By the way, the flashback to season two, back when Carl was just a trouble-making child, was a nice use of a storytelling device that the producers rarely use. Also, this is the most gruesome “add-a-kid” addition of all time.
Horror Rule #72: Always wait for a body.
Andrew seemed to go out with a sprint and a scream at the end of the second episode of this season and we all thought him as good as gone, that is until the first few moments of this week’s episode.
Honestly, this was a bit of weak tea and lazy storytelling. Andrew’s return just feels like a device that will allow us to see Rick rip himself to shreds thanks to the havoc that Andrew’s incomplete initial death sentence wrought. File this under “necessary evil”, but I hope it won’t take up too much real estate in the next few episodes. Besides, how can it? Sooner or later, the road to Woodbury is going to lead the other way to the prison and Rick will have to be at his best.
Meanwhile in Woodbury.
“The Killer Within” marked the first time that we truly got to see both the goings on at the prison and the goings on in Woodbury, but at the end of the day, no one is really going to remember much of the Woodbury side of the coin this time out.
The Governor is still a bit sleazy and Michonne seems to be putting things together while Andrea gets more and more comfortable with Phillip (the Governor’s name – never say never indeed) and the town. Literally comfortable, she practically exudes ease while lounging on a plush bed in her quarters while Michonne sits up in a clench while reviewing a map.
As for Woodbury’s other notable: Merle makes a half-hearted play for Andrea, aka “Blondie” after she gives him info on how to reach the farm, a trip to find Daryl that the Governor bans Merle from taking. So I guess we know who holds Merle’s chain, the question is how long will that last before he grows restless?
An episode like this opens up a lot of possibilities and asks a lot of questions. Will Rick have a full break from reality? Previews of next week’s episode seem to indicate that he will head back into the prison – ax in hand – but will he just feverishly chop and slash at walkers in the hopes that he’ll find relief for the pain that he’s feeling after Lori’s death?
What about Carol? Will Rick, or anyone else find her or is she dead? And if Carol is dead, will Daryl grieve her loss more than the others do?
I said before that we’re likely in for a bit of “guilt theater” with Rick beating himself up over Andrew’s escape and subsequent return, but will his guilt lead him to step away from his leadership role, and if he does, who is built to take over? Daryl? Hershel? And how do Oscar and Axel fit in now that Oscar has surely proven his worth?
The survivors seemed like they were getting a bit too comfortable in the prison with Glen and Maggie enjoying some “couple time” in the guard tower, and Hershel inspiring everyone with his early crutch mastery. Question is: how many more times will the group need the bloody and costly reminder that sleeping any way other than “with one eye open” is a remnant from days gone by, and not a luxury they can afford any longer.
Beyond the prison, there are still ample questions about Woodbury too. How close will Michonne get to discovering the truth about the governor, what will happen when that happens, and how long will it take Andrea to realize that there is more behind his eyes than she imagines?
Hopefully we’ll get some answers soon, but this is only the 4th episode of the season, so we’ve got a long, long way until the end and a dwindling cast.