Episode Title: "Killer Within"
Writer: Sang Kyu Kim
Director: Guy Ferland
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
I have to hand it to the creative team of “The Walking Dead.” It’s one thing to catch people off guard who have never even read the comic book series. But to shock the people who have read it? That’s very impressive.
This is repeated every week and it is never more true than now. There are MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead for last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the episode.
Robert Kirkman, Glen Mazzara and the rest of “The Walking Dead” creative team seem to enjoy deviating from the source material. And for the most part, the changes have worked well and created even more drama than in the original story told in the comic book series. In the comic, Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) also gave birth to a child, but it wasn’t nearly as bloody or fatal as it was here.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Lori dies in the comic book, but not like this. And because I was expecting that moment to eventually happen, her death during an emergency c-section was jaw dropping. There’s no coming back from that one and even Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) made sure that his mother wouldn’t become one of the walkers.
Earlier this season, the writers seemed to be trying to make Lori likeable again after her “Lady MacBeth” moments last season. At multiple Comic Cons, preview clips of Lori were met with resounding boos because the perception is that she set her husband, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) against his best friend, Shane in a battle for her heart and their family. Despite that reaction from the fans, Lori was an integral part of this series. But perhaps the writers couldn’t find a way to redeem Lori without giving her a heroic death in which she chooses to die so her new child can live. And given their biggest moments in the series to date, Callies and Riggs delivered great performances, as did Lauren Cohan; whose character, Maggie had the thankless task of cutting open Lori and reviving Lori’s baby after the difficult birth.
Stepping back a bit, this whole situation came about when Andrew (Markice Moore) set in motion a plot to take back the prison. Again, this was another departure from the comic, but it worked well. For fans of both the comic book and the TV series, think of them as two alternate timelines. When Shane stayed alive longer than he did in the original story, it led to the deaths of other characters who would have lived longer. Andrew’s return essentially causes the same thing.
If all Andrew wanted was to get Rick and his group killed, then it was a great plan to open up the prison gate and lure the zombies with a loud alarm. But if Andrew had thought the plan through, he should have realized that he wouldn’t have been able to take back the prison by himself once it had been overrun again. Maybe Andrew didn’t care or he simply thought that he could do it.
Meanwhile, suspicion fell on the other two inmates, Oscar (Vincent Ward) and Axel (Lew Temple); who desperately wanted to join Rick’s crew to escape their isolation. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) had some empathy for the inmates, but only T-Dog (IronE Singleton) really advocated giving Oscar and Axel a chance.
Poor T-Dog… He finally steps up with something meaningful to say and he died shortly thereafter. Nor did T-Dog die a quick or easy death. When it finally came, the walkers tore him to pieces and left so little of him behind that we never see T-Dog reanimate. At the very least, T-Dog gets a heroic moment of sacrifice by trying to save Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) and by throwing himself at the walkers.
But honestly, T-Dog’s death is kind of wasted in the same way that his character was from the start. T-Dog was never really treated like one of the main characters or given much characterization beyond his brief attempt to form an alliance with Dale last season. And by killing off both T-Dog and Lori in the same episode, the focus shifts immediately to what happened to Lori. Thus T-Dog’s death is barely mourned because the other characters are more concerned over Lori’s fate.
However, it can’t be said that "Killer Within" wasn’t a thrilling hour of television. The stakes were unusually high for an episode so early in the season. And the action sequences and direction were terrific. I particularly liked the subtle nod between Rick and Oscar after the inmate decided which person to shoot, as well as the way that Daryl was hilariously sneaking up on Oscar. Rick’s grief for Lori at the end was another strong moment. Lincoln’s performance was great, but the entire cast at the top of their game.
Over at Woodbury, we got a few glimpses of Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) as they tried to make their way out of town. The Governor (David Morrissey) clearly knows how to seduce people to his cause. For Andrea, the Governor uses straight up seduction and they appear to be romantically interested in each other.
But for Michonne, the Governor tries a different tactic. He appeals to her as a warrior and a soldier and he apparently holds her potential contributions in high regard. “If only you were there,” he tells her. It’s a tactic that could have worked if Michonne wasn’t already suspicious of him… and if she hadn’t already correctly deduced that the Governor and his men ambushed the soldiers for their weapons and supplies.
This episode really gave us a taste for who Michonne is by giving her more lines than in her previous appearances. Consequently, Michonne was more engaging as she tried to pull Andrea away from Woodbury and the Governor’s sway. But it didn’t work and the duo are still in Woodbury… for now.
In a surprisingly humorous scene, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) asks Andrea why they didn’t previously hook up and she recites the slurs he used on her. It seems that Merle really does want to find his brother and he’s willing to go out in the world alone if he has to. Although I’ll bet that Merle would also love to track down Rick and pay him back for the loss of his hand. There’s even the hint of a schism between Merle and the Governor when the latter refuses to let Merle leave Woodbury.
We also get the hint that the Governor saved Merle’s life, but there may be more to the story than just that. I get the impression that Merle could crush the Governor if he wanted to, but instead his loyalty to the man is nearly unwavering. Only the prospect of reuniting with Daryl has Merle openly considering breaking off on his own.
“Killer Within” was the strongest episode this season. And “The Walking Dead” seems to be on the verge of becoming something very special if it can maintain this intensity throughout the season. This is can’t miss television.