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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Walking Dead defeated by the "Killer Within"

AMC's The Walking Dead takes the danger to a whole new level this week with "Killer Within." After two episodes where portions of the cast sat out, this episode jumped back and forth between the prison and Woodbury, illustrating a few very different dangers, and ultimately ending with the the deaths of two original cast members. And this wasn't even a season finale! No one (except maybe Rick) is safe.

What an opening! It is an incredible, action-packed sequence, with walkers invading at the worst possible time! I thought Hershel (Scott Wilson) and his missing leg would be gone for good, but am so, so, happy this isn't the case!

T-Dog (IronE Singleton) bites the dust first. Early in a battle with walkers, he is sadly bitten on the shoulder. Running through the prison, trying to protect Carol (Melissa McBride), he ends up sacrificing his (admittedly already doomed) life to provide her a route of escape. Torn apart in one of the bloodiest, most gruesome moments of the show yet, his body is later seen on the floor, confirming his demise.

T-Dog has long seemed the most expendable member of the cast, with fewer plots, lines, and ties to the other characters. And yet, that doesn't mean I'm happy to see him go. The character proved to be a fan favorite because he was just plain fun, and his departure is regrettable. Even those who might have held back tears during the episode would have been hard pressed to continue to do so during the after show Talking Dead, which basically amounted to an extended tribute and goodbye.

Where is Carol? Surely she's alive. They only find her scarf. Hopefully she returns safely soon, rather than being missing and found dead like her daughter was.

One might be forgiven for thinking that in a middle-of-the-season episode, after losing an original cast member like Singleton, death would be sated. You would be mistaken. It isn't long before a complicated child birth takes Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) out of the game, too, resulting in a much bigger loss for the group.

For those who read the comic book, the drawn Lori has a picture perfect death, (SPOILER!) mowed down by the Governor with her infant daughter in her arms while the group abandons the besieged prison. Sadly, despite how powerful that scene is, it will not come to pass.This happens quite a bit earlier, and proves once again that even for fans who have read the story, The Walking Dead TV show still has plenty of surprises to deliver.

If you just watch the show, though, Lori's death is foreshadowed, in retrospect. The character has always treated her pregnancy like a death sentence, and has openly talked about giving birth as the end of her own life. Her labor comes at a very inconvenient time, under terrible circumstances, and with complications. There is no other ending than to cut her open and save the baby.

A few things do bother me about this otherwise fantastic scene, though. One, it appears the door to the room where Lori delivers doesn't even close properly, and walkers are lumbering past. Why do none of them try to come in? Surely her screams would attract them? Two, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) gives up way too easily to get the baby out the natural way. Delivery can often take hours, and she should have been patient. It is understandable that Lori has given up, taking into account everything she says leading up to that moment. And Maggie is clearly terrified and susceptible to suggestion. But to just cut Lori open and let her die sucks. Third, why doesn't Maggie even try to save Lori? Yes, her stomach is cut apart and there's lot of blood, but in a hospital, women survive Cesareans all the time. Why is this not even a possibility here?

These things aside, Lori's passing is very moving, especially as Carl (Chandler Riggs, who is stellar this week) is forced to watch it, and puts the bullet in his mother's brain. We don't see him do this, so there is a chance that Walker Lori may appear in the next couple of episodes. But it doesn't change the fact that Carl witnesses and contributes to his mother's death. Even with her absolution and her asking for it, Carl will have to change even more because of this.

In fact, Carl takes the death better than Rick (Andrew Lincoln), with a stoic face as his father writhes on the ground upon learning the news. Granted, Rick is not in a good place with Lori in the end, and there will be huge amounts of guilt, especially with knowing that he didn't save his son from that moment. But it makes me worry that Carl will turn into a psychopath, a bit like one of the twins in the graphic novel.

All of this danger happens because Andrew (Markice Moore) returns and lets the Walkers into their area. Now, setting aside that Andrew should not have survived how Rick left him, as The Walking Dead does occasionally have near-miraculous survivals, it is kind of cool to tie the attacker back to them, completing an earlier arc. It also allows Oscar (Vincent Ward) to choose sides in front of Rick, putting down Andrew once and for all.

I want Oscar and Axel (Lew Temple) to join the group. It has grown smaller, and I feel like these two prisoners, alone of the five found, do not pose a threat. I could be wrong, of course, but they certainly seem eager to put group survival ahead of any personal criminal tendencies, trading playing nice for a better chance of living. Plus, there are only a finite number of characters that can be lost without adding new blood periodically. These two seemed prime to join the ranks, even if they don't make it out of the prison alive, as they did not in the comic. After all, no matter how the show might change the story, it seems certain that the Governor (David Morrissey) will eventually attack, and lives will have to be lost at that point.

Speaking of the Governor, he has definitely charmed Andrea (Laurie Holden), though Michonne (Danai Gurira) sees right through him. It makes sense that Michonne doesn't confess everything to Andrea, as Andrea appears to be swayed enough, and the evidence is circumspect enough, that she would probably confront the Governor with Michonne's charges, putting them both in danger. But the fact of the matter is, the women are in serious trouble. The Governor is not a nice guy, even if he has yet to (SPOILER!) brutally rape Michonne, something I think might still be coming, and they would be wise to be wary.

The question is, will Andrea's hesitation to leave ruin her relationship with Michonne? Because of the way time has passed in the series, Andrea has been with Michonne longer than she was with the group. The two have formed a very strong bond that is seriously being tested now. How might that change their dynamic going forward?

Lastly, in "Killer Within" Merle (Michel Rooker) tells the Governor he would like to go look for Daryl (Norman Reedus). The Governor says some nice things, but is definitely not in favor of such a plan. Might Merle try to strike out on his own? How will that ruin the relationship between Merle and the Governor, which seems to be tight prior to this stumbling block. And will Merle end up being a good guy, unlike how he is seen in early episode of The Walking Dead? It looks like it when he talks to Andrea.

The Walking Dead is having a frighteningly good third season. New episodes air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my website, JeromeWetzel.com! First posted on TheTVKing

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