November 5, 2012

Episode Review: THE WALKING DEAD, "Killer Within"


At least people cannot say that The Walking Dead's spinning its wheels and not willing to go there after "Killer Within" because it was a tense, risky hour that could be one of the show's defining moments. Now, it cannot be said that this episode was "game changing" but it certainly was character defining, and its effects will be felt for some time.

Back at the prison, an unknown entity lured some walkers with a deer carcass and opened up the gate. As Rick and his crew were busy tidying up their new home, the two remaining prisoners (named Oscar and Axel) approached him and asked to join their group. After a quick debate in which T-Dog voted to let them join, they were ultimately denied. Rick told Oscar and Axel that his terms were not negotiable and they could either stay in their cell block or take their chances on the outside. The duo decided to hit the road, and Rick was willing to give them a week's worth of supplies when a hobbled Hershel emerged. Things were looking up for the survivors, but the celebration was short lived when a herd of walkers breached the gates. From that moment on, it was pure pandemonium.

Hershel and Beth were able to secure themselves in an entry way while the rest of the group fought off the zombies. In the scuffle, Lori, Carl and Maggie were forced back into the prison but kept running into walkers. The stress got to Lori and she went into labor. After finding protection in a boiler room, it became clear that Lori was not going to be able to deliver the baby, so she demanded that Maggie cut it out of her knowing that it would cost her her life. Before the fatal operation, Lori said goodbye to her son, told him to always do the right thing, and ultimately sacrificed her life for her children. Maggie was able to save the baby and was ready to ensure that Lori would not come back as a walker, but Carl insisted on doing it since she was his mother. After an ominous gunshot, a stoic Carl and shocked Maggie made their way out of the boiler room.

During the chaos, Rick blamed Oscar and Axel for letting the walkers in, but then the prison alarm started blaring thus attracting more zombies. Oscar somehow knew that the back-up generators were fueling the alarms, and he and his buddy accompanied Rick and his men to shut them off. Once they made it to the generators, it was revealed that Andrew (the guy who Rick left to be eaten alive) survived his ordeal and was behind the sabotage. When faced with either killing Rick or saving him, Oscar picked the latter and shot Andrew in the head.

Meanwhile, T-Dog was fighting off walkers in the yard and was bitten. He and Carol tried to make their way to safety inside of the prison, but when they came upon some zombies without any ammunition, he too decided to give his life in order to save another's. Even though Carol was able to get away, her fate was left up in the air when it was all said and done.

In Woodbury, Michonne looked over the vehicles brought back from the National Guard rescue mission and noticed bullet holes, and her mistrust of the Governor deepened. Unfortunately for her, Andrea was swayed by the mysterious man and wanted to stay for a few more days rather than head to the coast like they had planned. Not only was Andrea won over by the Governor, but she also decided to give Merle information about the farm in order to help him find his lost brother. When Merle asked the Governor to check things out, he was initially rebuffed, but the Governor would allow Merle to go on his search and even join him if he could secure more information.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Most of the Woodbury scenes fell flat for me. We still don't know enough about Michonne or her relationship with Andrea, so all of her suspicious feelings about the Governor didn't pack the wallop that they should have because we've seen Andrea with the Governor and can understand why she would pick him over her. Sure, he's a sociopath but she doesn't know that. All she sees is the charismatic man of action whom she's smitten with. Speaking of, her crush on him is Carl and Beth levels of bad, but oh well.

Now, on to the good stuff. Obviously, it was a roller coaster of a ride as we watched the survivors get ambushed in their new sanctuary, but it was the emotional beats that really sold this part of the episode. I've never been a fan of Lori's, but her final moments still struck a chord as she said goodbye to her son and addressed her transgressions, and I was moved. On top of a proper send-off, we got some heart-wrenching reactions from both Carl and Rick, and how they react to her passing will define them for the foreseeable future.

It'd be easy to point out how T-Dog wasn't much a character during his run on The Walking Dead, and it's true that he was relegated to being a bit player over the first two seasons, but his sacrifice was also moving. Sure, I would've liked more from him, and I was a little irked by the fact that his first standout episode was also his last, but I did feel like the writers did right by him.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • I should've known that Andrew was behind the mayhem, but I never thought he'd be able to survive on his own.
  • When Rick, T-Dog, Daryl and the rest started talking about what to do with the prisoner, I feared that we were in for another endless debate, so kudos to Rick for standing his ground.
  • As soon as T-Dog spoke up for Axel and Oscar, you just knew his number was up.
  • I really hope the show can balance the prison and Woodbury better in future episodes because things deflated every time we visited the latter. I don't know if a one on, one off approach would work, but I'd like The Walking Dead to try it out after this one.
  • The Governor hitting golf balls at biters was just odd. Does he have someone go out and get them back for him?
  • I may not have liked Lori throughout, but this episode did a lot to redeem her in my eyes.
In spite of the duller Woodbury scenes, "Killer Within" was a benchmark episode for The Walking Dead. There's still a lot of ground to cover, and things could still go off the hinges, but you have to respect a show that would make such bold moves so early on in its run. Let's just hope it can keep the momentum going.


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