Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead "Killer Within"

Non Spoiler Review:
There appears to be another agent at work in the prison that springs a fateful trap on the survivors. Merle is now eager to start searching for his brother, but the Governor is less than optimistic about his chances. But he is certainly eager to have Andrea stay in Woodbury, which creates friction between her and Michonne.

Killer Within snuck up on me this week. I was expecting a more leisurely paced episode given the full helpings we've been served over the last month. But the final half ramped up the tension and provided a completely unexpected plot twist.

Once again Walking Dead has diverted significantly from a plot point in the graphic novels, and in this case that means a shocking moment that left my head spinning, as well as some huge repercussions for other characters. It was a daring way to take this, and it certainly worked. It's becoming habit to say, but this week was one of the darkest yet.

Spoilers Now!
Back at the prison...a deer is killed and left as bait to lead out some of the remaining walkers within the courtyard where the gate has been cut. Outside, Rick, Carol, Daryl and T-Dog prepare to clean up the dead, but stumble upon Maggie and Glen enjoying some private time in the guard tower. T-Dog notices Axel and Oscar walking over.

They protest that they can't live in the conditions of the cell block, plus the fence is down on the far side of the prison and dragging out bodies just brings more walkers. They want to be part of the group. Rick says the deal is non-negotiable. 

Oscar thinks Rick is being a dick. He believes they've paid their due and would rather hit the road than go back inside. Rick remains unconvinced, though T-Dog has some sympathy for them, but proves to be the lone voice for their defence.

In Woodbury Michonne goes investigating the newly acquired military vehicles, finding some bullet holes in the sides, as well as blood inside. The Governor arrives to express his regret she and Andrea are leaving, given how good a soldier she is. Michonne comments Woodbury is doing well considering even the National Guard was overrun. She wonders why the soldiers just didn't drive away from the walkers. And the bullet holes? Likely bandits, the Governor says. They parley about Well's death, and how he was cremated quietly to spare the community a public affair that would have been bad for morale. 

Michonne wants to head to the coast, maybe find a boat, and hopefully an island. Andrea wonders if they're just going to survive by themselves, and questions her doubts about the Governor. Her doubts have kept them alive this long, Michonne adds. 

Later, Andrea gives Merle the location of the farmhouse on a map with plans to search for Daryl. But he muses she doesn't want to come along given she was left behind. But she believes they did attempt to find her. Merle then goes to see the Governor, wanting to go on a scouting mission for Daryl. The Governor is less optimistic he can find him after eight months and doesn't want to risk the men, or Merle, whom he needs in Woodbury. If he gets more concrete information, the Governor promises he'll go with him himself.

Andrea shares a parting drink with the Governor. She's not sure of Michonne's plans for the coast, but trusts her. They discuss their mutual losses (the governor's wife having died prior to the outbreak leaving just his daughter). Andrea admits she's not sure what matters now or what she's looking for. She excuses herself when she starts to feel the effects of the drink. He tells her his name is Philip and promises there's a place for them in Woodbury should they change their minds. She later suggests to a frustrated Michonne they stay for a few more days.

Rick decides to give the prisoners a week's worth of supplies for the road while T-Dog is feeling guilty about sending them on their way. Meanwhile, Hershel is on the mend, getting used to crutches. Everyone is pretty elated to see him up and about. 

Suddenly Carl turns around to see a crowd of walkers creeping up behind them. Rick, Daryl and Glen are outside the main fence gathering firewood, and rush inside. T-Dog and Carol hold the mob off while the others take refuge, but find walkers loose even inside the cell block. 

Finally getting through the series of gates, Rick, Daryl and Glen meet up with Carol and T-Dog and get to work fighting them off, but the latter is bit in the shoulder. He and Carol take off inside. Glen finds the gate have been cut open. Then the prison alarm starts going off, drawing even more walkers to the fence

Rick, Daryl and Glen get inside and try to find the others. They realize someone is playing games with them and Oscar explains the generators must have been fired up (which even means the main gates could be opened). They get to the control room with Oscar's help to shut them down, only to find Andrew (the prisoner Rick left to die in the courtyard) very much alive. He attacks Rick while Daryl is stuck having to keep the door closed from the weight of undead trying to get in. Oscar grabs the gun that's thrown free in the melee and holds it on both Andrew and Rick. After a pause he shoots Andrew, then hands the weapon back to Rick. 

Wounded T-Dog vows to lead Carol out of the cell block, realizing he's dead already. As they get cut off by walkers, he sacrifices himself so she can run. 

Lori starts getting pains as she, Maggie and Carl finds refuge in the boiler room. Lori seems to think the baby is on its way. But they run into complications and she tells Maggie she'll have to cut her open, even though she realizes she won't survive. She says her good-byes to Carl and tells him he'll do fine to beat this world and always do what's right. She also needs Maggie to be the one to keep her from turning into a walker, not Rick. Maggie cuts into her and gets Carl's help to retrieve the baby. It starts crying, and Maggie prepares to leave her. Carl protests they can't just leave his mother like that, and confirms he'll do it. Maggie goes to the door with the baby and hears the gunshot behind her.

In the darkness of the prison, Rick finds T-Dog's body being consumed, as well as Carol's scarf. She's missing. They rush outside to Hershel and Beth, who haven't seen anyone yet from their safe spot. Then he hears a baby crying. Maggie and a stoic Carl emerge from inside. Rick is distraught when he realizes what's happened. 

The Verdict:
When the series initially began I was leery of any changes from the books, but once again Kirkman manages to spring another plot twist in his unfolding alternate universe Walking Dead

First, the Woodbury scenes showed a bit of tension between Merle and the Governor, which was interesting to see. Michonne's a smart cookie and I liked how she can see through the Governor's charm, but did she even bother to tell her suspicions to Andrea, who looks like she's falling for the charismatic leader?

T-Dog's death will likely create a lot of debate over the value and under-use of his character. It's really a shame he's lingered in the background so long only to get more dialogue and then dies. But...he did sacrifice himself pretty damn nobly. So Carol damn well better live on for awhile.

As for the real zinger this week—Lori's death—I had no suspicion that she'd be going into labour so quickly. The show did a great job keeping this quiet, as I never ran into a whisper of a spoiler about this. It certainly provides a catalyst for a lot of character development for Rick and Carl. Having Carl be the one to put the bullet in her head was gold, given we were robbed of his killing Shane last season. The actor (as well as Maggie) really pulled off a bunch of great scenes.

For Rick, he has to deal with his treatment of Lori all this time with no chance to say good-bye, plus his indulgently harsh death for Andrew that came back and bit everyone in the ass. Given I'm one of the Lori-haters, I do have to raise a point that her choice was pretty selfish. Her desire to sacrifice everything for an unborn child but leave behind a son (who might still lose his father) and forgo her value to the survivors just doesn't work in this apocalyptic world. But...her death scene delivered quite an emotional punch and a worthy way to send out her character.

Killer Within felt like a season finale. Four episodes in and this season has lived up to all the hype. I can't begin to imagine what they might have planned down the road given the rapid pace events are moving. 

Some final questions—was Andrew the one staring at Carol through the trees a couple of weeks back? The Governor's daughter got just a casual mention, but is she alive or dead? And...I remain steadfast in my opinion that Tyrese is about to be introduced.

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