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"The Walking Dead" - "Killer Within": Another Day, Another Death, Another Sorrow, Another Breath

By TK | TV Reviews | November 6, 2012 | Comments ()


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The world of “The Walking Dead” is a harsh, pitiless one. We know this. We’ve seen the bodies, the devastation, the decrepit remains of a society destroyed and a people lost. The band of survivors that we follow each week, for better or worse, knows how precarious their fates can be, and we watch each week with bated breath to see how they’ll narrowly escape their next encounter with the walkers. Yet they are survivors, and Season Three has shown us that in spite of these seemingly insurmountable odds, they will survive. We’ve come to understand that despite all of the obstacles, the monsters, the horrors that haunt them, we take a sort of solace in the fact that ultimately, they’ve got the wits and strength and the bonds of love and friendship to survive.

Until now.

“KIller Within,” the fourth episode of “The Walking Dead,” was easily one of the most intense, emotionally affecting episodes thus far. It wasn’t just about the tension of the chase, the thrill of the hunt. It was about a family torn asunder, bloodily and with horrible finality. The episode was a bit of a con game, starting out with such positivity. Hershel, finding the will to heave himself off of that dirty mattress and take his first three-legged steps. Glenn and Maggie, taking comfort in each other whenever they can, and Daryl showing a rare burst of gentle, ribbing humor at their expense. Rick and Lori, sharing a distant look that spoke volumes about how they’re slowly healing the jagged wound that was their relationship.

On the other end of the spectrum, Andrea begins to take comfort in the town of Woodbury, being increasingly charmed by Governor’s image of strong, watchful protector. She’s finding the home, the community, that she’s been seeking and had never quite found with the old group. And while we know that there’s several large, critically important screws loose in the Governor’s brain, without that knowledge, who can blame her? Even Merle is beginning to cut a more sympathetic figure, and despite that boiling hornet’s nest he has for a brain, his sense of brotherly love still drives him. Yet the not-so-metaphorical yang to Andrea’s yin, Michonne, sees more seething beneath the surface of both Woodbury and its viperous leader than Andrea can, and unlike last week, her suspicions now appear logical and ingenious. Michonne is more than a glower and a sword — she’s got a keen eye that kept them alive before, and she hopes will continue to do so.

But Woodbury was the secondary story this week. The prison is where the world of “The Walking Dead” fell apart, completely and totally, without warning or mercy. It was there, as the trap was sprung and the group fractured into smaller, panic-stricken herds, that the show truly shone, and make no mistake, this was another of the show’s best episodes. The intensity, the frantic, gut-churning hell that each character was put through, was almost too much to bear, and the sense of desperation — there’s that word again — was a visceral, physical thing that felt like it was in the room with me, digging into me as I watched.

Yet what made the episode so remarkable, so absolutely stunning, was that for once, there was no narrow escape. There was no safe haven, even in the end when the corpses of the undead littered the grounds of the prison. The damage was done, and our group became a little smaller. And this wasn’t the loss of Sophia, a minor character on the periphery at best. This wasn’t the loss of Andrea’s sister Amy. This resonated even more than the abrupt and tragic loss of Dale in Season Two, albeit one of them more so than the other. T-Dog’s death — I have a great many thoughts about it, and I won’t fill this space up with them (there will be an additional post tomorrow dealing with T-Dogg and some other problems on the show as a whole). Suffice it to say that at the very least, they gave him a hero’s death, not some ignoble passing that would have been the final insult heaped upon a historically neglected character.

But Lori’s death was, quite simply, brilliantly written. It strayed substantially from her death in the books, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lori has been one of the most divisive characters — on the show and among the fans — and yet one cannot deny the critical role she’s played (good and bad) in getting them where they are today. Strangely, much like T-Dog, this was the first episode where she felt like a fully-realized person, where both characters showed a full range of emotion. Lori’s final moments were heartbreaking, painful, brave, and awful, and that scene, with its strange combination of ugliness, beauty and horror, was one of the best the show’s had. More critically, it was without question the best acting we’ve seen out of young Chandler Riggs, both before, during, and most devastatingly, his deathly quiet moments after. Most notable was the final two minutes of the show, a scene with minimal dialogue but maximum emotional impact. Rick’s staggering and ultimate collapse, Carl’s white-faced shock, Maggie’s trembling, barely-keeping-it-together visage, Glenn’s gentle touch, Daryl’s stoic face — all were brief but wonderful little bits of acting.

My only issue is, quite honestly, that we had to wait until the day of their deaths to get engaging, well-rounded performances out of Irone Singleton and Sarah Wayne Callies. But we did get them, to devastating effect. “The Walking Dead” has a curious way of telling its stories, and you keep thinking that you’ve settled into a rhythm and then they yank the rug out and push you to the ground. Like the show’s characters, you dust yourself off and think after a time, you think you’ve found solid ground again. You haven’t. They haven’t, and they won’t. The world of “The Walking Dead” is brutal and messy and relentlessly cruel. “Killer Within” took that to whole new levels, and now we really know that no one will ever be safe again, no matter how high a wall they surround themselves with.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • corey bones

    while i agree this show has had problems in the past with writing for minorities and women, i think in this season the writers seem to have finally gotten a handle on these characters, pretty much i'm just going to forget everything thats come before and consider season 3 a fresh start

  • Wow. One episode can make up for a whole season.

  • Jerce

    I agree with everything you say. I never blamed Callies for Lori; she did great work with the chaotic polar-opposites crap the writers made her character do.
    Carl didn't make me cry but Rick did. It was appalling seeing Rick just fall apart like that.
    My main concern, though, and one you did not address, is WHERE'S CAROL?! IS SHE OKAY?? WTF HAPPENED TO CAROL?! I am going to worry about Carol all week.

  • splinter

    finally! i've been waiting for lori to go for a while and thought it might be at the end of this season so this was a pleasant surprise.

    carl rocks. and so does mchonne. andrea just gets on my nerves.

    loved when the governor wishes andrea goodbye and closes the door behind her. then the camera stays on him for a second. what is going on in that guy's head? i don't know whether to feel sympathy or horror.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Well, considering he watches severed heads in bowls the way we watch television, I think it's safe to go with horror.

  • Alex Fischer

    hated those characters so much i was glad to see them go. i spent most of this season hoping they would get to this point (Since it seems like t-dogg took the place of tyrese from the comics although as more of a 'look token black guy' kind of role). thank god they trimmed the fat.

  • Jeremy

    Now we can have a zombie T-Dog-centric episode!

  • Cree83

    I'm glad there's going to be a post about T-Dog. As good as the rest of the episode was, that shit pissed me enough that I almost want to stop watching. I did like the fact that Lori was proved right in the end. It was a bad idea for her to continue her pregnancy. She knew there was no reason whatsoever to be optimistic about bringing a new life into this world, and she was right. I hope Rick remembers how he tried to make her feel guilty for wanting to have an abortion, because he was kind of a dick to her about the whole thing.

  • Aislinn

    To anyone who's interested in getting into this show: please do it. It's quality television and completely amazing. Just don't mainline it in one sitting. Your mind and sense of well-being will thank you for it.

  • Artemis

    I'll go ahead and be the voice of dissent. I thought it was a perfectly decent episode and that on paper it's taking the story to interesting places, but actually watching it didn't really provoke any emotion from me (except BLINDING RAGE when they killed off T-Dog as soon as a new black character showed up, but I'll save that for tomorrow's post). I actually liked the goodbye scene between Lori and Carl, but that whole thing felt really abrupt (they ran into that boiler room and Lori basically immediately starts pushing) and they've both been such unlikeable and inconsistent characters that I didn't feel any real connection to or sadness for either of them. The conversation at the beginning about whether to exile the two prisoners was like a flashback to all of the incredibly simplistic morality discussions they had on the farm. And none of the Woodbury plot makes sense to me right now -- why would Michonne tell the Governor she suspects he massacred the guardsmen, but not tell Andrea the same thing when trying to convince her they need to get out of there immediately?

    On the acting side, I thought the kid that played Carl was MILES better than he's ever been before, so well done, kid. And Maggie was very good this week. But I found Andrew Lincoln's crazy grief at the end so over-the-top and ingenuine feeling that it was cringeworthy. I honestly felt kind of embarassed for him watching that scene.

    I guess I'm just not seeing something that's there in the show -- it's getting massive ratings and this episode (including Rick's grief-attack) was pretty much universally praised, so I'm clearly on my own here -- but I wouldn't put this, the best episode of the season so far, up against the worst episode of Homeland or Mad Men or Game of Thrones (and the latter may be the best comparison, since it's also an adaptation of an ongoing story, but it has much more complicated source material and is doing a vastly superior job translating it to the screen).

  • agreed all around

  • mex

    You are not alone, Artemis. I completely agree that Rick's meltdown was cringeworthy, and honestly I thought the Lori and Carl goodbye scene was almost as bad. I really can't believe all the positive reviews and comments I've read.

  • Not gonna lie, Maggie's simpering whilst holding the Rick's baby ALMOST had me crying. And then Rick's realization that Lori was dead actually made me cry. And I have to say, I violently hated Lori, but her death did move me.

  • TenaciousJP

    Doesn't anyone else find it strange that:

    A) The same episode in which a character implores the others to have a heart is the episode in which they die? After Dale and T-Dogg, I would expect any character looking for humanity in others is a candidate for getting killed in some way before the episode ends.

    B) The second that the possibility is raised for a second Black member of the group (Oscar), they kill off the first one? That didn't set off any flags for anyone?

  • Ozioma

    The fans are already calling him '2-Dogg'. And yeah, that did raise my hackles by a lot.

  • TheAggroCraig

    Rick's reaction knocked me out, man. One look at Carl and he knew EXACTLY what went down, and he just couldn't take it. I don't know if I think Andrew Lincoln is a great actor, but in that moment, I believed him.

  • Rooks

    You stole my comment. Andrew Lincoln... wow. His eyes, his face, his whole body, the noises that came out of him at that moment when he suddenly knew what had happened, so gut-wrenching and real. Brilliant, brilliant acting. I can't wait for the next episode to give us more of that (judging by the "scenes from the next episode"-titbit, that's what'll happen).

  • ed newman

    This. I've not always been impressed with Rick's actressin', but he brought da funk and he brought da noise!

  • becks

    I have no idea how Michonne has managed to live so long when she seems to have no instinct for self preservation. The fact that she showed her entire hand to The Governor for what seems to be no reason, is insanely dangerous. Why would she reveal absolutely every suspicion she has to a man who she obviously realizes is a powerful, shady murderer? Couldn't they have let us know what she was thinking by having her explain it to, oh i dunno, Andrea?

    I also have no idea why I would feel devastated by the loss of a character who was basically a series of unbelievably ridiculous and inconsistent decisions and plot contrivances, but I sobbed when Lori died. That scene was gruesome.

  • SorayaS

    With you x100 on Michonne. Surely these two have not survived so long together by NOT SHARING when they think they are in danger- why would she keep that to herself?

    And to reveal her suspicions to his face with no-one around was idiotic!!! She's damn lucky she wasn't disappeared then and there.

  • Kind of heartless that they didn't even do T-Dogg the kindness of putting a bullet in his brain or at least a crowbar through it.

    I never hated Lori as much as everyone else seemed to, but I think it's probably for the best that she's gone (although the whole "the baby is coming, oh I am dying now" thing seemed to happen rather...suddenly?

    I sort of wish they hadn't started the episode with the cold open that showed where things were going with the gates being opened because the scene with Hershal walking and everyone smiling and happy just seemed to be laying it on so heavily that the shit was about to hit the fan. Other than that though, great episode and one that definitely left me feeling uneasy as I got into bed.

  • Ozioma

    Actually, Carol was telling Glenn that Lori would probably need a c-section in the last episode, since she had one with Carl. As soon as she said that, I knew exactly what would happen to her. I was ready for that. What I wasn't ready for was Carl, and then Rick's primal, howling screams.

  • RilesSD

    Lori finally cemented her claim to the title of Worst Mother Ever.

  • becks

    I don't understand what you mean. This was the only episode where she wasn't a bad mother.

    Also, you've clearly never seen The Sopranos.

  • RilesSD

    No real fault of her own this time, but after 2.5 seasons of "Where is Carl?", it ends with him having to put a bullet in his own mother's head.

  • becks

    I did feel so bad for Carl. It was Rick's words that seemed to make him feel the obligation to do it himself though.

    And in a less traumatizing, yet still completely traumatizing result, that has become Carl's first experience with both the miracle of childbirth and the naked female form. That is not the image you'd want coming into your head when you eventually experience both for yourself later in life. Poor little guy.

  • prairiegirl

    When T-Dogg was first attacked, my first thought was, "Well, TK will be pleased with this turn of events." I did not see the Lori situation coming though. That scene tore me to pieces. Her exchange with Carl was beautifully written and acted for both characters. My heart was pounding at full speed during the last half of the episode with all that was happening, and trying to grasp all that was unraveling.

  • Also, I want more from Michonne. Since she's been hooked up with Andrea (who I like), it's almost as if she's a sidekick. We need the backstory on what happened between them to make Michonne care about Andrea so much. For those of us who haven't read, we're not getting enough--this kickass woman shows up out of nowhere, rescues Andrea and wields a mean sword. But who is she?

  • Wanda

    You hit the nail on the head. I wondered the same thing because its obvious that Michonne really cares about Andrea and we dont know why yet

  • Fredo

    I think that it was a brave thing to do by the writers. They have, with Lori's death, severed the cord between themselves and the comic books. This is no longer a direct adaptation and it will have to stand on its own two legs to justify its existence. Good or bad, it needed to happen.

    I also think that the show's creators finally recognized something: Lori had become an anchor. You cringed/laughed at her lines because her character had been all over the place, but never to a place where the fans liked her -- until now.
    And it is important for a show about people living on the other side of the end of civilization to always put them in danger: in this case, she was in danger, not from the zombies, but from the baby in her womb.

    As for Woodbury, the seduction of Andrea continues, but I think the show finally showed us more of Michionne, which was key. She can't just be Ms. Glower and Kick-Ass. There has to be more to her and it was high time we got to see it.

  • glittergirl

    i look forward to these reviews (and comments) almost as much as the actual show!

  • OH AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE ROOKER LINE?

  • "How come we never hooked up?"

    "You called me a whore."

  • emmelemm

    And a rug-muncher.

  • Kelly

    He always did have a way with words...

  • prairiegirl

    That made me laugh out loud.

  • Me too.

  • prairiegirl

    Reminds me of a friend of my brother who asked me why he wasn't invited to my wedding. "Maybe because you called me a bitch." What a guy. . .

  • FINALLY.

    I cannot believe they made me cry over Lori's death--your point about the writing/acting for Lori and Carl are spot on. It's irksome that Lori was finally given real motherly emotions and as much as I can't stand Callies, she did do her goodbye scene beautifully. On top of that, I'm ready to hand over some kind of junior Emmy to Chandler Riggs, who was given a few moments to be the little kid he is. His broken-hearted sobbing about killed me.

    The other side of the death coin--killing T-Dog--REALLY? And so I guess they feel fine about that since there's a replacement black dude waiting in the wings? Come the fork on. Kill off that idiot, crying blondie daughter that nobody gives a shit about. Lori was enough, we didn't need to lose T-Dog.

    And kudos to Andrew Lincoln, Riggs and Cohan for the beautiful final scene.

  • amylu

    With each episode that passes, I'm thinking Lauren Cohan is one of the finest actresses on television. Callies, Riggs, and Lincoln were all incredibly effective in this episode, but it was Cohan sobbing with the baby in her arms that really moved me the most.

  • emmelemm

    Agreed. Her acting really struck me in that final scene, the tension between her having this wonderful new baby to show Rick, and needing to tell him she just sliced his wife open to get it. She really knocked it out of the park.

  • RilesSD

    Replacement black dude! My thoughts exactly.

  • bleujayone

    "Psst. Carl. Shhhhh. C'mere, C'mere, C'mere. Hey! You wanna know a really cool secret? You do? Oh good. Well, I know where there's a great big stash of candy bars. No no really, I really really do. You wanna know where too? Yeah? Well okay, I'll tell ya, but it has to be our little secret. You can't tell ANYONE else or we'll have to share the candy with everyone. And that would suck, wouldn't it? You'll keep quiet? Great. Well the candy is hidden in the basement in the building around the corner? Why? Because I don't want just anyone coming across it. That's why! You wanna know this or not? Go into the building and go down to the basement door marked, "Danger! Do Not Open! Full of Walkers!" "Oh, don't worry about it, I put that sign up so nobody would go poking around down there and finding my candy. I mean it's not like I can just go down to the store and get more, right? Now, it's going to take a little effort to open the door; you're going to open up the barricade, but I think you can do it. After that, just open the doors and go right in. It should be in a great big crate. You can't miss it! Okay, run along now. If you want to go get yourself some candy, you'd better do it now while everyone is out and not paying attention to you. I'd go with you, but I have to stay here and clean my guns. Remember, it's our little secret! Go on, and hurry back!"

    ...........

    "Hmm, what's that? No I haven't seen Carl. What's that? That little shit ran wandered off again? Well I imagine he couldn't get too too far, right. I'm sure he'll turn up."

  • Am I the only one who didn't cry for Lori? I'm normally a huge sap and cry at EVERY character's death on any show, even if I don't like the character. If someone starts crying on screen, I tear up myself. But during this scene? Not a single tear formed in my eyes. I felt nothing. I don't think I've ever hated a character so much that I couldn't even cry for her newborn baby, or her poor son who had to put her down.

  • I would've been more moved, but then Carl "Ole Yeller'ed" Lori right down to the "She's my mom" line. It woke up that twisted little part of my brain that finds wrong things funny. "She's my mom. I'll do it." Ole Lori.

  • Bodhi

    I didn't cry about Lori's death either; her character was just too unlikeable for me, I guess. I am quite worried about the infant, though. The issue of food for it aside, babies are hella loud, especially brand-new ones.

    And is Maggie going to be thrust into the surrogate mommy role? Or will Beth finally have a purpose in the show?

    I did freak the fuck out when Hershall had to hop to safety. Scott Wilson & my father look a lot alike & its just too much for me sometimes.

  • I didn't cry for Lori--I cried for Carl. He just had that moment of being a little kid again and that broke my heart. Lori, I'm glad to see gone.

  • I definitely felt bad for Carl. That was a heavy burden for a kid to bear.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Yeah, Carl and Rick's reactions were what killed me.

  • John G.

    It was hard to cry after all those squishy birth sounds

  • True. I was gawking at how much they showed of the c-section - I think that was more horrifying than watching a walker chow down on anyone!

  • anon

    What happened to Carol?

  • pt783

    hopefully not pulling a sophia...

  • coryo

    When I regained consciousness, my only thought was "damn, Walking Dead, you are making up for some serious time this season."

  • GDI

    The show is watchable now? Yay!

  • Boothy K

    Finally, the day I have been waiting for! And it was perfect. I cried like a baby too, surprisingly, considering how much I disliked the character of Lori. I agree that the acting was the best I've seen from them. A perfect send off for a significant character, impactful, resonant and fitting.

    Now, about Andrea: I'm finding it hard to believe that she would fall all hook, line and sinker for what Phillip the Governor is selling considering the fact that they've only been there for a matter of day, Michonne saved her life and I assume she and Michonne have a strong bond. I mean, she's always come off as a badass, strong, independent woman who doesn't take any shit, especially from a man. I know that he's very charming and charismatic, and he's offering her a lot of creature comforts as well as safety, but, I'm not buying her whole flirty, crush-y brainwashing. I wish she and Michonne were more together in the suspicion line.

    Also: I love this show despite its flaws.This season has been the best so far.

  • pyrajane

    I thought Andrea was pretty badass, but then I realized she seems to grab on to Guy In Power and lets them dictate what happens. For awhile it was Dale because he was a father figure, but then it was Shane. Merle comments that the group really did something to her when they left her behind and she seems to connect to this and a little bit to Merle himself in this moment. We haven't seen what happened to her and Michonne during these past eight months, but now I feel that Shane being ousted by Rick (and then, you know... stabbed...and then then shot) resulted in her being left behind, and this means that she's unable to forgive the group. I'm guessing she blames Rick. Now that there's a new Guy In Power and everything seems safe, I feel like she's grabbing on to him and changing her personality to suit his needs. And, of course, there is something really powerful about the idea that they can live like it was before the zombies. I'm sure many of us would be willing to ignore weirdness if it meant not having to run for your life at any moment.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    Kill Carl, seriously.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    I was willing to give the actress who plays Michonne a little slack, but she was featured more prominently in this episode....and it seems the only acting talent she's mastered is the 'stern face'. It's a shame, as the character could be great.

  • ahamos

    I actually found T-Dogg's death a bit more compelling than Lori's, but only because her character had become so predictably irritating. I felt like they pulled a "LOST" with T-Dogg's sacrifice coming in the same show (the episode where Michelle Rodrigues got killed, but not until Hurley's girlfriend got shot)--to make sure there was an emotional impact whichever character you liked more.

    The best and most honest emotional responses in the whole hour, though, were definitely Rick & Carl. I'd begun to think Carl was just a one-dimensional character up until that moment.

  • Wednesday

    I agree with you about T-Dogg's death. You don't have to think very hard, when you're a mother and you know you're going to die anyway, whether or not to sacrifice yourself for your child. But T-Dogg saving Carol, knowing the walkers were going to rip him apart, that was sacrifice.

    I did not like Carl shooting his mother. That felt wrong. I can't imagine any adult leaving a child to shoot his parent. Lori may not have been much of a character, but she wasn't Old Yeller.

    Any guesses as to why Michonne didn't tell Andrea what she discovered about the National Guard truck? Sure, she's the strong silent type, but if she wants to convince Andrea to get the hell out of Woodbury, you'd think she'd present a little supporting evidence.

  • Great review TK. I sobbed like a crazy person Sunday night, composed myself, and rewatched it only to cry harder.

  • Danar the Barbarian

    I thought I wouldn't mind seeing Lori go, but I was wrong. T-Dog's sacrifice hurt me, but Lori's death, Carl's manning up to end her life, and the new baby's cries combined to ruin me. Add in Rick's devastation, and it was the best episode in the series for me. Good grief, I'm a masochist!

  • Colin

    Agreed! I didn't expect this show to ever move me to tears. I've read the first 80 or so comic books, so I didn't think Lori's death would be coming so soon on the show -- I love that they're changing so many things, though, as it makes it totally unpredictable even for those who are familiar with the books. And though I had placed a lot of the blame for my hatred of Lori on the actress, I might have been wrong; maybe it was just bad writing, because Sarah Wayne Callies blew it out of the park in this episode. Maybe she's only a good actress when she's given emotionally resonant material!

  • Big Einstein

    There is an interview with Sarah Wayne Callies over on Entertainment Weekly, discussing the shooting of this episode. She seems really sweet and genuine. She talks a lot about how concerned she was for Chandler Riggs, with him being so young and seeing so much turnover with the cast of the show. She asked Andrew Lincoln to come to the set while they were shooting the death scene so that Chandler would know that there would be one consistent presence he could count on. She seems to truly care about her fellow cast and crew.

  • Rocabarra

    In the midst of the tragedy of losing both T-Dogg and Lori, I think the baby will be a rallying point for the rest of the crew. It will take the whole village to raise this child, and I'm eagerly looking forward to some delightfully tender moments between Baby and Daryl (I desperately hope!). I'm hoping there will be an equally touching moment when Carol makes a triumphant return.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Hopefully someone in that village can lactate on command or that baby ain't going to last long. Unless they've got some formula stashed that I missed.

  • Bodhi

    There might have been some had they stumbled upon a women's prison. Which they didn't so never mind

  • Wednesday

    They referenced that in next week's previews, making a expedition to find formula.

  • pt783

    I was thinking the exact same thing, where will they get baby formula since no one could lactate... an idea is regurgitated baby food, I kept thinking the whole time that Lori didnt think the baby through...

  • John G.

    Walking Dead just got a whole lot better, and today feels a little bit brighter.

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