WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN “KILLER WITHIN”
This is my first time taking a crack at writing reviews, so bear with me. I’m very knowledgeable on all things The Walking Dead, being an avid reader of the graphic novels as well as a dedicated watcher of the television adaptation. I watch far too much television by anyone’s standards, and I’m comfortable behind a keyboard, so I figured I’d combine my favorite things and give this a shot. If I don’t write about it, I would just be talking about it non stop between Sundays anyways. So, here we go. If you like it, follow my blog and you can keep getting my reviews, and if you don’t, keep it moving. Either way, thanks for stopping by and giving it a chance.
Often during these reviews I will be referencing the comics, both to make predictions of what could come in future episodes, using my knowledge of the graphic novels to shine a little light on the foreshadowing we’ve been given, and also to compare the likes and differences of the books to the television series. If you haven’t read, this will give you a little insight of what you would have in store for you should you decide to. If you have, then I’m sure you will hold your own opinions, and I’d be glad to see and respond to any comments you may have.
Some of you might be wondering why now, on November 21st, several days after the premiere of S03.E06, why I’m writing a review for an episode that everyone saw weeks earlier. Well, while I know nobody wants to go back and read reviews for the entire season so far, I think that “Killer Within” was far too monumental an episode to skip, so I thought I’d start with this one. If nothing else, it’s a way of showing my appreciation to Glen Mazarra, Robert Kirkman, and the gang for bringing us such fantastic television. “Killer Within” is a suspense driven episode packed with the action worthy of a season finale, (Or, at least a mid-season finale, considering TWD has to give us a twist midway through the season to leave us holding on until February.) and it’s all delivered to us in episode four, which is practically the beginning of the season.
For those of us who watched the entirety of season two, (which, honestly is probably anyone and everyone who is taking the time to read this,) we all know how easy it is for TWD to slow down it’s pace and lose interest from the viewers who are thirsty for action and gore. Sure, nobody wanted to see Sophia emerge from the barn a zombie, and nobody suspected it either, but it’s easily argued that she wasn’t worth the massive amount of time spent searching for her. While we did get some much needed character development for the fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, season three has shown how easy it is to balance character development while still keeping up the pace. Given the split group situation of Woodbury and The Prison, it has become easy for dialogue to be happening one place while zombie hordes are attacking another, (and in most cases the latter has been happening to our heroes in The Prison,) but this is what we like to see! We live for the suspense that lasts in between arrows and knives and bullets being driven into the skulls of the ghoulish beasts, and we all much prefer this over watching Andrea relax on top of the RV or seeing Lori bounce back and forth in her game of best friend ping pong. Let’s face it, if we turn on a show about zombies and gore, what we’re expecting and what we’re hoping for, is exactly what we’ve been handed so far with season three, and episode four, “The Killer Within” is the bloody cherry that sits atop the gory, action filled sundae. We couldn’t have asked for anything better, and while I’m an enormous fan of Dexter, I doubt you could have found anything else on television that Sunday night that could drop your jaw in the way this episode did.
Enough babbling about the season this far, it’s time to dive in head first into the meat and potatoes of season three (at least from what we’ve seen this far,) The Killer Within.
Ladies and gentleman, take a good hard look at those faces, because unless you’ve grown accustomed to the acting of IronE Singleton or Sarah Wayne Callies, this is most likely the last time you’ll be seeing T-Dog or Lori. Unless, of course, there’s a flashback episode, but nobody’s holding their breath for that. We’ve had enough looking over our shoulders, and we want the road ahead. (They do, of course, make a good use of the flashback in this very episode, but only for a split second towards the end, and we’ll get to that later.)
Now, if any of you guys are like me, then you expected these things to transpire. Anyone who watched season two couldn’t wait for Lori to die, and anyone who read the comics, knew that it was coming. Most of us expected it to happen much, much later, however, and as a likely season finale. It’s good to see that TWD can still take me completely and throw me for a loop. Even though all signs pointed towards a complicated pregnancy, and Lori herself was voicing her concerns, and we watched it play out the way it did, up until the last moment I was expecting her to pull through. I thought she would end up back on her feet. After all, that baby needs her. I expected her to survive, at least long enough to see the fate I imagined she would be delivered in the finale, depicted below.
This section contains major spoilers from the comics, so you may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph. As you can see in the photo above, Lori was shot in the comics, and it was a result of the governor’s final assault on the prison. She almost made it out too, and was shot down attempting to flee. If you look closer, you can see by what she’s holding that she wasn’t the only one gunned down at the time. Will that character be expecting a similar fate in AMC’s rendition of The Walking Dead? Might make for a big heart stopper in the second half of season three, assuming, of course, that the prison’s storyline will be limited to season three only, and not stretched out to season four.
I may be getting a little off topic, and a little ahead of myself, at this point, so let’s head back to the beginning of the episode, and we’ll take this through as the timeline intended it. The episode begins with the dragging of a deer carcass which is used to bring the attention of the walkers into the prison. A lock is broken and walkers are led inside of our heroes’ sanctuary, and to make matters even worse, they have absolutely no idea.
Now, we all saw the preview and we all saw this coming, so no one was surprised when this happened. The question might have been though, that “who could be doing this?” It can be clearly seen, however, that the culprit has a black hand. So, while the opening credits roll that leaves us time to ponder who the black people are within the prison, and the only answers are T-Dog and Oscar, the prisoner. It’s pretty easy to see that the man is smaller than Oscar, though. And if anyone read the comics and remembered Tyreese surviving being locked inside the gym alone with the walkers, then you were thinking, just as I was, that Andrew probably survived being locked in the courtyard. And when it comes to motive, Andrew would be at the top of the list. Possibly the only person on the list. So this wasn’t really a question as anyone who could put two and two together probably figured out what was going on fairly early.
Of course, though, the only people who don’t consider that possibility are Rick and the others, but, to be fair to them, they didn’t see how it went down and they definitely didn’t read the comics, so they don’t have all the facts. If Rick had even considered Andrew, things could have gone down very differently, but as it stands, he didn’t, and they didn’t.
So when it comes time to point fingers, the obvious choice would be the only two people they didn’t spend the last eight months with, that being Axel and Oscar.
That’s unfortunate for them, because they seem to have fairly good intentions, and they, or at least Axel, has been kissing as much ass as possible to try to get in good with Rick and the others. Oscar has “never pleaded in his life,” and he’s “not going to start now,” but he still seems like he’s an alright guy.
When the prisoners ask to be brought into the cell block with the others, the writers found this a fantastic time to give T-Dog a purpose. They need to, anyways, he’ll be bitten in a scene or two. It’s time to make people sympathize with him.
Let’s take a moment to discuss T-Dog’s progression, because I want my opinion on him to be understood, or at least explained. In season one, I liked T-Dog. I think most people did. When he dropped the keys to Merle’s handcuffs, and everyone wondered whether or not he did it on purpose, it made you feel for the man. He had good intentions, and even though Merle had beaten him to a pulp and was a gigantic racist waste of space, T-Dog took the time and risked his own ass to stay back and make sure to lock the door to the roof, ensuring Merle’s safety at least for a little while more. Though the others didn’t see this, the audience did, and we all felt for him a little. This was a good man. We liked T-Dog. I liked T-Dog.
Around camp when things went down, T-Dog would step up to get involved. If nothing else, the man had lines! He spoke! He had a purpose! And we still liked him. When Daryl, Rick, and Glenn went on what could have been a suicide mission to try and save the unstable Merle, T-Dog once again risked his neck and went along with them, Still a good guy. He was an integral part of everything that happened in “Vatos” between the group and the new people they encountered. He had a purpose, but honestly, we were all afraid he could die at any moment. Not just because he was the black guy, and that is the “rule” for scary movies, but because it was an apocalyptic scenario, and he was just barely unimportant enough to be killed off at any moment. It would be someone who was missed, and we hoped he could survive, but we all expected it.
You know who else expected it? The writers. T-Dog was only supposed to be in a couple episodes of season one, so maybe that’s why no one expected him to make it all the way to season three. He was never supposed to live. They chose to expand his role and turn him into a regular, and that was great, but it would have been better if he had continued to be the guy he was in season one. Instead, he didn’t.
In the beginning of Season 2, T-Dog got cut, and we all thought this could have been his time, but yet again, it wasn’t. He survived, and his character actually flip flopped. The hero and the good guy that he was should have been adamant on finding Sophia, but he was more concerned with the way the group looked at him. He actually suggested that he and Dale leave the others and go off on their own, because they were looked at as “the weakest”. In season one he never had any of these issues, or at least he never voiced them. It could be argued that T-Dog was both facing an injury and running a fever, so maybe this should be overlooked, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Mainly because this was his biggest role in the entirety of season two.
As season two progressed T-Dog was often in the background, but he rarely spoke. When he did, it was only to support someone else’s conversation, and he had no shining moments. He was no hero. He was no longer the good guy we felt for in the first season. He became estranged from us, and we all latched on to Daryl, the bad guy turned good guy. T-Dog hid in the shadows and did nothing of importance. Season two held little to no development for him, and instead it was a phenomenally gigantic back step from everything that he had done in season one. The picture below captures this perfectly.
At the end of season two, the farm gets attacked, but he picks up Lori and Beth, no doubt saving their lives. That’s heroic enough, but he wastes no time to see if Andrea is alright, (and yes, we all know that’s Lori’s fault for screaming out that she got bit,) but when he gets to safety,T-Dog actually tries to drive off, and it takes Lori threatening to get out of the car for him to turn back. He was that close to leaving everyone else behind. And then he gets back to them, only to become a face in the background once again. Flip. Flop. We shake our heads at you, T-Dog. We deserved better.
And then came season three. Easily argued to be the best season by far, there is little to complain about. I say that loosely, because there will always be a lot to complain about. Compared to other shows and earlier seasons, fans gladly accepted season three, and wanted more. Everything that happened from the time it began to episode four “Killer Within”. gave T-Dog a better place than what he had before. Still, he didn’t talk much, but he got in the action. He grabbed riot gear! He’s in the thick of things, and he’s actually getting screen time. This should have been a warning for anyone who’s ever seen anything that bad things were coming for the character. Oscar being introduced as another black character cut his survival rate in half as well. I hate to say that about a show I love, but it was proven to be oh so bitterly true.
So when “Killer Within” rolled around and T-Dog had an opinion, that worried me. Not only did he have an opinion, but everyone listened to him. Rick actually listened to what he had to say, and Daryl acknowledged his existence. It may not be a democracy, but Rick definitely gave the man with no voice a chance to voice his opinion.
Suddenly, T-Dog is no longer looking out for number one. It seems he’s back to his old ways. He actually gives a shit about somebody he doesn’t know. This is the good guy from season one coming back. We don’t know where he went last year, but he’s coming back. It’s just a little hard for me to swallow his forced heroicism and feel bad for him dying, when it’s so out of character. I can’t say it’s out of character though, since he has more than one. He’s practically schizophrenic. Flip. Flop.
Don’t get me wrong, the writers did a great job of leading up to his death and writing the character this episode. It was all of the baggage that he held from before, much of it may have been under Frank Darabont, of course, but it was still there nonetheless, that made it hard for me to feel bad. I was actually surprised at the amount of people who were angry when T-Dog died. If you look at him as a hero, it’s sad. If you look at him as someone who’s potentially going to stay in his cell for six episodes, it’s good to see someone die. This is the apocalypse. People must die. Thank God for T-Dog. Speaking of God, though, it kind of irked me that T-Dog started talking about the almighty right after he was bitten. Making peace is one thing, but he acted as if he had always been a man of faith, and I don’t remember that ever being brought up before. Herschel’s farm would have been a fine place to start.
I can’t argue that he didn’t go out like a bad ass. He knew that he was bitten, and he knew that his time was up. He refused to let himself be forgotten as a nobody, so he thrust himself against the walkers and made a name for himself by allowing Carol to live and being eaten alive. It was good to see that in his final moments, that T-Dog we knew from the first season was back, the one who gave a shit. Now, the group will actually remember him. The group will actually mourn him.
A lot of things happen in this episode, but the deaths are obviously the most important part, so I’m going to place the most focus there, because in case you can’t tell I have far too much to say and if I pick apart every piece of this episode, I’ll be typing forever. So, back to where we were.
If you know anything about the Walking Dead, you should know never to let your guard down. When you see a happy or a peaceful moment, that’s when you should be on the edge of your seat. Because something is about to happen. If there’s a deer, Carl’s about to get shot. If Herschel’s up and moving around and everything seems like it’s going well, shit’s about to hit the fan. the moment that Rick and Lori made eye contact, and everyone smiled, that’s when I know. Something is about to happen.
Carl does a great job of handling himself. He wastes no time in handing out head shots, with a little backup from Maggie, Lori, and T-Dog. Let’s not forget that Herschel took one out with his crutch. He’s not giving up another leg.
Rick and the others rush to the aid of their friends and family, and just as they arrive, we can see T-Dog’s fate approaching. He gets bit, causing Carol to scream. Then he shoots his attacker in the head twice, followed by throwing his gun for some reason. I guess if all you have left is to count down the seconds until you turn into a walker, reason doesn’t matter.
T-Dog’s fate is sealed. We all know he’s not coming back from this. The bite was high enough that there’s no way he could be amputated, so we all sit in shock. They switch things over to the calm that is Woodbury so we can take a moment to cope with, (and most likely tweet about) what just happened. The breather is small, though, so we’re immediately back to the Prison, and now the alarm is going off, alerting any nearby zombies that dinner is ready. If anything good has come from this, it’s that Rick can see now that it’s highly unlikely that either Oscar or Axel are responsible. And, for the first time since the death of Tomas. they’re working together. When they finally find Andrew, and Rick is at the disadvantage, Oscar takes the chance to prove his worth, killing the menace and saving Rick’s life. This shows us that there’s yet another member being added to the group, which is much needed at this point due to the new deaths. Does it bother me that one black guy leaves and another enters? Slightly. Race shouldn’t play a part in writing. But, that’s another thing altogether.
Lori, Carl, and Maggie get cut off and trapped in a room, and just in time for Lori to go into labor! The baby is coming and it’s obvious that, just like Carl, it’s going to need to be cut out of her. There’s no time to wait for Herschel, and Lori acts like a good mother for the first time in a long time, putting her children before her, and sacrificing herself for the good of her family. Before we explore her death, let’s take a moment to discuss her as well. I’ll do my best to make this one short and sweet.
To summarize, Lori sucks. Comic Lori sucks, but somehow AMC Lori managed to outdo her, and sucks so much worse. I really like Sarah Wayne Callies, and she did a good job of making me hate a character I was supposed to hate, but man, the writers really took her to another level. She sucked as a wife, she sucked as a mother, and much like T-Dog she flip flopped. She went back and forth between Shane and Rick. She whispered to Rick that he should kill Shane and she led the already psychopathic Shane on. After Rick did kill Shane, cleaning up her mess, she treated him like a monster. Rick has enough to deal with, he doesn’t need Lori making things worse on top of that. Throughout season two I couldn’t wait for the prison, because I couldn’t wait for Lori to die. I was ready for Carl to be a bad ass, and I was ready for Rick to cut that tie and become the strong leader he needed to be.
When season three came along, it was as if the TWD gods heard my prayers and decided to answer. Rick was the leader I wanted him to be. Rick became everything I had grown to love in the comics, and he took charge. Andrew Lincoln portrayed that change wonderfully. And to make things better, it was almost as if Lori didn’t even exist to Rick. He kept her safe because she was a container that held his baby, but it was obvious that he hated her, possibly almost as much as I did.
I have to say though, that she completely changed for season three. She saved Herschel’s life, and she supported Rick’s decisions, even if he did shrug her off. For three episodes, she grew on me, and it was just enough to make me, and all of you, feel guilty for everything we ever said about her as we watched her get cut open. I wanted her dead. We all did. But not like this.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. It was phenomenal television. It was just rough to watch. The best part, of course, was that Carl’s transformation into a bad ass is furthered by shooting his own mother in the head. As he stares down at the cut open corpse of his dead mother who he hated in her final days, he remembers the speech his dad gave him in the barn. Thankfully, the camera doesn’t show the shot, although we all hear it. It may have been too much to take. It may have driven you to tears, but that right is reserved for Rick.
They find T-Dog’s body and Carol’s head dress thing, and they assume the worst for her. Although I’m ready for Carol’s death, I knew it wasn’t her time. Rick doesn’t have enough people to lose three veterans in one day.
This phenomenal episode ends with an incredible performance by Andrew Lincoln. This was arguably the most moving scene in the most moving episode of the series. When he killed Shane, I truly felt for him, and he poured a ton of emotion into it, but he managed to top it in “Killer Within”.
Rick worries for the others, and suddenly he hears the cry of his newborn. Normally this would be a symbol of hope in this barren wasteland, but the look on Maggie’s face and the absence of Lori portrays that the worst has happened. A tear drops down from Carl’s face and Maggie blubbers in Glenn’s face, while even Daryl Dixon, the hard ass red neck looks completely and utterly defeated.
Rick, this man who has grown since season one. Our hero who we’ve seen through some of the worst things possible, from killing his best friend, to shooting a little girl who he felt responsible for in the head. He put himself out there for the good of the group, to protect his people. We saw him evolve into the leader, the man that he was in season three. And then we saw that man break. He turned around to the sound of the baby and dropped his weapon, approaching them. He couldn’t even walk straight, and he stumbled over his words. Viewers everywhere felt their eyes get misty and their chests tighten as we heard “no, no no…” and Rick fell to the ground. Our hero had fallen.
It was bad. It was terrible. But it was extremely iconic television. I, for one, will remember this as what might be the best part of one of the best shows I have ever seen.
There a couple of other things I’d like to discuss. First of all, it’s good to see that Rick now has Oscar and Axel on his roster, because he needs anyone he can get at this point. Initially, this worried me because as a fan of the comics, I want nothing more than to see Tyreese on screen. I was worried that this man might become a replacement for him, but fortunately, Chad Coleman was cast as Tyreese, and he will be introduced in episode eight. You may know him as Cutty from The Wire, or as the voice of Coach from the video game, Left 4 Dead 2. I think he was a great casting choice and I’m counting down the days until I can see him swing his hammer in action.
What do you think?
Also, I’d like to discuss how fast things have been progressing. I expected Lori to die at the end of the season, but that might be reserved for someone else now. Also, there’s the midseason finale which also must hold something in store for us. Personally, I’m excited by the pace this season has held, and I can’t wait to see how it continues.
Michonne trusts the governor less and less as Andrea trusts him more and more. There’s only one way for that to end up.
Who will take care of the baby? Rick is in no shape to, and how long can it really last in an apocalyptic setting. I find it unlikely that she will survive the entire season, but we’ll see. She’s a little ray of hope. Will she be snuffed out?
Tyreese. Michonne. If Rick gets these people together, his team change up may be for the better, but so far his group is dwindling. Herschel’s an old man with one leg, Beth and Carl are kids, there’s a baby, Carol is off who knows where, and can he really trust the prisoners?
It’s just a matter of time before the Dixon’s collide. What will this mean for Rick’s best man?
Overall, I give this episode a 9.5 out of 10. While I wasn’t proud of some of the things circling the T-Dog situation, the rest of it was simply fantastic. Anything on cable television that can leave you breathless is worth a hell of a score.
How do you feel? This was my first attempt at a review, so hopefully I get better in the future.Tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’m right. Either way, follow my blog and leave a comment!