I was completely blown away by how far the fourth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead decided to go. This was an unbelievable episode that showcased everything the fans have asked for and then some: dramatic character development, incredible tension across the board, plenty of gore to go around and more than its fair share of heartbreak. My only complaint with this brilliant episode is, being this early in the season, how can they hope to top it?
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs, IronE Singleton, Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson and Emily Kinney, AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9. Hit the jump for my review of “Killer Within.”
Last week, we got a tour of Woodbury courtesy of Andrea, Michonne, the Governor and Merle. This week, we split our time between the peaceful little post-apocalyptic town and the work-in-progress that has become the prison. Let’s wrap up Woodbury first, since that’s the less involved of this week’s storylines.
Michonne walks the perimeter of her temporary home and begins to suspect that the Governor was responsible for the deaths of the National Guardsmen. While Andrea and Michonne makes plans to leave Woodbury and head for the coast (or a nice secluded island), Andrea gives Merle some information to help him track down his brother Daryl. Merle and the Governor reach an accord in which the Gov will go with him once they receive a few more supplies. The Governor then manages to sweet-talk Andrea into staying and it looks like Andrea may have bought herself a few more days there along with a reluctant Michonne. A relatively tame and peaceful day; the same could not be said for Rick and the gang.
Back at said prison, an unknown figure carries a gas can around, lures Walkers with a deer carcass and leaves a trail of meat through a series of doors he unlocks with his ax…that can’t be good. As Walkers storm the compound, attracted by a blaring prison alarm, the group gets split up. Turns out it was Andrew (Markice Moore), the former prisoner we presumed dead once Rick left him locked out in a pen full of Walkers. Andrew gets the true death this time around when reformed prisoner Oscar (Vincent Ward) puts a bullet between his eyes, thus saving Rick’s life and proving his loyalty at the same time.
But not all is well in prison land. T-Dog takes a nasty bite to the shoulder while trying to close a gate, and later sacrifices himself so Carol can make it to safety (or so it seems). With Hershel and Beth safely tucked away and Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Oscar shutting down the alarm, Lori, Carl and Maggie are left to fend for themselves. A kid, a very-pregnant woman and a depressed head case…what could go wrong? The friggin’ baby decides to come along, that’s what! In the craziest sequence in the show’s history, Maggie performs an emergency c-section on Lori, delivers the baby and then has Carl shoot his mother in the head to prevent her from rising as a Walker. Upon the realization of all of these events, Rick has a complete breakdown.
For those of you who balked at my 7 of 10 rating for the season premiere, THIS is why. This episode is what I knew the writers and actors could achieve. It had absolutely everything in it and I’m still reeling from the intensely emotional experience of watching it. Conceivably, a better episode could be produced if the Woodbury storyline reaches the level of the prison storyline and they air in the same episode. But that is simply too much awesome for my monitor to handle.
I’ll concede that the Woodbury plot was pretty slow this week, but I wouldn’t call it boring. I’m liking Michonne more and more, not only because she can take care of herself, but because she knows what’s up and is trying to get Andrea to see it rather than just getting out of Dodge (which is what she probably should do). And while Andrea and the Governor have a little somethin’ cookin’ it seems that Merle has gone all puppy dog for the Governor, a loyalty which may be tested in the coming weeks.
Let’s get back to that prison. I mean, what the hell? We start off with a ho-hum scene of the gang moving their vehicles into a protected area and plans to burn the Walker corpses; a normal day in the post-apocalypse. There’s even a bit of comedy when Glenn and Maggie are caught banging in the guard tower. We get our first taste of tension when T-Dog spots Oscar and Axel (Lew Temple) near the fence; they want to talk. It seems they’re too scared to clear their cell block of the dead bodies and want to join Rick’s crew. Everyone nixes the idea except for T-Dog (and that’s how we knew you were going to die, you big softie!).
All absolute hell breaks loose moments later. The terror and panic in Rick’s voice made me physically upset, as did the scene of poor Hershel lumbering along on his crutches as a Walker nearly did him in. Little did I know that the gang would lose at least two members this day. Let’s break them down one by one.
T-Dog’s death came as a surprise. (Where the hell was your riot armor, son?!) I really liked the development of T-Dog over the last few episodes where he was basically the muscle of the group; I’m sad to see him go. But he went out like a champ, that’s for sure. As he lurched along the prison halls, bleeding out from a bite to the shoulder, he and Carol came upon an impasse of zombies which just so happened to be blocking their path to safety. Knowing he was dead anyway, T-Dog sacrificed himself to save Carol and got all eaten up in the process. But at least Carol’s safe, right?
Maybe, maybe not. It seems that Daryl happened upon an article of Carol’s clothing lying next to the remains of T-Dog. Daryl and Rick’s reaction was none too reassuring, but without a body (and without a spectacular death scene for McBride) can we really count her among the casualties? I don’t think so, but we’ll hopefully find out in future episodes.
That brings us to Lori. Oh, sweet Lori, how I was beginning to grow fond of you this season. That look that passed between Lori and Rick broke my heart, but only because of events that occurred later. It seems that the little Grimes chose the most inopportune moment to make his/her introduction. I will say this for The Walking Dead writers, they know how to end a pregnancy storyline. Rather than draw it out for endless episodes (::cough:: Lost…), they ended it with a bang…literally. I will say that I’m not often squeamish and I have been a fan of horror films for many a year, but that Caesarian section scene gave me the willies. Perhaps it was because of the sincerity of the actors in the scene or the fact that I’ve become so attached to them (it certainly wasn’t the “realistic” blood or surgery). But it all caught me so off-guard that I couldn’t help but be upset by it. I particularly felt bad for little Carl, who not only offered up his knife for Maggie to cut his little sibling out of his dying mother’s womb, but then had to (presumably) put a bullet in his mom’s head. There was a great flashback to a scene in the previous season when Rick gives Carl a gun and tells him, “No more kid stuff.” Heartbreaking. And Rick’s reaction to seeing his newborn without the mother present was almost too much to bear.
Where do we go from here? Are there too many ghosts haunting the prison for the gang to stay there? Will they make for the open road again and bump into the Governor? And how will the newborn complicate survival from here on out? Your guess is as good as mine!
- Who exactly is going to nurse that baby without Lori around? Unless they happen upon some formula or Maggie just happens to be pregnant. Or they induce…nevermind. Too much thought has been spent on this already.
- So are Oscar and Axel good with the crew now? Will Daryl and Axel bond over motorcycle maintenance?
- Knife-Stalking Daryl is the newest action figure to collect!
- With what the writers pulled with Andrew, I’m going to remain skeptical about character deaths unless I actually see it on screen (ie Carol, possibly a zombified Lori).
- The zombie kill rate seems to be way more consistent and numerous this season.
33 confirmed (ie on-screen) kills, but way more shots fired.
T-Dog (R.I.P.), Carol (?), Lori (probably, but off-screen), Andrew again…this time, stay dead!
Has to go to Oscar offing Andrew. Not for how cool it was, but for how righteous it was and for proving his loyalty to the group.
This will be a double-tap for Daryl’s skull-splitting knife kill and Glenn’s head-chop attack.
Definitely curious to hear your thoughts on this one, so feel free to voice them in the comments below! Make sure to tune in again next week when we review and recap the next installment of AMC’s The Walking Dead.