The Walking Dead 3.04 “Killer Within” TV REVIEW
THE ONE WHERE T-Dog is eaten alive, and Lori dies in childbirth.
VERDICT Is “Killer Within” the best episode of The Walking Dead so far? On balance, perhaps not: the concluding two episodes of season two provide some stiff competition. But it’s certainly the most emotionally distressing story so far. If you can make it through Lori’s death scene without welling up then please, seek psychiatric help: you’re clearly a sociopath and a menace to society.
It’s an episode that just keeps piling it on for our heroes, with one horrendous development after another. You can sense something is coming, but not the magnitude of the storm that finally hits. When T-Dog is bitten, we’re suckered into thinking, “Ah, so that’s it”, but that’s just a bloody hors d'oeuvre before the main course. Alarms ringing, T-Dog eaten, Lori going into labour, Lori dying , Carl having to shoot his dead mother in the head… After all that, it would come as no surprise if Lori’s new-born opened its eyes to reveal blank pupils, and made a pathetic, gummy effort to suck some blood out of Maggie’s arm.
If I have one small reservation, it’s that what happens to Lori seems rather like TV labour , rather than the real thing: it comes out of nowhere, and happens fast. We might also have benefited from a few carefully seeded reminders about how near to full-term she is. But then, what do I know? Unlike your average white male Republican candidate, I can’t claim to be an expert on the female reproductive system…
That’s of no consequence, anyhow. What’s important is how affecting Lori’s death is - and it’s so harrowing it’s almost unbearable to watch. Her farewell to Carl is beautifully written and incredibly moving. And Andrew Lincoln’s performance as the grief-stricken Rick, emitting inarticulate howls of despair that say more than any dialogue could, is simply immaculate.
The Walking Dead has demonstrated time and time again that it can surprise, shock and horrify its audience, but moving us to tears…? That’s something new.
TITLE TATTLE A neat double-meaning this week: initially, “Killer Within” seems to refer to whoever’s letting the zombies into the prison. Then we realise it also applies to Lori’s baby.
SPECULATION Could the events of this episode cause the end of the Ricktatorship? Arguably, it’s an episode where karma bites Rick on the ass. If he hadn’t been as ruthless as he was with Andrew – chasing him out of the prison and locking him out to be eaten alive – perhaps Lori and T-Dog would still be alive. After Lori’s dying advice to her son, maybe the stage is set for Carl to become his father’s moral compass, there to remind him What Mom Would Have Done. Although… will that be necessary? I have a sneaky feeling we might not have seen the last of Sarah Wayne Callies. There’s nothing to stop the disturbed Rick continuing to see her in some kind of visions.
On the other hand, perhaps the death of Lori will harden Rick even more, and the only lesson he’ll take away is this: next time, don’t just assume your enemy’s been torn about by zombies – wait and watch to make absolutely sure!
IT’S A DOG’S LIFE … and a Dog’s death too. It’s good to see IronE Singleton bow out dying a hero’s death, as T-Dog allows himself to be eaten alive to save Carol, and it’s been pleasing to see him get a little more of the spotlight this season… but it’s still far too little, too late. It feels like the writers’ room never really got a handle on the character. If you had to describe T-Dog to someone who’d never seen the show, what on earth would you say? Will anyone really miss him?
TWITCH CRAFT Did anyone else notice The Governor’s little facial twitch when he promises Merle he’ll join him in looking for Daryl if he gets more firm information? Could that be the Governor’s “tell”, in poker terms? I can’t decide whether it’s a brilliant piece of acting by David Morrissey, or if he was just trying to suppress a sneeze! But given the way his expression subtly changes mid-conversation when he’s watching people, unobserved, I’m betting on the former.
THE TWEETING DEAD This episode was writer Sang Kyu Kim’s first Walking Dead credit. You can follow him on Twitter at @SangKyuKim .
IN THE COMIC (Spoilers!) Lori and her new-born baby are both killed when she’s shot in the back by one of the Governor’s people.
Merle: “How come we never hooked up?”
Andrea: “You called me a whore. And a rug-muncher.”
Merle: “Got a way with words, ain’t I?”
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman
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The Walking Dead airs in the UK on FX, on Friday nights at 10.00pm.