“The Walking Dead” – Killer Within episode review 3

The group at the prison are victims of a surprise walker attack in “Killer Within”

★★★☆☆

Well, that was a lot to process. To be honest, I came out of watching this episode more confused than anything else. My first problem with this episode is that the mystery of who set up this walker attack was never explained in any kind of satisfactory way. The opening was creepy, with the shots of the mysterious, mud-spattered someone hauling a half-eaten deer into the prison to lure the walkers while they broke open one of the gates.

The image of the deer heart being placed as bait at the entryway was so chilling. But I don’t believe the person who did this was just the prisoner they end up finding in the generator room. He seemed a little out of it to plan something stealthy like that. And even if it was him, how are they going to find out why he did it now?

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The episode left us to ponder where that was going for a bit as the group tries to round up more bodies to burn. Glenn and Maggie are too busy getting busy in the guard tower to help at first, and it was nice to see the group being able to tease them. It’s one of the only two shining moments before everything gets crazy.

The prisoners left, Axel and Oscar, come out too, to beg entry into Rick’s group. They can’t stand being in their cell block with the bodies of people they were friends with before. Rick says the deal is nonnegotiable, and the group has a hushed discussion about it in which T-Dog is the only one to argue on behalf of the prisoners. Poor T-Dog finally gets some lines and the group shuts him down.

Back in Woodbury, we follow shifty-eyed Michonne as she explores the Governor’s newest army vehicle alone, discovering bullet holes in the sides and fresh blood at the gun on top. Of course the Governor himself pops up, trying to convince Michonne to stay on as one of their soldiers. She’s not buying his crap, and asks pointed questions about the damage to the truck.

When she asks about Wells’ death, the Governor says they tried to save him. He was cremated instead of them holding a funeral because the townspeople have been through enough. “Thank God at least no one knew him,” he said, probably thinking about Wells’ head in his creepy aquarium collection. Michonne is not happy with that. Danai Gurira is not the strongest actress on the show for me, but she sure can stare David Morrissey down when she wants to.

Back at the prison, Lori and Beth return to the C block with crutches for Hershel, who’s determined to get the hell out of that bottom bunk. He catches on to the crutches remarkably quickly for someone who’s just lost a limb, but I guess there isn’t a lot of time for post-apocalyptic physical therapy.

Michonne wants to leave Woodbury, like, yesterday at this point, and she lays out a map for Andrea of where they plan to go. She wants to move up the coast, maybe find a boat or even an island, which raises the very good question of whether or not walkers can swim. If so, that is terrifying. Andrea wants to know what happens next, though; she’s clearly intoxicated by the stability of Woodbury, and dismisses Michonne’s bad feeling about the Governor. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch Andrea fall more and more under the sway of the Governor who we know is in the wrong, isn’t it?

Back at the prison, we get the second of two shining moments in the episode when Hershel makes his proud way across the yard. Everyone stops what they’re doing to be happy that he’s up and about when suddenly walkers swarm the yard and everything goes to pieces. Lori is surprisingly good with her gun, and she and Carl hold off some walkers while Hershel hobbles to safety with Beth. Hershel even takes a walker out with his crutches, so he gets my badass award of the week.

The others rush to their aid, and Rick shouts for Lori, which is a nice touch considering the fragile state of their relationship. Hershel and Beth are safe for now, and Maggie, Carl and Lori are on the run from walkers inside the cell block. The others are holding their own okay outside with the swarm until T-Dog gets violently bitten in the shoulder. I am not ashamed that I literally shouted “No!” at my television screen at that moment, especially when it immediately cut to commercial.

Andrea gives Merle a map to Hershel’s farm over in the plot line that I had rapidly lost any interest in so that he can try to find Daryl. It’s a nice moment… until he asks her why they never hooked up. Ick. Michael Rooker nails the lecherous creeper look, though, so I give him kudos for that. Andrea says it’s because he called her a whore, though I can think of like, six other reasons off the top of my head. Merle asks if she wants to come find the gang with him, but she declines on the grounds that they left her for dead in a walker attack.

The guys have finally got into the yard and taken out the walkers there. Glenn has a particularly gruesome kill when he slices a walker’s head in half – no wonder this show wins all the special effects awards. Rick immediately suspects Axel and Oscar of leaving the gates open on purpose, but before they can get into that, the alarms start blaring, luring every walker within earshot to the prison. Oscar knows his way around the generator room, so they take off to shut it down.

Carol and T-Dog are running through the darkened hallways inside. She’s trying to be optimistic about his bite, but T-Dog knows there’s no recovery. Poor T-Dog. In another dark hallway, Maggie, Carl, and Lori are running for their lives when Lori suddenly starts having contractions in what has to be the worst timing ever. The walkers are closing in on all sides, so Carl leads the women through a door to a lower level.

In theory, I like the structure of switching between the prison and Woodbury now that both settings have been established, but this episode was not the prime time to test that out. The tension of the walker attack completely distracted from everything going on in Woodbury.

For example, the prison group is running for their lives while the Governor is hitting golf balls off the top of his roof into the abandoned street below. It’s much less interesting here, though the juxtaposition of his comfortable position in this new society with the destruction going on outside is rather wonderful. It feels ridiculous in a zombie apocalypse situation, but it makes so much sense for who he’s set himself up to be.

Rick is searching desperately for his family in the C block, but they’re nowhere to be found. He yells, half deranged, that someone is playing games with them. Yes, I agree, let’s talk more about that! The guys head off to deal with the generators while Lori starts having the baby right now. I thought labor was longer than that, but this show also has zombies in it so I probably shouldn’t nitpick about realism. Carl mostly looks like he wants to vomit as Maggie tries to help Lori. When Maggie’s hand comes away from Lori covered in blood, she tells her to stop pushing, something’s wrong.

Out in the halls, Carol and T-Dog run into a pair of walkers. T-Dog, noble soul that he is, throws himself at them to give Carol the chance to escape through the door at the end of the hall. She hesitates long enough for us to see him start to get torn apart by the walkers, then runs for it. Alas, poor T-Dog, we hardly knew ye. But seriously, though, he’s been on the show since the beginning and I can’t think of anything we knew about his back story. I feel this is a serious writing flaw.

Back in Woodbury, Andrea and the Governor share a farewell drink in his house. She thanks him for everything, and they end up talking about their families. Andrea’s lost hers completely, and the Governor lost his wife in a car accident before the whole walker mess started. He has a daughter, but it’s not clear whether she’s alive or not now. On Andrea’s way out, the Governor offers her a place in Woodbury whenever she needs it and tells her his real name is Philip. It is seriously so hard to watch her fall for him knowing how disturbed and duplicitous he is.

The guys make it to the generator room, and Oscar starts to shut them down when Rick is suddenly attacked by a wild-eyed prisoner wielding an ax. I really don’t believe this guy is capable of orchestrating this whole affair. They struggle until Oscar manages to knock the prisoner off Rick and holds a gun on them. The prisoner asks him to shoot Rick so they can take back the prison, but Oscar shoots the prisoner instead. He gives the gun back to Rick, and they shut off the alarm. Is that enough to prove he’s good enough for the group now, Rick?

Meanwhile, Lori’s fading fast, and there’s an awful lot of blood. She knows that means a C-section and she knows under these circumstances that means death for her, but she begs Maggie to do it to save the baby.

In their room in Woodbury, Michonne is pissed because Andrea wants them to stay for another day or two but Michonne wants to get the hell out and thankfully that wraps up their story for the week. I hope next week’s Woodbury plotline is more interesting than them squabbling over when to leave.

Lori tells Maggie to use her old C-section scar as a guiding line, and then delivers a rather long deathbed monologue to Carl, considering the urgency of the situation. She tearfully tells Carl to stay brave and strong and good despite everything the world is going to throw at him. This should be more heartbreaking than it actually is; maybe it’s because I found the pregnancy plot development absurd since the start, but I wasn’t feeling the sadness here.

Maggie slices her open, and in the grossest part of the episode (for me, at least), gets Carl to assist her with pulling the baby out of Lori. At first it isn’t breathing, but it finally cries, and Maggie wraps it in Carl’s jacket. Carl, brave man that he’s becoming, is the one to stay back and shoot Lori to keep her from turning. We don’t see the actual moment, but I’m actually very grateful for that. I don’t think there was a way to do it that would have been respectful to what Carl’s going through.

The men find T-Dog’s remains and Carol’s head scarf as they make their way back to the prison yard to regroup. Maggie and Carl join them there, and you can see the moment Rick starts to unravel as he realizes Lori is dead. It’s only that one moment that’s actually sad, though, because the second he started wailing, I’m sorry, I stopped taking him seriously. Maybe it’s because I was uncomfortable, but I found myself suppressing laughter rather than tears when he fell Victorian lady-style to the ground because he was so sad. Call me a horrible person, but I think Andrew Lincoln is better at heartwrenching facial expressions than he is at actually crying.

This episode was definitely action-packed, but a combination of the unconvincing tearful scenes, the dragging out of the Andrea/Michonne conflict, and the utter confusion I’m left with as to who actually carried out this walker attack plot and why makes this a thoroughly average episode for me in the end.