The Walking Dead "Killer Within" Review: Total F'ing Carnage

By Tim Surette

Nov 05, 2012

The Walking Dead S03E04: "Killer Within"

Let's not waste any time and get right to what we all want to talk about from last night's absolutely insane episode of The Walking Dead, "Killer Within": How does Maggie's hair look so good after post-apocalyptic morning sex in a prison guard tower!? I think she may be starring in secret shampoo commercials while the rest of the group kills walkers.

In other news, OH MY GOD. "Killer Within" was so intense that we needed to go to Woodbury and hang out with a psychopath who keeps heads in fish tanks just for a breather. Chaos at the prison resulted in two major deaths, a character going missing, a newborn baby, a kid who growing up way too fast, and the rock-solid leader of our group of survivors crumbling into a crying pile of rubble. A bad day was had by all. The magnitude of everything that happened was so jarring that "Killer Within" felt like a sour season finale. But it was just Episode 4!

I don't want to give preference to one of the deaths over the other because dammit, T-Dog was my boy, but obviously Lori's passing will have more of an impact on the story, so we'll start there. I drove the "Let's kill Lori" bus for much of the past two seasons, but even I didn't want things to end like THAT. I mean, come on! Be careful what you wish for, I guess, because now I feel like the leader of an angry mob who didn't think his wish would be granted. Season 3 had been particularly great for Lori as she transformed from car-crashing selfish bitch to life-saving repentant mother and wife, and a very unscientific poll showed that many viewers recognized that change and embraced it along with me. But as Sarah Wayne Callies said, Lori's pregnancy was her death sentence. A zombie apocalypse is not an ideal time to get knocked up. Honestly, I have no idea what people are thinking when they have unprotected sex during the Age of Zombies. My pal Zombie Dr. Ruth says there are plenty of other ways to get your jollies without pairing the birds and the bees; perhaps spontaneous sex in the middle of the woods isn't the best tension reliever?

But it's the circumstances around Lori's death that made it emotionally crippling to watch. The choice had to be made, and it made complete sense. The baby wasn't coming out on its own without fatally loosening up Lori and putting its own life in jeopardy. If the baby was stillborn, they'd be looking at a hungry zombie baby sitting in a womb full of human Jell-O, and Lori would've died by being eaten alive from the inside out. Lori realized that she was going to die no matter what happened, so she asked Maggie to cut her open and yank the baby out. (I did graphically explain to my wife one way out that would've save Lori but not the baby, but it involved trying to stab the baby in the head through Lori's hoo-ha, which is something even Japanese porn makers wouldn't go near. And then it would've involved taking the baby out piece by piece, but that would've been asking a lot of Maggie and Lori had already put her out by requesting a C-section. Plus, imagine the mess! No thank you.)

The birth was a cakewalk compared to the next order of business, though. Kids grow up fast in a zombie apocalypse. One day they're crawling, the next they're saying their first words, and all of a sudden they're shooting their opened-up mom in the head so she doesn't come back to life and eat them. The Walking Dead isn't afraid to go dark, like Syfy's Total Blackout dark, and Carl shooting a passed-out Lori is about as pitch-black as it gets. Given the bloodiness of everything that preceded Carl shooting Lori, it was wise that the producers decided not to show the actual act. We know what happened behind closed doors, and our imaginations filled in the blanks more tragically than anything we could've seen. Carl's face as he brushed past Maggie said everything it needed to. I can't wait for the future conversation between Carl and his younger sibling when he tells the kid, "Oh by the way, I shot both your dad and your mom in the head," assuming it turns out to be Shane's.

As horrible as the scene was, the entire thing was handled majestically and I really appreciated the real-time panic of it all. Things had to happen so fast that we barely had time to register what was going on. There was only one way out, and everyone knew what it was, even if they didn't accept it. Lori was the strong one, telling Carl and Maggie what needed to be done, and the awkward chat she had with Carl that bordered on corny and sincere felt real, given the severity and suddenness of the situation. I don't have a death speech written, but I imagine it would be something like the blubbering, genuine mess that Lori unleashed. Not everyone on television needs to go out a grand orator with a goodbye that gets a standing ovation. Television loves to romanticize this kind of stuff, but The Walking Dead prefers to rub mud all over it. As a fan of gore and really shitty situations on television, I don't often squirm during anything, but Lori's last scene left me feeling unsettled more than anything I can remember in a long time. I'm not even sure I could watch it again, and I mean that as a compliment.

And just when you thought the worst had passed, Andrew Lincoln had to go and really elevate his acting resumé with some waterworks for the ages and a cry face from the Claire Danes School of Thespianism. I made it through T-Dog's death, I made it through Lori's speech, I made it through Carl's face, but I can't honestly say I made it through Rick's reaction. That destroyed me. You win, Lincoln! If any of you viewers didn't get misty during that scene, congratulations, your soul is already waiting for you in Hell.

On to lighter things! But not much lighter! Poor T-Dog. At least the man who lasted inexplicably longer than we thought he would went out a warrior, sacrificing his life for Carol. There was a lot of cursing and screaming going on around my household when he first got bit, but the man was living on borrowed time. I not-so-secretly hoped T-Dog would be the last survivor and the final scene of the series would be him chillaxin' on a beach with some honeys while drinking some fruity beverages, but T-Dog is now in that big doghouse in the sky, doing whatever it is T-Dog likes to do. Though we'll miss him dearly, he had the best death of the series so far.

So what does this all mean for the future of the group? One of the dangerous situations "Killer Within" presented involves a lot of pressure on Rick. If Rick really wants to feel bad for himself, he could easily say this was all his fault. He left Andrew out in the courtyard but never bothered to confirm his death. Next thing you know, Andrew (who understandably had nothing better to do than get revenge and try to reclaim the prison) was hatching a one-man plan that destroyed the group. For a man so obsessed with little details, Rick will see this oversight as a critical error that will spread inside him until he's completely broken inside. The group accepted his leadership, as harsh as it was, but now Rick's position will be scrutinized as his judgment is clouded with remorse.

"Killer Within" was a brutally monumental episode for the The Walking Dead, which continues to be fearless and unforgiving. Along with Homeland, TWD is ushering in a new school of storytelling in television that ignores conventional wisdom. People will die. This is a zombie apocalypse, after all. But can The Walking Dead develop characters faster than it kills them off?



NOTES

– The revolving door of survivors scooted out T-Dog and Lori and added Axel, Oscar, and a baby. How will that change the dynamic of the group?

– "Killer Within" was about as accurately titled as can be, no?

– Babies and zombie apocalypses do not mix well. Good luck caring for that thing, guys. And Rick, it's probably not even your baby. Do you guys think the infant will last a month?

– I barely even remember what was going on with Michonne and Andrea over in Woodbury after all that happened at the prison. Michonne was snooping around and gathering evidence that the army men didn't go quietly, Andrea was getting a little too comfortable with The Governor, Merle wanted to go looking for Daryl, and The Governor said his name is Phillip and showed deadly accuracy with a three wood.

– Did anyone catch IronE Singleton (T-Dog) on Talking Dead last night? He was adorable!

– Readers of the comics, were you surprised about how this all went down? I never saw it coming.



EPISODE MVP

This was an all-star team performance, but we have to name SOMEONE the MVP. Carl stepped up and put on his big-boy pants, Lori showed an incredible amount of bravery, Maggie answered the call of duty and performed a difficult task, and Rick acted his face off. But c'mon. We all know who deserves it. T-DOG!!!

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  • WandaLee3 Nov 11, 2012

    what's with all the Lori hating? Can't handle an imperfect mother? One with a sex drive? One who takes advantage of a willing Sex God when she is sure her husband is dead? Grow up, people (and by "people") I mean MEN. Even that boob Rick finally got that she doesn't have to be perfect to be lovable. Did you see the eye contact between the two outside at the fence?? Sure, it was a clue to us onlookers, now anyway, that one of them was a goner, but at the time...

  • CiaraOHagan Nov 12, 2012

    That wasn't what made people hate her. Yes it was fine that she wasn't being a perfect wife and mother, especially in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. But you don't need to act like a shitty person. She was the whiniest person through the whole series, especially in season 2. Then she basically told Rick to kill Shane and when he did she acted like he was a monster. I did not fault her for getting with Shane when she thought her husband was dead. I don't fault her for not being the best mother during the zombie apocalypse (I mean come on, no one is going to know how to parent during those times). But I do fault her for being a whiny ass bitch and a huge hypocrite. She started to redeem herself in the third season but I still hadn't quite forgiven her. (Btw this is only directed at tv Lori. Comic book Lori, while not a great person or anything, wasn't so goddamn annoying)

  • bothcats Nov 11, 2012

    "Andrew Lincoln had to go and really elevate his acting resum with some waterworks for the ages and a cry face from the Claire Danes School of Thespianism."

    Fantastic.

    This episode was AMAZING. Though T-Dog's and Lori's death had already been ruined for me (thanks internet), the episode still kept me entertained on HOW it happened. Question: is Carol really dead? I had a hard time seeing exactly what was on the screen because it was so dark. Is this like a Merle situation where she might come back?

  • Ankh49 Nov 10, 2012

    Even though I'd mentally written him off shortly after his first appearance back in episode one. I'ave been secretly rooting for T-dog. There is something noble about the way he just keeps on, keeping on in the background whilst all the other characters are going though the dramas. heck, even Carol had more story then T-dog.

    A few comments below someone has pointed all the plot holes with the episode. but they even they haven't asked the most burning question - How the fudge did that weedy little emotional wreck of a man a) survive the zombie gauntlet, b) hunt and kill a deer with no weapons (I hate to invoke stereotypes but that guy looked so inner city I'm betting the closest he's come to 'roughing it in the wilds' would be on school trips to the park) c) somehow cut his way back into the prison d) avoid more zombies and navigate his way round the prison again with no weapons all without basic zombie survival skills?

    These are just rhetorical questions. I don't really care. This episode was just soooo good! I am still traumatised, I've been watching comedies all day and I can't get Lori and T-dog out of my mind!

  • emyle Nov 09, 2012

    I waited so long to see this episode because I was getting a little disillusioned with the season, and I was like, "Eh, nothing's gonna happen this week, it can wait." My god, was I wrong. Way to bring me back, TWD.



    Question about Carol: how did her scarf get on the ground by T-Dog's body when it was clearly on her head when she ran out the door? I find it hard to believe that she'd double back knowing the zombies were there. Hm...

  • Marburg66 Nov 09, 2012

    You make some good points on the zombie bait & them showing up all the sudden unnoticed. Sharp call. Another thing is, the moment before Carl shot Lori, they showed Maggie look into the Hallway to see some walkers shuffling away around the corner, but you'd think that the gunshot would draw their attention & complicate their escape.

    With the T-Dog bitey-bit, I invite you to watch it again. It looked perfectly plausible given the chaos & his distraction with getting the gate chained.

    With him saving Carol & getting his throat ripped out: Consider that there was every reason for him to resign to being eaten...Step one: Clear a path for Carol to escape. Step two: Give up & let the walkers nosh on him so that they are distracted enough to not continue going after her, thereby increasing her odds of survival.

    As far as the attitudes towards the surviving inmates: It's the end of the world & there's no reason for our group to blindly trust outsiders just because their alive...the fact that they're convicts clearly complicated the trust issue because of default societal attitudes towards convicts in general.

  • tnetennba Nov 09, 2012

    I didn't like this episode as much as most people here. It had a lot of moments that irritated me. The worst one was when the zombies showed up. How can an horde of zombies walk almost all the way up to Carl's group without being seen or heard? Especially when Rick's group was *facing* Carl's group. It was like the zombies just teleported in. It wasn't as bad as that time on the highway, but it was still pretty bad.

    A few more things I didn't like:

    * The method that was used to lead the zombies into the prison. Why would they walk up to a piece of meat and start eating, and then immediately stop eating and go after *another* piece of meat that's further away?

    * How T-Dawg got bit. The scenes when someone gets bit almost never look right. It was like a walker teleported in behind him.

    * T-Dawg's death. There were only two of them, so they shouldn't be able to eat him alive like that, unless he lets them and there was no reason to do that. Yes, he was dead anyway, but it makes more sense to start *punching* those two over and over and then blowing his brains out with a gun than to delay them by offering himself as a snack.

    * Our heroes' attitude towards the two surviving inmates. There was no good reason to think of them as a serious danger to the group. They would probably be *more* dangerous if they're pushed away than if they're allowed to join.

    Still a pretty good episode, but some of it seemed put together in a rush, not very well thought out.

  • emyle Nov 09, 2012

    I think I might be misunderstanding you about how T-Dog should have been shot instead of letting himself get eaten, so my apologies if that's the case. But their only gun had just run out of bullets in the beginning of that scene. If Carol had any, she would have definitely shot him so as to avoid his suffering. If you meant escaping and then getting shot later by the group, I probably would've still preferred the original death. I think the fact that he suffered so much to save Carol made him more of a hero in the my eyes. Honestly, I would have hated for T-Dog to have to be put down like a sick animal. It would have been the more sensible way to handle it, but it would have been such a shitty death for such a good character.

  • krismaz Nov 08, 2012

    Maybe I'm being paranoid but are we 100% sure Carl shot Lori? We didn't actually see it so it might be possible Carl was not able to shoot his mother and she's gonna coma back as a zombie-mom haha :)

  • CiaraOHagan Nov 12, 2012

    But how fucking horrible would that be for everyone? Bad enough to shoot your mam when she's freshly dead and her stomach is cut open. But when she's half rotting and trying to eat you with a huge gaping hole in her stomach while you're still grieving over her death? I don't think even the walking dead would be that bad

  • christieg77 Nov 10, 2012

    I thought of that too!

  • gogolak79 Nov 08, 2012

    i think Carl wasnt capable of shooting his mom, meanwhile, carol hears the shot, and finds lori still alive. Practicing her new medical abilities, she ends up stiching her up. So when they join the group (after 2 or 3 episodes), we see thats just what rick needed too recover confidence, and his afection for his wife.

    So even though i hate the posibility, i truly think we will have to see lori again.

  • mikdog67 Nov 08, 2012

    Your idea to save Lori and not the baby, while intriguing, is ultimately flawed Tim. Perhaps you've forgotten about the heavy internal bleeding, the reason she had to have the C-section in the first place. Lori was peckered any way you look at it, they were just too far away from Hershel, their only hope for surgical help, who may not even have been any help in his current condition to do much anyway. And a cranial strike to the infant, via the Hoo-ha, well.... I can't imagine THAT would help the situation. I mean, the idea is to STOP the internal bleeding, isn't it.... not add to it?

  • NeimadParis Nov 08, 2012

    A women that stays pregnant for more than a year needs to die at some point...



    I really wanted Lori out, for a long time, but cuddos to the writters for making the bold choice and not go the easy way out, it was a good idear to change the showrunner, season two was sooooo loonnnggg and bad characters should have died then (even if i like Carol now) Rick was just magestic in that last scene, juste perfect acting...



    And blondie on the other side just needs to get what is coming her way, she is a bad men magnet and i don't see how it's going to end pretty... Michonne for president !

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