There are shows that throw surprises at you for ratings; some grand reveal or a beloved character biting the big one (sometimes even permanently). Then there are shows whose very nature precipitates pushing the viewer in a welcomed state of discomfort and paranoia. ‘The Walking Dead’ most definitely falls into the latter category and this week’s offering was a double barreled explosion of zombie action, drama, and death (times two).
(To avoid bouncing around, the two main veins of the episodes will be recapped in their entirety)
Starting off with the least palpitating portion of the episode, Andrea and Michonne are still guests of the Governor’s compound. Since her introduction, Michonne has walked around with an “I don’t trust you” air about her. She prowls the compound’s perimeter, inspecting the new military vehicles the Governor and his cronies commandeered after murdering the National Guard members (“Walk With Me”). Her inspection reveals bullet holes and blood, the former she casually mentions to the Governor when he strikes up a conversation with her. Though her hints at the true events are subtle, her show of distrust for him is not.
After finalizing their post-compound destination plans, Andrea hands Merle a map to provide him with a starting point to search for his brother Darryl. Though still a bit on the rough side, it looks as if his time alone and with the Governor have made him a better man though far from good—being a part of the Governor’s ambush of the National Guardsmen a point to that. When Andrea asks him about the Governor, Merle reassures her that the Gov is, in fact, a good man.
But how good a man is he? When Merle requests permission and aid to go look for Darryl, the Governor reacts rationally, extolling his need to have Merle remain in the compound and the lack of definitive information as a reason for Merle not to go. To smooth over the situation, he offers to accompany Merle if more concrete proof of Darryl’s whereabouts can be found. Though he portrays himself as the good guy here, even without last week’s events still fresh in our minds, the subtle facial tick and the underlying hint of steel hints at the true leviathan beneath the surface of his charming accent and affable nature.
Speaking of charming, Andrea sits down for a last goodbye with the Gov, and the bond/attraction between the two is obvious as they share what should be a final drink. They toast to “better days” and Andrea leaves before anything more can happen between the two, though he does offer her his real name – Philip – before she leaves the room. His impression upon her is enough to have her convince Michonne to put off their departure by another day or two, though the latter is none to happy about the change in plans.On the other side of the world (or so it seems) Rick and his crew continue getting things in order at the prison, unaware that someone else has other ideas. In a rare moment, the group joke with Glenn and Maggie, who’ve been having some one-on-one relations in their guard tower post. It’s a welcome distraction for everyone but things get back to the high-stress drama when the group comes across Axel and Oscar, the prisoners they banished to Cell Block C. Axel pleads with Rick to let them join the group; it’s too hard constantly seeing bodies of your friends all around you. Rick refuses and despite Oscar’s impassioned plea of taking the chance outside the prison than spend another day in the Cell block with the nightmarish reminders, only T-Dog is willing to give the two prisoners the benefit of the doubt. The start to make preparations to send the two men on their way (with a week’s worth of supplies) and though Rick tries to make T-Dog understand, the latter is greatly disturbed at the group’s decision.Inside the prison, we get a bit more of the feel good moments rarely provided the characters. Carl’s still crushing on Beth, Herschel’s youngest, who provides they young boy with a friendly smile. Speaking of the doc, Herschel takes his first steps to recovery, using crutches to make his way outside. Carl challenges the grandfatherly figure of the group to a race and Rick & Lori share a gaze filled with possibility from across the yard but the levity and good mood is quickly squashed when Carl spots a large group of walkers inside the compound, causing all hell to break loose.
It’s these moments where ‘The Walking Dead’ truly shines. The groups get separated as the walkers come from all angles; Herschel and Beth are just able to get behind a gate to barricade themselves in while the others fight for their lives. Glenn, Darryl, and Rick have to run from the other side of the yard to give aid. T-Dog and Carol retreat into the prison proper but not before the former is bitten by a walker as he tries closing up the gate. The final group is comprised of Carl, Lori, and Maggie who attempt to retreat back to the Cell block only to find it is also overrun with walkers and they find their way down into the bowels of the prison when Lori feels the first harsh stirrings of contractions.Even as the group gets separated, things get worse when the emergency sirens go off, bringing walkers like a dog whistle does canines. Rick’s first thoughts of Axel and Oscar behind the incursion dissipates and they tag along with Rick, Darryl, and Glenn in search of the generators. Carol and a doomed T-Dog navigate through the tunnels, eventually coming across two walkers that stand between them and the open air. Understanding he’s already dead, T-Dog jumps the two walkers long enough for Carol to get by. She watches briefly as they tear her former comrade apart before she escapes to the outside.Knowing they don’t have much time before the prison is again overrun by walkers, Rick, Darryl, Glenn and the two prisoners split up to find the generators. Maggie and Carl reach a temporary safe haven with Lori but the respite doesn’t last as the pregnant mother gets ready to have the baby.After some hellacious fighting and walkers still on their tail, Rick’s group reaches the generators first only to find Andrew, the small inmate from “Sick” still alive, wielding the same ax he used to break open the gates and lure the walkers into the prison. He and Rick get into a high impact fight as Darryl keeps the walkers at bay and Oscar looks on. Rick’s gun gets knocked out of his hand and skids over to Oscar. Andrew tries convincing Oscar to shoot Rick and take back their prison but the larger inmate takes care of things, blowing Andrew away before handing Rick back his piece. They shut down the generators (as well as the sirens) and make their way back to find the others.
Lori begins pushing but something isn’t right. She tells Maggie a C-section will be in order and the young woman tells Lori it won’t go well. Lori knows she will die but proclaims her baby must survive above all else. She has a heartbreaking moment with Carl, begging him not to let the world change him. “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it,” she pleads with him before Maggie gets started. After several tense moments, Maggie cuts the baby out and Lori passes away. She holds the baby and starts to go back to finish the job when Carl interferes. “She’s my mom,” he tells her. The camera pans away from Carl and his mother to Maggie at the door holding the baby. In a touching moment, Carl remembers Rick’s words of “no more kid stuff”. Though we don’t see it, we hear the gunshot (from Maggie’s point of view) and intrinsically understand that whatever part of Carl was still that innocent child died with his mother.
Finally the group reconvenes in the prison yard, with a frantic Rick searching for his family. He starts to re-enter the prison when a baby’s wail—his baby—splits the air. When he sees a heartbroken Carl and Maggie carrying the baby, he knows. They all do. It’s one of the hardest things to watch, this man who’s lead his people across so many perils shattered in such a way. No one can offer him solace as the group has lost two of their own (three in their eyes as they couldn’t find Carol) and for the first time one has to wonder if they are broken to a point beyond fixing.Raw. Visceral. Defying convention. These are all apt descriptions of the brilliant creation that is ‘The Walking Dead.’ Every week the writers create something unexpected, presenting it in a way that is both tangibly real and frighteningly traumatic to the viewers. The harsh events of “Killer Within” is a prime example of this as we were split between the eerie (and somewhat false) calm of the Governor’s world with the shattered peace Rick and his band thought was their new home in the prison. Though I have gotten to the point of expecting the unexpected, the awful truth is that, no matter how much one prepares, The Walking Dead will still find a way to kick you in the gut and make it hurt, bad.And I will still be there the following week, begging for more.