The Walking Dead Watch: Infiltration

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After two episodes that each focused on only one of The Walking Dead‘s main storylines, last night’s episode, “Killer Within,” was a balanced back and forth that pushed the plot on two fronts. But not equally. We saw hints and glimpses of potential conflict in peaceful Woodbury, but the real action was back at the prison, where decisions Rick made in the heat of combat came back to haunt him in a brutal way. The ensuing action gave us the most impactful episode since the Battle of Greene Farm.

Two weeks ago, when we last checked in with our core group of survivors, life looked like it might be settling into some new kind of status quo. After fighting a bloody battle to take a prison from walkers and a few errant inmates, Rick displayed heroic action and callous disregard for human life, sometimes within minutes of each other. The turning point—which we now know would come back to haunt Rick—was when he locked one of the inmates in a yard full of walkers, then watched as the young man scrambled to stay alive. In the beginning of last night’s episode, that prisoner worked systematically to dismantle the prison’s security and lure walkers by the hundreds inside the walls (while somehow  managing to stay alive, a true feat from a seeminly weak character).

After that preamble, the episode turned downright casual as even Rick took the opportunity to poke fun at Glenn and Maggie for sneaking away for some alone time. But things started to get serious when the two known surviving prisoners asked for asylum. Rick took advice from his security team, but the only one willing to give the two inmates a chance was T-Dog. His character has been a frustrating part of the story. Last season, during the height of the languid days on the farm, T-Dog went entire episodes without speaking a line. He’s more than proven his worth as a loyal soldier, and he’s the only one who stands up to Rick and encourages him to bring the two inmates into the group.

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Shortly after that discussion there was a nice moment where Hershel walks on his crutches and Lori looks at Rick and somehow everything seems like it’ll be okay. Of course it isn’t. All hell breaks loose. Walkers streamed in from every corner of the prison. You have to go back pretty deep into last season to find the last surprise zombie ambush on this scale. And the results are devastating. After being bitten, T-Dog sacrifices himself to save Carol; Lori, Maggie and Carl become trapped in a tiny room and surprise, Lori goes into labor.

I’m on record as saying that Lori is the most annoying character on the show, which stems mostly from last season. It wasn’t the character exactly—every group needs someone trying to act as the voice of reason—it was Sarah Wayne Callies’s performance that frustrated me. She’s not a bad actress—far from it—but the writers didn’t give her much to work with. Nearly every time we saw Lori last season she was either being a total buzzkill or looking shocked at something with giant bug eyes, a facial pose that wasn’t very convincing even in the most dire of situations. Callies more than made up for that with her subtle acting this season, which is why I’m sorry to see Lori go. The emergency Cesarean scene was barbarous, a cruel reminder than life is still severly primal. And then there’s Carl. Poor kid. One minute he’s making eyes with a cute older girl and the next he’s not only helping deliver his new sibling (did anyone catch the baby’s gender? If they said it, I missed it.), he heroically volunteers to be the one to put his mother down and ensure she won’t become a zombie.

The closing scene had so much potential. In the span of less than an hour we went from nearly pastoral to nearly apocalyptic, and then Maggie and Carl walk out with the baby and no Lori. It was exactly the kind of scene that begged for Andrew Lincoln to turn in a great performance. Instead, he took a giant Babe Ruth swing and missed. The episode ended with Rick Grimes belowing from a supine position, trying hard to convince us in the audience that he actually cared for his wife. I didn’t buy it, and it ruined what was otherwise a pretty powerful episode.

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Zombie Kill Report: Dozens upon untold dozens. The fights with the walkers didn’t linger like in the opening two episodes, but they shot and killed quite a few (and likely blew through their ammunition in the process). After T-Dog was bitten and he bum-rushed a group of walkers to save Carol, he suffered the most grusome human death in quite some time, as a zombie tore out his throat. Rest in peace T-Dog.

Meanwhile in Woodbury there was little action, but some decent intrigue. Andrea seems to be having second thoughts about hitting the road again with Michonne, while our zombie-killing Jedi Knight has some major problems with The Governor. Toss Merle into the mix (he wants to go search for his brother, but The Governor doesn’t want to let him go), and things are starting to heat up in paradise. We’re nowhere near the boiling point, but we’re laying the groundwork for some epic fights in the not-too-distant future.

Tonight’s conspiracy theory: I’m going to throw something out of left field, and again, if you’ve read the graphic novels and know what’s going to happen, no spoilers please! During the birth scene, Lori passed out quickly, but Maggie never checked to see that she bled to death. We never saw Carl shoot Lori, we only heard a gunshot, and then Carl came strolling out like the stoic man he wants to become. He may very well have done that incredibly horrible, terrifically noble deed, but did he? Merle managed to wriggle out from under the clutches of death and come back to wreak havoc on the story. Will we see a zombie Lori, or perhaps some butchered version of a live one down the line?

26 comments
TheBigMtt
TheBigMtt

Am I the only one thinking that Lori made the wrong choice?

I mean, I get the motherly instinct, but let's face it, in a constant struggle for survival, I think it was stupid to die for the baby. Now the group is left with one less person able to shoot&fight, one more mouth to feed and lots of troubles ahead (how do you tell a baby not to cry next time you're hiding in a corner from some walker?)

Maybe she thought the difficulty in giving birth would have resulted in her dying anyway?

Mr.357
Mr.357 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Call me crazy, but I was really hoping that the baby would die while inside of Lori and then return as a zombie and eat her from the inside out.  Imagine the special FX if they had pulled it off correctly!!!!!

Bayne
Bayne like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

I disagree with your assessment of Lincoln's performance at the end. I thought his reaction was incredibly raw and moving. I really felt for him and Karl, so much that it brought me to tears. It probably had a bit to do with the fact that I lost my mother (who was 50) only 6 months ago. I really felt this ending was perfect and very powerful...setting up an intriguing character development for Rick in the coming episodes. I must be a bit more forgiving of the acting on this show because Lori has never really bothered me either. She served a purpose and did a good enough job of convincing me that she was a mother. Not a great mother, but still a mother who cared. Sad to see her go, but not devestated. 

KershKurt
KershKurt

Why won't they just let Glen get laid?

bluegraph
bluegraph

Something occurred to me watching this episode. Why do they not have portable radios? Surely somewhere in their travels they would have an opportunity to pick some up. How handy they would be to communicate with one another and prevent all these deaths. On the other hand, walkie talkies as a plot device would kill the dramatic tension of being chased by walkers.

pluckduckluck
pluckduckluck

@bluegraph If you recall, Rick did have a walkie-talkie at the beginning of the series. He spent the first season periodically 'checking-in' on the father/son who first took him in when he escaped from the hospital. 

I think his walkie-talkie may have run out of juice at some point. I'd say scarcity of and difficulty in obtaining supplies like batteries, could be a reasonable explanation as to why we don't see them in the show. Though like you said the 'real' reason could be that it detracts from the tension in some ways.

ipfletch
ipfletch like.author.displayName 1 Like

Cloud- I'm curious as to what kind of a reaction you were looking for: stoic weeping? A speech of some sort?  I thought Lincoln displayed a perfectly believable reaction- basically, when something like that happens out of the blue, you're gut-punched. It brought to mind one of the other more believable scenes like this: Michael Steadman finding out about Gary's death via a phone call from the police. He didn't go into any histrionics or have a mad crying jag; as it would be for any of us, it was so unexpected that it just took the wind out of him and he almost collapsed to the floor. It's hard to get this kind of moment right- but as far as I'm concerned, "Walking Dead" hit it on the nose with Lori's death.

On the other hand, I'm right with you on T-Dog. Talk about getting the short end of the stick, jeez. A whole season of nothing for the guy and just when they start making him interesting again, WHACK!?! I'd be really frustrated if I were him.

ipfletch
ipfletch

Apologies for the "Cloud" address, Nate- came straight here from the "Boardwalk Empire" recap. No disrespect intended.  :)

ipfletch
ipfletch

Also- to clarify the whole Michael Steadman thing, that's from "Thirtysomething" back in the day.

nsr019
nsr019

I believe Entertainment Weekly reported that this was Sarah Wayne Callies' last episode on the show (not accounting for a speculative cameo in a flashback or hallucination), with a goodbye party and everything. So she's dead.

I had no problem with Andrew Lincoln's performance at the end. Although one may take issue with a father rolling on the ground and bawling like a baby while his 13-year-old son remains stoic, I think Lincoln correctly opted to play it over-dramatically. 

flash6100
flash6100

T dog was a good loyal soldier of the group I hated to see go despite not seeing or knowing any of his story.Rick's son for drama sake didn't shoot his mother,so she will be back as a zombie freaking out the group and testing them out again.It will be interesting to see how much longer the Governor may continue his phony act with Sarah and that lost Rick got hit with I felt the pain the actor was putting through.

vrcplou
vrcplou

Re Lori - we also don't know what became of Carol.  Maybe Carl fired off a shot to make it seemed like he put mom down, but actually couldn't do it in the end and Carol finds her and stitches her back up?  I'm reaching, I know.  I thought it was a great episode.  I thought that Rick throwing Andrew out to yard with the zombies was quasi-compassionate; I mean he at least *maybe* stands a chance.  Once again, Rick sees how even the smallest of compassions can come back and (literally) bite you in the butt. Shane would have shot the guy straight out (and been considered a villan for it).  I can't help but think that thought will haunt Rick in the coming days. And I bought Andrew Lincoln's performance - all the regret of all the things he hasn't said, always thinking that "soon" there'd be a chance to make things right.

Southern_mere
Southern_mere

This is the worst review I have ever read. Jeeesh.

vrcplou
vrcplou

It's not a "review" so much as a recap or informal discussion by a bunch of zombie geeks. ;0  If you don't have anything to add just shuffle along.

Southern_mere
Southern_mere

@vrcplou The writer added their two sense about how they felt about the acting, the characters and gave an opinion on the episode. *Gasp* sure sounds like a review to me and not an unbiased recap.

Excuse me while I shuffle away.

vrcplou
vrcplou

And you'll also notice several commenters (including myself) politely disagreeing with the writer's assessment without hyperbole such as yours.  Just because I don't agree with the writer doesn't make his opinion the "worst ever"; just makes it different than mine.

pluckduckluck
pluckduckluck like.author.displayName 1 Like

When talking about the show with others, I often get asked not to "spoil" anything. Presuming that my knowledge of the graphic novels gives me insight into the TV show. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen on the TV show. The two formats have similar beats and share some story-lines (often vaguely), but so far, knowledge of what happens in one is not likely going to spoil the other for anyone. Which is a very good thing IMO.

ahcinci
ahcinci

@pluckduckluck  my friends always ask me what is going to happen, as I have read the graphic novels (comic book series)  This this story follows the same basic story.  I wouldn't call them spoilers, for me the difference in stories is great.  The baby is a she and the problem is, she may not have the same name as the graphic novels.  Heck Dale made it to the prison in the book.

thebza451
thebza451

@pluckduckluck there was never a baby born in the comics. you sure you read them?

pluckduckluck
pluckduckluck

@Mykalg73  That was probably the most difficult scene in the GN. Lori was never exactly a great character to read about, but the way everything happened was almost too much for me. I'm glad they went in a different direction for the TV show. 

pluckduckluck
pluckduckluck

@thebza451 Yes, I have read them. You are incorrect, Lori does have a baby in the series. At the risk of getting too 'spoilery' you should revisit the GN's. Specifically around the end of their time in the prison. 

Mykalg73
Mykalg73 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@thebza451 there was a baby in the graphic novels, and is killed, along with Lori, later in the series.  Since the show's plot is nothing like the graphic novels in many ways, that scene will obviously not occur in the show.

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

I couldn't believe the over acting. 

Sad to see T-Dog gone.  We hardly knew him.

CjNesbitt
CjNesbitt

In the previews for the next episode Hershel states, " If the baby doesn't get formula soon, SHE will die" thus indicating the baby's gender.