Tuesday, November 6, 2012
The Walking Dead 3x04: Killer Within
Well played, show, well played. Lori's death was genuinely shocking. Lord knows she's been a troubling character for awhile now, inconsistently written with ever-shifting motivations. Yet up until this season (which is quickly shaping up to be the show's most consistent, if not best), there was no indication that anyone involved in the production of the show viewed Lori that way. Couple that with her proximity to the main character (and the potential for drama that proximity created), and even on a show that has arguably the best claim to the notion that "nobody is safe", it felt like Lori was near the top of the short list of safe characters.
Looks like that thinking was wrong, as Lori sacrifices herself for the life of her baby. Kudos then, for the show's biggest surprise since Dale's exit, and more importantly, kudos for making me care about Lori in her last few minutes. Sarah Wayne Callies' potrayal of the character has always felt a little inscrutable, but she knocked it out out the park with her final scene. By the time Maggie sliced her open, I was hoping someone would arrive with a last minute rescue, some implausible way of saving both her and the baby. Considering not two episodes ago I was contemplating the idea of Lori getting eaten by her zombie baby with a certain amount of perverse glee, that's quite an accomplishment.
My initial take away from this episode is the relative surprise (and gruesome nature) of Lori's death, but once that's passed, it's worth pointing out that for as emotional and well-executed as that moment is, it's another case of the show just piling it on the characters. I've complained for awhile that this show needs to be about something more than just waiting around until everyone dies (and the opening scenes of this episode, with the group continuing to work towards making the prison more hospitable, was a brief, small step in that direction). As suggested above, I've been largely surprised and impressed by the relative quality of this season, but at the end of the day, there needs to be a reason to watch other than to find out who dies and how gruesome that death is each week.
Stylistically, it was good to see the show toggling between Woodbury and the prison, something it's never really been able to do before, though I can't decide if the cuts away to the relatively mundane events in Woodbury lessened the impact of the drama at the prison, or provided a much-needed slackening of tension that made the return to the prison all the more intense.
A further sign of how much the show has improved: the debate between Rick and T-Dog over the remaining two prisoners was raised, discussed and settled before a commercial break, whereas a similar debate dominated almost the entire back half of last season.
Kudos also to Carl, who was more or less the laughing stock of last season and the Internet's favorite punching bag, but has really come around. Lori's final scene was as strong for him as it was for her.
After coming on strong last week, the Governor felt a little bit off this week, his meetings with Michonne and, curiously, Merle, aside, his air of vague menace replaced with smarmy charm as he worked to seemingly pick up Andrea. I'm curious if there's a reason he wants her to stay so bad, if he's genuinely smitten with her, or if he just enjoys manipulating people for the sake of it.
Andrea's insistence to stay, and her falling for the Governor's charms, continues to underline what an idiot she is.
So the Governor's name is Philip. As I thought, that amounted to nothing (though it amounted to nothing a lot faster than I expected).
Something I totally missed until I read about this episode online: the prisoner who set the trap and turned on the generators was the one Rick left locked in the yard full of zombies. #SometimesNotTheSharpestTool
Oh yeah, T-Dog died too. While I never disliked his character as much as I did Lori, I was still only marginally sad to see him go, in part because the show never really developed his character and he's always felt like he was just hanging around until he died. Heck, even his arguing for compassion when it came to the prisoners at the beginning of the episode felt like a case of the writers saying, "well, we need someone to argue with Rick. Let's say...T-Dog? He'll be dying soon anyway".
I'm not convinced Carol is dead, though I won't be surprised if she is.
So are meant to assume that the person watching Carol from the bushes two episodes ago was the prisoner who let hell break loose in this episode, or was that someone else?
Speaking of the generators, assuming they could kill the sirens, it might not be a bad thing to turn them back on at some point.
I'm curious why Michonne doesn't just leave Andrea in Woodbury? One of the few negative effects of the between-seasons time jump is we have no idea what happened to form such a strong bond between the two women.
A little detail I appreciated: the sound of empty shells hitting the pavement as Rick reloaded his gun offscreen.
Questions for the comic readers out there: is this roughly analogous to how/when Lori died in the comics, or did the show go way off book? Is the Governor's name Philip and did he reveal it to Andrea, or is that something the show invented as well?