Monday, 12 November 2012

Review : The Walking Dead - Season 3 Episode 4 - Killer Within

Spoilers - Watch the episode before reading on!

We're four episodes into the stellar third season of AMC's THE WALKING DEAD, and the show continues to go from strength to strength with what must surely be the most emotionally impactful episode so far.

Tonight's chapter showed off the shows new-found enormous set of balls in all their glory, by pulling the rug from under us with not one but two completely unexpected deaths. One of which will have real repercussions for the character's foreseeable futures. Not only was tonight's finale a heart-breaker; it was just about as dark and nihilistic as anything I can ever remember witnessing on television.

Lori's devastating farewell to Carl was, no matter where you stand on her character, a true tearjerker. Brutal and tender in equal measure. The woman may have done more wrong than right since the dead began to walk, but damn if I wasn't starting to sympathise with her. It was very sad to her go for a number of reasons. Not least in that her last interaction with her soul mate was a longing look through a jailhouse fence from a distance. No words were spoken, no one got to make amends. Love was not rekindled. The small moment between the two hinted at a possible reunion of the family that will now never be. Rik will never have a chance to make amends, the new born baby has been robbed of a mother, (and maybe a father), and lets not forget Carl...

Its been said before by many involved, that TWD is Carl's story, and with the events of KILLER WITHIN, its very much starting to feel that way. Like Lori, Carl is morphing from vastly annoying to genuinely likable, and as a father, its damn hard not to shed a tear thinking of a child having to kill his own mother. Living in the world he's in; if this kid doesn't grow up to be a psychopath, I'll eat my own sheriff's hat. No kid should have to bear this sort of weight. The use of a flashback during this scene really seals the deal....this boys innocence is gone forever. There wont be any more playing in the sun, or exploring for the sheer joy of it. Nope, it's all business now. He's no longer a kid, (or rather, he's no longer allowed to be a kid). In fact, he's making choices I'm not sure his father could make. The young actor who's playing Carl pulls off the performance too, (no easy feat), and coupled with Lori's final words to the son she loves, and has failed, the scene is a kick in the gut. That said, what then came only got worse.

Rik's reaction to Lori's death, and his realisation that his first born son had put her down, was tender, human and very authentic. Normally in my home country of Scotland, men only ever cry over spilt beer, but if Lori's death didn't completely reduce grown men to bubbling wrecks, this scene was sure to finish the job. Its hard to see where Rik can go from here, other than deeper and deeper into madness. At the moment, I don't see a way for the big guy to fight through this and maintain his spirit. And what in God's name is gonna happen to that poor baby!?

We also lost T-Dog tonight, and while his death was felt far less than Lori's, it still smarted. The big guy was beginning to come into his own this season. I would have liked to get to know him better, (and perhaps that's the effect Mazzara and crew were going for - make the man's death matter more, through the knowledge of what could have been).

While the prison is fraught with terror and chaos in tonight's episode, the scenes in Woodbury play out in sharp contrast, as we get to know the Governor a little better, and spend more time within his seemingly idyllic community. As with previous scenes in this dead-free wonderland, there is a constant undercurrent of darkness and deceit. Its to the creators credit that the town setting actually manages to feel less safe than the prison. TWD is benefiting greatly from these expansions to its mythos. Nowhere feels safe. Even as Andrea and The Gov practically eye-fuck each over over drinks, the sense of dread and ever-deteriorating morality is always present.  If up until tonight this season has been growing steadily more dark'; the lights have now officially gone all the way out.

Even as Woodbury's citizens wander vacantly through their post-apocalyptic paradise, the truth is slowly beginning to the surface, via the ever-resilient fan fave, Michonne. Her character hasn't had a great deal of time to develop up till this point, (I'm sure we'll see that in the near-future), but as far as Woodbury is concerned, she's our eyes and ears. If Andrea is our hope for a better future, Michonne is our cynical paranoid side....the side that usually keeps us safe. This surface-simple burb is teeming with questions, and Michonne is the only one who's asking them. If I were her, I'd be a little less open in expressing my doubts.....if we've learnt anything, its that the Gov is not a man with whom to fuck, (although try telling that to Andrea).

And as for questions...they just keep mounting. Something that's playing on my mind is just who exactly led the dead into the prison yard. We're to believe it was Andrew, but if he was acting alone, then who the hell was watching Carol in the previous episode? And where is Carol anyway?

KILLER WITHIN, as with the rest of this season so far, finds a spot-on balance between intrigue, mystery, building dread and outright horror. This is as bleak as the show has ever been, (even topping Sofia's death), and its just as it should be. I'm gonna have to stop rating this season episode by episode, as its gonna become rather predictable. Yep...its full marks again for the best damn show on television, and the finest zombie epic of all time, bar none. I just hope Rik can hold onto himself in the coming days and weeks, but on THE WALKING DEAD, no one seems safe.

10 Bullet-holes out of 10

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