To say tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead changes EVERYTHING for the Grimes Gang doesn’t even begin to cover it. After a chilling but relatively low-key visit to Woodbury last week, TWD was back to its Season 3 breakneck pace tonight, only this time, several lives were devastatingly, irreversibly damaged forever. Please do not read any further if you have not yet seen “Killer Within” as MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND.
I always felt like the attack on Hershel’s farm let the Gang (and fans) off pretty easy, only offing a couple of Hershel’s kids and dumping Andrea with Michonne. “Killer Within” — which has two very different but completely applicable meanings — left the gang in far worse shape than last year’s finale, and not just because they now have a baby AND an old guy in crutches to take care of. No, T-Dogg and Lori are now gone, along with (one would guess) whatever semblance of hope Rick had left, and, well, any bit of childhood Carl may have had left. Having to shoot your mom will do that to a kid. This will probably be the first recap where I won’t make fun of Carl, at all. I just can’t tonight. He earned it.
So the first “killer within” ended up being the mysterious figure who had been watching Carol from afar. (I was wrong — it wasn’t Merle. But Merle’s on his way!) The cold open found this mysterious figure, whose face we never saw, cutting the Grimes Gang chains with an ax, then luring in nearby Walkers with hearts and dead animals and other cute things of that nature. It ended up being Andrew, the “other” bad prisoner who Rick left for dead in a Walker-filled yard. Now, I get why he might be pissed, but letting hundreds of Walkers take over a prison, thinking he could then defeat them after they turned the Grimes Gang into more Walkers, was a very stupid idea. Also, it didn’t even work to his advantage.
But more on that later, because his Walker-raid was 80 percent of the episode. The other killer within, and the one that wreaked the most emotional havoc (sorry, T-Dogg) was Lori’s baby. Since Carol was off fighting her way through the Walkers, along with everyone else except for Carl and Maggie, Maggie had to brutally slice open Lori’s belly — with absolutely no medical experience, not to mention surgical equipment — and yank it out. Think Prometheus, but with higher emotional stakes and more children present. Lori knew that trying a vaginal birth (she wasn’t even fully dilated — sorry for this part, dudes) would probably kill her baby, while the C-Section would mean her own life. She chose the latter, going out as a hero of sorts, but also putting Maggie and Carl in the worst position, ever. Maggie had to kill her, and someone would have to put a bullet in her brain when she rose again. (Has she seen the show Dexter? Doesn’t she know what seeing their mother in a pool of blood does to a child?)
Lori saying goodbye to one child while sacrificing herself for another was tragically beautiful, and Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs, and Lauren Cohan acted the crap out of this scene. Everyone realized what was happening and tried to appear brave to everyone else’s benefit, but still — watching a mother say goodbye to her son in this horrible, horrible manner was gut-wrenching. She told him that he was good, and asked him to always be good — to do the right thing, avoid the easy way out, and not let this world spoil him. She hugged him, in tears, as the friend who would soon be her killer sat two feet away, sobbing, with a knife. Her final words were “Goodnight, love.” Try to forget this scene, ever. After she passed, Carl told Maggie that he’d be the one to put her down. “She’s my mom,” he insisted. I’d like to thank Glen Mazzara for not making us see that extremely disturbing event, as hearing the gunshot offscreen was bad enough.
Rick’s reaction to Lori’s death was possibly even more gut-wrenching that the scene that preceded it. The Grimes Gang fighters (and Beth and Hershel) had just re-convened in the yard, after finding T-Dogg’s mangled corpse and Carol’s scarf, leading to the popular belief that she had died (more on that later). Carl came out, along with Maggie and the bloody (but alive!) baby, and they didn’t even have to say anything. Everyone knew. Rick was in disbelief, asking, “Where is she?” — but when he saw Carl, dead-eyed and staring at the ground, he knew exactly how things went down. I never thought I’d throw in Walking Dead for any acting nominations, but I’d put this in Andrew Lincoln‘s Emmy reel. Jesus. The outpouring of grief was — I know I keep using this word, but gut-wrenching. He fell to the ground in an ugly cry that would even impress Aaron Paul, while Glenn comforted the traumatized Maggie, and Carl stood motion and emotion-less.
The other, terrible stuff that happened.
So, back to killer number one, Andrew: Before the prisonpocalypse began, the Grimes Gang ran into the nice prisoners, Alex and Oscar, in the yard. They were fed up with living with their dead friends’ corpses, and things like that. They swore again that they were petty criminals — not murderers — and would do anything to help the Grimes Gang. But Rick 2.0 doesn’t have time for new friends, and probably still has a cop’s natural distrust of felons. So despite T-Dogg’s pleas for empathy (T-Dogg said more than one line, and expressed an opinion — should have known he was a goner), Rick kept them locked up, and he and the Gang’s fighters left the yard to run a soil-related errand.
Inside, Hershel decided to take his first post-amputation walk in the yard, and brought Beth, Lori, and Carl with him. AKA, all of the essentially helpless ones. The rest of the gang, who were now in various parts of the yard gathering wood to burn Walkers, watched from a distance. Hershel was happy, they were happy — it was a heartwarming moment. Until seconds later, when hoards of Walkers were spotted outside the gates. “Can’t we have one good day?” Glenn asked. No, Glenn. You can not.
Then, things got really quiet. The mood during the final, pre-prisonpocalypse moments was eerily spectacular, as we knew that one group was about to get brutally attacked. But, which one? Before we found out, we saw Lori and Rick exchange loving, heartwarming looks from across the yard. She even smiled! From Lori’s perspective, Hershel was okay, the Walkers would be burned in favor of healthy soil, her kid was safe, and Rick was truly looking at her for the first time in months. Things were okay, considering. How sweet. So, of course, Walkers attacked. Like, dozens upon dozens of them. Beth got Hershel to safety through one door, while Maggie ran up and saved Lori and Carl, locking the three of them in the free cell that would eventually become Lori’s birthing room. T-Dogg and Carol fought to close off one area of the yard, and T-Dogg was promptly bitten. Dammit. On the other end, Rick, Daryl, and Glenn teamed up with Alex and Oscar to fight for a different part of the prison. So everyone was separated (I’d take my chances with Group D), and one prominent member of the Gang was already mortally f***ed. This was like, 18 minutes in.
But things quickly got much, much worse, as someone inside (Andrew) turned on the prison alarm system, attracting even more Walkers. Rick was quick to blame Alex and Oscar, but they were his only hope for turning it off, so. He ran around the prison shouting for Lori and Carl (heart, breaking) until they finally found the generator, as well an ax-toting Andrew. Rick and Andrew fought while Daryl held the door, and eventually inmate Oscar ended up with a gun in his hands, aimed at both of them. Despite Andrew’s pleas, Oscar made the wise decision to keep Rick around.
Meanwhile, over in Carol and T-Dogg’s hellhole, the duo continued to push through groups of Walkers, even though Carol was quick to remind T-Dogg of “the pact” that would basically mean her shooting him so he wouldn’t turn. But he wanted to push through as long as he could and keep fighting, which he did until he heroically gave his entire body to a group of Walkers to let Carol escape. Her fate is still unknown ($50 on her still being alive), but T-Dogg definitely experienced the most gruesome death of any lead character on this show. We hardly knew ye.
Meanwhile, in Woodbury… It’s hard to focus too much on Michonne’s growing distrust of the Governor (stemming from the fact that she knows he killed those innocent men) and Andrea’s disturbing flirtations with him when Lori and T-Dogg just bit the dust, but we must. Watching the ice cold Michonne passive-agressively grilling the Governor, basically telling him that she knows he’s a big fat lying liar was a treat, even if it means she’s now on his radar. That’s not a place I’d want to be. But he got Andrea to trust him even more, luring her with booze, sad personal stories, and that sweet southern accent. He even told her his name! (Philip.) Prediction: This will not lead to good things.
Michonne wanted to make for the coast, find a boat, and live forever on some theoretical magical island with her pal Andrea. I know just the place! But that wasn’t going to happen, because Andrea spent the rest of the episode bonding with someone even more confusing: Merle. Merle and Andrea had a ditching by the Grimes Gang in common, and both were tempted by the idea of finding out what the Hell had happened to them. Merle clearly loves Daryl just as much as everyone else does (back off), so he eventually got through to the Governor when he begged him for a rescue mission. “You get more concrete information, and I’ll go with you myself,” Gov said. To be continued.
Well, that was a lot. Rick and Carl will certainly never be the same, and there’s a good chance that Rick’s abilities as a leader have been compromised. Also, how are they going to find baby formula? To bring us back to happier days, let’s all laugh about the time Rick, Daryl, Carol, and T-Dogg caught Glen and Maggie having sex in the guard tower. Haha, that was hilarious!
Shout out your thoughts in the comments, when you’re done crying. (You better be crying. Have you no soul?)
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: AMC]
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