All right, I guess Lori really did bite the dust in “Killer Within”. At least that’d be the obvious implication of Rick answering her phone calls from the afterlife. I kept expecting the fat walker on the floor to somehow turn into Mrs Grimes’ corpse as our favourite deputy slowly got a hold of himself. Instead, it looks like the show runners mean to leave her exact whereabouts ambiguous, emphasising the notion that, in the end, all we need to know is she’s gone. I’m cool with that.
By the same token, I don’t particularly care whether Rick had a supernatural experience or temporarily flipped his lid. The point is our hero was struggling with his wife’s death and he got better. The writers have found a clever way of conveying this journey without having him mope around in the background or speeding through his recovery so as to make him look like an insensitive bastard. Of course, the subplot remains a narrative shortcut, the sort of which I’d like to see as little as possible on The Walking Dead.
On the subject of short cuts (awful pun intended), I question the plausibility of Michonne’s katana turning the Governor’s elite soldiers into prime cuts (slightly better pun unintended). Admittedly, samurai swords have been tested on human corpses, carving through them like butter. However, those were still targets. By the same token, I’ve so far accepted the effectiveness of her strokes because I figured the virus somehow turned walkers into meat pudding (how else could our heroes routinely pierce through them with blunt sticks and blades?), but watching her do it to armed men who’ve just taken down a trained military unit challenges my suspension of disbelief.
Come to think of it, a lot of “Hounded” struck me as a tad too cartoonish for my tastes. I get that The Walking Dead started off as a comic book, a medium in which lurid pulp and soap opera convolution walk hand in hand, but did Merle executing “Neil” (or, as I like to call him, “that guy whose personality did an inexplicable one-eighty halfway into the episode”) come off insanely predictable to anyone else? Having mentioned that, I always enjoy seeing the racist Bond villain in action if only because Michael Rooker chews scenery like a pack of walkers at a T-Dog buffet.
Andrea, on the other hand, is getting on my last nerve. I theorized in my review of “Say the Word” that the woman may be attaching herself to dominant figures out of a desperate need for structure in her life, but now it turns out her peculiar evolution as a character resembles more what Chris Claremont had in mind for Psylocke back in the eighties. In case you don’t understand obscure X-Men references, the idea seems to be that the woman gravitates toward violent psychopaths because she’s turning into somewhat of an action junkie herself. This doesn’t openly contradict her background as a civil rights lawyer. After all, surviving the zombie apocalypse is bound to open up new facets in one’s personality. However, I can’t say this latest development has me enthused.
It occurred to me last week that Andrea used to star in all my favourite moments in The Walking Dead. Remember her beautiful flashback on the boat in “Vatos”, her farewell to Amy in “Wildfire”, or her inverted sacrifice to save Dale in “TS-19”? Hard to imagine this season’s boy-crazy blond striving in those scenarios, isn’t it? One could argue that the disconnect lies in the audience knowing more than the character, making her ill-advised courtship with Philip excruciating (not to mention bizarrely coy for the woman who once held Shane by the balls), but, to me, the issue stems from the overall pacing of the show.
I was wrong about Lori’s death, but it looks like I may come out even with my prediction that the writers will save the confrontation between Rick and the Governor for the mid-season cliffhanger. As a result, the characters have been forced to repeat the same beats until the plot catches up to them, making those in the wrong like Andrea come across as idiots, those with a stake like Merle and Daryl spout out redundant information every week (we get it: you grew up without parents, so you only had each other), and those deemed expandable disappear and reappear without consequence. I’m looking at you, Carol!
Death toll so far: fourteen, though I didn’t see Lori’s corpse with a hole in her noggin.