Is that a personality I see developing in T-Dog? Nope, it’s just another one of those pre-mortem bursts of heroism so common on The Walking Dead. Dale got one last season, as did Shane, depending on how you look at things, and, in “Killer Within”, our favourite token black character and apparently Lori get to join the club, victims of Andrew’s elaborate but ultimately suicidal tamper-tantrum. I use the word “apparently” because I reserve the right to call fake out on Mrs Grimes’ seeming demise. We’ll get to that in a bit.
First, let’s discuss this season’s slow-burning subplot over at Woodbury, where the Governor, or Philip, continues to speak like a perfect gentleman, yet inspires terror in all who know him. Note his chilling look of annoyance when Merle insists on going out to find his brother Daryl. The fact that the elder Dixon sibling actually backs off is also very telling. I get the sneaking suspicion the writers will save the family reunion for just before the mid-season break, as they did the reveal of Sophia’s whereabouts last year.
In the meantime, we may be subjected to an awful lot of scenes in which Andrea behaves like a gullible idiot. I don’t mean to suggest that the woman has become in any way laughable or unpleasant to follow. Since her sister’s death in “Vatos”, the former civil rights attorney has been desperate for a sense of purpose and stability. Philip offers both, so she can be forgiven for letting the silver-tongued devil blind her to everything else that’s been going on around her. It’s a natural reaction and an interesting direction for the character.
I find myself less forgiving of Michonne’s conversation with the Governor, though actress Danai Gurira must be grateful for every bit of dialogue she can get. I realise we’re meant to admire her character for pointing out the holes in Philip’s cover story regarding his acquisition of military supplies last week. However, it seems to me she would’ve been wiser to keep her suspicions to herself or share them with Andrea instead of a potential enemy who’s holding all the cards. Her strategy here feels akin to poking a tiger in order to confirm its ferocity.
All right, back to the main plot: as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I remain skeptical about Lori’s exit from the series. After all, we didn’t actually see Carl shoot his mother. Granted, the producers of The Waking Dead have plenty of reasons not to show the graphic execution of a woman in labor by her own thirteen-year-old, not the least of which would be good taste. However, one could also view the directorial choice as a device to let us experience Rick’s intense grief while keeping her character viable. His breakdown in the final scene nearly broke my heart.
I never thought I could feel so sad about whiny, flip-floppy, step-backwards-for-feminism Mrs Grimes. The woman has sure come a long way, sacrificing herself for one child and using her parting words to ensure an ethical core in the other. These actions shouldn’t come as a surprise, mind you. Lori has always valued morality. That’s why she chose Rick over Shane and why she let guilt over her accidental affair with the latter drive everyone involved to the brink of madness. In other words, her sudden burst of heroism not only redeems her character but also proves consistent with all the bad behaviour that’s come before.
I wish I could say the same of T-Dog’s last-minute character development. Don’t get me wrong. I like his throwaway line about God having a purpose for letting him get bitten and the contrast it provides with the other cast members’ hopeless outlook. In fact, his microcosmic faith in a world that’s gone to hell would’ve made a nice addition to season two’s religious discussion. Why the writers chose to treat him instead as a token minority escapes me. As it is, the man’s sudden belief in a higher power seems to come out of nowhere. Of course, one can hardly blame “Killer Within” for failing to counteract twenty-one episodes’ worth of neglect. Here’s hoping Carol lives long enough for it to matter when she bites the dust.
Death toll so far: thirteen until I see Lori’s corpse with a hole in her noggin.