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09 November, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 3 - Episode 4 " Killer Within"

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.

Before I get into anything of consequence, let me just say that this was one of the most excruciating, soul-crushing hours of television I have ever watched.  On top of that, I had to keep reminding myself all the way through that is only friggin' episode 4 of a 16 episode season, because it felt -- for all the world -- like I was watching a season finale.  Needless to say, anyone who was raging about last week's episode being light on action shouldn't have anything to complain about this time.

We open with an unrevealed person slinking around the prison grounds, using animal carcasses to draw Walkers onto the grounds like some twisted version of the Pied Piper.  Could this be the same person we saw spying on Carol's C-section practice late in episode 2?  Meanwhile, Rick and company are moving their vehicles inside the prison gates and to a more out-of-sight position.  I consider this a wise move for the same reason as Daryl, who makes a remark to the effect of their cars being there outside the front gates was like hanging a big Vacancy sign.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, being inconspicuous could be the key to staying alive.  It's refreshing to see a character actually using their head for once.  The plan, as we soon learn, is to park them facing outward, so that they are out of the way but ready to roll in the event of a necessary evacuation.  Kudos, guys!  Good planning.

They also intend to gather all the Walker's bodies littering the outer-yard and burn them.  I'm guessing, since this hasn't already been done, that we're basically only on day 3 or 4 since they moved into the prison late in episode 1.  Glenn worries that a bonfire will attract more Walkers to the fence, but Rick says it's worth it since it will only have to be done once and they have the fences to protect them.  He doesn't want to bury them, due to the fact that he is worried about trying to grow crops in infected soil.  I suppose that also makes good sense.  We know that everyone is already infected and will reanimate upon death, but bites and scratches carry some other aspect of the plague, causing a fever that kills pretty quickly.  Probably not a good idea to risk ingesting something funky.  Of course, no one has yet mentioned exactly from where they intend to acquire the seed they're going to need for this utopian future prison-yard farm they're busy planning.

They are approached by Axel and Oscar, the two remaining convicts that share the prison with them.  It seems they're having trouble living in the cell-block that's been assigned to them, because of all the bodies of people they knew.  They've tried to move them outside and burn them, but the fences are down on that side of the prison, and, every time they drag one out, the Walkers converge and devour it.  They swear again that they had nothing to do with the moves made by Tomas and Andrew, but Rick refuses to budge, and, when Oscar says that they'd rather take their chances out in the world than to stay there any longer, Rick makes preparations to send them off with a weeks worth of water and eats for the road.  This is done by a fair consensus, but T-Dog is the only opposition, arguing unsuccessfully that they should be given a chance to earn places in the group.

Honestly, I can't say what I would do in their situation.  By taking in extra members, you risk stretching food and supplies, and I would be very wary about allowing someone I'm not sure I can trust around me and mine while we're sleeping, etc.  I hate to say it, but I would probably lean more toward Rick's way of thinking.  My only other idea would be to let them work to earn full membership, while locking them in a cell together at night.  At least that way you could meet them halfway, while retaining a semblance of security until they have earned your trust.

Back at Woodbury, Michonne is still suspicious and is preparing to leave.  She finds the bullet-holes that riddle the National Guard vehicles, but the Governor explains it away by saying that they must have had a run-in with bandits at some point.  She doesn't challenge him outright, but she isn't buying it.  Meanwhile, he is doing his level best to convince her to stay.  Her plan is for she and Andrea to make for the coast, surmising that it will be safer simply by virtue of having the sea block-off one whole direction of approach.

Basically, she's talking about making it so that they completely cut off one avenue from which they can be attacked, which makes a perverse bit of sense.  She's also hoping to maybe find a boat and then an island upon which to settle.  I still haven't figured out, though, why nobody has yet had the bright idea to just gas up a vehicle(s), strap a bunch of full gas cans to the roof, load that puppy up with food and water and cold weather sleeping bags, and head west where the population is lower i.e. fewer zombies.  Heck, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if there wasn't a functioning civilization somewhere up in the Rockies or in Montana/Wyoming.

Andrea, however, doesn't seem all that keen on going off to grow old on some island with only Michonne for company.  She helps Merle by pointing-out the location of the Greene farm, where she last saw his brother Daryl alive, on a map, and inquires as to whether he considers the Governor to be a good man.  There's obviously an attraction brewing there, and Merle answers her in the affirmative, saying that when the Governor found him he wasn't in good shape and he should have just left him, but didn't.

Later, Merle declares his intentions to go look for Daryl, asking permission of the Governor to take two other men with him.  The Governor refuses, citing it as too great a danger with no way of knowing if Daryl is even alive.  Merle then says he'll go alone, but is rebuffed again; he (Merle) is too important in Woodbury and the whole place would fall apart without him there, the Governor states.  Seeing that Merle is unhappy to realize that finding his little brother is not considered to be more of a priority, though, the Governor eventually agrees to accompany him himself, if he can produce more concrete intelligence for them to go on.

A bit later still, Andrea shares a goodbye drink with the Governor at his place, and he expresses regret that the ladies aren't willing to stay.  They talk of family and he tells her that he lost his wife to an auto accident 18 months prior to the zombie apocalypse, and mentions having a daughter who is also presumably now dead since we haven't seen her.  He also admits that his real name is Phillip, though I wonder if he's telling the truth.  Parting, he invites her to return to Woodbury if she should ever wish it.  Returning to their lodgings, Andrea angers Michonne by insisting that they stay a little longer.

Back at the prison, things get ugly when the work of the Pied Piper from the opening pays off: Walkers swarm the survivors as everybody, including poor old one-legged Hershel on his new crutches, is out in the yard with Rick, Daryl, and Glenn outside the wire (unable to help immediately).  Everybody splits-up, seeking cover, and, sadly, T-Dog is bitten.  I was just lamenting last week the fact that the writers haven't given him anything of consequence to do, and now here they're killing him off.  He was bitten in a spot that isn't exactly conducive to amputation.  Also, Lori, Carl, and Maggie are unable to return to the group's cell-block, due to Walkers loose inside the prison, and become lost in the infested corridors.

It's obvious that the chains securing the gates have been cut with an axe or some other tool, and Rick immediately suspects Oscar and Axel.  Just then, the prison PA system begins blaring a siren, which carries with it the severe danger of attracting even more Walkers.  With the gate now unsecured, they are in serious danger of being quickly overrun.  They attempt to shoot out the speakers, but there are too many of them.  Oscar informs Rick that it can only be the backup generators (3 of them, powered by a shared diesel tank, each controlling a different part of the prison), but that they were supposed to have been shut down by the guards when the prison fell.  Rick's worry is that whoever is responsible for what's going on might be able to open all the gates electronically, and he enlists Oscar (who briefly worked in that area of the facility) to help shut it down.  Daryl, Glenn, and Axel go as well as backup, and they eventually split into two groups to look for their lost people with the understanding that whichever group finds the generator room/electronics shack first should shut them down.

T-Dog, bitten, refuses to simply lay down and wait to die.  Instead, he makes it his mission to stay with Carol, who was with him when the group got separated, and see her safely back to their cell-block.  He tells her that it is God's plan and he's choosing to trust it, because God has always looked after him.  It is his belief that God has put him there with her, with nothing left to lose, so that he can lead her through the maze of corridors and back to the group, and so that's what he's going to do while he still has the strength.  Soon, they come to a point where their way is blocked by two Walkers and they are out of ammunition, so T-Dog rushes them, pinning them to the wall to allow Carol a way past them unharmed.  As she flees, she looks back in horror to see poor T-Dog being torn apart.  T-Dog, my dawg, we hardly knew thee.  He goes out a hero!  We should all be so lucky... you know... preferably without the whole being eaten alive thing.  Yikes!

Meanwhile, Lori goes into labor as she, Carl, and Maggie are trying to find their way to safety.  Still hounded by Walkers, they duck into a boiler room to hide.  There is no time to try to find their way back to the others, risking being caught by Walkers, so the baby has to be delivered right there by Maggie.  Unfortunately, when she tries to push, she begins to hemorrhage.  If you'll recall, it was mentioned earlier that Lori had required a C-section to deliver Carl and they all knew she likely would again.  Without Hershel's or even Carol's guidance, however, a C-section is a death sentence, and Lori knows it.  She urges Maggie to perform the procedure using Carl's knife to save the baby.

Knowing that she will not survive, Lori reconciles with Carl, professing her love for him and her faith in his bravery and ability to survive.  She then tells Maggie that, when it's over, she'll have to put her down, so Rick doesn't have to do it himself.  The C-section is performed with Lori mercifully passing out mid-way through the ordeal, never to regain consciousness.  Her final words were uttered, staring-off into space: "Good night, love."

A lot has been written about medicine when TSHTF and there are no doctors and hospitals upon which to depend, so much so that I'm not going it rehash it here.  Just know that you need to be adding books on bush medicine, surplus tools and paraphernalia, and basic meds to your preps, while you still can.  If possible, recruit one or more medical professional(s) and some folks with paramedic and first aid training into your retreat group.  Even with that kind of preparation, we're all going to lose people, though.  It's simply unavoidable.  Before the advent of modern medicine, a huge percentage of women died in childbirth, and another big chunk of the populations of children never lived past infancy and early childhood because of simple illnesses that are no big deal to us today.  It's unrealistic not to recognize that, if we are plunged into a new dark age, things will go back to being more like they were in the dark ages.

The baby lives, and Maggie turns to leave, but Carl reminds her that, if they just leave Lori there, she'll turn.  She reaches for her weapon, but Carl stops her, insisting that she's his mother and it's his responsibility.  Reluctantly, Maggie goes to wait outside (the Walkers have all moved on by now).  Alone with Lori, Carl flashes back to the conversation between he and Rick in Hershel's hayloft in season 2 about growing up and understanding that people are going to die and all they can do is move on and survive.  We don't see him put her down, but we hear the shot, and a stone-faced Carl emerges and moves off down the corridor without a word.

Around this same time, Rick, Oscar, and Daryl have reached the generator room/electronics shack.  As Daryl holds the door against a number of Walkers who were pursuing them, the other two men attempt to shut down the generators and are attacked by the axe-wielding Andrew, who had been presumed dead when Rick locked him in a courtyard full of Walkers.  Moral: if you are forced to kill somebody, make sure you see it through, because this dude has caused all kinds of havoc, including the deaths of at least two group members.  In the struggle, they fight for Rick's gun, and Oscar comes up with it.  Andrew urges him to shoot Rick, so that, together, they can take back the prison, but Oscar makes his choice and kills Andrew instead.

After shutting down the generators, they hook back up with Glenn and Axel in the corridors, where they soon discover T-Dog's mangled remains and put down the two Walkers that are devouring him.  They also find the head-wrap Carol had been wearing, casting some doubt as to whether she has made it or not.  They regroup in the courtyard and are about to go back to continue looking for the others when the baby's cry alerts them to the return of Maggie, Carl, and the little one without Lori.

The episode ends with everyone in tears, and Rick literally collapsing in grief.  Tell the people you love how you feel, folks, even when you aren't getting along.  You never know if you or they will get to see tomorrow.

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