Reviewers mourned — and celebrated — the loss of life in “Killer Within.”
Ben Schwartz of Rolling Stone saluted T-Dog: “You were a good guy even if they forgot to write dialogue for you for the first two seasons.” Jen Chaney of The Washington Post tabulated T-Dog’s thin story arc:
His trajectory on the show can succinctly be described like this: Fight with Merle so that Merle ends up chained to a roof (Season 1); after becoming light-headed due to an injury, deliver monologue that implies everyone around him may also be as racist as Merle (Season 2); kill a lot of zombies (all seasons); argue in favor of letting Axel and Oscar the prisoners join the group (Season 3).
Along with Slate V’s blogger/editor Jeffrey Bloomer in my chat with him yesterday, watchers bemoaned the show for replacing one quiet black guy, T-Dog, with another quiet black guy, Oscar. “I’m sure it’s fair (or unfair) to note that Oscar effectively has replaced T-Dog as the token black dude on the show, eh?” wrote Rondey Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Good episode,” wrote Slate commenter hedyus, “except for the blatant ‘kill the one black guy before another can be added’ move.”
If any survived his brutal death dry-eyed, few went on to survive Lori’s. “You’d have to be an emotional zombie not to choke up,” writes Kristi Turnquist of the Oregonian, noting that the “Killer Within” of the episode was not just Andrew, the prison inmate who lured the zombies inside, but also the baby. “What kind of person is Carl going to become? The brave boy Lori called him, or a dead-inside survivor?” Or worse, I wonder: a madman like the Governor? A zombie apocalypse version of Dexter Morgan?
It seems the only close contender for Saddest Scene Ever is the one following Lori’s death, in which Maggie and Carl exit the compound, Maggie bloodied and hysterical and clutching the baby and Carl dead-eyed, and Rick realizes what’s happened and starts bawling like a baby. “I never thought I’d throw in Walking Dead for any acting nominations, but I’d put this in Andrew Lincoln’s Emmy reel,” wrote Shaunna Murphy of Hollywood.com. “Jesus. The outpouring of grief was — I know I keep using this word, but gut-wrenching.”
Reviewers and commenters have different takes on Carol’s fate. Like Eric Goldman at IGN, I initially thought the body that Rick finds in the corridor is Carol’s, considering he finds her headscarf nearby. In a second viewing, I notice that it’s the exact spot where T-Dog dies, and the same zombies are chewing on the corpse, so I’m fairly sure that Carol survived — although, to nit-pick, like Goldman does, Carol left the room with her headscarf on. “I have little doubt that Carol survived (but it could very well be another Sophia situation),” wrote Henry Hanks of CNN.
Whatever the case, people seem as satisfied as I am. “I do admire the shows willingness to kill off major characters. It’s generally ‘die, minor character, die’ as we like to say in our house,” wrote Slate commenter It’sme,MaryAnn. Joel Rickenbach of Mania wrote that The Walking Dead can finally claim a place next to critically-acclaimed AMC series such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men:
Everyone knows if you want to get fed, go to The Walking Dead, but if you want deep characters and challenging narratives, go check out one of those other trophy-laden shows (Which, by the way, are both phenomenal). Well, tonight The Walking Dead raised its muddy, gore-flecked boot, and kicked down the metaphorical door. What happened tonight is as deep, harrowing and emotional as anything you have ever seen on television, and then some.
What’s in the future? From what I gleaned of the next episode’s promo, Rick spirals out of control, goes into the prison alone, and expresses his angst in a zombie-killing rampage. I guess he liked Lori after all.