The Walking Dead 3.4: “Killer Within”

Hosted By Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour

The best and the worst thing about the zombie genre is that anyone can become a casualty at a moments notice. This doesn’t particularly matter to me (usually) because I feel zombie movie characters are secondary to the carnage packed into an hour and a half flick.

With a show like The Walking Dead, however, character building is as important as the carnage. We grow to love (or hate) characters over seasons full of episodes. This makes for great drama, and a more real feeling of sadness when a death occurs. At least, that’s what should happen…

Carly Neely, Kiki Smith, Kenneth Hwynn, Jeannie Chan, Jenn Kim and I mull over this week’s plusses and its many, many minuses.

* Help to keep the comment area a no spoiler zone.

Jeannie: Whoohoo! That guy survived! It seems wrong that I’m keeping a count of POC characters, but… +1!

Joe: Someone has to keep count, Jeannie! And I think we all do it.

Kiki: I know! Took me a minute to remember who he was, but that’s cool.

Ken: Welp, this episode opens with a bang- with Glenn & Maggie… literally… you get the idea.

Jenn: Hey-o! Thank you, The Walking Dead, for reminding the world that Asian American men are hot, sexual beings. And thank you, Daryl, for your beautiful double entendre: “Glenn, you coming?”

Kiki: I’m going to agree with Jenn on her last comment. Especially the Daryl comments.

Jeannie: Thirded!

Ken: I got a little worried after last week’s episode…

Ken: Wow, Rick is turning into Shane. I like.

Joe: I feel Rick has been turning Shane insane (inShane?) for a while… definitely after he killed Shane last season.

Kiki: Sort of. I mean it looks like he grew a pair but at this point he’s just trying to prove to everyone else that he sort of knows what he’s doing. Only sort of.

Jenn: It is interesting, isn’t it? Without Shane, Rick has no direct foil to reason his morality with.

Joe: And Shane was the way he was because he didn’t really care about other people’s opinions. With Rick’s “What I Say Goes” edict, he cleared the way for himself to be like Shane. Irony!

Carly: And without Lori having any footing with him now, no one can get him ‘talking.’ I forget often that he’s supposed to have issues with expressing his emotions because he seems pretty on with his aggression these days.

Jeannie: OMG T-Dog is having a meaningful conversation with the group! (Shit, he’s going to be dead at the end of this episode, isn’t he?)

Joe: Dale had a lot to say the episode he died…

Ken: I’m a little surprised that T-Dog is actually the voice of sympathy and reason here. The most T-Dog’s said in 3 episodes: Fact.

Jenn: Agreed. Though it is nice to see T-Dog remind the group that they were all newcomers once! (Do I smell an analogy to immigration here? *Sniff, sniff.)

Jeannie: I really like these two prisoners. This guy is rocking a pretty awesome mustache. I hope they last a while.

Carly: It’s refreshing seeing people who are genuinely scared and want help and aren’t suspicious. It makes them so very human!

Kiki: Seriously. I was really excited about that. Maybe he’ll convince Rick (only a slight maybe here) and we’ll have some more potentially interesting characters to contend with?

Kiki: Anyone else as excited as I am that in addition to T-Dog saying more than 2 words that Michonne just had a full on conversation in the first ten minutes of this episode as well? Double points, Walking Dead writers, double points.

Joe: Either they read reviews in the WD writers room, or someone on set had another epiphany. Whatever it is, I hope it keeps happening.

Ken: Aww poor Herschel, life just get’s progressively worse for him. He loses his leg and now he slowly and involuntarily morphs into hippy Santa Clause.

Jenn: Herschel is kicking ass! I definitely joined Glenn in yelling, “Woo, go Herschel!”

Jenn: Sigh. That was short-lived. I knew nothing good would come out of that beautiful moment when the two sides staring at each other with love and awe. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I was moved by the look that Lori and Rick shared. There, I said it; I’m a Lori apologist!

Kiki: That look between Lori and Rick was sweet alright, except can’t help but seeing that Rick wasn’t smiling as much. What’s his deal?

Ken: Seriously how do they not hear 50 moaning groaning zombies until they are 5 feet away? Damned Dales, the lot of them…

Jeannie: And half the group is facing that direction! WTF.

Joe: Zombie Genre Rule #1: Characters must have awful hearing, eyesight, or judgement at least once per encounter. Otherwise, everyone is cautious and no one gets chewed on.

Carly: Boy they really wound us up good with all that mushy lovey dovey we’re one big happy family scene.

Ken: Umm…real talk, do you think an 8 year old boy would be able to make super precise headshots with a revolver at 8 feet, much less 5? Ninja plz.

Kiki: Good point, Ken. Or how about how swiftly and deftly Herschel was able to get out of there even though he’s been on these crutches all of five minutes?

Joe: Maybe Carl is a zombie killing prodigy?

Carly: I actually lol’d for Herschel making his quick getaway, “Annnnnd I’m out!”

Jenn: Hah, I don’t know, but I enjoy seeing a very pregnant Lori shoot those walkers with the same precision.

Kiki: Holy cow. Saw this coming but… oh my. DAMMIT. Why, T-Dog? Why?

Carly: Jeeeeesus…. I can’t believe they did that.

Joe: Oh, I can believe it. Booooooo….

Ken: T-Dog Nooooo!! : (

Jeannie: T-Dog!!! DAMMIT. Dammit, dammit, dammit. (But did I call this, or what?) Dammit!

Joe: I’ll defer to the incomparable Esther Rolle for my feelings on this completely surprising character death:

Ken: Shit this episode is already messing me up…. :( RIP our favorite survivors…or is it?

Jenn: If they can cut Herschel’s leg off, can they not cut T-Dog’s shoulder out?

Joe: Rick said something to Tiny in the season opener… about how bites to legs and arms have a chance, but there’s not really anything to be done elsewhere.

Kiki: Still sniffling from that last clip of T-Dog limping out… but now… Merle can you maybe not be a gross, slimy sleaze for at least 10 seconds, please? Ew.

Jenn: Right? When Merle asked Andrea, “Why didn’t we ever hook up,” I was begging Andrea to say it’s because she’s not into creepy racists!

Joe: Seriously. I think an “as if” would suffice.

Jeannie: It’s interesting that Merle feels the need to get the Governor’s permission to leave the compound. I guess if he were to just pack up and leave, he’d probably be shot at the gate. But still. The power dynamics here are pretty interesting. I can’t imagine that the Governor stepped into this role flawlessly and without any opposition at all. Oh wait, it’s not like this hasn’t actually ever happened in history.. Silly me.

Kiki: Merle does make a point of mentioning that he’s been taken care of. And one point they keep bringing up one way or another about his character is how loyal Merle is once he trusts someone. And since the Governor is in charge (and makes it very clear how that is going to stay), I think Merle respects that. The Governor seems to pull people in by giving them an immediate sense of security and trust that seems to stick. But what Merle hasn’t figured out yet, is that  I bet that can quickly end the second you are to against the Governor’s wishes.

Carly: Also doesn’t hurt the Governor to have a fancy pants Southern accent instead of Merle’s redneck slang…. definitely no commentary to be had there… Every time the Governor speaks it makes me think of Colonel Angus.

Ken: Lori’s baby…will it be a zombie? One can only hope…

Joe: I don’t think my eyesight could recover from seeing something like that.

Jeannie: Gross. I do not want to see this birth at all.

Kiki: If poor Carl has to witness this, oh boy. He has this look of WTF is happening?

Joe: Funny, birth is potentially still gross to people who wade through corpses on a daily basis.

Ken: Zombie baby… it’ll be a standing birth a la Monty Python and the Meaning of Life.

Joe: T-Dog exits and Baby Grimes enters… circle of life… yadda yadda. So original.

Ken: T-Dog, you didn’t say much but you sure did die in style..RIP.

Jenn: No, this is BS. Total and utter BS. The writers really screwed us over with this. I am legitimately ANGRY about how they treated T-Dog. After over two seasons of absolutely no character development, I held onto hope that T-Dog, one of the ONLY characters of color on this damn TV show, would have his opportunity to share his story. Now the writers have essentialized T-Dog to the mystical black man whose destiny was fulfilled when he guided the white woman to safety. Bull. Sh*t. I don’t know if I’m ever going to get over this.

Joe: Could they have at least given him an arc before his exit? It just seems unfair to the character, as well as the audience. T-Dog really was the writers’ afterthought to the very end.

Kiki: Really T-Dog? I had a glimmer of hope that since it was just your shoulder, you’d be okay. Then… you save her? Valient and all, but seriously writers? Is this because the PoC prisoner is now joining them, we have to get rid of the other? And absolutely no character development or much of a story with T-Dog had come out yet. Le sigh.

Jeannie: This is outrageous. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: what is the point of keeping T-Dog alive this long without giving us any insight into his character? This one act of his will be the only notable thing we know of his character. Killing him off like this after so long is just… Yep, you said it, Jenn. B.S.

Kiki: Agreed.

Jeannie: I also keep thinking about Carol’s evolution and how she has shown an incredible amount of personal growth after last season. I love that the show is giving her a chance to develop past her role as the battered woman into what I’m seeing as a strong, female character. This could have been her moment to pull a Lori and chase after some zombies with her a gun of her own. But noooo, she had to be saved. T-Dog had to be sacrificed. For what?

Carly: I really appreciate what they’ve done with Carol. I have a big problem with shows and stories that make female characters who have a pivot point of being the victim and not giving them anything else. It’s good to see her be a full productive human, not just a battered woman. That being said, I hate that we can now view that scene and have the audience associate her with what was an obscene waste of a character they clearly had no plans for at any point.

Kiki: I can agree with you on both counts. She is one character that is slowly, but surely becoming something of substance. Supremely unfortunate that she was saved in that matter.

Ken: Andrea says, “Tag you’re it Gu’vnah”. As in, yes Gu’vnah you can tag it, just keep feeding me delicious aged peaty whisky and doing manly things in front of me.”. (Until I see your wonky zombie skull collection that is…)

Jeannie: Sorry, I keep thinking about this everytime they say “what I’m/you’re looking for.” Really changes the way you view this scene..

Kiki: Hahaha. Oh, man. Too funny, Jeannie…

Carly: This sudden turn of a psychopath turning into a gentleman and a (formerly?) bitter warrior woman turning into a sweet as pie flirt is just… weird? Maybe it’s that push of the traditional town that was discussed before?

Kiki: OH GOOD LORD. C-section with Carl’s knife. Did they have to show the gory details of Maggie pulling the baby out. And Carl suddenly is this rogue “well this must be done so move over lady” about the whole situation. Completely unsettling. But I mean, what about a zombie apocalypse and everything that goes with it isn’t unsettling?

Ken: OK, this show has crossed new boundaries. I think I just saw an emergency c-section done on the floor of a prison with no anaesthesia. The question is do we get to see a zombie birth???

Jenn: This C-section scene is seriously making me incredibly grateful for my health care, and even more worried about the upcoming election…

Carly: Cosign Jenn.

Kiki: Ditto.

Jeannie: Nope. This scene isn’t happening. Nope. Checking out.

Carly: I want to look away. I just… I can’t…

Ken: Oh boo…it’s alive, but strangely quiet for a newborn baby.

Ken: Maggie’s essentially saying to in order to grow up you have to shoot your dead mom in the head to kill her again. Rough going kid.

Jenn: And grow up he has. I’m impressed with how both Carl and the actor who plays him have grown. And though I knew Lori’s death was impending, I’m sad to see her go because I wanted her to have the chance to redeem herself. Though I’ve never liked Lori, I do think she’s been unfairly vilified for a while, by both her family on the show and by we the viewers.

Carly: What a way to go out Lori. For Carl, that character has seen so much death and loss. It is amazing if his character does anything other than fall to pieces.

Carly: Rick hold your kid for god’s sake! I don’t even mean the baby… poor Carl.

Kiki: Not a huge fan of Carl and I know everyone (including me after watching that in HD) was in shock at the time… but remember he is STILL A CHILD (although he acts like he’s 30 most of the time, or tries to at least). Why isn’t any comforting him? Poor dude. He sees his dad falling apart (and from the looks of the sneak peek at next week, going slightly insane) and is probably thinking how he can never tell his dad that he shot his mother in the head/the whole situation is his fault, since after all, remember kids- mind of child. Seriously rough luck kiddo.

Ken: Minority character depth and evolution: Denied.

Joe: As happy as last week made me, this week has dragged me all the way back down. What a huge pile of depression.

Kiki: Le grand sigh. So sad, so very, very sad indeed.

  • Denise Winters

    At this point, I feel like T-dog was punished for getting uppity. And what is up with Micchone, a lawyer, revealing how much she has figured out to the Guv’a’nah? I would think she would know how dangerous that is. And I hope they give 2-Dog a backstory, a hammer, some lines, and a leadership role.
    As for Carol, I don’t think it is necessary she be as action-oriented on the offensive as the others. I like that she is carving out her own niche as a medic-in-training and is capable of contributing to her own defense and that of the group. I do wish some of the women would take more leadership though. I’m glad they aren’t being regulated to domestic duties and getting yelled at for Lori about complaining about being unable to defend themselves though. Maybe we will see some actual sharing of all types of labor now.
    Also, what is up with Rick “my way or the highway” Grimmes wanting the group opinion when it is time to kill or consign to death people who don’t need to die as far as they know? He wants to b dictator until it comes to shedding human blood and then he wants a freaking consensus? Come on now…
    And I wonder if the writers show awareness and get rid of another black character by having Merle show up and kill 2-Dogg thinking he was T-Dogg? I also like the theory the killed T-Dogg in part because they want all of Merle’s anger directed at Rick. I get why Rick didn’t go to Carl at first, he was hurt and shocked. But I hope he does remember his grief does not excuse him abandoning his son and faiing to comfort his child and the two of them grieving together.

  • Marun

    Have you heard of The Walking Dead video game? One of the major characters, Clementine, is an Afican American with African parents but the game designers gave her white skin in the game release. If you look at the concept art Clementine was suppose to have brown skin.

    • Anonymous

      Really? Huh. Well if you look at her parents it’s no secret she’s black. And her hair is another indicator, though most people might overlook that b/c she wears a cap. I think if more people knew she was black, namely white people, they wouldn’t like her as much. I wish they hadn’t toned down her skin color. I mean, I guess you could say she resembles her mom. Her mom is a light-skinned black woman. Physically I can identify with her. Before finding out about her heritage I assumed she was a girl of color, possibly Asian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.macrae.7 Alexander MacRae

    I watch The Walking Dead every Sunday in a big theater here in Portland. The place is always packed and its fun to get the crowd reactions, which were more or less in sync with what has been expressed here. Everyone booed when T-dog got bit and after the show everyone was talking about how he never got a chance to be a fully developed character. Also, there was a lot of disbelief that Black Prisoner #1 would just shoot Black Prisoner #2 (sorry, I didn’t catch their names).

  • ozoozol

    Just remembered, back in the first episode, there was a Black family, father and son, that took Rick in right after he woke up. Never heard from them again after Rick set out on that horse for Atlanta, but if I’m remembering it right, there was more character development for them in that one episode than T-Dog got in two seasons…

    • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.macrae.7 Alexander MacRae

      I think one big difference is that Morgan and Duanne (the first black family you mention) were from the comics, where as T-dog is original to the T.V. series but may be a watered down version of a character named Tyreese, so the writers didn’t exactly know what do to with T-dog. ALTHOUGH, now that I think about it the redneck guy with the crossbow is nowhere in the comics and he has become a major character.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Morris-Durojaiye/1116174240 Morris Durojaiye

    Hey I am really glad I found this site and this is my first post. I must say orginally I was simply into the carneage but the characters have grown on me…. Lori to me was just filler and sad the way she went out but the attempted nobleness falls back into that Hollywood standard. I must admit a SUPER WTF FFF PAH was said at the intro of Mischone. One thing that shock me on this episode was the look on Carl’s face after the tap” reference to ZombieLand.” white as a ghost with the look of any kid that DID SOMETHING REALLY BAD. I am hoping for some development from the Inmate that told the other one to grow some balls. I think it will be put in my Lexicon to co-workers.

  • Nicola

    I agree with what you’ve said about T-dogg and apparently fangsforthefantasy.com and i09.com (<–which normally has racist & sexist fanboys/girls commenting on i09)

    Here's their take on it http://io9.com/5957654/eat-a-big-burlap-sack-of-zombie-dongs-walking-dead?popular=true

    Oh yeah and I agree that the quickly found another "token" replacement Black man to fill in for T-dogg. What has me irritated is that they had to have the Black man shoot the other Black man, Andrew, just to prove himself to Rick Grimes. Stupid logical fallacy.

    I'm also convinced that the writers of this show hate women with a passion. That would explain Lori's stupidity for 3 seasons, and how they're dumbing Andrea down this season.

    I don't think that Michonne is being set up as an "angry Black woman" stereotype at all, I think the writers are showing that Michonne is street smart and savvy enough to not trust the governor and Andrea is being portrayed as the "tereotypical "dumb blonde" and the "weak White woman" which is her naivete and gullible behavior. I think Michonne is being portrayed as a Ninja.

  • Griff

    When Rick leaned over to Carl and said “oh no…” it kind of looked like he was making fun of him. Sad but i kind of laughed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julietteangeli Juliette Angeli

    I am completely with you when it comes to feeling pissed and disappointed about how T-Dog has been handled by this show. I also hate how his death was overshadowed by a more dramatic death. A bunch of us were stanning for him on another messageboard, and even started the “T-Dog Facts” twitter to try to raise T-Dog awareness. ;)

    However, I don’t really see what happened with Carol the same way. Yes, his final act was incredibly heroic and gave her a chance to escape. But the whole reason why they were together at that moment was because Carol did a heroic act of her own. She was the only one who saw him get bitten, and instead of running to safety by herself (she could have moved a lot faster on her own), she ran to him and tried to help him get away. I think I even heard her say something about a pact, which I took to mean that, as a group, they had vowed to never leave anyone behind. So I actually found those last scenes between them to be really touching and it made me sad that we never got to see more of their friendship.

  • caleaspots

    I’m with Jenn on this one. The Walking Dead just bottomed out for me with this episode. It’s like the show’s writers do everything they can to inscribe the white (male) characters lives as intrinsically and unquestionably more important that the black character’s lives. This whole episode… was that. T-Dog valiantly sacrifices his life to save white lady. New black guy valiantly shoots his black bunkmate (who he’s spent the last year living with!) in the face to save white man. It’s so natural for loyal black man to kill savage rebellious black man to save white man that no one even says a word about it! And Michonne so far seems to exist only to protect and take orders from white lady Andrea. Why doesn’t she just LEAVE!?!? Baaaah! The mind boggles. She knows the Governor is crazy, why is she letting Andrea keep her there? Why does she care so much about a woman who clearly has no respect for her judgement? These writers are too much.

    Also, Lori valiantly sacrifices her life delivering a baby Rick convinced her to keep. I’m just saying. This episode coulda been called The White Patriarchy Within.

    At least they’re no queer characters on this show. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen to them.

    Thanks for the discussion y’all.

    • Marc J

      I didn’t see killing the prisoner that way. This had nothing to do with race at all. Oscar made it clear to Rick’s group that he was no saint but was not like the other prisoners who were sadistic. Andrew was clearly with Tomas (the twisted inmate who tried to kill Rick) before and had demonstrated himself to be a threat to everyone in that prison when he broke the locks and let the walkers in. He put everyone’s life in jeopardy, including his fried Oscar who you are saying should have loyalty to him. Oscar made a deliberate choice for self preservation when he killed Andrew and proved himself worthy of trust to a group of people that had demonstrated they were capable of surviving, upping his own chance. It was the right move for many reasons and it had nothing to do with race. I would have killed him myself, as he was clearly dangerous.

      And to your point about Michonne and Andrea. They survived together with no one to rely on but themselves for 8 months in the zombie Apocalypse. They found an encampment that appears to be safe and secure, so it is natural for anyone who has been on the run for so long to want to settle in. The fact that Michonne smells something is up speaks to her better judgment and her willingness to leave it all behind speaks to her strength of character and desire to survive in the long run. However, she had no real evidence to prove her suspicions at the point in the story you are referring to, so it seems reasonable for Andrea to have her doubts. The fact that Michonne doesn’t leave until she feels she has no choice speaks to her character, as well, as she won’t just walk away from a person she had bonded with and had come to trust after 8 months of surviving together.

    • Marc J

      I didn’t see killing the prisoner that way. This had nothing to do with race at all. Oscar made it clear to Rick’s group that he was no saint but was not like the other prisoners who were sadistic. Andrew was clearly with Tomas (the twisted inmate who tried to kill Rick) before and had demonstrated himself to be a threat to everyone in that prison when he broke the locks and let the walkers in. He put everyone’s life in jeopardy, including his fried Oscar who you are saying should have loyalty to him. Oscar made a deliberate choice for self preservation when he killed Andrew and proved himself worthy of trust to a group of people that had demonstrated they were capable of surviving, upping his own chance. It was the right move for many reasons and it had nothing to do with race. I would have killed him myself, as he was clearly dangerous.

      And to your point about Michonne and Andrea. They survived together with no one to rely on but themselves for 8 months in the zombie Apocalypse. They found an encampment that appears to be safe and secure, so it is natural for anyone who has been on the run for so long to want to settle in. The fact that Michonne smells something is up speaks to her better judgment and her willingness to leave it all behind speaks to her strength of character and desire to survive in the long run. However, she had no real evidence to prove her suspicions at the point in the story you are referring to, so it seems reasonable for Andrea to have her doubts. The fact that Michonne doesn’t leave until she feels she has no choice speaks to her character, as well, as she won’t just walk away from a person she had bonded with and had come to trust after 8 months of surviving together.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not convinced Andrew was the culprit in that situation. I honestly thought it was a random woman who released the walkers. Technically nothing was determined after that episode. There was no “ah ha!” moment. Also just because he sought revenge against Rick, after Rick essentially left him to die, doesn’t mean he was just like Tomas. In fact I think he may have been one of the people who attempted a more sensible solution to Tiny’s condition before Tomas killed him.

        In Oscar’s case, yeah I could see it being for self-preservation. But even so Andrew wasn’t an immediate threat to him, just Rick and his party. I just feel it was deliberate for Oscar, rather than the white prisoner, to kill Andrew and that allows us to make racial implications esp given what happened to T-Dog.

        As for Michonne and Andrea, Andrea’s role in their survival has never really been discussed or exemplified since most of the time Michonne has been protecting or caring for her. It makes it seem as though Andrea is useless if she is so completely unguarded and accepting of this so-called utopia. Unfortunately the writers have really taken away Michonne’s voice, so it would confuse people who are not familiar with the comics as to what her particulars reasons are for feeling suspicious. Frankly the show has a terrible way of handling POC characters so I would chalk it up to that.

  • Anonymous

    So disappointed in the death of T-Dog, especially in the service of saving a white lady. Typical, really. And the whole give him lines and opinions was definitely reminiscent of the flashback of Andrea and her sis at the beginning of the ep where she died. A last minute, oh shit, better give people a reason to give a shit before this random dies.

    And the Gov, so very expertly keeping Andrea on the line with his “I’m Phillip” crap.

    Though I did Michonne having some lines. Score!

  • http://twitter.com/Deep_Seed Deep Seed

    Have you all been following the video game as well? The stars are an African-American Studies professor and a young biracial girl. I would be really interested in seeing this kind of commentary on that Walking Dead storyline as well. https://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead