25% of the way through season 3 and we’ve got a pretty big episode. The scale isn’t huge, like the first two episodes of the season, but some important things sure happen. Birth, death, romance, violence, the Walking Dead delivers. Now whether it all works, well, we’ll have to wait for some fallout next week. Oh, and though I don’t usually do this: spoilers early and often below.
For the second consecutive week, the “previously on…” segment before the show spoiled something that I have to assume was supposed to be a surprise reveal. Why show Andrew (the guy Rick locked out of the prison in the courtyard of walkers) at all, especially if you’re not going to reveal him until near the end of the episode? Oh well. Anyway, Andrew is alive and he’s cutting locks and luring walkers into the safe zones of the prison. I assume Andrew was the unseen person watching Carol from the woods in episode 2. The other “good” prisoners, Axel and Oscar, plead with Rick to let them join the Grimes gang, but Rick is having none of it. It seems harsh, but it’s in keeping with Rick’s hard-line stance on outsiders. Rick doesn’t trust anyone.
The rest of the gang seems to be doing pretty well. Glenn and Maggie have taken up lodging in a guard tower, from where they descend with some embarrassment. Carol must be jealous, wishing she was up there with Daryl. Maybe if she stopped dressing like a cancer patient (she isn’t is she?).
T-Dog actually has multiple lines in the opening act, and a few more later. It’s almost as if they’re trying to make up for something…. Also, Herschel decides it’s time to get moving again. Lori, along with Carl and Beth (who share another supposed-to-be-cute glance) help him up and out into the courtyard.
As Lori sees Rick in the distance, she smiles at him. He kind of smiles back, or at least he looks at her. Of course, it’s hard to tell if they can actually see each other well from such a distance, but it’s really a nice contrast to the last time we saw them, feet away from each other, but unable to allow their eyes to meet (at least on Rick’s part). Here, with the prison yard separating them, Lori and Rick can share a semi-happy moment. Maybe things are starting to look up for them.
Nope. Just as everyone is enjoying Herschel’s newly regained mobility, Andrew’s walkers attack. Herschel and Beth lock themselves away safely, Maggie, Carl and Lori head back for the home cell block. Everyone else tries running to the rescue and T-Dog gets bitten.
Yep. That’s it. Of course, he takes a good chunk of the episode to finally die, and who knows, we may see his heavily-chewed on corpse again down the line, but that’s the end of T-Dog. I can’t say I actually have strong feelings about this death. T-Dog has always been a problematic character in that he never had anything to do. The problem is compounded by the fact that T-Dog has really been the only “semi-important” (note the quotes) minority character on the show apart from Glenn. Racial issues aside, he has never been a particularly well-developed character, and I found that I couldn’t really care all that much about his death. Yes, it was heroic, but he died saving Carol, a character who is almost as uninteresting as he is.
I’ll get back to the prison in a bit, but I need to spend a bit of time with the Woodbury crew. Michonne discovers fresh bullet holes and blood in one of the trucks the Gov liberated from the military men last week. She knows he’s full of crap. Of course, just as she finds these clues, the Gov shows up to deny things again. Later, Michonne and Andrea talk about leaving and finding an island to live on. It seems they’re going to leave Woodbury after all (yeah right). Andrea also talks to Merle, in a scene that is introduced almost like a romantic encounter. Of course, Merle also sees it as such, asking Andrea why they never hooked up (hook-hand jokes aside). Andrea gives him a map to the farm and Merle decides he’s going to hunt for Daryl.
Merle takes his plans to the Gov, who convinces him to stay saying that Woodbury couldn’t operate without him. I guess a resident redneck asshole is a requirement. The Gov does tell Merle that if he can find more concrete evidence, he will help to look for Daryl himself. I can’t really tell if this will amount to anything, but I could see Merle somehow tracking the Grimes gang down and getting the Gov to try take them in, or take them out.
Before Andrea and Michonne leave Woodbury, Andrea shares a drink with the Gov. I don’t know if any of you have seen it, but I’ll be damned if Morrissey isn’t doing his best impression of Sterling Hayden in Johnny Guitar for this role. He sounds just like Johnny at times. Anyway, Andrea opens up to the Gov, telling him about her plans with Michonne and the fact that her entire family is gone. He tells her that he lost his wife in a car accident before the world went to hell and his daughter is all that he has left. The sparks, of course, start to fly.
The Gov tells Andrea that he’s still interested in things like family life (and perhaps a domestic union with her?). Andrea gets up to leave and the Gov tells her that she’s always welcome back in Woodbury. He also tells her that his name is Phillip. So there’s that. After he kind of creepily opens the door for her, Andrea leaves and eventually goes back to Michonne to tell her that she wants to stay a couple more days. Of course, we saw this argument coming last week, but I want them to stick around in Woodbury. I’d love to get to know some of the people there, and maybe find out that there’s even more to this little community than the Gov’s shady dealings.
Now back to the prison. Rick starts to accuse Oscar and Axel of letting the walkers loose, but then the prison alarms start to go off, something they couldn’t have done. Oscar tells Rick that someone has started the backup generator. He, Rick and Daryl go one way to find it, while Glenn and Axel go another way. Eventually, Rick’s crew finds the generator room. (Non-)surprise! Andrew is there! He and Rick fight it out, but eventually Oscar gets the drop on them both, holding them at gunpoint. Despite Andrew’s request for him to cap Rick, Oscar does the right thing and kills Andrew, then hands over the gun. Looks like we’ve got our new T-Dog!
Meanwhile, after being chased out of the home cell block by loose walkers, Lori goes into labor. Yes, it’s zombaby time! Maggie and Carl are almost completely unprepared to deal with the situation, but Carl does a good job of not reacting when he sees another woman pull his mother’s pants off. Maggie knows enough to realize something is wrong when Lori starts bleeding profusely after trying to push the baby out. Lori realizes that the baby will need to be cut out of her. Yikes. There’s actually a really nice moment when Lori, accepting her fate, talks to Carl and tells her son that he his a good person and that he must always do what’s right. “If it feels wrong,” she says, “don’t do it.” I can’t tell if she’s trying to keep him from turning into his father, or accepting the fact that he’s just like his dad and encouraging him to embrace it.
Maggie cuts Lori open and delivers the baby. Lori dies. Carl decides that he is going to be the one to prevent Lori from coming back as a walker. “This is for all of the times you wouldn’t let me go off with Shane and play with guns!” he yells. Just kidding. Poor Carl, though. This kid’s really growing up even more than before. I really hope Chandler Riggs can sell the emotional drama in the weeks to come. We only hear the single gunshot as Maggie holds the new, and newly motherless child.
Having said so much about T-Dog, I should probably say a bit about Lori as well. I didn’t have as much trouble with her character. Yes, she did take that stupid car trip last season, and yes, she was constantly forgetting to watch after he son and then yelling at him for getting into trouble. Still, she did have some real complexity with the Rick-Lori-Shane love triangle as well as the whole baby issue. Plus, she was really the only person that Rick could talk to about anything he was feeling inside. He didn’t have to hide from his wife like he had to hide from the gang. I think I’ll miss Lori most because of that. She was a strong woman behind a strong man. I wonder what her death will mean for Rick going forward. He seemed to be pretty removed already, and set in his course, but the look he shared with Lori at the beginning of the episode said otherwise. Unfortunately, that was the last time he saw his wife alive.
Everyone from the prison meets up and the end of the episode. Well, everyone but T-Dog and Lori of course. Rick sees Maggie come out with his children (plural) and Andrew Lincoln goes into emotional roller-coaster mode. He’s overwhelmed. There’s some excitement about his new child, which gives way to confusion about where Lori is, which turns into understanding as he looks at the blood on his son’s hands. Good Lord, can you imagine what this guy is feeling?! What kind of relationship will he ever be able to have with his new child, let alone the other child he already has? That’s not even considering the morality of the decision to bring a child into the world of this show. Lincoln sells it all really well. He’s the brightest spot on the show so far this season. I constantly forget that he’s British (very British, his real last name is Clutterbuck–also, Ian Anderson is his father-in-law).
So where does that leave things? Hard to say. I don’t know why the gang would leave the prison, unless Andrew has done some other kind of damage that would prevent them from staying. Despite Herschel’s sprightliness, he’s probably in no shape to move much. Oh, they also have a newborn without a mother. Of course, the addition of the baby, along with Axel and Oscar puts the Grimes gang at plus-one for the episode, which is pretty good for this show. I bet they stay put until the inevitable showdown with the Gov. I do like the two location dynamic I mentioned in the episode 3 post. There are new people and things to be explored in Woodbury and new drama to be mined at the prison.
There’s also the greater question about killing off main characters. T-Dog was basically peripheral, but counting him, we’ve lost four main characters in the past 7 episodes (Dale, Shane, T-Dog, Lori), plus some recurring folks at the farm, the farm itself, and Herschel’s leg. I think the show still has enough core people that we care about to keep things going, but I also think they need to be careful. Maggie and Herschel have certainly grown on me since their introduction last season. Perhaps Axel, Oscar and Michonne will prove themselves worth caring about too. And who knows, the Gov might not be all bad.
Next week on The Walking Dead: Whoops, Maggie’s pregnant!