This week’s episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ starts off innocently enough. Glenn gets some nookie in the guard tower, and the Governor drives golf balls off the end of the proverbial Earth. Then it all goes to hell.
‘The Walking Dead’ is no longer afraid of itself. Sure, this episode writes off two of the most expendable characters of the group, but I was sure that an episode like this would be saved for the mid-season or season finale. To throw this episode right at the beginning of the season feels like the show, and showrunner Glen Mazzara, are determined to really go somewhere with the story and its characters.
Things over in the Governor’s stronghold still feel like the show is setting the scene. Not much happens with them this week, other than Michonne being suspicious and Andrea falling for the Governor’s flattery. This episode is all about the prison and how a rotting deer carcass in the wrong hands can lead to a whole world of hurt.
When the Walker sunk his teeth into T-Dog’s neck and tore out his vocal chords, I thought, “Well, that’s a little harsh.” Having not spoken more than a few words in the past ten or so episodes, this particular death seems a tad cruel.
It was imperative that Rick undergo a change in character. Remaining in his wishy-washy state simply wouldn’t do with Shane dead and gone. In a few short episodes, Rick’s entire attitude and motivation have shifted. Long gone is the good-natured Rick of old. He’s become a grizzled zombie-world veteran, which was sorely needed. This is the episode that pushes him to his tipping point. Either he completely cracks up, or he reels in his emotions and buries his guilt.
Many people, including me, have not-so-secretly hoped for Lori’s demise. She’s been a thorn in the side of the show for far too long. Her incessant bad decisions have complicated matters just as much as Carl’s penchant for wandering off alone. However, as Lori lay there on that cement floor, begging Maggie to cut her baby out despite knowing full well that she wouldn’t survive, I had to give her some credit. Like her husband, Lori finally showed a change in character. She might have spent the first two seasons badgering Rick like a shrill harpy, but when it comes down to it, she owns her death. However, proclaiming Carl to be “smart” in her deathbed monologue is a little short-sighted. (Did she already forget about that little kerfuffle on the farm that he instigated by wandering off into the zombie-infested woods?).
Speaking of changes, maybe this finally leads to a stronger, more resolute Carl. Nothing makes a kid grow up faster than taking out his own mother for the greater good. Watching his mom rip off her pants and try to give birth to his sibling was bad enough to scar him for life. Shooting his lifeless mom in the head so she won’t turn into a flesh-eating Walker, sans pants, has to leave an open, festering wound in his psyche. Will this turn Rick against Carl? Do they slowly drift apart? It’s quite possible, and those possibilities intrigue me.