There's the pitter patter of putrefying feet in the most traumatic installment of The Walking Dead yet...
WARNING: Major trauma after the jump!
Back when I reviewed the season premiere, I speculated that the events of the opening episode were likely to be the most optimistic of this year's story arc.
Somehow I can't quite believe that was only three weeks ago, so far are we now from the hope and possibilities that arose from the discovery of the prison. You see, this is the episode where not one but two central characters say farewell.
Lori and T-Dog are gone.
I'll return to T-Dog's demise later in this post, but first I have to address Sarah Wayne Callies' devastating final scenes as Lori gives birth. She gives a great performance as she says goodbye to son Carl, a moving, meaningful speech that manages to steer clear of melodrama and provoke a genuine emotional reaction in the viewer. So far the show has been tragically unappreciated in terms of Emmy and Golden Globe noms (let alone wins), but both Callies and Andrew Lincoln deserve to win accolades for the sensitive, believable performances they have developed, as illustrated in this here fine hour of TV.
|Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is a true fighter in The Walking Dead|
After fleeing into the prison following an outbreak of the undead, Carl, Lori and Maggie are forced to seek shelter... and then Lori goes into labour. If only someone could develop an iPhone app (akin to the Egg Timer one) so that Mothers Fleeing The Undead will be able to factor such fleeing time into their countdown to birth. The Walking Dead writers' room has proved over and over that they're willing to play with and subvert expectations at every turn, so it feels foolish for me to say that I really did think they were going to come out of this okay. Can you blame me? Even though I've read the comics, bear in mind that Xmas is coming, and Carl was present. Why wouldn't I expect that they would be wrapping Baby Walsh/Grimes in a blanket and welcoming it to a post-apocalyptic world?
Cue a birthing scene positively medieval in its horribleness. Determined not to lose her baby, Lori compels Maggie to literally cut her open (killing her in the process) to take her baby out. This is as much a loss-of-innocence episode for the viewer as it is for Carl, who is forced to shoot his mother in the head to ensure she doesn't return as one of the undead. It's a fine example of how truly rewarding great genre stories are, providing the thrill of supernatural and horrific delights while evoking a smorgasbord of emotional responses.
The other major death of the episode, as mentioned, is T-Dog himself. I have to admit I wasn't happy about this one bit. Over the past few episodes, we've gradually been given an insight into his character, and I was finally convinced that he was being given the screen time he deserved. IronE Singleton is clearly an actor with considerable presence, and he also gives a great performance as T-Dog makes the heroic decision to save Carol, but couldn't they have given us more time to connect with him first? For me, this is the one thing that ruins an otherwise almost perfect episode. They're going to have to give me some serious Michonne-time to compensate for this.
Speaking of Michonne, the mood of things continues to darken in Governorville. So far, Danai Gurira is nailing it with her depiction of the character. This week's episode confirmed that The Walking Dead is not only unafraid to go to the dark places - it's inevitably going to take us there. With that knowledge, I can't help but recognise that the Governor's villainy-to-date is the equivalent of a morning yawn, compared to the horrors he's likely to inflict on our band of survivors throughout the remainder of the season...
What did you think of this week's 'The Walking Dead'? What was your favourite scene? The Governor and Michonne? Andrea and Merle? Carl and Lori? Leave your thoughts below!