The Walking Dead season 3 episode 4 review: Killer Within

Review Ron Hogan 5 Nov 2012 - 08:48

Killer Within proves what a huge departure this season of The Walking Dead has made from the previous run. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

3.4 The Killer Within

If you want evidence that The Walking Dead has done a complete one-eighty from the second season, look no further than tonight's episode. Everything the show did poorly last season, from pacing to writing, has been completely redone. For example, this week's episode has major character developments, great dialogue, and some of the most emotionally-wrenching moments in the entirety of the show's history. 

The show's decided to take on a delicate balancing act with its two story lines, matching up the prison with Woodbury officially. This might be the first episode where we've split the two down the middle, and for a first attempt, it was very successful. There's a nice contrast between the idyllic status of the Governor's miniature kingdom and the absolute chaos that erupts in the prison after a fairly routine morning of dragging out dead bodies and moving cars around. Chaos is kind of an understatement. 

This is the first TWD script for writer Sang Kyu Kim, and it's one of the heaviest he'll have to write on the show, unless he writes a script about Rick putting Carl down Old Yeller style because he gets rabies. A lot of the emotional beats land this week, and there are some great performances from the actors, particularly a typically-maligned Sarah Wayne Callies and under-appreciated Chandler Riggs. Both actors take the brunt of fan ill will thanks to the way their characters are written, and while Mazzara and company have done a good job at turning around both characters to some extent, there's still a lot of built-up bitterness to get past before anyone's going to say a nice word about Lori or too much of a nice word about Carl. Callies and Riggs had a great scene together tonight, and both really stepped up to some challenging material, and Lauren Cohan also came off well in her shared time with the two. It was also nice to see T-Dog have some lines tonight, and to make some logical sense in a fairly nuanced argument with Rick (Andrew Lincoln also had a real standout moment right before the closing credits).

The one constant for The Walking Dead is the high quality of the special effects. There's some pretty brutal stuff in this week's programme, and it seems as though KNB FX can turn just about anything from a cut while shaving to a decapitation in a realistic, frightening manner. There are some stand-out kills this week, some awesomely sickening prosthetic work, and an exuberance towards the depiction of graphic murder that makes the show incredible.

The last ten minutes of the show this week are some of the bloodiest, most frightening, and hardest-to-watch in cable history (and not just from a gore standpoint). The show managed to provoke a lot of emotion out of me for characters I thought I hated, and while Woodbury seems to be losing some steam, the stuff at the prison hit a fevered pitch tonight. This episode felt like a mid-season finale, but there are still four more episodes to go before the holiday break. 

I'm not sure how they're going to maintain this quality over the long haul, especially at the rate they seem to be unleashing walkers upon the cast, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Woodbury kick into gear even if it means things will calm down at the prison. Perhaps that's an unreasonable expectation of storyline quality; the prison has had so many epic moments and huge blow-offs to long-running story-lines that to hold Woodbury to that standard - even if it does have Michonne, the Governor, and Merle - is to doom the story before it even really kicks off. 

That's going to be difficult to do, honestly. The prison has turned out to be great for the show, and I think we're all still burned enough by the search for Sophia to feel a little trepidation that the Woodbury stuff isn't happening quite yet.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Walk With Me, here. 

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is very impressed by the depths to which The Walking Dead will sink to shock, horrify, and unnerve the viewing audience. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Just watched it and I am an emotional wreck!

Same....kept hoping Rick would come in and save the day at the end....best episode of the season by far

This has to be the best episode of the show so far. Chandler Riggs was just phenomenal.The last ten minutes were just incredible. I guess my one disappointment is that a potential reunion of certain characters won't be happening now but overall I can't say enough good things about this episode. The cast in the prison were just fantastic. And Michonne and The Governor are proving worthy additions to the show.

For me, the best part of that reaction was when Rick looked at Carl and saw he wasn't crying, because Carl had to put down his mother. Like being punched!

Chandler Riggs was AMAZING last night. That kid is really good.

There's seem to be a recurring theme, similar to Highlander. "There can only be one.. Minority." Glen and T-Dog, once T-Dog dies, they replace him with Prison-Dog(I don't know his name.) And I was expecting Lori to go out another way, similar to the comics, pretty early on considering it's a quarter of the season but it's been pretty great so far.

Unlike most of Season 2, the show finally seems to be channeling the dark spirit of the graphic novels. Bravo!

This show is finally getting to a point where it is coming close to being as good as the comics. That being said, I don't trust this show when a character appears to die off camera - Merle and this episode's prison saboteur for example. Not that I imagine that Lori will return alive, just that, well, maybe we'll get to see Zombie Lori before the season is out.

Apologies for posting this on two tv review sites for this episode but I
have to say it more than once :) Andrew Lincoln, I worship and grovel
at your feet, always...a stellar
performance I will never forget and that's from someone who watches too
many shows for it to be a healthy habit! I admit I found Lori irritating
in the earlier seasons however she grew on me this season, she was one
tough woman, and loyal in her own way - maybe not in the 'nuclear
family' traditional way, something which seems to have upset a lot of
viewers. Come on viewing public, it's a crazy world they live in,
someoone cheating in the past shouldn't be an issue when you need all
your energy to survive, take a deep breath and move past it...Sarah
Wayne Callies gave Lori dignity and strength in her last moments and I
for one am glad she did :)

Totally agree re: T-Dog/Prison-Dog (hilar. name). I saw that replacement coming a mile away! When Rick wouldn't let Prison-Dog in the group, I said, "We already have our token black man, and it isn't you!!"

Once T-Dog went down, Rick was all, "So....we now have an opening in our group for a token?" Didn't take away from my enjoyment of the show though--it was just predictable.

Haha. Thanks for the insight, made me chuckle a little and that's why I prefer the Telltale Game to the tv series, far more engaging and choices limit the predictability.

Lets hope they find Carol soon, we dont need a search for someone storyline again. Another review site said she died, but that would make T-Dogs death meaningless.

Also I think that now that they got some big stuff done in the prison, Woodbury might get rolling.

I just caught up on Season 2, and I don't understand the criticism. What I saw was a growing sense of complacency in the characters (and, by extension, the audience), from the Sophia search (wonderful in that it built up hope and then ripped it away as a waste of time - much like everything else in this world), to the sunny consistency of life on the farm being destroyed in minutes. It was like settling in for the night on a couch and just as you get comfortable, you're literally thrown outside into the cold. Call me crazy if you must, but that paradigm feels far more effective than random encounters in an endless, dark maze of grey prison corridors.

You would be right, if "sunny consistency of life on the farm" hadn't constituted then entire second series. The characters endless philosophical mumbo jumbo really wore everyone down. The last episode was great yes, but wasn't worth an entire seasons worth of mindless, dull dialogue between characters.

On the bright side this season has been phenomenal so far, I'm just hoping (like everyone else) that the writers don't fall into the traps of the past. Incidentally, replacing token black guy with big, dangerous looking token black guy was hilarious. Hopefully the govenor story line won't be drawn out too long and everyone can find out what a nutter he is.

Cannot believe that I very nearly burst into tears when Rick realized what had happened to Lori lmao

I also thought the conversation between the Governor and Merl was gripping. The "that's my brother" line and also the eye twitch of the Governor.

An outstanding episode and once again the team proves that no one is safe. The acting this week particularly Andrew Limcoln was top notch and this season urinates from a great height on season two. Cant wait for next week

My guess is the evil within the Governor will be unleashed at the mid-season finale. After all, he's the series biggest baddie.

Definitely more like the graphic novels this year. I think the problem with season 2 was the change in creative teams. After Darabont was let go after the beginning of season 2, the new creative team seemed unsure what kind of style they were going to go with. They tried too hard to maintain the tone Darabont already established, and failed. This year they seem to be finding their voice and hitting their stride, big improvement overall.

If you just caught up on season two now - you probably watched th whole lot in one block. I think that would make it far more palatable than watching it an episode at a time week after week, it realy was frustrating sometimes the lack of apparent progress in plot or character at the end of an episode you waited 7 days for - just being able to quickly move on and see the long game play out would make it much better.

Brilliant! So far this season is incredible.

Then again I dont understant the dislike for season 2! I enjoyed it all the way through.

*understand! Wheres my goodam spell checker gone!

The Walking Dead is a show that I expect to have terrible things happening so I've been fine so far at hardening myself and not getting too upset when things happen. But when Rick sees them come out without Lori I just burst into uncontrollable tears. I can't believe how good this show has become.

Yes really, the acting on Rick's part was amazing. A TV show hasn't left me this emotionally scarred since Lost!

Rick is the best thing in this show. Thank god that moany arse wife of his bit her son's bullet. Just counting down the days till that brat is Walker food too. Ghaaad what a slow episode this week, I made 3 cups of tea while watching and missed bugger all in terms of plot.

Don't get me wrong, this season has been a vast improvement, i just think some of these survivors would be better suited to the after life.

Poor T-Dog, just as he was getting more lines to say, he goes and gets replaced, by P-Dog, who looks quite mean yet he still enjoys a cardigan in the cold.

Agreed. Loved season 2, definitely more interesting and complex than season 1. But I did watch it all in one block, so wasn't struck by the apparently 'slow' plotting. Sometimes it seems like people just want zombies to kill people, which is far less interesting than the things people do to survive and the psychological affects it would have on them.

Best to leave Carl alone! He the man! He earned his stripes/hat and should be respected accordingly! Give him his own celblock and Herschels daughter! Carl for President of the new USA!

Carl is the man!

I agree, I'm interested to see if they can keep up this pace. Also, seriously, can there only be one black guy on the show at one time?

Not sure about that, Nagen seems to have quite dramatically upped the game when it comes to 'evil mental cases'

My thoughts exactly.
At the beginning of S3, I remember thinking "I hope they finally give T-Dog something to do, that poor actor gets nothing to work with." Apparently this was never to be...

Both T-Dog and Lori dying were a complete surprise to me. Lincoln was just terrific in the last scene.

Amazing. How do you do it Andrew Lincoln, egg was good, Felix in human traffic bad, TV crap afterlife show, now the walking dead? Landed on your feet there! Gripping stuff. Shame I got to watch it online a week after fx on dodgy links like spanish youtube versions! Boom.

Never really had a problem with Carl, It's Andrea i can't wait to see become a walking zombie happy meal!

I know right!

Makes one wonder about that floating head in the Governer's fish-tank that shares a certain likeness with the man.

Good point, I never considered the difference in experiencing TWD as one block vs. week by week.

L oved it of course but couldn't help thinking that Merl is no longer as nasty and unsettling as he was in series 1

"Realistic Effects"??????!?!?!?!?!? Are you kidding me??!?! These are the worst Sound Effects ever made! Man you are clueless. Have you ever seen a gutting of a pig, a skinning of a pig for Christmas, cutting through it's meat, slicing a whole (pre-skinned) lamp for Easter, have you any idea how WRONG the FX are?

1. The human Skull is VERY hard! It is NOT a mushy ball that you can slice through like it was butter!!! It's stupid if you think this is REAL!!!!
2. If you turn zombie you loose the ability to bleed! Do the dead still have a heart beating?
3. Blood when it dries leaves little dark-red crumbles (the hemoglobin I guess); it is not just a water based red color that is practically everywhere!
4. Flesh is VERY hard to cut, more so to take bite size chunks with the teeth.
5. The flesh that the zombie eat is ridiculous; a man has a stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys stuff like that, not all muscles that the zombie seem to eat and tear it like it's chewing gum
5. Every sound effect is absolutely wrong!!! Too much mushy sounds!! Go buy a stake and cut it! Does it make a mushy sound? NO!!!!

I've assisted at the gutting and skinning and slicing of pigs since I was a child. It was a Christmas (and the natural things to live from time to time) tradition until some 10 years ago. Believe me that you are an ignorant and naive bunch of people if you give this show a prize for the effects. Its is not real. Who teaches the FX guys how a slicing of a body produces so much mushy noise? Crap. Not EVERYTHING needs a sound effect! Prybars, footsteps, knife things etc,limit some of the sounds since they are "ïn your face sounds".

I'm from Romania. I wish a Romanian director and producer would make a similar show...then you will see true gore and true emotions, and true EFFECTS!!

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