Monday, 22 July 2013

It Is Always The Living Who Are The Problem

A few thoughts on last night's Walking Dead episode, "The Killer Within".  Below are spoilers not just for the episode (and if you haven't seen it yet, turst me when I say the spoilers in question are absolutely gigantic), but for the first eight volumes of the comic book as well, which will almost certainly spoil later episodes of this season, too.  You have been warned!

So.  Dayum.  Two - maybe even three - characters who have been with us since the very first few episodes of the show are dead, alongside a recurring character.  Quite the slaughter, innit?

Placing Lori's death here rather than during the Governor's attack on the prison raises some interesting questions. In the books that attack was an absolute blood-bath for the regular characters. If I recall correctly, essentially every second-tier character in the group died (with the exception of the young twins and Sophia), in addition to major-hitters Lori and Tyreese. With Lori already dead, and T-Dogg gone as well, the shocking violence of the upcoming attack seems like it will be muted, since most of the characters who die in the fight will have to be comparative newcomers. I've heard tell that Tyreese will finally arrive this season, and presumably there will be a Woodbury defection as there was in the comics, but all of those will be fresh faces. Combine all that with the suggesting shortening of the prison arc (meaning Axel won't get nearly as much play as he does in the comics), and I'm left wondering if the show has shot its wad a little too soon.

That said, Hershel is almost certainly going to live long enough to be killed by the Governor, along with the missing-presumed-fine Carol , and the show can pull another Dale by doing in someone we really expect to survive (my money would be on Maggie or Andrea). I guess we shall have to see.
Even if the final battle does end up being more shocking than I'm imagining, though, the reasons for this board-clearing don't seem hard to figure out. This has always been the problem of TV adaptations of print media. Kirkman's comic can juggles as many characters as his brain has room for. The show can't. With an entire new community to introduce, along with Michonne, Axel and Oscar, there presumably simply wasn't room in the budget to keep on Callies and Singleton.

Even if this is the case, though, I wonder how completely it explains Lori's early demise.  This is only the third episode of the season Callies appeared in, and with her character pregnant she hasn't had a great deal to do.  I wonder if she's left so early in the year because Callies wanted to go and do other projects.  Given the sharp criticism her character has come under - from me amongst others - as basically alternating between a peril monkey and a horrible stereotype of the unreasonable hyper-emotional wife, it may be Callies decided she'd had quite enough, thank-you, especially since had she stayed longer it's likely the pregnancy would simply have been stretched out to fit.

Some other brief musings:
  1. Did anyone else notice that the only way for a new black man to get in with our heroes is for the previous black man to get eaten to death? Rick seems to have a fairly strict policy regarding Affirmative Action survivor hiring.
  2. That's assuming I'm right about Axel and Oscar joining the group.  Mainly that's because we know Axel does just that in the comic.  But what if I'm wrong.  Let's not forget that Rick killed Tomas without hesitation when he believed he was trying to endanger him, and through him the group. Much like the two men he killed in "Nebraska", it's clear Rick has become very much a "shoot first" kind of guy.  The one exception to this new attitude is him sparing Andrew's life, assuming he will free.  As a direct result of not having executed Andrew, both T-Dogg and his own wife are now dead.  For all that Oscar was smart enough to realise shooting Rick would make integrating with the larger group a tough sell (and Oscar has no idea how many rounds Rick's gun has, which means shooting the best zombie-killer he's seen whilst the prison is overrun would be massively stupid), the last lesson Rick is liable to draw from this fiasco is that he should probably be more lenient to convicts.
  3. Speaking of presumption, are we as the audience supposed to think Carol is dead?  I mean, this is the Walking Dead, the only show on TV where "if you don't see them die, they didn't die" doesn't actually apply (q.v. Sophia, unbearably horrible fate of).  Even I don't think they'd be cynical enough to kill her off and render T-Dogg's sacrifice meaningless, though.  At least, not in the same episode Carl had to shoot his dead mother through the head.  It's not clear whether we're supposed to assume she's alive or not, though.

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