Last week’s “Killer Within” was simply emotionally exhausting for The Walking Dead‘s characters, and viewers. There is no longer any question as to whether the television series will reach for the same level of extremes in term of shocking plot developments. Like everyone else, I’m sure, I was left gasping for air by the time the credits rolled. Once I caught my breath though, the biggest question on my mind was “how do they follow this up?”. They have a lot of season three left to burn, how is The Walking Dead going to carry as past this moment, let alone surpass its story magnitude when it is time to tag a cliffhanger on the season as a whole. For sure, the events of “Killer Within” are some of the most significant of the series, let alone the season.
In terms of the immediate, and this week’s episode “Say the Word”, you continue weaving the emotional skein. Appropriately enough, in the prison side of the story we don’t get any moments of reflection. The emotional impact of everything that has occurred is still burning white hot, and with the arrival of the baby the entire situation is exacerbated.
I don’t want to give too much away, but you could split the happenings at The Prison into two segments: Rick, and the rest. For Rick, that explosion of grief from last week, the one you could feel like finger nails on a chalkboard, in a way continues. In every sense, Rick’s actions within “Say the Word” are a logical extension of the strength of Andrew Lincoln’s performance in the final moments of “Killer”. We watched a man’s agony compress into an emotional black-hole, and in this week’s Walking Dead we see it begin to transmogrify into some new, savage, volatile substance. Strange. Primal. Fascinating. If “Killer Within” wasn’t Lincoln’s Emmy Reel, “Say the Word” would make a fantastic second choice.
For the rest of The Prison crew there is no time to get sucked into that emotional gravity. They have a baby and no supplies to care for a baby. Time is running out. As has been the case through much of their lives in the zombie apocalypse, the group has no time to grieve, they are forced to shake off the events of last week.
Having Rick’s story and their story play out in the same space is a brilliant juxtaposition of desperation, hope, and rage. Truly a testament to the sort of proprietary drama that The Walking Dead can claim as its own.
On the Woodbury side of things, let’s just say the shock and awe continues and Michonne’s theories are put to the test with very surprising results, and if you think you know what drives the Governor: you don’t know what drives the Governor.
I don’t want to give away the ending but no review of this episode would be complete without saying that the final moment of the episode is probably the weirdest and surreal moment in the history of The Walking Dead. Subtle in delivery, but heavy in impact. Go ahead and try not to say “WTF?”. I dare you.