By: Matt ErnColumnist
The Walking Dead- “Killer Within” Grade: A-
I think the universal reaction to the ending of “Killer Within” was something along the lines of “Holy shit.” I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as last week’s strong showing if only because The Governor would get less screen time when the episode was split between Woodbury and the prison. Much to my surprise, the real compelling stuff went down at the prison this week as “Walking Dead” finally reached the levels of darkness/depravity I’ve been waiting for. The episode’s climactic final moments, in which Lori goes into labor and ultimately dies during a very rudimentary cesarean section, are incredibly powerful, much more so than I thought the show was capable of. What really hammers the scene home is the way the scene is intercut with a flashback to Rick giving Carl the gun and telling him that there’s no more kid stuff going on. I dare you not to shed a tear when watching Carl shoot his mother’s corpse to make sure she doesn’t come back as a walker. Also lost this week was T-Dog who is bitten in a walker attack and then sacrifices himself to save Carol. The survivors learn the hard way that the prison may not be as secure as they liked to believe when one of the inmates cuts several of the locks around the perimeter and then turns on the alarms, drawing tons of walkers. Oscar kills the other inmate, gaining Rick’s trust after early in the episode Rick rejected Oscar’s request to join the rest of the group. Rick’s pragmatism here in trying to preserve the safety of his group show how far he’s come as a leader and a character. Over in Woodbury, The Governor continues his manipulative head games, trying to entice Michonne and Andrea to stay. Merle wants to go looking for Daryl at the farm but The Governor is hesitant to let him go just yet. Instead he spends time bonding with Andrea himself. If this episode is any indication of the direction this season is headed, it almost makes up for all the standing around that went down at the farm last year.
The League- "The Breastalyzer" Grade: B+
One of the hallmarks of “The League” is creating sports metaphors in everyday life, in this case Jenny’s breast milk is being submitted to random “drug tests” by Kevin’s visiting mom who worries Jenny is drinking too much before feeding baby Christopher (or Chulupa Batman, depending on who you’re asking). The idea that Kevin’s mother would disapprove of everything her daughter-in-law does while praising her own slacker son Taco is sort of a sitcom cliché but I think it works here if only for the drug testing metaphor. And speaking of Taco, he’s accidently found himself in a relationship with a woman named George, who could not be more perfect for him. She’s almost the female version of Taco, she even got cited for public urination and jaywalking while drunkenly peeing herself in a donut shop. Taco and George’s new apartment becomes the setting for the episodes final act and stomach churning final moments. Raffi, who spent the rest of the episode teaching Ruxin’s son how to stab and karate chop the other kids in his swim class, wanders into Taco’s spare room and finds Jenny’s breast pump, which he assumes is an “awesome jerk-off machine.” When Kevin’s mom questions Jenny’s drinking at the party and asks her to test her milk, she ends up with a vial of Raffi’s (to put it bluntly) semen, which she tastes in the episode’s horrific final seconds. It’s a decent episode from a season that’s been hit-or-miss for “The League” but it certainly has promise. It also sets up the fact that Ruxin is supposed to be taking Geoffrey to these swim lessons every Sunday, all the way up to the Super Bowl which should lead to an interesting story arc. And Taco has been better than ever since he “made his nut” even if the circumstances were a little farfetched. I’m willing to forgive the cartoonish nature of that plot if the returns keep being this solid.
It’s Always Sunny- “Charlie and Dee Find Love” Grade: B
This was a weird episode for me because most of it was pretty funny and enjoyable, but at the end of the day, the episode will either succeed or fail for you based on the twist at the end, which unfortunately really didn’t do it for me. I didn’t dislike it, but it felt like the writers wanted it to land with such a huge hit, and that certainly wasn’t the case either. When Charlie and Dee become the love interests of some wealthy members of the prominent Taft family, Dennis suspects that they’re part of a “Cruel Intentions” like plot to humiliate them in front of their rich friends. This all coincides with Charlie finally agreeing to stay out of the Waitress’ life and stop doing all the random favors he does for her like making sure her bike doesn’t get stolen and putting vitamins in her shampoo. In the end, Dennis is proven to be half right because Trevor Taft was in fact using Dee (and later Mac) as part of a joke with his old frat brothers. But in the episodes “dark” twist, Charlie was actually using Ruby Taft as a way to make the Waitress jealous. Ruby genuinely liked Charlie but was merely part of his plan to make the Waitress’ life all apart without him. The ending really didn’t land for me, not so much because I didn’t believe Charlie could pull off such a deceit but because it didn’t seem all that shocking that he would. Looking back on the show’s much better early seasons, Charlie once told Dennis he had cancer because he knew he would try and set Charlie up on a date with the Waitress. This hardly seems any darker. There were a few other hilarious moments peppered through the episode though, like Dee and Charlie causally rationalizing the genocide of the Native Americans to try and impress their wealthy dates or Mac telling the gang about his uncle who died in a vat of molten steel.