2012: The Year in TV Moments
Entry 19: The death that defines The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead became grimmer, grimier, grittier, and even good in its third season. The creators took a shotgun to the show’s horde of underwhelming plot lines, and have instead delivered a much-needed supply of memorable moments. We can summarize Season 3 in body parts. Hershel’s leg. Tomas’ skull. T-Dogg’s neck. Floating zombie heads! Andrea’s butt. Glenn’s face. Maggie’s boobs. The Governor’s eye. But there’s one organ that stands (hangs?) above the rest: Lori’s womb.
Lori’s death in the throes of childbirth was horrible to watch, and it was the best thing to happen to this show. Unlike most of the deaths on Walking Dead, Lori’s was utterly surprising. The writers deftly misled us by focusing our attention on Lori’s strained relationship with Rick. It seemed mapped out: Over the course of the season, a few crises would make Rick and Lori realize how much they care for each other after all and prompt them to rebuild their marriage. But then: zombies! T-Dogg goes down, and Carol (seemingly) runs off to her doom. Oh, the show is only taking out the trash, you think. Then, Lori’s birth isn’t going so well. Hah! Nice try, writers, but I know it’s not a season finale! A minute later, Lori’s giving a heart-wrenching farewell to her son. The most reviled character on this show (next to Andrea) somehow summons our sympathy and suffers one of the most agonizing deaths I’ve ever seen on television. For punctuation, her child must put a bullet in her brain.
Lori’s death reverberated through subsequent episodes, rendering Rick half mad and Carl robotic. And it’s moments like this that brought The Walking Dead back from the brink and made it into one of the best shows on TV. It was incredibly well acted, it was brutal physically and emotionally, and it was more about the zombie apocalypse than the zombies.
Chris Kirk is Slate's Interactives Editor.