We said it last week, but this week we really mean it. The Governor is back and he looks to be up to his old tricks. After a long absence from ‘The Walking Dead’, the Governor was spotted and highlighted in the last episode of AMC’s hit zombie drama titled ‘Live Bait’, which is where we finally saw his whereabouts since the fall of Woodbury. Now with a new “family”, the man once known as Phillip Blake looked to have turned a new leaf and left his past behind him. That is, until his former lieutenant Martinez reenters his life with a whole new group.
Now, in the latest installment of the series based on Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed comic series called ‘Dead Weight’, we learn that the Governor is actually his same old self. After acclimating Tara, Lilly, Meghan, and himself into this new group of survivors that live by the rule “Contribute or be cast out”, once the prospect of leadership rears its ugly head, so does the Governor and the physical and mental struggle for our villain commences.
While there’s an extremely mixed reaction to the way that the Governor was reintroduced to the story, I rather enjoyed the direction that the writing staff was going. We were all curious to see how David Morrissey’s character got along after Woodbury’s last stand and through these two examinations of the character, we got a very good idea indeed. Looking at this week’s episode in particular, it seemed like “Brian” was trying to build a new life for himself and protect his new family no matter what, but then went away the second Martinez offered him a position of power. I mean, as he dispatched his former crony, he repeatedly stated that he didn’t want it. To me, that was the Governor battling himself over going back to his old ways. He seemed like he would have been perfectly content contributing to the group and playing chess with his “daughter”, but it was that moment where they were golfing on top of the RV that pushed him back to his normal, sadistic self. He even got himself a new aquarium, so to speak, thanks to Pete and the lake.
I look at this change in the Governor as an interesting parallel to Rick after Lori died. He wasn’t himself for quite some time, but then after he ran into Morgan again and saw what he didn’t want to become, he snapped out of his delusional trance and came to his senses. For the Governor, all the elements of Rick’s story was there, but everything was just the polar opposite. The loss that he endured was Woodbury and the person from his past that was returning to make him his former self again was Martinez. Once ol’ Phil saw that this form of leadership was sloppy and wouldn’t keep his family safe, he wasn’t about to lose another daughter, so he bounced back to his old ways in order to get what he wants at all costs. By the end of the episode, he was right back to manipulating masses of people and targeting Rick, Michonne, and their group at the prison again.
Of course, with the Governor building his forces and imposing his vision on a new group of people, we’re preparing for the rematch of the year. By introducing the tank into the equation in this episode, I feel like they’re setting up for one of the most iconic moments from the comics where neither group escapes entirely intact and some huge, unimaginable losses are suffered. Having read the comics, I’m extremely excited to see how they pull off this oncoming storm and I hope they make it as epic as it is on the page for next week’s mid-season finale.
Though some people out there may not have liked these past two episodes, I was all for this momentary look at what the Governor could have been if he wasn’t so embroiled with the desire for revenge. After all, the audience needed to catch up with the character since he had been absent while all this sickness was overtaking the prison anyway. Now, his timeline is all matched up with Rick’s, it was done in an interesting way that revealed an unseen side of a very complex character, and we’re prepping for a huge slobberknocker in the next episode. Fondness of the last couple episodes aside, the thing that we can all agree on is that we’re now at a huge part of the story that has huge implications for everyone involved. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t leave us disappointed like this show has managed to do with a few things in the past.