The Walking Dead – Dead Weight
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“Contribute or be cast out.”
If you had to choose between an RV and a tank, which would you choose? The tank provides security and firepower, while the RV is more portable and more easily inhabitable. For the Governor, the placement of the two side by side is a metaphor for two roads diverging in a wood. Does he go back to being the sadistic man that he was? Or does he change tact and become more of a family man, considering he’s got a potential new wife and daughter? Both are valid questions and most people would attempt to choose one or the other. Over the course of the episode, the Governor goes down both paths, only to decide he wants them both.
The Governor is a changed man for sure, but it seems as if he’s lost all of the emotional rawness that made him so feared in Woodbury. Being stripped of power and pride obviously has a great effect on one’s psyche and self-esteem. The thing is, the return of the Governor has been met with more of a shoulder shrug to this point. He’s just as brutal when he needs to be and equally as nonchalant about everything, almost drifting aimlessly through the world he inhabits. He even initially goes off the handles when offered a share of leading the new camp for whatever reason. Eventually though, the Governor realizes that he’s got a new reason for existing in the world: the survivors he’s brought along with him.
A new family has brought with it new responsibilities, all of which include the safety of the Governor’s adopted family. He’s definitely showing a new flavor of compassion that wasn’t really present in his past life, even if it’s still rooted in manipulation and spite. What his ultimate end game is to take the prison from Rick and the other survivors. He’s still very vindictive against Rick—maybe even jealous at this point—and rebuilding a new world will prove to himself that he’s equally as capable of running the show. It’s very likely that he’s recreating his past in a sense, in that his reason for finding Woodbury in the first place was preserving his family at the time.
A threat to those new survivors is Pete and Mitch, a fun couple of brothers. Pete has stepped in as leader in the absence of Martinez and his fall into the appropriately placed pit full of Walkers. Mitch is a hothead who “upgraded” from being an ice cream truck driver to a tank driver. The former is an even-keeled soldier trying to lead the best he can. The latter relies on his aggression to bully people into getting his way, imploring Pete to potentially massacre an innocent group of survivors for their supplies. Neither are really as capable in leadership as either the Governor or Rick, proving that it’s incredibly difficult to be the one making the decisions when you’re responsible for the lives of those around you.
The thing about the Governor as a character is that he’s always the most fascinating when he’s essentially silky smooth and moving the pawns on his real life chessboard. He coldly dispatches of Pete and Martinez, realizing that the two of them are threats to the safety of the camp. When his true survival instinct kicks in, the cold and calculating Governor steps in and shepherds the survivors towards a new Woodbury. It starts with fences of barbed wire and campers, but eventually (inevitably?) it’ll end up in another neighborhood and main street. It’ll be even better if that world is taken from Rick, something he feels that he’s owed considering how the last season ended.
That’s probably where the episode strained the credibility of the story so far. Why the Governor feels so slighted is a little puzzling, considering it was he who decided to try and storm the prison in the first place. The survivors repelled him the first time and it stands to reason they’ll deter him again, but they did so only in defense of their established home. Rick and the others never wanted to storm Woodbury, yet they did so to protect their own. The Governor’s reckless ambition to prove some grand point that he’s the better survivor in the end is a little tough to understand as far as a motivation goes. If he wins the prison, does he just retire as a dictator? Look for another survivor’s establishment to annex? Is he that power hungry that he can’t be content with the status quo of safety?
This episode and the last have both been exclusively focused on the Governor and they’ve done so at the expense of the other characters. It’s an interesting production choice by dedicating two episodes to the Governor and clearly it was all aimed at building up the mid-season finale next week when the Governor returns to the prison. It still feels as if these scenes would be better served had they been cut in with the previous four episodes, mainly because it was never really a surprise that the Governor would make a return. They achieved their intended effect and re-established the Governor as a villain, but they did so at the cost of keeping the series moving in a continuous flow. The somewhat broken up storytelling creates a slightly disjointed overarching season plot that’s a little inconsistent in its presentation at times, although it looks like things are coming to a head next week.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars