(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)
Ahhh, that Governor…that wiley, crafty, dashing, dirty Governor.
All this past week, I was thinking about that man. Even though I have about a million things to think about at any given moment (kids, work, husband, notes from the teacher, impending holidays), I just couldn’t stop thinking about the Gov. He was haunting me. I found myself texting my best WD buddy: I love the Gov…I cannot lie.
Me too, she texted back. Totally. But can’t really admit it. I replied, I’m owning it…GAC…guilty as charged.
The Gov has a way of getting in our heads, and our hearts, and if we are a hot woman in the post-zombie apocalypse, he’s probably gotten in our pants. But, word to the women out there in the PZA: hit that shit, then quit that shit. You do not want that man to be your boyfriend.
Unless you are willing to drink the Gov’s koolaid, the “I’m-with-the-guy-with-the-eyepatch” scenario never ends well. And even if you do drink the koolaid, it still ends badly. Just ask Andrea…oh, wait. You can’t. Andrea’s dead, along with Merle, Milton, a contingent of the National Guard, and half the population of Woodbury. All dead, thanks to the Governor.
And I know this. I, like you all, have seen all the horrifying acts the Gov is capable of…but after last week’s episode, when we saw a softer, more sympathetic side of the Governor, I found myself holding out my glass for another big helping of the Governor’s koolaid...please and thank you, Governor! Mmmm…sooo delicious.
I’m telling you, I am going to need a 12-step program to get over this guy.
WD’s Episode 7, “Dead Weight,” was, perhaps, the first step in my recovery process. The Governor is a multifaceted, crazy diamond, and last night, we saw a different shine of this complex, confusing, and controversial character. Has the Governor changed? Yes, he has…he’s gotten better…and he’s gotten worse.
As the episode begins, we see two scenes interposed. In one scene, we see the chess set, miraculously saved from the Lilly/Megan/Tara/Terminal Don apartment. Megan is sitting at the chessboard, set outside on a tree stump, contemplating her next move while the Governor wrings out and pins up the family’s laundry.
“Your move, pumpkin,” he prompts her. “I’m thinking,” she replies.
“You can’t think forever, “ he tells her. “Sooner or later, you gotta make a move.”
Megan replies that he never lets her win, anyway. He tells her that letting her win would not be winning…he then shares that his father never let him win, either, that he beat him at everything.
Megan asks him if his father was mean…he answers her, “Sometimes.” She then asks if he, “Brian,” was bad when he was a boy, and he answers, again, “Sometimes.”
When the Gov sees Megan’s face, troubled, he immediately puts down the laundry he is folding and asks, “What is it, pumpkin?”
Megan hesitates a moment before looking up at the Gov and asking, “Am I bad? Because my dad was mean to me all the time.”
As the Governor approaches her and kneels down to her level to reassure her that no, she is not bad, she is good, we see another glimpse of the tender, father-figure side of the Governor that we saw in depth last week. And it’s not an act…it’s real, motivated by true love and caring.
“You, me, your mom, Aunt Tara…we’re gonna be ok,” the Gov tells Megan. “Because we’re good? All of us?“ asks Megan. The Gov stands, does not answer, turns back to the clothesline.
Megan watches him. “Your turn,” she prompts him. “Brian? It’s your turn.” She has made her move. The Gov does not, however, move…he stands where he is.
“I’m thinking,” he replies.
In the other opening scene, we see the Governor, in the pit, holding little Megan tight after dispatching three walkers in inimitable, brutal, hand-to-hand fashion, prompting one of the guests on last night’s Talking Dead to call the Governor “the MacGyver of killing walkers.” (Ha!)
As he tenderly cradles little Megan, the Gov looks up to see a shocked Martinez, gun in hand, looking down at his former boss in the pit…
(Can somebody say awkward?)
After the Governor hands Megan up to Martinez, the two men regard each other for a moment. Martinez hesitates, briefly weighing his options, before reluctantly lowering a knotted rope down to the Governor and pulling him out of the pit.
“You been on the road this whole time?” Martinez asks him. The Gov nods. From behind Martinez, Lilly speaks up, “Is everything ok, Brian?” As he hears the fake name, Martinez looks first to Lilly, then questioningly to the Governor…the Gov’s look says it all: Dude, just go with it…please.
And so, despite the protests from Mitch, one of Martinez’s henchmen, Martinez allows the Governor and the women to come into the camp, on two conditions: one, accept that Martinez is in charge; and two, contribute or be cast out. No dead weight. Martinez looks towards the women, then back at the Gov. “You think you can live with that…Brian?“
The Gov abides. And with this decision, despite his reservations, Martinez seals his fate…his painful, horrific fate.
At the camp, the Governor bides his time. He endures the leaky RV that he, Lilly, and Megan have been assigned to stay in. He rolls with Mitch’s barbs and nicknames wordlessly while on a run with Mitch, Pete, and Martinez to find a nearby cabin inhabited by a rumored survivalist.
On the way, the Gov finds a headless body, tied to a tree with a sign around its neck, something the others would have missed and passed right by:
The men continue on, finding the cabin, but not before they find another headless body tied to a chair. This time, the sign around the neck reads, “Rapist.” On the porch lies body of the survivalist, with most of his brains blown away by a self-inflicted shotgun blast. The sign around his neck reads, “Murderer.” Beside the body, the Governor finds a photo of the survivalist with his wife and adolescent daughter, which he keeps.
Upon hearing noises inside the cabin, the men send the Governor in first to investigate. As they move deeper into the cabin, the survivalist’s wife, who is now a walker, attacks Pete from behind…the Governor rekills her by beating her head in with his flashlight.
As Pete catches his breath from the attack, he finds the reanimated walker heads of the “Liar” and “Rapist” snapping at him from under the bed. (Nicotero! You twisted, awesome genius!) Pete screams, incurring the attack of the Adolescent Walker, whom the Governor kills as well. When the Gov realizes the walker was the reanimated body of the young girl in the picture, he gets his now-famous “Crazy Eye” look.
My WD buddy texted me in that moment, Did his flip just switch? Yes, I think in that moment, the Gov’s flip did indeed switch. I mean, his total craziness aside, those dudes were pretty worthless in the cabin.
Sweet Pete (who my buddy and I agreed was totally tasty, while his brother, Mitch, was more like a hard pass, due to douchey personality more than looks…Mitch actually looks like some guys I grew up with) did more stage-whispering and screaming than anything else, and it was the Governor, both times, who had the quick reflexes and the combat skills to kill the walkers and save Sweet Pete and the gang. Dudes, get it together…you are supposed to be camp leaders, for fuck’s sake!
Later, in the cabin, Martinez and the Gov are sitting by the fire while Hard Pass Mitch and Sweet Pete are gathering whatever supplies they can find in the cabin. Martinez fesses up that if it weren’t for the women and the girl with the Governor, he would have left him in that pit.
“You seem different now,” muses Martinez, assessing the Governor closely. “Are you?”
The Governor takes a moment, looking into the fire, then nods slightly. “I am,” he says. “Good,” replies Martinez.
Hard Pass comes with some canned food and a six pack, and the dudes enjoy a post-attack warm beer share-session. Hard Pass Mitch sizes up the Governor: “One-Eye-Bri...I can never tell if he’s winkin’ or blinkin’…but you sure can regulate, can’t you Bri?”
Hard Pass turns to Martinez: “Was he always like this, Martinez?”
During the share-sesh, the men speculate on what happened with the survivalist and his family at the cabin. The Governor tells them that it’s best not to dwell on it. He, however, looks again at the picture of the man who was not able to protect his family, the man who let the wrong people get to his wife and daughter, and who could not live with the outcome.
While the Governor plays lip service with Martinez, Sweet Pete, and Hard Pass Mitch, inwardly it seems that he is, as he told Megan before, “thinking” about his next move.
Later, Martinez and the Gov are finishing dinner outside with Lilly, Megan, Tara, and Tara’s new girlfriend, Alicia. The adults are sitting around the picnic table, drinking “skunked” beers, laughing and talking easily…all except the Governor, who is nursing his beer and not saying much.
The women are complimenting Martinez on the camp he has made and ask about the community that Martinez and “Brian” lived in before. “Brian never says a word about it,” remarks Lilly. “I say let the past stay in the past,” smiles the Governor, as he begins to clear the table.
The group begins to disperse, and Megan calls out to “Brian” that the roof of their RV is leaking again. “You should fix that, man,” advises Martinez, to which the Governor smiles his enigmatic smile and assures Martinez that he’ll do just that…he’ll fix things, all right…Governor-style!
Inside the RV, the Governor regards the dripping ceiling with no small amount of disgust at his sub-par accommodations and pulls out a roll of duct tape to fix the leaky ceiling…you can practically hear him thinking, This place is no Woodbury!
There is a knock on the door. It’s Martinez, who has a full-on buzz by now. “I almost forgot, I got a surprise for ya,” Martinez tells the Gov. He holds up a bottle of liquor with a smile.
The two men end up on top of an RV (I presume it’s Martinez’s), with the bottle, a golf-bag full of clubs and a bucket of balls. Martinez takes a slug from the bottle, hands it to the Governor, who does not partake. Martinez slices a shot, grimaces. “Hand me another one.” From the Governor’s look, it seems pretty apparent that he is not enjoying his caddy role, nor much else about Camp Martinez.
As Martinez sets up another shot, he tells the Gov that Shumbert is dead…having never really recovered from Woodbury and getting careless, Shumbert ended up getting bitten by a walker and had to be put down by Martinez himself.
The Gov expresses his condolences, to which Martinez replies, “Some things you just can’t come back from…they become a part of who you are…you either live with them or you don’t.”
The Gov quietly tells Martinez that he, Martinez, seems to be living with them pretty well. Martinez takes another swig from the bottle, laughs, and returns the compliment, marveling how the family the Governor is with “really brought you back.”
He shakes his head, sets up a ball, continues to tell the Governor that he “couldn’t do that again…couldn’t risk it…couldn’t sleep at night, knowing I was going to lose them…”
“I’m not going to lose them,” the Governor replies. He is getting that look, but Martinez is too drunk and careless to notice. “Um, yeah, “ he replies. He shoots another ball, oblivious to the thin ice he is treading upon.
“What, you don’t think you can keep this place safe?” asks the Governor.
Danger, Martinez…answer carefully…but of course, Martinez doesn’t, instead says, “I’ll try, do what I can to keep this place safe from whatever comes…maybe you and me, we can share the crown a little.”
And that is the wrong answer, and the Governor’s reply is wordless, swift, and so brutal as he takes a club and bashes Martinez in the back of the head with it, kicks him, dazed and gurgling, off the roof, and drags Martinez to the pit full of walkers, who are hungrily reaching their arms up, snarling and hissing in anticipation.
This scene is so hard to watch. My WD buddy and I were exchanging a flurry of Holy fuck! and OMG! texts during it. Even the Governor looked a bit sick at what he was doing, saying over and over again, “I don’t want it! I don’t want it!”
My buddy texted me, What doesn’t he want?
I think, after watching the scene a number of times in my writing process, that the Governor was saying to Martinez that he didn’t want to be doing this, feeding Martinez to the walkers…but in the Governor’s estimation, Martinez didn’t have what it took to keep the camp safe, so the Governor was doing what the Gov always does: whatever he thinks needs to be done to keep himself, his loved ones, and the collective safe from the threat all around them.
Martinez wouldn’t have given up his leadership role without a fight, and the Gov doesn’t share, so the Governor seized the moment as it presented itself to take Martinez out of the equation:
I may need therapy to get Martinez’s death screams out of my head, but for now, there’s chardonnay…
As for the Gov, Lilly and Megan find him shaken and crying in the RV after The Martinez Incident. The Gov tells them he had a bad dream, and true to form, he recovers himself in a speedy manner.
After all, there’s work to be done. The camp assembles, and Hard Pass Mitch and Sweet Pete inform the group that Martinez must have gotten drunk and fallen into the walker pit…Sweet Pete declares himself the new leader of the camp, inciting some mild dissent and grumblings from those assembled, but after a rallying speech (and the promise of a vote in a few days’ time) by Sweet Pete, the crowd, and the Gov, roll with the new order…for a spell.
But, it seems that Sweet Pete doesn’t have the cojones to lead…while out on a hunt, the Gov, Hard Pass and Sweet Pete spy another camp, which seems well stocked with arms and supplies.
Hard Pass is thinking hostile takeover, and take the supplies, while Sweet Pete takes the pacifist angle and urges them to leave the camp be. However, after a few hours and a dismal haul of a couple of squirrels and a couple of cans of condensed milk later, the men discover the other camp they spied earlier has been ambushed by some mysterious other group.
Dead bodies litter the ground, save one old man, who Hard Pass Mitch quickly dispatches with a knife in the head, despite Sweet Pete’s protests.
The Governor returns to the camp with the intentions of getting the women and Megan out of there before it all goes south, but a few miles down the road, their way is blocked by a huge mud-pit sinkhole situation, full of stuck and snapping walkers. His escape plan foiled, the Governor turns back to the camp and takes the situation into his own hands.
He knocks on the door of Sweet Pete’s RV, and when Pete’s back is turned, the Gov plunges a knife into Sweet Pete’s back…it’s pretty gruesome to watch the Gov’s face as he strangles Pete while shushing his cries…it’s like, “Hush, now, while I kill your pretty ass…”
The next shot is of his bloody hand, rapping on Hard Pass Mitch’s door. The time of pretense is gone, as the Governor basically dispenses with chitchat and pleasantries and gets right to the point: I killed your pretty brother, I’m in charge now, and if you want to be my new Martinez, you got the job…the benefits are as follows: You get to live, and you don’t have to worry about what’s right or wrong, because I’m going to do all the thinking and deciding for you…cigarette?
Hard Pass Mitch is pretty shaken by all this…it’s a lot to take in, but after a moment, he accepts both a light from the Gov and his new job as head flunkie, no doubt swayed by the moving story the Governor told him about how he had a hero brother, too, who got his eyes blackened and rib broken by their shitty father after trying to cover the young Gov’s ass when he stole a couple of Lucky Strikes his dad’s stash. Hmmm, the Governor had a shitty dad and has a hero brother complex…it actually explains a lot!
When Hard Pass protests that nobody will believe that Pete befell some mysterious harm on a hunt and never returned, the Gov feeds him some hard truth, “People will believe what they want to believe.”
The Governor sticks it to hero brothers everywhere with a final fuck-you move for poor Sweet Walker Pete…my WD buddy texted me that she did notice that the Governor didn’t do Pete the favor of a kill to the head…it seems he had other plans for Sweet Walker Pete:
When little Megan almost gets chomped by a walker while playing hide-and-seek in the billowing laundry sheets, the Governor has reached his limit with the RV camp…he wants fences and walls, and he knows just where to find it: the prison.
And so, we are taken right to the moment where the Governor is lurking in the bushes, watching the prison…we see Rick and Carl in the garden, and then a noise alerts the Governor to Michonne and Hershel, outside the fence, unloading a truckload of dead walkers into the woods. Next week, mid-season finale of Season 4, where the Governor and his camp prepare to go Battle Royale on our gang at the prison.
Time to stock up on some more chardonnay, people!
Do you think the Governor is justified in any of his actions in this episode? Does the end justify the means?
Who do you think ambushed the other camp?
Next week’s trailer says, “All will fight, some will fall…” Any bets on who is going we are going to lose in the mid-season finale?
Queens of the Stone Age, “You Can’t Quit Me, Baby”
The White Stripes, “Why Can’t You Be Nicer to Me?”
The Black Keys, “Just a Little Heat”