Note: This review and the accompanying comments will contain The Walking Dead episode spoilers. You have been warned.
We take a radical departure from the weeks of building tension at the prison this week to spend a little more time with Andrea and Michonne, as well as to be introduced to a new villain and reunited with an old one. While we don’t see Rick, Daryl, Glenn, or the rest of the prison crew, last night’s The Walking Dead continues this season’s trend toward addressing the issues of the past.
The episode starts with a helicopter malfunctioning and crashing in the woods, in sight of Andrea, Michonne, and their two chained zombies. They naturally investigate, and find two of the men on board dead. Before Michonne can check out the last guy, company shows up. They hide in the foliage nearby and we finally get a glimpse at the villain a lot of people have been eagerly awaiting: the Governor.
And he seems… nice? Well, maybe not nice, but grounded and imbued with a strong sense of right and wrong. And thus begins the long dance that slowly plays out over the course of Walk With Me, as we see more and more of the Governor, and all the little things that aren’t quite right about him start to add up, and before you know it he — but we’re getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?
Andrea and Michonne manage to stay undisturbed the whole time the Governor and his men are there, although a close call with the zombies leads to Michonne immediately decapitating them. Just as everyone is clearing out and all seems safe, a familiar raspy voice is hear behind them. The jig is up, and they are caught by none other than Daryl’s brother Merle, no worse for wear since we saw him last way back in season one. He’s missing a hand, obviously, but he’s adapted for the zombie apocalypse by strapping a bayonet to the stub. That’s backwoods innovation right there.
The pair are blindfolded and escorted back to Woodbury, where they are cleaned up, given clothes and food, and Andrea is treated for whatever it is that she has. They have more or less free run of the place, which seems like an idyllic small town when you ignore the big walls and all the guys with guns keeping the zombies away. Not only that, but the Governor is accommodating and helpful, promising that they can leave any time they want.
But they can’t leave just yet, and they also can’t have their weapons.
Michonne picks up on these things immediately, but Andrea is more trusting. Perhaps she’s too exhausted and sick from being in the wilderness for over half a year, but the warning signs sail right past her to the point of her convincing Michonne to stick around for at least a couple of days.
I have to give Andrea some slack here. The Governor isn’t quick to show his cards. Not only does he appear to be kind and genuinely concerned about his people’s well being, the actor playing him manages to turn even clear threats into little more than casual conversation. The Governor comes off as a good guy, if perhaps a little severe.
But behind the scenes there are some things going on. The Governor’s two lackeys are definitely not the type to give you warm fuzzies. We already know Merle, but there’s also a nebbish and extremely creepy scientist working in what appears to be a hidden lab on the outskirts of town. There is a lot that is off about these people, but the scientist – whose name I didn’t catch – is one of the creepiest characters on The Walking Dead to date. His attempts to wring information out of Andrea and Michonne over a breakfast of eggs was unsettling, hinting at lots of further craziness to come from this character.
And speaking of craziness, we certainly don’t have too long to wait before the Governor starts showing his true colors to the audience (Andrea and Michonne are on a different timeline). Remember that crashed helicopter? Well, the pilot survived, and fell under the spell of the Governor, who charmed him into giving up the location of the rest of his unit. This, as it turns out, is a huge mistake. The Governor shows up waving a white flag and seemingly overjoyed to find the men alive, only to draw a gun and shoot the nearest man before his men start unloading from the brush in the distance. Once the shooting gallery has ended, the National Guardsmen are all dead, and the Governor has a few more guns and trucks for his arsenal.
It’s a predictable enough move – there’s simply no way the Governor and his cronies can be good guys given the nature of the narrative in a show like The Walking Dead, but the show handles it pretty beautifully. The Governor arrives back in town with the loot, then gives a heartbroken speech to the people of Woodbury about not being able to save the men. Not only are we treated to more of the Governor as a master actor, but we get a sense of how blinded the townsfolk are to him. And seeing his people trust him implicitly, it’s a little easier to Andrea to relax and think she’s finally found safety.
The episode caps with the Governor returning home, having sex with an unnamed woman, and retiring to his office to watch a half-dozen aquariums full of disembodied zombie heads (including the pilot and Michonne’s pair of zombies). It’s not exactly a subtle message about the mental health of the man, and we cut to credits more worried than ever about Andrea and Michonne.
going to enjoy this episode
Oh yeah, I’m enjoying the hell out of this season so far.
There weren’t a ton of zombie last week, but what we did get were really well done. That gore at the helicopter crash site was incredible.
This wasn’t a bad episode. I had to recap for my Mom who Merrill is as she hasn’t seen season 1.
And then she’s wanting more information on who the Governor is and I’m… I read the reviews and spoilers, so he’s this guy and we’ll have to watch and find out.
I’m definitely interested to see how close the Governor hews to the comic version. There’s some drastic differences in the story already.
So far I love this Governer. I think the comic version is the most evil comic villian in comic history but I like this slick and charming version. Can’t wait to see what diabolical craziness he will be doing this season.
Oh yeah, Smooth Governor is an improvement in my book too. I don’t like obviously crazy nearly as much.
Either way, Rick is losing a hand.
Hah, maybe. Merle kind of got that particular mutilation covered though.
I’d have to pick up the comic or go find reviews and spoilers to find out what those differences are.
But a subtle crazy is good. I love my Mom, but they done good if they’ve got her confused and trying to figure out if he’s supposed to be a bad guy or not. I suppose the other is have her turn her ipad off and pay attention to the show everyone else is watching.
Hah, you’ve got to love those multi-tasking viewers.
Was anyone else annoyed that the Merle reveal was completely spoiled by the “Previously On” segment before the show?
I may have to go back to read the older issues but I think Woodbury has been combined with Alexandria Safe-Zone. The super organized town with no clue of what is really going on outside.
I remember Woodbury being more like Thunderdome. lol
Comic Woodbury was much more like Thunderdome (or Bartertown, to stick with the town to town comparison). I’m curious to see if that aspect will come out on the show.
I was also thinking I needed to re-read, because it seems like Woodbury was much smaller, like only a couple of square blocks walled off, with plans to expand down the line. But I might be confusing that with Alexandria.
glad it’s not just me then.
I really hope the thing both of us are referencing does show up at some point. I thought it was really cool.
NO SPOILERS CALICADE
I enjoyed this episode, but I didn’t think the Governor was really as bad as the comic version, who just looked like a pirate. I watched the episode twice to see what I thought again but that just made me think so even more. I’ve been trying to figure who is the best TV show character to fit me as a person, but it’s only now that I think it might be him.