Tidbits of the Dead — Live Bait
The Walking Dead’s sixth episode of season four proved to be exactly what I wanted it to be — an all Governor episode. “Live Bait” opens on the killing fields of Woodbury from last season. The Governor (David Morrisey) has just finished machine gunning all of his followers, except for his inner circle thugs Martinez and Shumpert the Bowman. In the next scene these three compatriots are camping out — each with a separate tent — while the Governor looks pensively into the campfire. His face is a mix of anger and regret. Wherever he is, he is not in the current moment, as he pays no attention to a female walker that advances towards him. It goes so far as to fall through the campfire without moving. Finally the Governor is pulled away from his thoughts but the gunshot of Martinez putting the walker down. Whoever this man is, he is no longer the maniacal psychopath that unsuccessfully tried to raid the prison at the end of season three. If possible, the Governor is even darker in these moments, as his anger is being bottled up. What is he thinking? Does he still want against Michonne and Rick? Or has he realized that this may be a futile effort?
“Live Bait” shows us how a broken man, regardless of his state prior to breaking, must pick up the remaining pieces of his life. One could argue that this is what all the people in the world of The Walking Dead face. Everyone has to deal with death now cast in a much more dangerous light. But few people have managed to build something in spite of the hordes of zombies ready to break down the barriers holding the last few pockets of humanity. Rick has achieved something spectacular in clearing out and maintaining the prison. Similarly, the Governor, formerly Philip, and soon to be Brian Heriot, managed to build something in spite of the world of destruction he was living in. As warped as Woodbury under the surface, it was a functioning remnant of society — a piece of light in the darkness of a dead world. Eventually it rotted through as its core foundation — the Governor’s strong leadership — crumbled away. Had Michonne not killed the Governor’s zombified daughter — a mercy killing in the eyes of some, a murder in the eyes of a father — perhaps Woodbury would have stood while the prison fell.
It’s interesting to note that both leaders from last season suffered from mental instabilities. Rick saw the ghost of his dead wife, and that distracted him from being an effective leader. The Governor becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on Michonne and maintaining control over Andrea. In Rick’s case, there were others in his group that were able to pick up the slack that he dropped. Woodbury, however, was like a snake with its head cut off without the Governor in control. Neither of his seconds — Martinez or Shumpert, (or even Merle had he not switched sides) — could pick up the slack and divert the town from imploding. So, the prison group, whose own strained source of power stemmed from the in-fighting between Shane and Rick in season two, survived while the Governor and Woodbury went down in flames.
Where do we go from here? Let’s take a look at the cast from this episode.
Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) & Shumpert (Travis Love) — These two guys did exactly what they needed to do to survive — cut loose and run. Although it wouldn’t have been unjustified for one of them to gun down the Governor before driving away from the Woodbury population killing fields, they took the less messy route of leaving in the night. Perhaps the Governor’s hold on them was still too strong for them to turn their guns on him. As it was, they recognized that he was a failed leader, and they had better chances on their own. We see Martinez again at the end of the episode, but not Shumpert. I hope that Georgia’s second best arrow shooter is still alive!
Megan (Meyrick Murphy) — the Governor’s new daughter figure. Given the monumental task of making the Governor more sympathetic, this is the best way to go about it. If Philip became psychopathic from the deaths of his wife and daughter, then perhaps a new will set him straight again. Maybe this is what he wanted all along, just to reclaim his lost familial unit. If so, then this is exactly what drives Rick — see last week with his first questions asking about the safety of Carl and Judith. Rick and the Governor are just two sides of the same coin.
There were times when the Governor could have cut the dead weight of this family and went out on his own again — after the father died, and when the zombies were after them — but since he didn’t, I’ll take that as a sign that he really does care for this new family in his life. Now, as far as Megan herself goes, I think she has been pretty sheltered from the horrors of life in Zombieland. Her grandfather may have been the only one she saw reanimated, and then she had to witness the ordeal of seeing his head caved in by an oxygen tank. Good thing she’s got a brand new dad in her life, or otherwise she might end up like creepy Lizzie in the prison!
Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Lily (Audrey Marie Anderson) — The cop and the nurse. Who have been hiding away since the entire zombie apocalypse began. If that’s not dereliction of duty, then I don’t know what is. Okay, so Tara was just a cadet in the academy. But Lily should have had a bit more exposure to the dead if she was a nurse. At a hospital. Where sick, injured, dead people end up. However, they seemingly closed themselves off indoors at the first sign of trouble, and have stayed that way for over a year. Heh.
I like the budding relationship that is developing between Lily and ‘Brian Heriot.’ It would have been pretty awkward doing it in the back of a flatbed truck with your daughter and sister sleeping right next to you though. I’ve read criticism that this episode was slow and had too much drama. That’s okay in my opinion though. Had we seen the deaths of the Governor’s new family in the same episode they were introduced, I would not have been pleased. Please AMC, let them stick around for a week or two before pulling the trigger. That will give it a much stronger impact!
David (Danny Vinson) — Lily and Tara’s father and Megan’s grandfather. All in all, I’d say lung cancer ain’t a bad way to go during the end of the world. Still, I wonder why the Governor didn’t tell them that he would turn after his death. Perhaps he had his mind made up to leave, and didn’t have the heart to do so. Or perhaps he already thought they knew.
The Governor aka Philip aka ‘Brian Heriot’ (David Morrisey) — I really liked his transition from consummate bad guy to possibly redeemed by the end of the episode. I think that it won’t work out for him, yet again, and he’ll snap completely when his new family dies. Had it been just the Governor in the pit, do you think Martinez would have shot him? I think had the tables been turned, and the Governor’s family not been right there with him, then Martinez, or anybody else, would have had a new hole in his head. The Governor may be on a path to becoming a changed man, but I think that he will do anything it takes to protect the new family that has adopted him. Only, how will his new family react when they learn of the atrocities he has committed, and the lies he has told them?
Zombie of the Week
The legless faceless ghoul stuck in the bathtub was incredible. Second place was the zed whose head the Governor ripped off at the jaw. That one looked normal, but that was an awesome effect!
- The the big beard and dirty clothes, the Governor looks like a really frazzled, homeless Snake Plissken.
- I love how he told the truth about the former leader of his group losing it. Has he really developed a new persona for himself outside of Woodbury, or is he really just manipulating them with his lies?
- The situation in the apartment with the women and their invalid father is straight from the first Governor novel. Although, since they are on the road now, I doubt anything else similar from the novel will happen with them.
- The Governor and Megan had some honestly cute interactions, and I think that had we not known the hell Brian went though (caused) to get to that point, he would be a ‘good guy.’
- With that infection going around the prison, fist bumps might be a great deal safer than handshakes!
- The burning of the picture could be one of two things. 1. It is a symbolic severing of the man that he used to be — consumed by anger and hatred — and a change into something else. 2. It is a means of the Governor protecting himself from being asked more questions by Lily and Megan about his previous life and family.
- Is Tara the first lesbian in The Walking Dead?
- It’s probably not the smartest plan to drop everything and just run willy nilly into the wilderness away from the zombie horde. Especially since the Governor is so adept at killing them with his bare hands!
Next week, the Governor’s story — who cares about the prisoners? — continues in “Dead Weight.”