Walking Dead Recap: We Approve Of The New Sitcom Featuring The Governor
This week on “The Walking Dead,” we got that stand-alone Governor episode that we mentioned last week and now it looks like it is going to be a series of Governor episodes leading up to his arrival back at the prison.
It was a wild, caring and brutal episode that featured two great zombie deaths, one bearded psychopath, one cancer ridden grandpa, one sweet chess board, some sweet aardvarking in the back of a food truck, and a lone chance for us to pay homage to Joe Bob Briggs.
We pick up the story right after The Governor slaughtered all of his “pawns” along the side of the road (this will come into play later, we promise). He hops into a truck with his multi-racial companions, Martinez and Shumpert, and drives off to find joy and fun in the wilderness.
Immediately you can tell this is a changed man. He’s got that hundred yard stare that you get after shotgunning a marathon of “Platoon” and almost bites it at the hands of a clumsy female zombie that doesn’t understand the properties of fire. After this incident, Martinez is disgusted and takes Shumpert with him for greener pastures. This strips the Governor of everything and puts him out on his own. He returns to Woodbury to literally burn down his former life and pushes forward down the road towards uncertainty.
Along the way he picks up a sweet beard, some longer hair and a lot of miles on his shoes. Time is not his friend, but fate brings him into the hands of a family thrust up against desperation of their own and needing a helping hand. It’s a nice bit of balance in the episode and allows the Governor to sort of redeem himself in that Walter White “I’m still a scum bucket, but you like me anyway” sort of way.
At this point he isn’t the Governor anymore, he’s not even Phillip Blake. Instead he’s chosen the name Brian Heriot, taken from a message sprawled on the side of a barn during his bearded trek, and tries to put together the pieces of a new life following Woodbury. And it’s quite the turn-around. There he had full control with an iron fist before it was all destroyed thanks to Rick and the prison group (or the Governor’s own hubris, who knows) and he even kept some of that control while wandering on the road.
But now others are involved. It’s a strange setting. He’s faced with vulnerability outside of his own survival and you see a different side of the guy who was putting on gladiatorial battles between brothers and zombies, torturing anyone who crossed him and killing anyone who could be a threat to his reign. The only other time you’ve seen this side is when Michonne has his zombie daughter Penny and proceeds to brain her with a sword, an event that oddly put us on the Governor’s side at the time because we’re not exactly sure why Michonne hated the Governor that much BEFORE Andrea died. Sure he tried to kill her, but it was only after she threatened him and ran from Woodbury.
A little side note here: we really hope we get a nice Michonne flashback episode. We don’t really care about anyone’s past but her past at this point in the series. It’d be nice to find out what makes her tick the way she does.
Anyway, back to the Governor. After collapsing on the ground in front of a run down apartment complex, he sees a young girl staring at him from a window. Upon investigation and the muzzle of a loaded gun, we are introduced to Megan, Lilly, Tara and Don, a family living in the old apartments and attempting to survive the apocalypse as a unit.
The problem here is that Don has terminal cancer and isn’t long for this world. All he wants is for his daughters and granddaughter to be strong and protected before he goes, something he isn’t doing too hot at it would seem as none of them know how to properly kill and dispose of a zombie. Have they even watched this show?
The Governor is Tony Danza in a post-apocalyptic “Who’s The Boss” situation. He is thrust into this family’s life and is there to help them survive while also growing closer to them as a person. Don’t get me wrong: we totally thought he was just going to kill them all before the end of the episode. But we are shallow and cold people. We’re short sighted in our desires for television characters and just assume they will hold the same motivations episode to episode. Who knew there’d be a thing called character development in a show about zombies?
Brian Phillip Governor II continues with his bearded mope-fest for a good chunk of the episode, obtaining a chessboard from an apartment occupied by a crippled faceless zombie and slowly bonding with his new group. Before deciding to move on, Lilly asks one last favor of him and like a lap dog the Governor is off to an abandoned nursing home to retrieve oxygen for Don. He returns with two and is instantly elevated to angel status in the eyes of the group and is totally going to get some out of this, just wait and see.
This is the point where the heart of a child melts the hard soul of The Governor and gives him a reason to stay. Megan asks questions, displays kid charm and instantly wins over the Governor by reminding him of his daughter. She also gives him purpose that he lost following Woodbury, leading to a total self determination beard shave and a rousing game of chess.
Then things get interesting.
Don succumbs to the cancer and the family gathers around to say goodbye to the old coot. Ol’ Gov knows what is coming next and tries to get them to leave the room, but they ask for more time and end up witnessing the best kill of the season so far. Don returns and attempts to attack a grieving Tara, forcing the Governor to leap into action and kill Don with the very oxygen tank he retrieved to keep him alive. Nothing like crushing a loved one’s skull in front of his weeping family to gain their trust.
Megan instantly is frightened of the Governor while the rest are sort of in shock at his actions, but understand the necessity. Still reeling, they all decide to hit the road as a family band, driving their food truck to better situations and high paying gigs throughout the wasteland.
Getting the Governor back on the road is important here because the function has been served. He’s gained back reason into his life and his motivations are clearer than they were at the start of the episode. With Don out of the picture, it is only right that he continue his journey with his new “family” in tow.
Also the road is a great bonding tool between folks, as proven by Gov’s and Tara’s conversation at the start of the trip and Lilly’s steamy roll in the hay with the Governor as the others slept nearby in the back of the truck. It ranks pretty high as far as awkward sex scenes go, but you kind of knew it was coming since the start of the episode. Let Lily nurse those wounds Gov, she won’t treat you wrong. SHUT YOUR EYES, MEGAN! THIS IS THE ADULT PART OF THE SHOW!
Eventually the truck breaks down and the group is forced to hoof it on foot, eventually running into a horde of zombies (as is the norm on this show) and forcing major decisions on our characters. Should the Governor sacrifice himself for the group? Should they leave the injured Tara to be walker food like Shane did to Otis way back in season 2? Or maybe they should try to reason with the beasts with love and song.
They choose option D which was “run for the hills” and Megan makes the decision to once again trust the Governor in the face of extreme danger. And it makes sense because even when he was bashing Don’s head in with an oxygen tank, he was doing it to protect the new ladies in his life.
The Governor picks up Megan, runs through the woods and ends up in a ditch crawling with zombies. And then “Mortal Kombat” begins. The Governor hulks up and begins to bash zombies against the walls of the ditch, tearing out their throats like Patrick Swayze in “Road House” and eventually using a bone to behead the final zombie threat to him and his new little girl. The upgraded model that doesn’t need to be chained up in your psychotic floating zombie head room.
The big twist is that we run back into Martinez at the end of the episode, still packing heat and running with a new crew that features Kirk Acevado/Miguel Alvarez of “OZ” fame. If we pack anymore HBO favorites into this show, we don’t think I’ll be able to handle the references we’ll be forced to make. One J.K. Simmons appearance and we’ll be goners.
The good news is that the family survived their encounter with the zombies and have found some form of face that might be friendly. The even better news is that we are going to get more Governor action next week. We were ready to write him off as nothing more than a side act to the prison happenings, but we could still find out that he’s the zombie feeder and the source of the virus inside the prison walls. Yay! He’s survived to this point and he’s crafty enough to sneak into the prison undetected. We already know he ends up back there so now we just need to enjoy the journey.
Tune in next week to see if the Governor will take his family band to the Davy Jones singing competition. Also we’ll figure out what happened to the Governor’s beard and what it is up to now after separating from the group and going solo. Don’t miss “The Walking Dead” each Sunday at 9pm on AMC.