Ladies and gentlemen, The Walking Dead would like to introduce you to The Governor. Read on for the SPOILER filled review of the newest episode, “Walk With Me”.
Season 3, Episode 3: Walk With Me
A helicopter carrying soldiers crashes in a wooded area. Michonne and Andrea go to the crash site and find everyone dead. When they hear others coming the hide while they investigate the site. They watch as the group’s leader kills the remaining soldiers after they’ve died and started to turn. When Michonne’s “pet” walkers start to make too much noise, getting the attention of the group, Michonne beheads them. However, their troubles are not over as an old friend with a pretty cool blade for a hand finds them. Merle takes the girls into a town and talks with them about what happened since he last saw Andrea and the rest of the group. They then meet a charismatic leader of the town who promises their release in the morning along with extra ammo for their weapons and food for the road. He then welcomes them to Woodbury, a fully functional town within guarded walls. The girls are shown to a room with a warm shower, food, and fresh clothes. The next day, Michonne and Andrea are shown around the town while “the Governor” talks to the surviving helicopter pilot. He then chats to Merle hoping to get more info about Andrea and talks to a scientist to learn more about Michonne’s pets and why she traveled with them. After a somewhat pleasant breakfast with the Governor and the scientist, Andrea wants to stay a couple days to decide if Woodbury, but Michonne doesn’t trust the situation. When the Governor tracks down the other men the helicopter pilot was originally with, his men ambush the soldiers and take their supplies. After a long day’s work, the Governor takes a break by going to his private room where he visits with his fish tanks full of walker heads – among them, Michonne’s pets and the helicopter pilot’s.
This is the first episode of the series that doesn’t feature at least one character from the first season. In fact, this is the first episode that didn’t once show Rick. However, this episode shows us what the other side of survival could look like. It’s a side that resembles our society closer to anything Rick and the other survivors have done in entire time we’ve followed them. Rick is all about survival in a world that literally has danger around every corner or behind every tree. The Governor… Oh man has he figured it out.
Let’s take a second to talk about the Governor from the comic series and why I think this interpretation of him is absolutely fantastic. In the comic, there was little doubt that this guy was a little nuts. He ran the town of Woodbury with an iron fist. The residents loved him for the protection he provided, but he was unpredictable and ruthless. Anyone from outside Woodbury realized he twisted these people to the point where sport involved gladiator arenas with walkers. He tortured Rick, took his hand, mentally tortured Glenn, and had Michonne shackled and raped repeatedly. Like Michonne, he kept a walker in his home, but unlike Michonne, this was more of a pet than a means of survival. Oh yeah, this pet was his own niece. Ultimately, he stormed Rick’s prison, killed his right hand man, Tyreese, and killed several of Rick’s friends, including Lori and their newborn daughter.
In this series, the Governor is different, but not any less disturbing. Merle’s return and subsequent creep factor along with some of the actions of the Governor himself (of which I will get to momentarily) has me thinking the producers have done something brilliant with the character. Instead of having a completely loose cannon of a character running about and terrorizing Rick and his crew, they’ve split the comic book Governor into two different characters. Merle comprises all of the crazy and outright frightening elements of that character. I still believe it will be Merle who will cut Rick’s hand off in revenge for leaving him on the roof all the way back in episode 2. He’s the muscle and, as they put it, the hammer in the tool box – which the Governor was all to himself in the comics. The actual Governor (played brilliantly by David Morrissey) is outwardly charismatic and has the entire town of Woodbury, minus a couple key people, under his spell.
On the surface, the Governor does appear to offer true safety from the outside world. You can’t argue with the effectiveness of the armed walls. You can’t argue with the fact that it seems the residents of Woodbury have homes, food, schools for their kids, and a real sense of worth through having jobs. But peel back just one layer and you see a classic political move to gain the trust of your citizens. Remember the years following the events of 9/11? It seemed like every few weeks or so news reports would come across about potential threats and even some stories of how things might have been diffused. It was a yo-yoing effect used by, arguably, strategic reports released to the public to heighten fear and relieve it in ebbs and flows. These tactics were used in election stumps like propaganda to sway people to believe that if they voted one way or another, they would be safer/not so safe. It’s a predatory use of people’s basic needs to feel secure.
You can see how the Governor preys upon that at the end of the episode. Yeah, he’s already said nice and happy things to Andrea and the helicopter pilot, but when we see how he deals with the other soldiers in such a brutal and evil way, he turns it around and tells the people about how they were already killed by walkers. Why were they killed by the walkers? Oh, that’s because they didn’t have what he offered the people Woodbury (subliminally implanting the idea that they are lucky to have that protection), nor would their death be forgotten now that they have their stuff (subliminally implanting the idea that these soldiers died so they could make use of their vital supplies). It’s played so damn well in this episode that by the time it’s over, I’m nowhere near as scared of Merle as I am the Governor. This guy is the creepiest of creeps… He sells you safety, but his manipulations through the honey sweet words he speaks makes you pay with your soul.
The unfortunate thing about this is that Andrea is buying it hook, line, and sinker. Before, when Andrea was firmly on the side of Shane, we saw she was seeking strength through action. She didn’t want to sit back and become a victim. When she realized that wasn’t the way to go, she’s now seeking safety from the Governor. Sure, Michonne isn’t buying what he’s selling, but she’s so shut off, she’s not giving Andrea the chance to understand why she’s not happy with the situation. However, she spent months with Michonne who is pretty good at survival, so it seems like she’s more than willing to fall under the Governor’s spell too. It seems as though Andrea’s weaknesses often come through when a man who seems to be offer the things she desires most at that moment is able to provide it. I’m not saying she’s weak to men, but she’s so quick to disregard a lot of more logical ways to look at situations to obtain what she feels is necessary at the moment. Hopefully, she’s able to eventually look at the whole picture to see that “charismatic guy x” is really a complete nutcase and not the guy you should be following.
Lastly, I love how thick both the Governor’s charisma and Michonne’s anger is slathered onto this episode. Both Morrissey and Danai Gurira almost come off as overacting at times, but it provided for some of the juiciest moments in the episode. Morrissey would deliver a line drenched in some overly charismatic or swarmy positivity, and we’d get a reaction shot of Gurira squinting her eyes in distrust or disapproval. Cut back to Morrissey laying on more of his magic to Andrea and cut back to Gurira giving a death stare that looks as though daggers are literally flying out of her eyes. Morrissey is laying it on so thick that it’s both disarming you, realizing that he’s not the utter nut from the comics, and making you giggle a bit because you know he is some kind of nut and he’s just pulling these strings hoping you fall for his bullshit. On the other hand, Gurira’s expressions and the few lines she has is so directed and delivered so sharply, you are giddy over how wonderfully meaty these exchanges are.
In the end, we may not have had Rick, but we got a truly uncomfortable visit to Woodbury and it’s going to get better when Rick and the Governor finally get together.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Morrissey chews scenery and has full command of the episode. Merle gives us the creeps, and Michonne facial expressions makes us look forward to when she can kick some ass again.||No Rick or the others, but this hour in Woodbury was phenomenal anyway.|