The episode opens right on the heels of the ending of last week’s “Live Bait”. There’s a nice little scene between The Governor, known to his companions as Brian, and young Megan as they play a game of chess while Brian does some laundry.Megan wonders if her father has stayed away because she’s bad, but Brian assures her that she’s good. She asks if they’re going to make, and Brian tells her yes, but when she says “Because we’re good?” he can’t seem to answer. You could see the struggle on the Governor’s face, as he still tries to reconcile himself with his past actions and the path he seems to have currently set himself on.
There’s a flashback that shows Brian and Megan getting out of the ditch, and the Governor’s reunion with Martinez, who promptly informs “Brian” that he is in charge and that they will carry “no dead weight.” We meet Martinez’s traveling companions, Mitch and Pete, brothers and both former soldiers. They take Brian, the two women, and Megan to their camp. There Lily establishes herself as camp nurse and Tara finds a companion in a girl named Alicia. While out on a supply run, Martinez asks the Governor if he’s changed. “I have,” he assures him.
Martinez eventually tells the Governor that Shumpert is dead, killed by his own recklessness. He remarks that the family the Governor has hooked up with seems to have brought him back. But we soon see different, as the Governor takes a back seat to no man. In short order, he kills Martinez and tosses him in a pit of biters. Pete and Mitch set themselves up as new leaders of the camp, and take Brian along with them on a supply run. They come across another camp of survivors, which Pete refuses to steal from, much to Mitch’s displeasure. On their return, they find the camp again, only this time the people are all dead. It’s not made clear as to who killed them, but since the three split up the possibility that the Governor reverted to old ways. He makes a show to Lily that the camp isn’t safe, and Brian and his new family leave (bringing Alicia along) and get halted by a group of walkers trapped in a mud pit. Returning to camp, Brian does revert to form, killing Pete and coercing Mitch to serve under him.
The camp gets organized under Brian’s leadership, establishing a perimeter with cars and a barbed wire fence. He tells the group to avoid strangers on supply runs, that there are dangers out there in addition to the biters. Brian tells Lily he wants something more for them, a safer place, which we can guess means the prison. A biter gets into camp and nearly gets Megan, but Brian shoots it in the head before it can chow down on the girl. The way he walked away after shooting the zombie was reminiscent of a scene from Season Three, where he shot one of the victims in Woodbury after a zombie attack.
The episode ends with a couple of creepy scenes, with the Governor standing on the dock by the lake where he and Mitch tossed Pete’s body. As the Governor gazes into the water, we see a zombified Pete reaching up to him, though he can’t reach him since the Governor attached a chain and stone to Pete’s leg before tossing him in (he never stabbed Pete in the head when he killed him). In the final scene, the Governor drives back to the woods outside the prison, where he first observes Rick and Carl, and then sees Michonne and Hershel. The episode ends with a cliffhanger, with the governor raising his pistol and aiming it in Michonne’s direction.
This episode again was a showcase for David Morrissey, with some strong character moments that showed both sides of the Governor. He shows a tenderness towards his new family of Lily and Megan and Lily’s sister Tara. You can see an honest desire to keep them safe, and that desire is of course tempered by violence, since he will do whatever it takes to keep them from harm. In taking over the camp, he showed again just how ruthless he could be when he wants to achieve his goals. While he appears to have over gone some changes, it’s quite obvious that in some respects he hasn’t changed at all. It seems he struggles with this, though, and it will be interesting to see which version wins out in the end.
On a side note, the Governor taking the name Brian took on a new meaning for me as I’ve started reading the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga). I won’t say any more than that, so as not to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it. Next week things look to get quite intense, as the Governor makes himself known to Rick and the group at the prison again in the mid-season finale.
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