The big news for this week’s episode of The Walking Dead is the return of The Governor (David Morrissey). The episode opens with the events immediately following the Season 3 finale, showing what happened to the Governor after he gunned down his followers in a rage after attacking the prison, where he leaves the scene with Shumpert and Martinez, who abandon the Governor shortly thereafter. He ends up returning to Woodbury, and promptly burns it to the ground. We next see him looking distinctly older and disheveled, complete with a scraggly looking grey beard. He eventually finds an apartment building and encounters a family of survivors inside- Tara, a former Atlanta city police officer, her sister Lily and Lily’s daughter, Megan, and their ailing father. Tara is more distrusting than her sister, and takes the Governor’s weapons from him. He gives them the name Brian Herriot, which we had seen written on the side of a building in an earlier scene.
What follows seems to be a kinder, gentler Philip, who tries to aid the family in repayment for their kindness towards him. At the father’s request he ventures to an upstairs apartment to retrieve an old backgammon set, which the father hopes will bring his granddaughter out of her shell. The Governor finds what he was looking for, along with a zombie in a bathtub, which he promptly dispatches. Lily tells him that Megan at first thought that he was her father returning to them. She also tells him that her father is dying of lung cancer, and asks if he would retrieve some extra oxygen tanks from a seniors home up the road. He does so, barely escaping. Lily nurses his wounds, and Megan opens up around him, asking what happened to his eye. The Governor tells her he was hurt protecting someone he loved, after joking first that he was really a pirate.Eventually the father dies and the new group leaves, only to end up being chased by a group of walkers. The Governor and Megan fall into a ditch, and he kills the walkers there with his bare hands. He vows to protect Megan, and they here machine gun fire. The episode ends with the Governor looking up and seeing Martinez standing above the ditch.
I’ll admit, this was not quite what I expected after seeing the Governor lurking outside the prison at the end of “Internment”, but it worked. It was a nice change of pace, and David Morrissey did an excellent job conveying this different side of the brutal leader we got to know in Season 3. There were flashes of that brutality, especially when he bashes the father’s head in with an oxygen tank when he attacks Tara after becoming a zombie, as well as brutally defending Megan in the ditch from the walkers. In a voice over near the beginning of the episode, we hear him recount the events in Woodbury as if he were detached from the whole thing, saying that the man in charge lost it. It almost appears as if the Governor is filled with regret for his actions, and he isolates himself from others to keep him from repeating past mistakes. It’s Megan who makes him want to have an attachment again, as it’s obvious that she reminds him of Penny.
This was a lower key episode, but it still had its share of tense moments. This was Morrissey’s show all the way, and he proved himself quite able at being up to the task. It’ll be interesting to see how the Governor’s relationship with the two sisters and Megan will hold up, especially in the light of the reunion with Martinez. It will also remain to be seen how he got from where he was at the end of this episode to where he was at the end of last week’s show. It’s doubtful that we’ll see this kinder, gentler version (unless threatened of course by marauding walkers) last for too long. And of course, we’re still waiting to see what the full fallout back at the prison will be, especially when Darryl learns that Rick banished Carol.
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