(Warning: spoilers ahead!) Last week's Walking Dead didn't give us a single hint as to what the prison community has been up to, because it was all about the Governor's backstory. We learned he got real weird for a while and spent some time wandering the earth with 1) a ratty-ass beard, and 2) pretty much zero sense of self-preservation, and then he met a family with a young girl who gave him Fatherly Feels and a mom who was totally up for a ride on the old post-apocalyptic baloney pony.
When last we saw them, the Governor and young Megan had just fallen into a zombie-filled pit, the Governor -- errr, "Brian Heriot" -- promised to never ever let anything happen to Megan ("Exceptin' situations requirin' me to brutally crush your relatives' skulls right in front of you, darlin'"), and his former right-hand man Martinez had made a surprise reappearance. Here's what went down in tonight's episode:
We pick up pretty much where we left off, with some back-and-forth in the sequence between past scenes of Martinez pulling the Governor and Megan out of the biter pit and the Governor embroiled in a present-day board game with Megan. Good thing they have chess pieces handy for these ongoing metaphorical conversations! “You can’t think forever," the Governor tells Megan. "Sooner or later, you gotta make a move.”
He doesn't dilly-dally too much in this regard: after a largely pointless supply-run-turned-gruesome-cabin-discovery scene (thanks for that whole "OMG WHO'S BEHEADING PEOPLE AND TAGGING THEM AS LIARS?" red herring, AMC) (I mean, fine, I guess the old man in the cabin was supposed to be a reflection of the Governor, but it really seemed like this was jammed in for the sole purpose of providing a quick zombie-evasion moment), the Governor takes out Martinez with a completely surprising golf-club sucker-swing before dragging him straight to the biter pit to be eaten alive.
Well, shit. So much for Mr. Not Really Nice, Exactly, But Maybe No Longer a Goddamned Psycho Guy.
With Martinez out of the picture, Pete steps into the leadership role. His weaselly brother Mitch wants to raid a nearby camp, but Pete's a decent guy so he vetoes the decision. The Governor silently observes everything with his one remaining eye, then abruptly decides upon returning to his RV that his family needs to GTFO. "Pack your stuff!" he barks. "It's not safe here anymore!"
Because ... he knows what he's turning back into? I'm not sure, but their escape plan is totally thwarted by a road-blocking mud-pit full of zombies. Back to camp they go, and the next morning the Governor pays Pete a visit. "We need to talk," he says somberly, and Pete's like, oh dude I know my brother is a TOTAL -- hey why's there a knife sticking out of my back?
Having dispatched Pete, the Governor moves on to Mitch's trailer. In yet another unexpected move, instead of killing Mitch he tells him they can rule the camp together. Mitch never has to worry about doing the right or wrong thing, because without any of that pesky morality Pete was hauling around, they'll do the only thing.
They dump poor Pete in a lake, with the plan of telling the rest of the camp that he died on a supply run. "People believe what they want to believe," the Governor says. "Everyone loves a hero." Okay, Walking Dead writers, I get it: I'm a dipshit for thinking the Governor had changed after last week's episode. Ten points for Gryffindor. Since you're so freaking smart, can you explain why the Governor's trailer roof kept leaking when it was never fucking RAINING?
Anyway. So the Governor has daddy issues, he can't escape the person he tried to leave behind, he can't abide what he perceives as weakness, he hates the responsibility of leadership but he believes he's the only man for the job, and based on the final moments of tonight's episode, he's ready to overthrow the prison so his people can live there instead. Oh, and also he somehow managed to chain a not-yet-zombified Pete to a cement block when he dropped him in the lake -- without Mitch noticing -- so now he has his own underwater zombie to go visit because apparently he really misses those decapitated fish tank heads.
I liked last week's episode, but man, this one fell flat for me. I guess it's interesting to have more insight into what makes the Governor tick and why he's going to be so hell-bent on claiming the prison, but the mini-story of potential redemption followed by "Surprise, he's still a bad guy!" just ultimately felt like a filler side trip I didn't enjoy taking. The good news is that next week's show finally tees up that confrontation that we've been waiting for … but the bad news is that it's the mid-season finale. After next Sunday's "Too Far Gone," we'll have to wait until February to see what happens next.
What did you think of tonight's Walking Dead?
Image via AMC