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The Walking Dead: Dead Weight

Governor: “You can’t think forever. Sooner or later you have to make a move.”

This season and really the whole series has dealt with some of the biggest life questions there are. What does it mean to be human? Are evil actions ever justified? Can you do terrible things, things you never imagined and still remain essentially who you are, or if you do change, can you come back from the brink? These are important and interesting questions and The Walking Dead has usually done a relatively good job of exploring them.

I haven’t always liked the answers, but at least they were interesting and made me think. This episode did none of the above. I rarely critique shows and I often like episodes of series that people put on their worst list, but this episode really disappointed me. Okay, the Governor is evil, check. But he doesn’t want to be evil? This episode seemed to say that given his circumstances and his childhood, that the Governor’s choices were inevitable. I think we were supposed to follow the thought processes of the Governor as he gave up his new “good” life as Brian to protect those that he loved. I just didn’t buy it. It really didn’t take much to turn him back to his awful self. Yes, the camp was under threat – hello, it’s the apocalypse – yes, maybe Martinez would give him away and maybe Peter was too nice, but there are alternatives to killing two of the strongest men you have and taking over. So essentially the Governor is the murdering psychopath we always knew, but now he has a little family to justify it.

Martinez had put the camp together on his own as a reflection of Woodbury. He was willing to share power with the Governor. It seemed that Martinez had actually changed. He was a good leader who cared about his people. He was willing to try even though he made it clear that he didn’t think there was much hope of continued survival. I thought it was a nice gesture that he asked the Governor up to hit some golf balls. Unfortunately, he forgot his own comment about ice in the veins. It cost him his life. I couldn’t fathom why the Governor killed him like that. Was it always going to happen at the first opportunity? Then the Governor decides to take his little family and leave (even though he has killed Martinez to keep his secret) I understood that somewhat. There were dangerous people out there and their little camp was next and they weren’t ready for it. But I’m not sure why they turned around and went back. Maybe that road was impassable but there seemed to be many ways out. So much of this progression didn’t make sense.

Peter echoed the words of Rick and Daryl when he said that the only way you could survive was with people but then he died for caring about people and wanting to maintain his integrity and decency. The Governor seems to represent the idea that you need people but then you only protect your people and everyone else dies. Somehow this is justifiable and the only way to survive. The whole thing is we already had this juxtaposition. Our little group in the prison who are trying to maintain their humanity versus the Governor who is willing to do whatever he thinks is necessary to survive. The last two episodes have just taken us in a big circle of repetition rather than offering up anything new or interesting. We learned more about the Governor than I ever wanted to know. We’ve had some half-hearted explanations and justifications for his actions but he remains a liar, rapist and murderer – all the things the corpses accused him of being. What little hope I had for a twist, a new perspective or even an interesting exploration of human behaviour has essentially been dashed. I’m left thinking that the Governor will be exactly what he was last season, a reason to move our group out of the prison. We’ve just had to endure a somewhat tortuous detour before that is going to happen. And to top it all off we’ve been left with one of the worst cliff hangers ever.

Bits and Pieces

Is the ditch a trench that catches biters/walkers – why not dig it all the way around the camp and have a bridge?

The scene of the Governor doing the laundry was very homey and weird.

We have some big reveals coming up, I hope. How will Daryl react to the news about Carol? How will Lily, etc. react to the real Governor?

Was the pond dead because it was full of walkers? That would be a new kind of pollution to worry about.

Is Mitch really going to get over his brother’s death that easily?

Things I could live without – poor dead Pete in the water. Seriously, that is all we are going to get of Enver Gjokaj? The skin coming off the walker’s leg as Tara tried to pull it away.


Martinez: “Contribute or be cast out.”

Alicia: “You always this full of shit?”
Tara: “Yes, I am.”

Martinez: “There are some things you just can’t come back from. They become a part of who you are. Either you live with them or you don’t.”

Governor: “I don’t wanna do it.” (It didn't look like that at all)

Governor: “Men like your brother, always doing the right thing, even at the cost of their own people.”
Governor: “Because we will do the only thing.”
Governor: “People believe what they want to believe. Everybody loves a hero.”

Mitch: “End of the world don’t mean shit when you got a tank.”


  1. Well, at least I don't have to be ticked that the writers are somehow trying to redeem the Governor. He's definitely too far gone. He killed Enver Gjokaj!!! What more proof of his insanity do we need? :) (At least we get to keep Kirk Acevedo for one more week. I didn't expect him to make it out of this episode. So there's that. Even if he is playing a dude that seemingly got over his brother's murder a bit too easily.)

    Love the review, Doc. I'm very with you on the "big circle of repetition." Last week, I was down with the idea of exploring the season's theme through the Governor. But now that the answer to the "can he come back" question is a definitive no, I can't help feeling like it was all a waste of time. I wouldn't have wanted an answer other than "no," but two whole episodes just to get us back to the madman at the gates that we had last season seems pointless.

    Does it make a difference that this time he's not just being a dick, trying to get rid of nearby competition or exact vengeance, but is instead trying to secure a safer place for people he cares about? I don't know that it does, for me. I may have slightly more sympathy for his group this time, but that doesn't mean I'm eager to see them fight with and kill characters I've grown to really care about. If the Governor was just gonna show up with a tank to tear the place down, regardless, did we really need to spend two episodes watching his struggle not to give in to his dark side?

    Especially since these last two weeks did nothing to affect my rooting interests in the impending conflict. I'm Team Prison Crew. Full stop. Just like I was before these two episodes. At best, I can say that I now hope that maybe Lily and Tara make it through and join our survivors. The core group is getting kind of thin.

    And likely to get thinner next week. Since we're pretty much right back where we were prior to last season's finale, I'm going to go with the same death pool. I'm thinking Herschel, Beth, and Judith don't make it through the overall fight (which I expect them to drag out through the break). And probably at least one of those is going down next week. The more I think on it, the more convinced I am that Herschel's number is finally up. *Sob.* I've been expecting to lose him for a long while now (and dreading it). But he keeps surviving, so maybe it isn't going to happen this time either? Please? Probably wishful thinking.

    Re: why they turned back at the walker swamp. Apparently, the idea was that the Governor was just trying to run from himself and realized there were no other ways out, even if there were other roads away from the camp. No matter which way they went, the danger without and within would always be there. So he may as well just turn around and shore up the camp they already had. Not that they did a good job of conveying that internal debate!

  2. I didn't think that these two episodes were to make the Governor sympathetic. I kept expecting him to turn on the people who helped him, and he eventually did. Instead, when we got to the tank at the gate, I realized that these two episodes were so that we would know what was going on with the people attacking the prison, instead of seeing them as just nameless Governor minions. I sort of want them to overturn the Governor and join the group in the prison. Although I'm not counting on it, because nothing ever goes right on this show. :)

    I just knew we weren't going to get Enver Gjokaj for long. He has multi-episode character arc on Witches of East End, though, so that's something. I'm so glad he's getting work. He just needs to star in a show that I love. Can't they find a spot for him in Sleepy Hollow or Person of Interest? Almost Human? Please?

  3. "The last two episodes have just taken us in a big circle of repetition rather than offering up anything new or interesting."
    Too true.
    My facepalm is now firmly back in place, these really were two utterly pointless episodes.
    Also really, really, really, annoying!
    I honestly didn't give a s**t where the governor got to and now I don't again!
    It's lazy writing and only a way to bring the threat back, a threat that should have, scriptwise, been over a long time ago.
    I expect to be even further annoyed next week, and am assuming who will die but won't say it here.
    You may ask why I keep watching. Well, to be honest, I don't know. I've kept reading the comic in spite of it going to hell a couple of times. Maybe this can come back too.
    Otherwise...I'll probably keep watching anyway. Because I can.

    Ps. A spin-off!? Ds

  4. I don't understand why some people say the Governor is "practical" or "pragmatic" or "just doing what he has to do to survive." He's a psycho, full stop. Killing a bunch of soldiers when he could have recruited them to fight the zombies wasn't practical; it was stupid and wasteful and psycho. Bringing a bunch of zombies into Woodbury to fight gladiator style wasn't pragmatic; it was dangerous and stupid and psycho. Keeping a bunch of zombie heads in a cabinet wasn't something he needed to do to survive; it was stupid and depraved. And PSYCHO!

    If the Governor really WERE a ruthless man doing the pragmatic thing to survive, regardless of who it hurt, he would be a lot more interesting to me. It might even be debatable whether he or Rick were right in some cases. But as it is, the Governor is just a psycho with a Napoleon complex, and the answer to why he does what he does is "well, because he's crazy" or "well, because he's evil". What a waste of a good actor and a chance to examine some serious issues.

  5. TheShadowKnows: Exactly. A person/character that is "evil" is totally uninteresting.
    The single most important thing to remember when writing a character, renowned screen-writer John Augusts words not mine, is "Every villain is a hero".
    He has to have purpose, because even serial killers have a plan, a method.
    Okay, fine, make him crazy but at least make him try to justify his actions somehow better than what they're doing now.

  6. Season 3 of Walking Dead! You've returned to break my heart! Thank you Governor, I don't know what I'd do if you weren't around to bring this show down.

    Seriously though, this episode was so lazy and heavy-handed. The symbolism had all the subtlety of the Kool-Aid Man and everything felt awkward. Tara mentions she's a lesbian one episode ago and they JUST so happen to run into another lesbian that instantly digs her after some dialogue about guns that sounded like something out of a teen novel. Not even just digs her, they're like practically married at this point. I guess the Chambler sisters fall in love fast. the Martinez instantly accepted the Governor back into the fold and completely drops his guard after all that he saw him do. I don't care if he was drunk during the golf scene, he was sober all other times. Which is a shame because I kinda liked Martinez. Mitch just instantly capitulated to the Governor and is now his right hand man. Hopefully he betrays him somewhere down the line.

    And last of all, Shumpert, young(?) virtually mute Shumpert. Completely unflappable and stoic in all the time we knew him in season 3. Completely breaks down and dies off screen.

  7. I agree with Billie; I don't think the writers intended for us to sympathize with the Governor in these two episodes. I think they expected us to be on the edge of our seats worrying about when and how he would abruptly turn back into Mister Bad Guy.

    The trouble is that he has never once behaved like an actual, believable human (psycho or not), so I found it tedious, all the waiting for the inevitable.

    It might have been more effective to show this protective, fatherly side of him when he was first introduced. Instead, we were shown right away in season 3 that he was a Bad Guy, which quickly escalated into Super-Powered-Bad-Guy-Without-Believable-Motivations. Meh.

    I think they completely failed with this character.

  8. However, I did appreciate one small touch: the Gov still likes his trophies (the heads in water, Enver Gjokaj in the lake).

  9. I came here to complain about them killing off Enver Gjokaj’s character in one episode. Come on! Peter was so nice. I was hoping he would survive and become the new Rick of the show (I’m kind of tired of Rick himself).

    I don’t think these two last episodes were a waste of time. The writers made me care about the characters who surround the Governor far more than I ever cared about the people in Woodbury. I’m actually worried about them.


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