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The Walking Dead: Live Bait

Brian: “He just lost it. The man in charge. I barely got out alive.”

And now for something completely different. When I sat down to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead I got something that was totally unexpected, a Governor-centric episode. In some ways you could see this as a game-changing episode that argues that it is possible to come back even from the darkest places. But is the Governor a changed man or will his old self arise?

The Governor, or “Brian” as he has now chosen to call himself, was almost dead. In fact, he was practically willing himself to die, but then he made a human connection. It seems that it is that connection which keeps you human. But as Bethie says, with that connection comes pain, and that pain can drive you crazy and change who you are. This show spends some time examining what the grief of loss upon loss can do to a person. I am hoping that this story arc is about how a person driven to psychopathic violence by grief and loss can come back from that brink through new human contacts and reinventing themselves. On the other hand, has the Governor changed all that much? Is he outside the prison to ask for shelter for his new loved ones, or is his need to protect them going to go in the same direction as Woodbury?

The tension from this episode didn’t come so much from the walkers but from my continued expectation that the old Governor would reassert himself. It was difficult for me to believe that he would have changed this much. I also found it difficult to believe that this na├»ve little family had survived the horrors of the last year snuggled up in an apartment building with walkers shuffling over their head. Where did they get water? How did they deal with many other issues that tend to get glossed over in this show? The worst thing for them has been boredom? Were they just lucky enough to avoid marauding bands of walkers and other nasties? It did seem to require us to suspend disbelief at an alarming level.

On the other hand, this story line was more interesting to me than the Governor waiting outside the prison just to continue the bloody battle from last season. There is now the possibility that we have a Governor/Brian who may sacrifice himself for the safety of those he loves. There really is no safer group of people to attach yourself to. If they can bring down a whole town as well organized as Woodbury, then they have already proved that they can beat the odds. And then there is the appearance of Caesar. He left the Governor in disgust. How will he deal with Brian? How will the Governor maintain his new identity with this blast from the past showing up? At least he brought machine guns.

While I didn’t find this episode particularly strong, it did raise some interesting questions. Although I know those who like action and gooeyness probably hated the Governor-centric story, I am now much more interested in why the Governor is lurking outside the prison than I was last week. Despite the sometimes gaping plot and consistency holes, this show still leaves me wanting to know what will happen next.

Bits and Pieces

It isn’t place or things that will get you through the apocalypse – it’s the right people. Has the Governor learned this?

I’m not sure why the Governor goes and destroys Woodbury. I know there are theories out there but it just didn’t make sense to me. Of course, this may just be another illustration of him being over the edge.

I found the barn with all the messages particularly heartbreaking. People obviously tried to wait for their loved ones and then had to move on or died.

I do like Tara. Yeah, strong female character who is also a lesbian! I wonder how long she will last.

Thing I could live without – Elderly woman obviously strapped into a wheel chair. They just died of neglect. Wouldn’t the first walkers have eaten them? The Governor/Brian tearing out the throat of a walker with his bare hands and then beheading one with a bone.


Tara: “I have enough artillery in here to kill you every day for 10 years.”

Tara: “Then we’re cool. Pound it.”

Lily: “Bad news. This is going to sting like a couple of angry bees.”

Lily: “Nobody mentioned how boring the end of the world was going to be.”

Brian: “You can lose a lot of soldiers and still win the game.”

Tara: “I thought she was the one”
Lily: “Then you went camping, ate mushrooms, game over.”
Tara: “Ugh, worst weekend of my life.”


  1. I mostly agree, Doc. I didn't much care for the episode, but I did like the issues it raised. I think trying to explore the "Can we come back from the things we've done?" theme with the Governor is a really interesting choice. Who has done worse things than the Governor? He callously murdered dozens of his own people in a fit of pique, and subsequently burned down the whole town (possibly believing there were still people there)! Not to mention the torture and the sexual assault. Can he come back from that? Can the audience accept him coming back from that? Unlike you, I'm hoping the answer is a resounding "No." Some people can come back, but not the Governor.

    I am curious about exactly what version of the man we saw standing outside the prison last week. A somewhat "rehabilitated" man seeking shelter or aid for his new group? Or has he lost everything again, and come driven by vengeance and madness? As we saw towards the end of the hour, that excessive violence is still in him. Even if he's attempting to use it in service of protecting others. Where's the line? At what point does he go too far again? And now that he's back with people that know the things he's done, where does that leave him? More likely to fall into familiar patterns, or less? And how will Lily, Tara, and Megan react to learning the extremely ugly truth about 'Brian'?

    Still, on the whole, I really didn't want to spend an entire hour with the Governor in emo mode. Thematic resonance or not, I'm really not interested in attempts to redeem this character. Hopefully the endgame here is for him to serve as an example of someone who can't come back.

    And, to be honest, I'm ticked that it looks like next week will be Governor-centric, too. Are we not returning to the prison until the mid-season finale? Are they really gonna make us wait that long to find out how Daryl reacts to the news about Carol? Are you kidding me?!

  2. Leave it to the Governor to be the focal point of the episode that made my eyes constantly roll every which way. I actually paused it at one point and smiled because what had happened was so absurd. The thing this episode did right, whether it was intentional or not, was that I was constantly on edge that the Governor would lose it and just butcher the family. But at the same time I would've been aggravated if that happened because this family is definitely up there on the stupid scale.

    He meets an apartment full of people (people that, like you pointed out, managed to totally avoid any of the dangers of the apocalypse mind you) and they all go "Hey crazy-looking bearded one-eyed hobo, do you want to hang out with us for a while? Don't worry, we're just a dude on an oxygen tank, a girl with a chip on her shoulder, and a wimpy mother with a child. Yes you may sit in between us. Don't mind me, I'll just leave my 9 year old daughter alone in this room with you." Tara was annoying to no end. the actress was trying way too hard to look like a person who was trying way too hard to sound tough. And I dunno what Lilly's deal is. I guess it's just been a really long time since she's seen a dude that wasn't her dad.

    This whole episode actually was framed like some poorly written role-playing game. The dad asked him to risk his life to go get a backgammon board. And then shortly after they asked him to go get some oxygen tanks. All the while "Brian" just sorta mutely did it all.

    If Lilly's name is any indication, it seems like she may be a blend of of two significant characters to the Governor, which interests me.

    I'm guessing the Governor burned down Woodbury as a sorta cleansing deal. Seems like he has a tendency to try to burn painful past memories.

    On the plus side Kirk Avecedo is on the show now.

  3. Freeman, I'm curious about what's going to transpire with Lily, too. Actually, I'm kind of nervous about where it all might be headed. But just to clarify, she's the mother character. Your comment made it seem like you thought she was the little girl. That's Megan.

    Where was Kirk Acevedo? Was he in the preview? Or is that a bit of recent casting news? I'd love to have him around!

  4. You know what, I read "I guess it's just been a really long time since she's seen a dude that wasn't her dad" and thought you meant the little girl glomming onto the Governor because she thought he might be her dad when she saw him in the street. But on re-reading, I realize you probably have meant that the mother hadn't seen a dude in awhile other than her cancer-stricken dad. Apparently, I'm the one that needs clarification, not you. Sorry!

  5. Yeah I meant the cancer-dad. Though I guess you can apply my statement to both characters, I was more referencing that Lilly had sex with a one-eyed hobo seemingly out of the blue.

    Kirk was in the preview as one of the soldier-looking guys. And now that I'm looking I totally spelled his name like avocado. Nice.

  6. Awesome comments! It is really hard to put everything in a review but Freeman you summed up my feelings about Lily and family very well. I actually said out loud -"are you sure you want to leave your kid with a stranger?" However, it may be that naivete that charmed the governor. He doesn't want to be the violent failure, he wants to be the hero. Jess, I'm a little more on the governor's side because I want people like Rick and Carol to have the chance to heal. I am an undying optimist which sometimes makes this show tough to watch.

  7. Oh, I'm completely cool with Rick, Carol, Carl, etc. getting the chance to heal. I may have even been down with the notion of Merle being able to come back. But there's a HUGE difference between the choices and actions of "our" characters and those of the Governor. Just think about what he did to Milton and Andrea, let alone Maggie, Michonne, the National Guard guys, his citizens ... It just seems like way to much to ask the audience to accept, after all the things we saw him do last season. There is a point at which you can't come back. No matter how much you want to, or how much subsequent good you try to do. And I hope that's what they are going for with this storyline.

  8. I will say only this: the facepalm that came into place at the end of the previous episode has now been cautiously lifted.

  9. This should have been called "Live Bait and Switch".

    As much as I wasn't that thrilled to see a Governor-centric episode, this was still more interesting that anything they did with him last season (when he was just a total psychopath, in my opinion). I'm actually a bit curious to see what happens next.

  10. For my surprise, I mostly liked this episode, even though I don’t think the Governor is that redeemable a character. I too was on the edge of my seat wondering if his old self would resurface and kill the entire family.

    As the episode went by it became obvious the Governor would replace his old family with a new one (with the on the nose symbolism of burning the photograph of his deceased wife and daughter).

    Now can this show just stop being so sexist? It doesn’t matter how many strong female characters they introduce, they keep making fundamental mistakes. Two adult women give up the leadership of their lives to a man? Yes, I get that in the apocalypse a strong man by your side is gonna help, but the women did not need to turn “Brian” into the Man In Charge.


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