At the conclusion of last week's episode, Internment, we saw Herschel clutching his Bible and crying uncontrollably in his cell as the effects of the zombie apocalypse are finally causing him to doubt his moral convictions. We also got a vision of the Governor outside the prison which appears to be a teaser of what may come next.
The week's episode is entitled "Live Bait," but it could have been called "The Governor's New Family." It's been five weeks since the fourth season started and the only time we heard his name mentioned was when Michonne was out patrolling for him. That's all about to change now.
The episode opens up on last year's finale (Welcome to the Tombs) when the Governor killed his own people because they complained to him after being sandbagged at the prison after they attacked it. I doubt he ever considered murdering for being pissed off, but after his zombie daughter Penny was killed by Michonne, he lost whatever modicum of self control he had left and in a rage opened fire on almost all of them. That same night, the Governor was staring into a campfire, deep in thought and was oblivious to a creeping walker about to reach him. I do believe he would have killed it once it reached him, just out of a conditioned reflex, but Martinez killed it instead. It made him realize he's probably useless now. In the morning, the Governor woke up to find that his men had left him alone. The Governor then went back and destroyed Woodbury completely, not wanting to leave his creation behind for anybody else and possibly as a way to obliterate the painful memories that were stored there for him. Months have now gone by and he's disheveled with quite the beard, roaming around aimlessly for months. Has he lost his will to live or is he still reeling from the events that took place after he went on his murderous rampage? Is he punishing himself for murdering the good people who had helped him or is he just depressed that he failed to destroy the prison?
This is more back story than what we received all last season for the Governor from the writers. Some people didn't like the Governor very much last season, but I thought Woodbury added a great dimension to the show. It gave us a real antagonist to despise even if he was inconsistently written.
In a voiceover, we hear him tell a woman that he's been drifting for a couple of months. He used to be in a town with no monsters, but the leader lost control and he barely got out alive. In a visual, we see the Governor find an apartment building housing a family consisting of two twenty-something sisters (Lily and Tara), a ten-year-old (Megan), along with their cancer-ridden father on an oxygen tank. Looks like dad will be a walker by the end of the episode.
Tara says she's a former Atlanta police officer ( I doubt it) and she lays down the law to an almost non-responsive Governor by telling him she'll f*&k his shit up if he bothers her family. Unfortunately for her and her family, they have no idea what the Governor is capable of. They ask him if he's going to live in the building, but he says he's staying just for the night. Lily asks him his name and he uses Brian, a name he saw spray painted on some walls. A little later "Brian" helps the sick man into bed, since his legs seem useless. He asks Brian if he has any kids, and Brian says no. You know deep down the Governor still longs for Penny, but now he's trying to erase that part of his life before he reached these new people. The man asks him if he'd go upstairs and retrieve a good backgammon set for his granddaughter Megan. He goes upstairs, finds its owner in a bathtub, a mauled walker. who's been shot only. He sticks a blade in his brain.
The Governor still looks like a complete burnt out, a living zombie who's breathing and walking around, but barely alive. Has he seen the error of his ways and now self-flagellating? He takes out a picture of his former family, his wife and daughter, but folds the picture so he's not in it anymore. Lily (who appears to have a crush on him) used to work in a hospital as a nurse and she comes down to give him some food for helping them out. She also hands him his gun back, which is quite strange. Would you give back a gun to someone who looks like he's part of the Manson family so soon? She then asks if he'll go to an old folks' home and get her dad another oxygen tank since he's almost out of air.
I was wondering why these two women would trust a man that looks and acts like the Governor has so far, but it's apparent that they haven't seen another human being in many years and are desperate for any form of human contact. My God, they don't even know that you need to destroy a zombie's brain to kill them. Isolation is very deadly to the human condition.
Surprisingly, the Gov goes there for her. Why is he helping them? He finds a a pallet with wheels that's holding eight oxygen tanks. He's hit the mother-lode. But as he's wheeling it out, a cadre of old zombies attack him. He's not armed very well and in his present condition, he's only able to get out with two tanks, but he gets beat up for his troubles.
He makes it back to the apartment building and gives Lily the two tanks and then flees to his apartment. She comes in to help him with his cuts and bruises and slowly wipes a cut above his eye patch with stinging alcohol. In zombie times, this is known as foreplay. Megan comes down to see what's happening and her mother leaves her with him as she goes to get some ointment for his cuts. As with all children, they have the ability to reach down into a person's heart when they no longer want to be reached and stir up long lost emotions. All it took was for Megan to ask him what happened to his eye. He tells her that he's a pirate, but she doesn't believe him and says "no way," which makes him start laughing. It's a guttural laugh that seems to crack open his walled-up insides and self-imposed prison.
He says that he tried to help and protect somebody (Penny?) from getting hurt, but failed.
But you got hurt instead.
Did they get hurt, too?
Umm, yeah, yeah they did.
Andrea and Milton are sorry, too.
The next day, the Governor shows up all cleaned up and shaved because he's obviously bonded with Megan. He looks almost human again as he shows her how to play chess. He hasn't talked this much since Martinez left him in his tent. She takes the king and paints an eye patch on it and says it looks like him. Soon after, her grandfather dies in his bed and Tara and Lily need some time to mourn him, but the Gov knows what's coming. As Tara's bending beside him, Dad's milky eyes open up and he attacks her. The Governor grabs the oxygen tank and starts bashing his brains in and saves her as the three girls all scream in horror. Tara tells him she's cool with what he did and that her father would approve also.
He burns the picture of his former family and knocks on the door and tells Lilly that he's leaving them, but she begs him to take them all away from here with him.
He drives away in her father's Gorbelli food truck, Lily and Megan in the back and Tara riding shotgun. She confesses that she wasn't really a cop.
I'm sorry I lied to you.
You don't have to be sorry.
Well, I am. Do you think we can make it?
We'll make it.
Are you lying to me?
He makes love to Lily that night and now his new family is complete. In the morning, the truck breaks down so they have to find a new vehicle. As they are walking along a road we find out that Tara is gay. I imagine it'll have some relevance later on in the season. Unfortunately, they stumble upon some zombies. He yells at them to drop their bags and run, but Megan freezes. They are all calling to her and she finally runs into the Governor's arms. They all make a bee line into the woods with zombies hot on their trail. As the Governor is running, he falls into a pit full of zombies with Megan still in his arms. (We hear machine guns in the distance.) After being momentarily dazed, he rips the throat out of one of them after bashing the head in of another. He kills the other two walkers in gruesome fashion and then hugs Megan tightly to his chest.
I'm never going to let anything happen to you, okay?
Cross my heart.
And look who finds him in the pit? His old pal Martinez.
* Are the writers trying to redeem the Madman from Woodbury and is he capable of redemption?
* Hasn't he done way too much destruction to suddenly change into a decent man?
* Is his self-imposed exile from humanity and starting a new family unit enough to curtail his pure evil side?
* Can he really change from being a sadistic maniac with the love of Megan?
* What will Michonne do if she finds him and his new family?
* Did you find this episode a believable story arc for the Governor?
* How long will it take the writers to get the Governor back to the prison?