“Walking Dead” recap: The Governor can’t stay peaceful for long

After a brief detour, the Governor's true nature reveals itself again

Topics: TV, walking dead, recap,

"Walking Dead" recap: The Governor can't stay peaceful for longAndrew Lincoln in "The Walking Dead" (Credit: AMC/Frank Ockenfels 3)

Last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” was a relatively elegant resolution to the melodramatic mini-saga that has been the rebirth of The Governor. Last week, it seemed he’d found a new family and thereby redemption. But, of course, it was only a matter of time before he reverted to the murderous tyrant who ruled Woodbury with proverbial iron fist. Sunday’s “Dead Weight” struggled with some clunkiness — enough with using chess to telegraph the man’s trajectory — but where the episode scored is how it resolved the apparent conflict in the Gov’s personality. He is, at heart, a family man, a protector. Last night, we witnessed how that nature counterintuitively twists him and drives him to ruthlessness. Call it “Breaking Brian.”

Let’s skip over little Megan asking Brian if he was ever “bad” and his cryptic response. She’s a kid; he doesn’t have to tell her the truth anyway. “You seem different now — changed,” suggests Martinez later. “Are you?” That’s the big question at hand. But, in the moment, it seems that Martinez is the one who has changed. Out from under The Governor’s supervision, Martinez — who is guilty of crimes similar to those of his former boss — has softened. He runs a camp, commands armed lieutenants, but he wears self-doubt like a soiled military shirt. Sure, he stonewalls his old friend at first, but once old One-Eye Bri is within the fold, Martinez can’t wait to divvy up the burden of leadership.

Brian doesn’t want that. We know this because, after bludgeoning Martinez with a golf club at the mere mention of sharing, he screams “I don’t want it. God dammit!” We’ve seen this before. Earlier this season, Rick tried hard to throw off the mantle of leadership to no avail. In these times, nobody wants to be in charge — for reasons Martinez made abundantly clear before he ended up in pit of biters and discarded Titleists. Nevertheless, ex-soldier Pete admirably steps up to run the little camp. Pete, like Rick, is a good man. We know this because A) his pillage-minded brother Mitch is not and B) because he is very handsome. Bearing first-hand witness to the sibling rivalry brewing, Brian’s first instinct is to flee.  ”What about Pete?” protests Lily as he barks at her to pack. “You said he was a good man.” He snaps back, “Well, I was wrong,” knowing that good is simply not good enough.

While trying to get his surrogate family to freedom, Brian nearly drives their automobile right into a metaphor: A pit of undead, stuck in the mud, leaderless, practically climbing over each other to escape and eat. That is, unless this night-driving sequence is just a dream — which, honestly, it kind of feels like. (Remember that clunkiness, I mentioned earlier?) Either way, this is presumably where Brian realizes that the only way to protect the ones he loves is by killing Pete — who, I guess, he doesn’t even like — and taking charge of the camp. There is no room for mercy or morality when it comes to survival. Mitch accepts this when he agrees to be Brian’s second. Kowtowing to his brother’s killer kind of makes Mitch seem like a soulless dirtbag, but as we know from Merle, dirtbag brothers make great flunkies.

After the safety and relative beauty of Woodbury, there is no way that this camp, with its meager barbwire perimeter and leaky trailers, would ever be good enough for the hulking man with the eye patch. He soon returns to his own personal Alamo — the prison — but not before staring another metaphor in the face. Looking down at Zombie Pete, flailing helplessly at the bottom of a lake, The Governor sheds the timid Brian persona forever. This is what happens to “good” men. Moments later, discreetly watching Rick till the soil with Carl, he appears certain that he is the stronger of the two leaders. Then, as he points his gun at a smiling, unsuspecting Michonne, it seems that, for his second term as Governor, he will stick to a tried and true strategy: kill or be killed. 

Neil Drumming

Neil Drumming is a staff writer for Salon. Follow him on Twitter @Neil_Salon.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.


    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."


    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...