Well, that was pointless, now wasn’t it?
The Governor goes from psychopath to sad loser surrounded by lazy walkers to family man and back to psychopath, all in the span of 1.25 episodes. Why? I guess because there were two episodes to kill. Maybe next week’s slam-bang action will give me second thoughts, but at this point I’m seriously unimpressed with the whole Governor arc. And yes, that retroactively extends all the way back to the third season.
It’s dead weight.
As you’ll recall, I had reservations about the Governor’s quasi-redemption last week. Specifically: “Do we as the audience care enough to invest in it given that we know he was a cartoonish Michael Myers?” The writer’s answer that question for us by hustling him back to psychopath before the varnish can even dry on last week’s family-friendly Governor. So the response to my quoted question is “No.” We do not care in the least.
That’s never a good reaction to any tale. I also find myself pining for Farmer Rick munching peas with Carl. That’s not a good reaction, either.
The episode opens with the Governor and Megan playing chess. That cuts back and forth in an uninspired manner with Martinez getting the Governor and Megan out of the pit they fell into last week. At the end, she says: “It’s your move.” He says “I’m thinking.” The big reveal as the camera pulls back? This camp just happens to have a tank parked next to the Governor’s RV.
Nothing poetic about that. The visual is actually more laughable than menacing. It’s pretty much down hill from there as the story is little more than an odd and plodding collection of vignettes that veer into absurdist terrain.
Vignette #1: The Creepy Cabin
Martinez, the Gov, and brothers Pete and Mitch set out to raid a survivalist cabin some guy told them about. On the way, they find two headless bodies tied down with the labels “Liar” and “Rapist” pinned on them, respectively. The survivalist has killed himself on the porch of his cabin. But not before pinning a label on himself: “Murderer.” Inside, the two heads from the other guys are rolling around and the survivalist’s wife and daughter are walkers. It’s an elaborate setup for something with no real payoff. Just a weird externalization of the Governor’s supposed dilemma about protecting his new family.
Oh, and we cut to Tara playing cute with her soon-to-be lesbian girlfriend in the middle of this. Because the gothic-survivalist-cabin-of-horror vignette needed just a dash of cute to really bring it home.
Vignette #2: Beer Talk
The four guys drink some of the survivalist’s beer. They take it back to the camp and have a small picnic. And we learn that Mitch was in the army. He stole the tank and drove it here. Yes, he did, at about 1 mile per gallon using diesel. Not exactly the practical choice.
Vignette #3: I HATE GOLF!
Martinez takes the Governor up on top of the RV to hit golf balls. He makes an offhand remark about maybe being able to share the leadership role with the Governor now that he’s here. Seriously. He actually says that. Just in case, I don’t know, they ever need to gun everyone at the camp down in cold blood in a fit of pique.
The Governor’s response to such a ridiculous idea is strangely appropriate. He hits Martinez him on the head with a golf club, kicks him off the RV, drags him over to a walker pit and throws him in, all while shouting "I don’t want it!”
It’s a stupid scene. First, it destroys any tension about whether the Governor has reformed fifteen minutes into the episode. Second, it highlights the absurdity of Martinez accepting the Governor into his camp after having witnessed him gunning down twenty of his own people. Third, we have the Gov as a Michael Myers cartoon again; Martinez is at least semi-functional on the ground, but is too in awe of the Governor’s demonic prowess to do anything as he’s dragged. Fourth, we’re a few minutes from learning there’s close to thirty people in this camp, including a fair number of grown men with guns. Yet nobody shows up as the Governor is shouting “I don’t want it!” like a madman and Martinez is screaming as he’s slowly pulled into the walker pit.
And finally, if the Gov doesn’t want a leadership role for fear he’ll turn psycho again, why is the answer to go psycho and kill the leader? He’s now become what he’s ostensibly trying to avoid while making it far more likely he will be called upon to take a leadership role.
Vignette #4: Instant Slaughter
Pete tries to be leader. He, Mitch and the Gov go out looking for supplies. They find another camp of survivors, but Pete is too soft-hearted to kill them and take their stuff. Moments later, the Gov hears some sound no one else does. He walks back to the other camp and finds it looted with everyone dead from gunshot wounds. I guess a band of mincing attackers armed with silencers arrived one minute after Pete and the gang left.
Vignette #5: Mud Bath
The Gov tries to flee with his family. He finds a bunch of walkers stuck in some mud. He turns around and goes back to the camp.
Vignette #6: Goodfellas
The Gov, who didn’t want to be in charge so he wouldn’t become a psycho, which he already is, decides Pete is a poor leader. So he stabs him three or four times and then strangles him like a psycho. He takes the body to a pond a short way from the camp. There, he ties Pete’s body to weights with a chain and throws it in, without sticking a knife in the brain first. All so we can have a cool shot of the Gov staring down at the pond later, with Pete the walker clearly visible trying to surface below.
That would be right at the dock anyone would walk to if they came to the pond. Say someone from a camp close by. Those would be the same people who the Gov told he saw Pete die heroically.
Vignette #7: Got to Get to Where We Could Have Gotten Anytime Last Year
Gov has a bright idea. He could use the tank to attack that prison full of people he hated last year. You know, when he was Michael Myers. Which he is again.
You’ve got to be kidding me. So we went through all that buildup last year to have Gov launch a wimpy attack on the prison that failed, after which he killed all his people for being wimps. Then he himself wimps out for an episode. But the big reveal is to watch him take control of an entirely different group of people we’d never seen before so he can attack the prison again.
The pacing and conceptual layout of that is pretty lame. Even if it wasn’t, the Governor simply isn’t an interesting enough character to pull that off. Or to put it another way, no one cares about Michael Myers' feelings.
Pretty darn lame. AND I HATE GOLF!
Hopefully Michael Myers will be dead at the end of next week’s episode. Then we can see what pieces there are to pick up.