So this week seems to have resulted in a mixed bag when it comes to the fan response. You either loved it or hated it, or perhaps even a second set of options is that you loved to hate it, or hated to love it, which parallels the fan response to the Governor (beard or not) in general.
Also as I dive in, I’d like to add that it took some level of restraint not to put a comical spin on this post and title it “The Life of Brian”, and I think my deliberate restraint was due to the fact that love it or hate it, this was quality episode.
The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 6: Live Bait
So, where last week only gave us a glimpse of the man we’ve been waiting to fear all season, this week gave us an in depth look into the man we’re dealing with. Complaints about this week’s episode were either based on the pace, or character complaints, which I’ll get to as I go through the characters. To address the complaint of pacing, I think the episode was well placed. If it had come sooner, the Governor’s appearance last week wouldn’t have been a surprise, and if it came later, while it would have given us insights it might have felt like too big of a pause prior to the upcoming season finale.
The episode we came closer to a man we haven’t gotten to know. A man that Rick could have easily become, had circumstances been different. With that in mind, here’s my breakdown. He goes through a brief period where he’s the man who decides (after being left behind) to burn the town that no longer needed him. He’s the man that won’t give his real name, and instead gives the name of a man a family was desperately hoping would come back to them. He’s the man who doesn’t want to be beholden to a family for a plate of spaghettios, and at the same time is the man who cannot help but help them, because he knows they need him. Deep down, whether he knows it, or wants it, is a man who needs to be needed. I would even go far enough to say that, while he had a selfless love for his daughter. It was his selfish need to be needed that guided his choice to keep her. It was always paradoxical for a man who kept a tank of zombie heads as a way of never forgetting the threat that was out there, AND keep his undead daughter. He could see the others as monsters, but not his little girl. Like any good father (yep I just called the Governor a good father), his daughter will ALWAYS be his little girl, he couldn’t separate that from what she’d become. It was that need to be needed, and the reminder of his daughter, in the best way when the little girl Meagan made him laugh (because he told her he was a pirate… loved that scene, it was so touching) that is part of what kept him from separating himself from this family. Unfortunately, while he displayed a great amount of caring for Lily, Meagan and the others this episode, I think he can only keep his own monster at bay for so long, because he’s a man with only so much self control. Even taking care of the grandfather with the oxygen tank, though necessary was brutal. And it’s not this environment that has made people brutal. It is in this environment that if no care is given to living vs. surviving (something that’s been addressed at the prison a few times this season) that only the brutal will survive. And it’s one thing to think of the Governor as brutal after his actions at the apartment, or in the pit to protect Meagan, but defensive violence is morally minimal compared to the brutality of gunning down your own people in frustration and rage, and that’s a side of the Governor that to forget would be naive. And let’s not forget, that’s a side of the Governor that Lily and the others haven’t seen, they may see that “Brian” can be violent, but as a protector, not a madman. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Governor already loves and wants to protect Meagan, my concern is if anything happens to Meagan, or what lengths he’ll go to protect her. That being said, if the Governor at some point sees the best chance for Meagan, Lily and Tara is the protection of a place like the prison, and whether he’d be diplomatic or aggressive is yet to be seen.
Speaking of Lily and Tara (by the way, I can’t be the only one that rolled my eyes when she said she was a cop), and I’ll make this very brief, some people complained that by now they should have learned about head shots, or cleared out the other floors of their building, or moved on to somewhere else. But these were scared women (and the show has not, with the exception of Michonne given us very strong independent women), who had an old immobile man and a little girl to care for. They’re the type to wait for help, not solve their own problems. So it’s no surprise, when a strong man, who gives up his weapon and shows the first signs of kindness is looked upon as one who can protect and guide them through this scary world. Also, it served as a reminder of how charismatic he can be, especially when an apocalypse means slim pickings for connecting with the opposite gender.
More than ever I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s episode, let me know your take on this episode in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and happy watching!