I’m playing catch-up with The Walking Dead because I’ve just been a bit busier than usual, so apologies if this post (and perhaps the next post) is shorter and less focused than you’d like. Yes, I’ll make the assumption that some people actually read this and enjoy what I have to say, if not care about it.
So, episode 3. It’s all about the Governor, baby. I suppose you could say it’s all about Andrea and Michonne as well, since we don’t spend any time with our usual gang at the prison. The episode opens with a military helicopter going down and Andrea and Michonne (and Michonne’s pet walkers) going to investigate. When they arrive on the scene, Michonne finds a dead crew member or two. It also appears that another one of the crew has split.
She can’t look around further because some guys in trucks show up. They kill the bisected soldier who has turned (though not technically into a walker, I suppose) and they rescue the pilot who is still alive. Our ladies are almost found out when Michonne’s pet zombies start making noise, but she decapitates them to keep them quiet. Unfortunately, none other than Merle Dixon shows up, complete with new-and-improved battle hand. Merle takes the ladies as “prisoners.” I think it’s too bad they didn’t make Merle’s return a surprise. Sure, we were all expecting him back at some point, but they shouldn’t have showed him in the “previously on…” segment or put his name in the opening credits. I’m guessing SAG rules or something required Michael Rooker to be listed in there, so, no surprise.
Another new name in the opening credits is David Morrissey. Morrissey plays The Governor, the apparent ruler of the gated community of Woodbury, where he and Merle have taken Andrea and Michonne. It’s a nice little walled off neighborhood with 73 (soon to be 74!) residents and bunch of extra guns and ammunition. Andrea and Michonne are not technically prisoners in Woodbury, they can leave at any time. However, if they choose to stay, in a place with food, water, showers and a Caribou Coffee, they can’t have their weapons. I got a definite Stepford vibe upon first seeing Woodbury, and while that may not be entirely accurate, there are definitely darker things going on here, as this episode reveals.
After Merle removes his battle hand and shows off his stump (a touch I quite enjoyed because it’s pretty much impossible for a TV show to have a character lose a hand and keep it from looking like the actor is tucking his arm into his sleeve or the actor is hiding his hand inside its extra-long prosthetic), we actually get to meet The Gov. There’s no way we’re actually supposed to trust this guy, but he’s not a huge jerk right away, which is nice. He even keeps Merle in line and has a nice sit-down breakfast with the ladies where he talks about his grand plan to bring civilization back.
But, of course, there’s a dark side to the Gov. He has a secret lab complete with a mad scientist who examines Michonne’s pets and finds that when deprived of arms and lower jaws, walkers are quite docile. The Gov also believes that walkers still have a trace of the person they once were inside of them, which raises the question about Michonne’s pets, Perhaps they knew her, which is why they kind of obey her. Maybe they were family members or ex-boyfriends. The Gov also has a model of Woodbury in the lab, but for what purpose remains to be seen.
Perhaps the worst thing the Gov does involves the rescued helicopter pilot. The Gov visits him in his “hospital” room and questions him about the accident. The pilot, who kind of looks like a chubby, young William Shatner, reveals that there are more military men out there. The Gov promises that he’ll bring them into Woodbury.
However, the Gov’s idea of bringing them in is a bit different than most people. He arrives at the military camp alone, waving a white flag, but then, after a short exchange he and his hidden squad of goons murder every last one of the soldiers. He steals all of their stuff and drives their vehicles back to camp. Then, standing atop one of the new trucks, he addresses the townsfolk of Woodbury, lying to them about the soldiers.
After his speech, the Gov talks to Andrea. She asks him what his real name is, but he refuses to answer. “Never say never,” she somewhat laughingly tells him. “Never,” he quite seriously responds. Still, it seems that Andrea is starting to drink the Woodbury Kool-Aid. I think she may also be headed for a falling-out with Michonne. As for the Governor, he goes home and unlocks a room with a special key he has around his neck. Is it going to be a zombie sex dungeon? Will he reveal that he’s actually been bitten a bunch of times and is immune somehow? Nope (at least not yet). He sits down in his easy chair and basks in the glow of his collection of severed heads, staring back at him from several aquariums on his wall. He’s got Michonne’s pets in there, and, alone at the top of his creepy pyramid, is the head of the helicopter pilot.
This episode had a very different feel than either of the last two. I can’t say that I was particularly excited to be following Andrea and Michonne, despite the mystery surrounding the latter. I do hope we get to learn more about her as the season progresses, however, I get the feeling that even Andrea doesn’t know much about her mysterious rescuer. Working in this episode’s favor is the strong introduction of the Governor and the community of Woodbury. Morrissey is a good addition to the cast as a potential Big Bad for the season (or longer) and Woodbury gives us a brand new setting that could potentially work as a nice counterpoint to the prison. No longer is the entire gang stuck in one location like last season on the farm. Now we get a couple of different places between which to move back-and-forth. The only thing that holds the episode back is the shortage of characters we know and care about. Yes, we have Andrea, plus we’ve already met Merle and Michonne, but I don’t care about any of them on the level of a Rick, Daryl, Glenn & Maggie, or even Lori and Carl. It is really nice to meet new people and see new places, though, and the Gov really has me intrigued. Also, the Prison and Woodbury stories have to come together eventually. The Governor has too much space left in his aquarium room for that not to happen, right?
Next week on The Walking Dead: Woodbury High holds a bake sale for their marching band