In The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 7, the Governor is back and he’s getting rid of the “dead weight”!
Continue reading for a spoiler filled discussion of The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 7 entitled “Dead Weight”.
The New Boss, Same As the Old Boss
I’m going to touch on a few points in this episode. This post is more of a conversation starter than a detailed recap of every story beat. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. I look forward to discussing with you further.
Let’s start off with some general thoughts. Overall, it’s a decent episode but I didn’t enjoy it as much as last week’s which was a personal story dedicated on humanizing the Governor. In this episode, the first portion meandered but as the old Governor started to reemerge the story gradually became more intensely focused which I liked quite a lot.
Perhaps my resistance to completely loving this episode is after deliberately reframing the Governor as a protective father figure with a tortured soul, he went back to his old bag of tricks. Having said that, watching the Governor play second fiddle to anyone for more than an episode wouldn’t make for an engaging drama and would greatly undermine his character.
Further, for the sake of the story the Governor needed to quickly step up as the primary antagonist and to bring some much-needed danger to the prison group which was what these last two episodes are building towards.
After Rick’s assault on Woodbury and getting his eye mutilated the Governor doesn’t need another reason to go to war with the prison gang but I believed this episode had to give him an extra incentive or purpose.
The writers wanted to come full circle to the climatic confrontation that was missing from last season’s finale. The problem is that the build up isn’t as strongly executed this time. It has also has a “been there, done that” feeling which leads me to think there will be a twist next episode to keep things from getting repetitive
The Governor’s Back
The question that “Live Bait” posed is if the Governor can come back from the trauma of massacring his people and losing basically everything including Woodbury? I don’t think he was redeemed but he was rehabilitated. He found a new purpose to live for.
Whether he uses his surrogate family as a justification for the immoral things he does to survive or he has a genuine desire to protect them at any cost is an interesting question to explore. I lean towards the former but I think it would be a fascinating idea if the Governor believes his new family enables a connection to a part of his humanity that drives him to attain power, dominance and fuels his will to live.
The question that this episode asks, at least in the beginning, is if the Governor can really change his ways. Has it always been in his nature to be a sadistic monster or does living in the zombie apocalypse turn him into a pathological killer?
The Governor is most honest and open with Megan about his past. Even as a child, long before the zombie apocalypse, he considered himself as sometimes “bad” like when he stole cigarettes. We also learn the man he becomes can partly be attributed to the nurture side of the nature vs nurture equation including physical abuse at the hands of his father. Further, the Governor’s belief in earning one’s own victories and doing what it takes to succeed comes from his father never letting him win. To quote a Lost episode title, “All the best cowboys have daddy issues”.
I believe the Governor kills poor Martinez for some key reasons. When Lilly says living in (Martinez’s) camp is the first time she’s felt safe it’s like a slap in the Governor’s face whose has been protecting her all this time. Also, when Martinez offers to share his power and shows insecurity in leadership, Governor senses weakness which is something he despises in others as well as in himself. He takes offence that a lesser person such as Martinez is so highly regarded in the camp when he clearly sees himself as the ultimate survivor and superior leader.
My kill of the week is poor Martinez being fed alive to the pit of biters. Martinez’s undoing is letting the Governor and his family return to his camp. Perhaps Martinez put too much value on what the Governor could offer to his group in terms of knowledge/survival skills and thinking the Governor is a changed man.
Everybody Loves A Hero
The volatile power dynamics of the camp is a road that the Governor doesn’t want to go down at first but he needs to turn around and do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. I also think the Governor has strong survival instincts. He knows there’s another dangerous group somewhere out there that raided the camp in the forest which is another reason why he wanted to get the hell out of dodge (and later into the safer confines of the prison).
The Governor can’t entrust someone else to make life or death decisions for him or his family. As a power-hungry dictator, he needs to be the top dog even if he has to step over bodies to do it. Before the camp can vote for a leader, the Governor eliminates the biggest competition and turns a potential enemy (Mitch) into his lackey.
Pete is a morally grounded leader and in the Governor’s mind, the kind of hero that’ll get people killed. In a way Pete is like Rick; there are definite lines he won’t cross even if it can increase the chances of their group’s survival. If Pete was in the prison group and allowed to develop as a character, he could have been a fan favorite. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of actor Enver Gjokaj from Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and cameo in Avengers, but I’m very disappointed to see him die so soon.
In many ways the Governor has let go of the past. Maybe he sees it as a weakness or millstone around his neck. He doesn’t talk about what he did for a living before the apocalypse and no one alive even knows his real name. In next week’s preview, he uses this to his advantage by twisting the story of what Rick’s group did to him to manipulate his followers into attacking the prison (not a spoiler since it’s very obvious it’s going to happen). If those people only knew who he really is and what he’s done.
Last season, the Governor said he forced himself to look at the aquariums of heads to prepare him for the horrors on the outside. He re-enacted this in a chilling, disturbing way by tying undead Pete to the bottom of the pond which has a whole lot of room for more bodies. As much as the Governor wants to distance himself from his past, he’s still at the very core the man he’s always been. The signs on the dead bodies leading up to the cabin, “liar, rapist, murderer”, they are all things that the Governor will always be, if you consider what he did to Maggie as sexual assault which I do.
What do you think of the episode? What will happen to Michonne and Hershel? What are your expectations for the mid-season finale?