No prison in sight this episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. Instead, we come face to face with the Governor while this turns into the Andrea and Michonne show. Actually, it’s the Governor’s show. If you question that, he’ll probably blow your head off.
The zombie apocalypse is riddled with wannabe alpha dogs vying for superiority. Groups of survivors form and leaders rise to the top. The problem is, with great power comes great selfishness. It’s difficult to give up that role once you’ve obtained it. The adrenaline rush of shoving a spike through a Walker’s brain is only matched by ordering someone else to do it. When you have power over people, you control them, and when you control them, it just feels so damned great. That’s where the Governor sits right now. He’s carved out his niche, usurped his authority, and is having a grand old time strutting around town like a badass post-apocalyptic sheriff.
The downed helicopter at the beginning of the episode is a nice change of pace. Our scope is widening quickly in the show. No longer are we stuck looking at Rick’s sweaty mug for 60 minutes. There are other people in this world (thank goodness) and they have stories too. It’s just too bad that only one of the soldiers on board the helicopter survives the crash landing.
The crash site is discovered by the Governor and his crew, while Andrea and Michonne hide in the woods. This episode feels like more of a setup than anything. It introduces us to a litany of new characters, a brand new villain, and a whole new place called Woodbury, where people live in peace under the rule of the Governor.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this episode is seeing good old Merle again. The last time we saw him, he was haunting Daryl’s hallucinations. Now he’s sporting a handy Captain Hook contraption where his arm used to be. Fastened with a makeshift bayonet, Merle has transformed into the bionic redneck man.
Although this episode delivered a lot of new information and introduced a lot of new storylines, I didn’t feel as engaged as I felt last week. That’s probably because Michonne has remained, as Merle so aptly pointed out, mute. She only pipes up whenever she feels angry enough to stop sneering and demand her sword back. Andrea is quickly falling in love with the idea of Woodbury and appears to be shooting sly come-hither glances at the Governor. We learn that Michonne knew her zombie pets (probably members of her family, though I’m sure people who read the comics already know who they were). She seems a little upset after she’s forced to decapitate them.
This brings me to the most interesting development of the night. The Governor has a geeky little scientist sidekick working on who-knows-what in a secret laboratory. They’re fascinated with the way Michonne used her Walkers as “repellent.” Hey, I’m all for zombie experimentation, but one wonders why you would need aquariums full of severed Walker heads. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t have been the only one who chuckled and thought of ‘Futurama’ when that very last scene aired.