This week, we leave prison life behind to catch up with ol’ One Eye in a very special episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ entitled “How the Governor Got His Groove Back.” (Actually, it’s called ‘Live Bait’.) Those looking to find out what’s going on with Rick, Daryl, Hershel and the others will have to wait at least one more week, as viewers are treated to a Governor-centric entry that fills us in on what’s happened to the character since he went insane and machine-gunned the majority of his followers.
The episode picks up right where we left the Governor last season, as he and two of his henchmen sped away from the scene of his massacre. Later that night, we see the Governor sitting by a campfire, totally despondent. When a female Walker approaches, Martinez, one of the remaining henchmen, has to come out of his tent to kill it. The Governor remains motionless. The next morning, the Governor exits his tent to find out that the other two have deserted him.
Now alone and on his own, one of the Governor’s first actions is to bust back into Woodbury and burn the town to the ground. Of course, no one is there anymore (at least, no one we can see). If/when our heroes back at the prison decide that it’s time to find a new place to live, Woodbury will no longer be an option.
The storyline then picks up several months later. The Governor is now sporting a long beard that might be able to get him an audition for ZZ Top or, at the very least, a cameo on ‘Duck Dynasty’. He wanders into a seemingly deserted town and sees a young girl standing in the window of an apartment building. Making his way inside, he comes across a family of four: Two sisters (Lilly and Tara), the little girl (Megan, Lilly’s daughter) and their elderly father dying from emphysema. Tara, who claims to be a cop, disarms the Governor, but the family decides to let him stay in one of the other empty apartments.
The Governor is still pretty despondent. He even throws a plateful of SpaghettiOs out the window… I mean, you have to be crazy to say no to SpaghettiOs! Eventually, his time with the family –particularly young Megan, who obviously reminds him of his daughter Penny – starts to bring him out of his funk. The Governor (now calling himself “Brian”) acts like a decent human being again. When the sisters tell him that their father is on his last oxygen tank, he agrees to go get a new one from a local nursing home. Although he runs into some trouble with Walkers there, he manages to bring two fresh tanks back to the apartment.
The Governor finally shaves off his beard, cleans himself up, and looks like a new man. He spends his free time teaching young Megan how to play chess (aptly pointing out that sometimes you need to sacrifice your pawns to win the game). Soon, the father dies. By the time the Governor hears the news, one of the sisters notes that he’s been dead for a while. Rushing into the room where they’re overlooking his body, the Governor arrives just as the old man turns and tries to bite Tara. The Governor smashes his head with one of the oxygen tanks, killing him (again) – but terrifying everyone else in the room. Although the sisters come around to realizing that the Governor did the right thing, Megan is now afraid of him.
After that incident, the Governor decides that it’s time to head back out on his own. However, the sisters are having none of it, and insist that he take them with him. So, the four take the father’s food truck (he was a delivery man for a local food company before the zombie apocalypse, which explains how they’ve stayed fed) and hit the road. One night, Lilly starts warming up to the Governor… really warming up to him. The next day, the truck breaks down and the group has to walk.
It isn’t long before Tara twists her ankle and some Walkers show up. Picking Megan up in his arms, the Governor runs with the girl, but falls into a pit designed to trap Walkers… with three Walkers in it! Suddenly, the old Governor is back – at least, the part of him skilled in killing. He’s able to take out all the Walkers in the pit with his hands. He then promises that he’ll always protect Megan. But wait… someone’s at the top of the pit. It’s Martinez looking down at the Governor, and I’m not sure which of them is more surprised to see the other.
It’s probably going to take the rest of the season for me to comment on whether this was a really good episode or a really bad one, and much of that has to do with what happens from this point forward. If the Governor is really on his way to redemption, then this episode might turn out to be one of my favorites. However, if the writers are only making the Governor “good” for a little while, just to rip another family and “daughter” away from him, I’ll be pretty ticked. This episode (and others that may follow) will prove to be totally pointless and little more than a stalling tactic to get David Morrissey back on the show before making the Governor a threat again.
What was everyone else’s reaction?