Last week we got to see a side of Herschel that Chuck Norris would be proud of. This week’s The Walking Dead continues with the individual character study and it does not disappoint. Welcome back, Governor! We open on the tail end of Phillip Blake’s bat-shit crazy assassination of his army. He is tormented. He is defeated and alone. We see him burn Woodbury. He wanders the badlands like a Grateful Dead fan. He looks like a cross between McGuber and Forest Gump on his cross-country jog. David Morrissey plays the nomadic drifter to perfection, although the 80’s Kurt Russell look doesn’t quite fit him. It is clearly No Shave November. As he walks, we hear a conversation as a voiceover. He is talking to a woman, and the voice sounds eerily like Carol, but we find out later that it may not be. He tells the voice, “I barely got out alive.” All of this plays out over, The Last Pale Light in the West, by Ben Nichols.
He is in a daze; he appears to not be aware of his surroundings. He comically sidesteps a walker, and it falls to ground. He had the grace of a Summer League Rucker player and continues on his sleepwalker roam until he sees a little girl in the window of a building.
This week’s episode is titled, “Live Bait.”
The Governor walks into the ransacked building and is greeted by a Smith and Wesson and a baseball bat. Completely alert and threatening are two women standing in a doorway, one with a gun aimed at his head, the other in a Jackie Robinson stance. There is a silent exchange; he hands over his bag and weapon. He is allowed to enter their home. We are introduced to Tara, Megan, Lilly and their father. For the true Fanboys these names will have meaning from The Rise of the Governor novel by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. Finally, we have comic book, novel and TV crossover all wrapped up into one neat little rotting flesh package. The immediate reaction in the room as we watched was one of shock. The Rise of The Governor is essential to The Walking Dead folklore and we recommend that you pick it up or download it from iBooks. There are three books in the Governor story arc and they are crucial for understanding Wizard Magazine’s villain of the year 2010. Even more compelling is the fact that he tells them that his name is Brian Heriot, a name that was on a barn he passed while on the road. The use of the name Brian is very significant in the novel and could be seen as forewarning for future events. He is allowed to stay by promising by “pounding it up,” with Tara. We are sure the Obamas would be proud.
The girl’s dad is elderly and on oxygen. Miraculously, his tank is still full. Before the turn he drove for the Gorbelli food company and his truck is parked in the front of the building. This has been their primary food source.
They feed The Governor Spaghettios, and he throws them out in disgust. I guess Herschel’s Spaghetti Tuesday gets one less vote.
After a talk with the father about a game of Backgammon he goes upstairs to retrieve the game, he finds an immobile zombie in a tub, he puts #BathSaltZombie down and takes a gun that was by its side.
Lilly explains to Phillip that her father has Stage 4 lung cancer and he needs oxygen to live. He is nearly out and is dire need. She asks Phillip if he could go on the equivalent of a Taco Bell run and grab some tanks at the near-by retirement home.
He accepts. This benevolent Governor is puzzling. Why is he doing this for these strangers? What will this ultimately benefit? Doesn’t he have a Michonne to torture and a Rick to kill?
The clinic is filled with zombies in wheelchairs, id-bracelets, and hospital gowns. Ironically they don’t look much different from what you would expect in a hospice. Once again he avoids them like some grotesque game of tag. Terrell Davis had nothing on this guy! Go Broncos!!!
He dodges and closes doors behind him; he has obviously found a way to manage avoiding them with little effort. He is fearless, but his heroics seem misplaced. Why isn’t he killing zombies? After stirring up the Bingo room he can’t get all of the oxygen tanks out and brings back what he can carry.
He returns to the apartment with two full tanks and goes to his room. Lilly takes care of him and it is clear that they are forming a relationship.
The blonde haired, blued eyed girl seems to be the metaphor for innocence, or salvation in our world. It’s either that or an omen for really bad shit to happen. Megan is a cute little girl who resembles Penny, Sophia and especially Teddy Bear Walker from the very first episode of The Walking Dead Series. She thought the governor was her dad; that’s why she watched him from the building, which ultimately led him to this group of women. Megan’s real father left for a couple of beers and a Powerball ticket before the turn, and we’re guessing he didn’t win.
The Governor has alone time with Megan in the bathroom, but not that kind. She asks what happened to his eye, and he speaks freely to her, more so than any of the others. He says that he was trying to help people and got hurt as a result.
They Pinky Swear to keep the secret about his eye and she “crossed her heart and hoped to die,” but left out the “stick a needle in her eye” part because she probably didn’t want to seem insensitive.
He tells her that he is a pirate with a smile on his face. He laughs, almost in a jovial way and shows the first bit of emotion since the episode began. This tender moment shows us another side of Phillip Blake. He is the governor no more, at least not now.
He is working backwards. He teaches Megan to play chess, now clean-shaven; it seems as if Megan has brought him back to life. As he is explaining the basics it is apparent that he is talking about the events at Woodbury.
“You can lose a lot of soldiers and still win the game,” It’s the king; it’s the guy you want to capture. Megan takes a marker and puts an eye patch on the white king piece. “We start with the pawns.”
So who do you think is creepier with kids, Carol or Phillip? Phillip is bonding. He gives a jealous look to Lilly when she comes to get Megan as their dad is dying. This brief moment is strange enough to fill our thoughts will all kinds of devious acts that The Governor could be plotting.
As their dad dies and turns, in his reanimated state he grabs for Tara and Phillip smashes his face into the bed with his own oxygen tank. Splat!
Did anyone else notice that Lilly is like a less hot Maggie?
The next scene we find Phillip burying dad in the back. Megan is now fearful of the Governor and hides behind the couch when he comes back inside. Tara pounds him up for saving her life, but he is not concerned with her. Alone he burns the picture of his old family, they are now dead to him, he has found a new family, or has given up on the idea. He threatens to leave them, but they stay together, taking to the road in the Gorbelli truck like a National Lampoon’s Vacation sequel set in hell.
Tara apologies to Phillip for lying to him about her occupation before the turn. She asks if Phillip is lying to her, and he says no. His con-game is working; he has earned their trust and can manipulate the situation to suit his needs.
Megan is still afraid of Phillip. This is clearly upsetting him; he has to make things right with his pseudo-daughter.
They travel through the day and stop to rest. In the back of the truck Lilly allows him to cuddle with her. They kiss, oddly, and seemingly make love. Yuk!
The next morning the truck breaks down and they end up walking. There is a small herd of walkers around the bend in the road, they swarm in hunger as Tara falls and injures her leg. Megan freezes and Phillip calls out to her, she runs to him, and he carries her away from the herd. We made note that he called to her instead of just picking her up because we feel like he wanted her loyalty. This is the long con.
While running they fall into one of his walker traps (Remember those huge pits he was using to build a zombie army?). He immediately springs into action with the walkers in the pit and pulls a walker’s throat out in a completely badass move. Fatality!
He grabs a femur and uses that to pry the jaw off another walker. This primal survival tactic seemed to be for Megan’s benefit. Remember, he got really good at avoiding the dead without using force. As he fights Spartacus style in the pit we hear gun fire in the distance. Martinez shows up with his machine gun at the end of the episode and now things should get really interesting. Upon Martinez arrival, he will have to maintain his Brian Heriot persona with Tara and Lilly. He will ultimately have to kill anyone who threatens his identity bluff or continue the deception indefinitely.
Hush Comics gives “Live Bait” a B+. This episode pulled us deeper into The Walking Dead mythology but left us with more questions. There were epic kills and border-line restraining order behavior with minors. My vote for Governor goes to Brian Heriot.
Stay tuned next week when we recap Dead Weight, and don’t forget to visit our website! This week we have a special message from comic book legend Todd McFarlane!
written by John Soweto