‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Recap, Episode 7: ‘Dead Weight’ [SPOILERS]
Season four of The Walking Dead, AMC’s television adaptation of the Eisner Award-winning Image Comics series created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore and drawn by Charlie Adlard, is underway. ComicsAlliance's John Parker will be following along all season to see who lives, who dies, and who succumbs to their own dark natures.
Last week The Governor tried to walk the straight and narrow path of an honest family man. This week, he tried for a few minutes.
The Governor is a complicated man. After ruining Woodbury and hitting a Dennis Wilson-like level of rock bottom, he was able to find the strength he needed in Lilly, Megan, and Tara, a defenseless family who took him in and showed him kindness. After finding a surrogate family to fill the chasm of emptiness where his heart used to be, he tried, really tried to reinvent himself, to be "Brian Heriot," a man without a past. A family man.
It was working. With Megan, he replaced his own daughter; Lilly loved him for who she thought him to be; Tara was also there. Given something to fight for, something to believe in, someone to protect, he tried to walk the straight-and-narrow path for their sakes, clearly never wanting to be a leader again, never wanting to be The Governor again. He just wanted to be Brian Heriot.
That dream crumbled to dust the moment he looked up from the walker pit to see Martinez. As The Governor’s former right-hand-man (because technically, Merle could only be a left-hand-man), Martinez was privy to all The Governor’s darkest secrets. He had seen The Governor murder American soldiers in cold blood, knew about the torture shed, and witnessed his former leader mow down thirty of his own people in a white-hot rage. So there was absolutely no way that Martinez wasn’t going to kill him, right?
Nope. Even though it makes every kind of sense for Martinez to an empty a clip into The Governor, he doesn’t. Not only does he not dispatch the most evil man he’s ever seen, he throws him a literal lifeline, pulling The Governor up out of the pit and taking him into his group, the group Martinez is currently leading, and welcoming him with open arms.
You’re right. It doesn’t make sense, and yes, we will get back to it later.
Now a part of Martinez’s camp, The Governor tries to settle into domesticity with Lilly and Megan, but it’s ruined from the get-go. His ego won’t even allow for the minor inconvenience of a hole in the roof of his RV, taking it almost as an insult. He bristles he has to clear the table, when Martinez suggests he fix the hole in his roof. He’s a leader, the man who should be running things, the meanest sumbitch in the world. And there’s a tank right there.
He attempts to fall in line. He takes orders from Martinez, and the Dalton brothers Pete and Mitch, helps out without causing a fuss, but as soon as he tells Lilly "I want something better for us," The Governor begins to rip through Brian Heriot’s façade. On a supply run with Martinez and the Dalton brothers, he comes across a grim reminder of his sins: one body, tied to a tree and decapitated, with a sign that says "liar" nailed to its chest, another beheaded corpse with "rapist" on his sign, and the final one, a suicide case with "murderer" hung around his own neck.
The Governor, of course, is all three of these things. He lied to everyone he met, raped Maggie (don’t split hairs, that was rape), and brutally murdered his own people. Seeing himself in the suicide’s photograph -- was the guy in the photo wearing an eye patch or was that just a spot of blood? If it’s blood, that’s fine, if it’s an eye patch that seems a bit much-- he’s reminded of all the terrible things that he’s done.
Martinez should be reminded too. He knows exactly what The Governor is: not Brian, not a real family man, a killer, a despot, a psychopath. After dispatching the suicide’s walker-ized wife and daughter while the decapitated walker heads chatter on the ground like novelty teeth, the whole crew have themselves a sit-down and chillax with a couple of beers. Before the bro session, Martinez gives his "Brian" his reasons for letting The Governor live.
And they’re complete and utter bulls***.
"If it was just you in that pit," Martinez says, "I wouldn’t have brought you into the camp." It was the people that The Governor was protecting that changed his mind, the family that has seemingly righted Gov into an upstanding member of post-apocalyptic society. He says that The Governor seems different, that he’s changed, then asks, just to be sure. So basically the conversation goes:
"You’re not a psychopath anymore, are you?"
"Good enough for me."
So Martinez fully accepts that all anybody had to do was try a little tenderness, and everything with The Governor would be just fine. He’s so okay with everything, he even tries to talk about the good ol' days at Woodbury around the others, to explain to them just what kind of guy "Brian" is, a good man, a leader. The Governor still doesn’t want to talk about it, telling Martinez and Lilly to let the past be the past and for God’s sake quit reminding me what kind of monster lives inside me because it’s famished and needs to feed on the blood of innocents.
And Martinez just keeps pushing him. Sharing a bottle of vodka and a bag of golf clubs, Martinez tells The Governor he really believes he’s changed, and maybe he could help lead the group.
So The Governor whacks him over the head with a golf club and drags him into the walker pit, screaming "I don’t want it!" like he’s been offered weird Japanese candy.
Yes, it was kind of awesome. And no, it should never have gotten to that point.
In all of Martinez’s appearances in Season 3, he seemed much more capable than he is in "Dead Weight." Smart, driven, less gullible, and somewhat honorable, but with the instincts of a killer. In “Dead Weight” he’s exactly that, an oppressive burden, a difficulty, because he makes choices that don’t seem to make sense for the character.
Martinez is not the kind of guy to forget what The Governor has done. He’s not the kind of guy to just accept that everything has changed because The Governor has a family now, because he has more to fight for. Even if he had doubts in his own leadership and recalled the better parts of Woodbury, he’s not going to forget that The Governor is the kind of man who murders a flash mob of his own people. If he truly is this stupid, if he really has, in the span of a few months, morphed into an idiot, then I guess he deserves what he got, and that’s probably how The Walking Dead is going to get away with it. But his actions don’t fit with his previously-established character, and his choices just don’t make sense.
With Martinez out of the way, it isn’t long before The Governor pulls a smash-and-grab on the group. Pete, the guy who freaked out when a little girl tried to bite him, announces himself as the leader of the group, and already there are the shades of discord we’ve become accustomed to: bickering, calls for a vote, and a guy with a gun threatening to beat up a woman.
But Pete, despite being a mite jittery, actually seems like a good man. When Pete, Mitch, and The Governor (band name, I call it!) come across another group of campers, he suggests that they take them in. Mitch, the guy who threatened Tara, thinks they should rob the camp and take their supplies. The Governor obviously agrees with him, but "Brian Heriot" says nothing, and Pete, as the new leader, makes his call. They leave the camp untouched. When they return -- what, a few hours later? -- another group has already come in and done the job and killed everyone there, except for a mostly-dead old man who Mitch shanks even though he hadn’t been zombified yet.
That night The Governor, fearing what he knows he’s about to do, takes his new family and leaves. It’s the last gasp of good within him, the last thing he can do to stop himself from becoming what he knows he truly is. And there, stuck in the mud, is a clutch of walkers to block his path. It’s almost as if he takes it as a sign. He is what he is because of them, and as long as they’re around, he can’t stop.
They return to the camp. The Governor kills Pete, literally stabbing him in the back. With a gun pointed at Mitch, he gets the other Dalton brother to see reason and recruits his new right-hand. It doesn’t take that much convincing, either, for Mitch to forget that this is the man who killed his brother: just a quick story about his own brother, and what being a hero gets you. Also the gun in his hand. With Mitch at his side, the group is now his.
Lilly is at his side too. You can see she really loves "Brian," that she admires his courage and strength, and that she will support him. She’s even cool with the eye thing. But she may soon change her mind. When she through "Brian" and meets The Governor, she might just have the strength and courage of her own to put a stop to him. Because…
[SPOILERS FOR THE COMICS BUT C'MON THIS WHOLE RECAP IS A SPOILER]
A woman named Lilly puts a bullet into The Governor’s good eye.
Overall, it felt like "Dead Weight" was trying to put everything into a good place to match up with the comics. Next week’s episode is the mid-season finale, after all, and The Governor has a tank now. The last two episodes provided an interesting look at The Governor and his struggle -- like Rick’s -- to deny leadership and cauterize that darker part of himself so it doesn’t bleed over. Right before he kills Pete, there’s even a scene where The Governor seems to struggle with putting his gun belt on, which you would think Rick would have trademarked by now.
But it was all to get him back to this place. Martinez made out-of-character choices so that The Governor could be The Governor again, so that he could have a tank. He’s even started another collection, anchoring walker-Pete to the bottom of the pond so he writhes vainly toward the surface for eternity, like a diver in a fish tank.
The prison is right there. Rick and Michonne are right there. And The Governor has a tank. He’s not that complicated after all. Mid-season finale, here we come.