Episode Title: "Walk with Me"
Writer: Evan Reilly
Director: Guy Ferland
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
Ever since “The Walking Dead” was given the greenlight to become a TV series, fans of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s zombie comic have been wondering when the prison was going to show up and when the writers would introduce the Governor. And now the time has come.
In the comic, the Governor is a vile, horrible man with a porn star mustache and a sleazy appearance that just screams “villain!” David Morrissey’s Governor has none of those outward qualities and he may even be a good leader.
But no one should think that the Governor isn’t ruthless or possibly insane.
Full spoilers lie ahead for “Walk With Me.” Stop reading now if you want to catch up to the series.
The most striking thing about this version of the Governor is how likable he is. Michonne (Danai Gurira) may have her doubts (about everyone), but Andrea (Laurie Holden) is clearly impressed by the Governor and his impassioned rhetoric about rebuilding society inside of the small town of Woodbury. Whatever else he is, the Governor appears to have created a viable sanctuary in an otherwise deadly world.
“Walk With Me” goes a long way towards letting the first time “Walking Dead’ viewers buy into the idea that this Governor is a good guy and possibly a better man and a better leader than Rick. And that illusion holds right up until the Governor tracks down a small unit of National Guardsmen and slaughters them to a man.
It’s not immediately clear why the Governor did that. With additional manpower, the Governor could have had an even stronger hold on Woodbury with an eye towards expansion. Perhaps the Governor couldn’t take the risk that the Guardsmen wouldn’t follow his orders or maybe there wouldn’t be enough resources to support the colony if he took in so many men. But the outcome is the same. The men are still dead at his command and he even kills two of them himself.
Of course, once back in Woodbury, the Governor gives a speech about the importance of community in order to maintain the safety of the people living within Woodbury. The Governor also lies about what happened to the Guardsmen and blames the walkers for their deaths.
All of that just meant that the Governor can’t be trusted. His secret collection of severed walker heads in backlit aquariums make him incredibly creepy. I know that there is no TV in this new world, but no sane mind would go through that much trouble to put zombie heads on display.
I believe that this is the first episode of “The Walking Dead” to not feature Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) or his band of survivors. But the Governor and Woodbury deserved a spotlight episode for their introduction, especially since they won’t be going away anytime soon. As for the character development in this episode, Michonne stood out with the best moments simply by refusing to speak unless absolutely necessary.
Inside the walls of Woodbury, Michonne behaved like a caged cat waiting to be released. During the breakfast with Andrea, the Governor and Milton (Dallas Roberts); Michonne’s eyes hilariously darted to the weapons in the room and how she could potentially get her hands on one.
Michonne’s whithering glare also shut Milton up after he surmised that the two zombies that she kept as “pets” were people who were important to her. It’s a little unbelievable that Andrea knows so little about Michonne after spending seven months with her on the road. I get that Michonne doesn’t like talking about her past, but is this really the first time that Andrea has made an issue of not knowing what Michonne did before she met her?
There was also an intriguing scene in which Milton expressed his admiration for Michonne’s ability to transform her two “pets” into almost docile states by hacking off their jaws and arms to prevent future attacks and serve as pack mules that could act as a repellent for the other zombies within the world. Those are very good tactics that were never really tried again in the comic, so this innovation for survival could potentially become one more weapon in the Governor’s arsenal.
In addition to the introductions of Woodbury and the Governor, “Walk With Me” also brought back Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) for the first time in the flesh since the third episode of the series. And this incarnation of Merle seems to be a bit more sympathetic and sane than his previous appearances. Although I kept expecting to see Merle erupt with anger towards Andrea over being left behind to die by the group. Somehow I doubt that Merle will be less angry with Rick despite knowing that Rick and Daryl ( Norman Reedus) did go back for him.
The Governor also seems to have some hold over Merle that keeps him from getting too out of line when Milton insults him. I know that this show doesn’t really use flashbacks, but the origins of Woodbury could be interesting to explore. The weird thing is that the Governor seems to have bizarro versions of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) on his team in addition to having his own Dixon brother. That kind of makes me wonder if the Governor had his own “Shane” as well.
Rick Grimes might be unhinged at this point in the story, but he’s still pretty far from relaxing in a room full of severed zombie heads. A conflict between Rick’s group and the Governor’s men is probably inevitable. And perhaps for no other reason than the Governor doesn’t want any other community to thrive in “his” world.
But the answers are sure to unfold in the weeks ahead.