The Walking Dead, S4, Ep. 7: Dead Weight, Indeed

SPOILERS!

Well, that didn’t take long.

Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead saw the return of The Governor, though he was a changed man.  A broken man.  Alone, and it seems the world is a better place when he’s on his own.  But of course, he’s not on his own.  What fun would that be?

Nor is he sane.  At least, not in the technical sense of the term, though I’m sure he adheres fairly well with his own internal logic.

Most of the time.

Look…I’m not saying The Governor has a split personality (OK, fine, a “dissociative identity disorder“), I’m just saying that Gollum had his shit more together than The Gov, and Gollum was driven mad by a magically prolonged life–extraordinarily prolonged–in the company of an object cursed by the greatest evil his world had ever known.

Anyway.

This week, The Governor returns in fine style, though with a little bit of a twist.  He’s got an internal war going on.  He kills Martinez, the head of the camp they come to who agrees–begrudgingly–to take The Gov and his ersatz family in, after Martinez drunkenly admits that he can’t guarantee to the thousandth percent that he can keep his camp safe (because–logic talking here!–nobody can admit that.  Even The Governor lost Woodbury).  While he’s hitting Martinez in the head with a golf club, or dragging him across the ground, or lowering him head-first into the zombie pit, The Governor keeps saying, “I don’t want to, I don’t want to.”

That'll learn Martinez to speak the truth.

That’ll learn Martinez to speak the truth.

Though it sure seems like he wants to.  At least he has the decency to have a psychotic crying jag about the murder, afterwards.  Do note that Martinez almost looks like he’s being crucified.  That’s because this week’s episode was pretty heavily dosed with metaphor and foreshadowing.  In the very first scene, The Governor is doing some laundry while playing chess with (and perhaps inadvertently teaching strategy to) his newly-acquired “daughter” Meghan (whose last name, now, is apparently “Chambler”, though I would swear last week the same source said “Chalmers”, but whatever).  Then the camera pans back and just before the scene cuts out to the opening credits, we see this:

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the sight of a madman and his tank.

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart quite like the sight of a madman and his tank.

I’ve already talked about the concept of “Chekhov’s gun” once before, theorizing that you don’t introduce the idea that little kids are weirdly identifying with zombies without having that plot device matter.  If I’ve applied it to the introduction of some kids’ behavior, I will certainly apply it to the introduction of a tank to a survivor’s camp.  So, foreshadowing: the tank?  Will be used.  In all likelihood against Rick’s group at the prison.

While out on a supply run, The Governor and Martinez and Martinez’s two main henchmen, Pete and Mitch, come across a house with zombies and disturbing, chompy, unattached heads (and make no mistake, the insistently bitey detached heads are pure nightmare fuel).  They clear the house and then do a little bit of a raid, and sit on the couch with some scavenged beers for a few moments of manly relaxation.  Pete–who declares himself the de facto leader of the group after Martinez is murdered–happens to have a book in his hands at this time.

Nothing like a little light reading after a zombie raid, eh, Pete?

Well, helloooo, Duke of Clarence.

Pete’s reading Richard III.  And The Governor is the only physically deformed power junkie in the room.  The set designers could have had Pete read any other book in all the world but they chose a play about a murderous, power-hungry tyrant.  Don’t think they didn’t know what sort of subtle message they were sending.  This?  Is NOT going to end well for The Governor.  And certainly not for Pete, since the Duke of Clarence is Richard III’s one obstacle between himself and the throne.  And, as Clarence is dispatched to make way for Richard’s ascension to power, so is Pete.

Now, Pete, is the winter of your discontent.

Now, Pete, is the winter of your discontent.

Though, it’s a safe bet that the Duke of Clarence’s zombie body was never chained by the ankle and thrown into a lake for post-mortem observation.

Thanks to a gristly zombie kill at the end of the show, we see how easy it can be to shred through zombie flesh.  And Pete is only attached by his ankle, which can be a weak link as soft, water-swollen flesh chafes off.  Will we see a return of zombie Pete?

Back to The Governor’s schizoid internal war…once he kills Martinez (repeating all the while, “I don’t want to”), he realizes he’s sliding back down into darkness, and there’s still that tiny part of him that doesn’t want to be evil, that wants to be Brian Heriot, the man whose name he stole and to whom people unreservedly declared their love.  He tells Lily that there’s trouble coming, headed straight for the camp, and he and Lily have to pack up the entire Chambler clan and go.

Of course, he neglects to mention that the danger comes from him.

So they get in a car, they go.  I’m not surprised; why shouldn’t they trust him?  And they drive, and drive, into the night.  Until…

Ooh, don't you just hate when that happens?

Ooh, don’t you just hate when that happens?

They encounter a horde of zombies who are literally stuck.  Mired, if you will, in some random mudpit in the side of the road.  Metaphor!  The zombies are mired in their own dismal, hopeless drama, as The Governor is mired in his.  No fresh starts.  No exit.  Forever.

(Ha! Pete should have been reading No Exit instead!  Though that would have given away too much, I fear.)

I don’t really have predictions about what’s going to happen next week, other than the shit shall hit the fan.  I mean, of course he’s going after the prison; we knew that would happen as soon as he stepped back into the scene.  I still don’t entirely trust the Chambler family.  Clearly they weren’t bait set by Martinez, but I don’t believe them and their naivete.  We’ll see.  And if Richard III–I mean, The Governor–starts yelling about how he’d trade his kingdom for a horse, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not give him one.

The Walking Dead, S 4 Ep 2: WTF?

I would caution that there are spoiler alerts but to be honest, I don’t know if spoilers count when you are completely frigging clueless as to what’s going on.  Read at your own risk.

First and foremost, let me add my voice to the legions of The Walking Dead fans who want to bid a tearful farewell to Rick‘s shirt.  The beige beast clad him through three seasons of zombie mayhem, but was done in by some pig’s blood at the start of season 4.

Godspeed, Rick’s shirt. We hardly knew ye.
Photo from slate.com

As to why it was covered in pig’s blood–Carrie remakes aside–all I can say is…uh…

*shrug*  Seriously, your guess is as good as mine, but I’m going to try and make some sense of it all.

OK, so.  What have we got here?  (And people, I assume you know something about the show, so if you don’t…what are you waiting for?  Start watching!)

~~Someone is feeding the zombies , in what looks like an attempt to get them to destroy the perimeter and take down the fencing that surrounds the prison in which our heroic band of survivors has taken refuge.

~~There’s some kind of mysterious superflu that’s sprung up from…somewhere…which causes pulmonary hemorrhaging-slash-death.  And we don’t know who’s infected (is it everyone?), where it came from (the piggies?), if it’s airborne or ingested, and what the mortality rate is once symptoms have started to express.  Though there were copious lingering shots of sick pigs (before Rick embarked on the piglet apocalypse) and worms.  More on this later.

~~Someone burned two people who had been symptomatic of the superflu, though we don’t know if this was a preventative burning or if the people burned had died and turned zombie.  We also don’t know if the person who burned the flu zombie people is the same person who’s been feeding the perimeter zombies (though I suspect not).

~~Carol looks like a sweet motherly type but has become hardcore, secretly teaching children how to fight, use knives, be little killing machines.  She tells kids they’re weak if  they can’t kill a soon-to-turn body, even if that body happens to be that of a child’s father.  I suspect it’s compensation for the loss of her own daughter, Sophia, in Season 2.  But.  She’s gone kind of practical-ice-water-in-the-veins crazy.  Which I understand.

~~Clearly, Michonne lost a baby, probably in the zombie apocalypse.  Sad.

And then from the first episode…

~~Rick met that creepy lady Clara, who seemed at first like some flaky, deranged survivor.  Then we realized she was keeping her zombified husband’s head in a burlap sack.

Like you do.
Photo from http://www.ibtimes.com

Which “deranged” can’t even touch, downspiraling Clara’s initial appearance as a pitiful survivor into some sort of madness that’s expressed as a so-low-you-got-to-look-up-to-see-bottom apologist zombie collaborator.

Anyway.  There’s so much more: is Glenn finally starting to become depressed and paranoid?  He’s more skittish than he’s ever been, and protective, and actively talking about being scared.  What’s up with the new character Bob Stookey, and how is his struggle with alcohol going to play into the fate of the group?  What else is there to do with Daryl Dixon, short of introducing a major schism into the group or–looming fan riots be damned–kill him, as Bob Kirkland has threatened.  (And fans, NO, I don’t want to see it either so stop taunting the writers, OKAY???)

We need to take into consideration the literary device known as “Chekhov’s gun“, which states that as a writer you shouldn’t introduce an element in the beginning of a story (or at the start of a TV season) without intending to use it.  Considering Chekhov’s gun, here’s what I think is happening:

I think the little kids in the prison are sneaking out at night and feeding the zombies.  In the first episode they named their favorite zombies and jokingly said they considered them “pets”.  While I don’t know if I, deep in my heart, truly “buy” that they don’t fully understand the potential repercussions of a breach in the external wall…innocence of youth and all that.

Worms.  The camera lingered on those worms in episode 2 like Food Network cameras linger on Giada DeLaurentiis’s cleavage.

They’ve got to have some relevance. Rick was feeding slop + worms to pigs, one of the pigs inexplicably took sick and died.  We already know everyone is infected with the zombie virus, and then they’re buried in the ground and become worm food.  Are zombie-infected worms turbo-boosting the zombie virus and/or some other latent pig-to-human viral vector?

I think Carol burned the superflu people.  Because she’s all about taking care of business, and she looks so nice and trustworthy so she could fairly easily get people to let their guards down, give ’em a quick ha-cha! with a knife and drag them out back to dispose of their flu-riddled bodies.  Because you have to protect the group at the expense of the few, after all.

I’m still not sure how Clara and her husband’s head will figure into future The Walking Dead mayhem.  But you don’t introduce a mouth-breathing sack of zombie without–perhaps literally–having it come back to bite you in the ass.  Rick, in his episode 1- kinder gentler communing with the Earth-version of himself, didn’t give Clara and hubs a merciful final dispatch which makes NO sense, because all he did was leave a threat.  It’s not like zombie Clara will remember past kindnesses and give Rick a pass.  I say they’re going to be the end of Carl, making it the biggest mistake Rick could possibly have made in the entirety of the postapocalyptic zombie world.

And Michonne will end up having to walk through fire to protect baby Judith (or, baby Little Ass Kicker, as she’s also known).

Herein lies my take on season 4, episode 2.  There will be more to come as the season unfolds!  I’m happy for other perspectives; let me know what you think is happening.

And just because I haven’t posted nearly enough music by The Zombies, please enjoy “Time of the Season”.

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