The Walking Dead, S 5, Ep. 9: What Happened and What’s Going On

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Alert.

I have been wondering for the last two days, just what in the hell I was going to say about this episode. It’s complex. It’s arty. It’s visceral. It’s the episode that will end up getting discussed in a film class. Welcome to the biggest acid trip The Walking Dead has given us thus far. And, GODDAMN IT. You had to go and kill Tyreese, didn’t you? He was a good guy, maybe too good. I think even Chad Coleman, the actor who played Tyreese, described his character as the moral center of the group, which he should know is always the death knell for anyone on the show but GODDAMN IT. I generally liked Tyreese.

A note, if anyone is reading this blog for the first time. This particular blog assumes you regularly follow The Walking Dead and are familiar with past characters and plot lines. If this is your first time reading…stop, read everything else I’ve ever written about The Walking Dead, and come back here when you’re ready.

This episode is largely cerebral…in more ways than one, ha ha. Much of the last half of this episode involved the goings-on in Tyreese’s hallucinatory, fevered brain as he makes the journey to the Great Beyond, but on the grander scheme, his internal hallucinations reflect the more general question of what it takes to be considered a citizen of the world.

Visited by the recent dead–on the positive, welcoming side by Lizzy, Mika, Beth and Bob, and on the negative, shit-to-work-out-before-I-die side by The Governor and Martin, a Terminian who Tyreese almost killed once, but didn’t (and who died when Sasha savaged him in the neck with a knife)–Tyreese tries to come to an understanding of the worlds he once lived in, and lives in now. And they’re curiously similar. Reminding us–over and over again–that humans are perfectly capable of being monsters, Tyreese re-audio-hallucinates a BBC radio broadcast reporting on a war-torn nation that has suffered vast brutality; to me, it sounded like reports from the genocide in Rwanda. The radio reporter (voiced by Andrew Lincoln, speaking in his normal, British, non-Rick-Grimes-accent) talked about people being done in with machetes, or set on fire, all of which are things Tyreese has witnessed in the post-apocalyptic world. And the point is, if it wasn’t an actual BBC report…it could have been.

It's better now, they keep on promising.  Image from dailymail.co.uk

It’s better now, they keep on promising.
Image from dailymail.co.uk

What does it mean to belong to the world? Tyreese has a dying-dream conversation with Martin, who was ready to kill Baby Judith, and from whom Tyreese rescued her. Maybe if Tyreese has killed him at that point then he couldn’t have told Gareth where Rick Nation was, and maybe Bob would be alive, maybe it would all be different. Instead, Tyreese holds the image of that baby up as the pinnacle of good that he’d accomplished in the world. Judith is alive, and it is, entirely, all because of Tyreese. When The Governor showed up he started yelling about how Tyreese couldn’t “pay the bill”. He couldn’t be cold, couldn’t be ruthless. Couldn’t be the killer The Governor wanted him to be. Couldn’t kill Carol, who killed the woman Tyreese loved, a woman who was sick with a superflu and was about to infect and/or kill almost everyone around her. But the person who operates from the Governor’s perspective as their personal base is someone who belongs only to himself, only to the notion that the self is paramount and that the idea of a collective “Greater Good” is whatever a single individual decides is right and good, even if it’s morally reprehensible.

The gang's all here. Does the afterlife really have to involved folk singing? Image from yellmagazine.com

The gang’s all here. Does the afterlife really have to involve folk singing?
Image from yellmagazine.com

The Governor, if you remember Merle‘s and Andrea‘s deaths, proved that he was perfectly willing to let someone slowly die so they would turn into the undead. He bit Merle’s fingers off, he murdered Hershel in cold blood, to make a point. Rick is right on par with The Governor, having ripped Claimed Joe’s throat out with his teeth. Rick is the guy who strategically left another member of the “Claimed” group dead and ready to turn, so said dead guy would attack and distract his own gang members, and in this, most current episode, admitted to Glenn that he knew Dawn didn’t mean to kill Beth but didn’t care, he just wanted to shoot her anyway. Without Beth and now without Tyreese, Rick Nation has become an army of assassins, with little to keep them anchored to a humanity that is anything other than carnal.

Michonne, I think, is getting close to being the new voice of humanity, as she is about three steps away from losing her mind. They’ve been out on the road too long, she says, and they need a place to stay. To root. To come back together as a community with a common goal (other than, simply, survival). To build something, and grow plants, and hopefully figure out how to have a sheltered rest.

Tyreese is a great example of Rick’s warning to Carl earlier in the season to never let one’s guard down. For just a few moments, Tyreese was pulled out of the present, lost in a picture of Noah‘s younger twin brothers and what the previously “normal” world was like. Going for pizza. Sitting at a ball game. Hanging out at the playground. Contemplating the loss and promise of the lives of these two young boys, one of whom was dead in the bed next to him, with large chunks taken out of him. Then the other brother came in quietly from behind and took a bite out of Tyreese’s arm. Game over for our favorite moral compass.

Yup, that's about right.  Image from blog.indiewire.com

Yup, that’s about right.
Image from blogs.indiewire.com

And speaking of “carnal”, let’s talk about what happened at Shirewilt, the gated community where Noah used to live. Somebody came at this community, hard. They busted in through a cement wall like they were an army of evil Kool-Aid mascots. They burned and looted and bashed in heads, and it was probably just for the joy of killing. Rick took some time to point out the strategic flaws of Shirewilt as a homestand; I mean, it looked secured, with a big old wall and locking gates. But it wasn’t. If Rick understands the flaws in it as a stronghold you can assume that anyone else with a reasonably sound sense of defensive strategy would see the same flaws. So, the people who busted in to Shirewilt weren’t there to take it over, they just hearkened to the call of bloodlust. And then…they cut walkers in half, chopped off their arms, carved “W”s into their heads and loaded them into the back of a pickup? For…?

And you know they did the head carving while the person was still alive. Just for added evil. Image from moviepilot.com

And you know they did the head carving while the person was still alive. Just for added evil.
Image from moviepilot.com

I would imagine that would make one hell of a decoration around a fortress. Kind of like putting your enemies’ heads on spikes after you chop them off. Is this a way for some group to mark their turf? Since we got a nice, close look at the walker with the W in its head, you can rest assured we’ll see them again some time soon. And–seriously–it seems like any time you have someone willing to manipulate the bodies of the undead, it’s shorthand for “we are dealing with a crazy person”. Think of The Governor and his wall of heads. Michonne was close to crazy–was certainly dangerous–when we first met her with her undead entourage chained to her side, but then again, she’s come to realize that when she does that she’s in a dark, dark place.

Wolves not far, the graffiti said.

So...THAT's ominous.

So…THAT’s ominous. Image from moviepilot.com

Never let  your guard down, not even for a second. Duly noted.

Image credits:

Dead End

Lizzie and Mika

The Gang’s All Here

Head carving

Wolves Not Far

The Walking Dead S4 Ep 12: Still

SPOILERS!  YATA YATA, ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

BECAUSE SPOILERS. I MEAN IT.

MOVING ON NOW.

Farewell, dear Whatsherface. We hardly knew ye.

I mean, seriously, we hardly knew ye, which is why I couldn’t remember this character’s name and called her Whatsherface most of the time. So. Farewell, Whatsherface and hello, Beth.

Finally.

And yes, I remember when they were still on the farm and she had her tragic teen moment and threatened to kill herself (and Andrea was all, hey, man, let her go, to Beth’s appropriately freaked and angry family, which really helped solidify Andrea as the character whose behavior you should model the exact opposite of, but I digress).  But for the most part, through this series, Beth was the country mouse who somehow, mysteriously, managed to survive the zombie apocalypse while serving as little more than a human baby sling for much of the past two seasons.

“Still” was the episode in which Beth moves from anonymous, diary-wishing teen to rebellious, moonshine drinking teen ready to give the middle finger to the world around her.  Which was pretty much how I spent most of my teen and young adult years, and I didn’t even have to fight zombies to fuel my inner rage.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to...oh, I see. It's a crate full of moonshine.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to…oh, right, I see. It’s a crate full of moonshine.

Plus you learn stuff about Daryl.

This episode didn’t move the overall narrative of the show along much, since it focused on Beth and Daryl’s character development. A point to remember: neither character is found in the original comic, so their backstories are being written as the TV series’ writers go.  Daryl quickly became a fan favorite, so it’s not surprising they had him do more stuff, more quickly, than Beth did. I mean, how could he not be a great character to develop? {{{Nerd alert}}} This guy’s like a 17th-level ranger with a +5 crossbow. That’s a fun character to write when there’s mayhem all around.  But Beth? Not so much. Hershel did have other children in the original, but none were Beth and so? She is a wide-open character, who has been more or less shuffled to the backburner, until now.

So Beth and Daryl are on the run, and it seems like these two have been running non-stop since the prison went down. And they’re running, and hiding in the trunk of a car, and running. Then Beth decides she’s done running–at least for the time being–and wants a drink.  They come across a country club (“Golfers like to booze it up, right?”) (Yes, Beth. Yes they do.), which turns out to be the scene of a weird and socioeconomically-fueled slaughter.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

Wealthy club members (designated by their clothing, jewelry and signs on their bodies like, “Rich Bitch”) were hung and left to turn zombie in their nooses or, simply, slaughtered in their pearls and golf sweaters.  Why were they gathered in a country club in the first place, its windows shrouded with newspapers to try and shield themselves from the zombies’ notice, decked out in nice clothes and with purses stuffed with money?  It seems they were hiding out. It’s as though they’d gathered for some postmodern Masque of the Red Death to try and wait out the apocalypse. But there’s no hiding and in the end, all their money only made for some great kindling.

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

And if you don’t know Masque of the Red Death, consider yourself culturally illiterate until you’ve read it. I’ll make it easy for you: click here. Read. Get back to me. Moving on.

A word about that “Welcome to the Dogtrot” bit of graffiti…a dogtrot is a type of house found primarily through the eastern and southern US, but has been seen as far west as New Mexico.  It’s generally a cabin with a wide open breezeway through the middle (where the dog can trot through, get it?), and the widely ventilated breezeway allows buildings to stay cooler.  Dogtrots in Georgia are mainly found in forested, rural (read: poorer) areas.  While the graffiti gives us no indication, specifically, who commandeered the country club, writing “Welcome to the Dogtrot” guarantees you that it was a bunch of backwoods Have-Nots who finally saw a chance to get the upper hand on the Haves.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we'll find out more.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we’ll find out more.

After seeing that, I’d want a drink, too.

While Beth deciding she wants a drink seems like a terrible idea, I also get the impulse. Poor kid. She can’t…go out clubbing and be a woo girl and go parking with boys and go to her prom. She can’t do any of the stupid shit we all do along the way to adulthood. She can only keep running from the ravenously undead while getting increasingly proficient with sticking a hunting knife into their skulls so, dammit, she will do at least one stupid, irresponsible, angry teen thing, and get defiantly drunk.  Daryl, of course, knows where he can get some top-quality hooch.  He takes Beth to the ramshackle, standard-issue redneck shack down the road apiece, the one he says is essentially a replica of the house he grew up in, complete with the stash of moonshine and the hot pink lady’s bust ashtray (filled to the cupline with extinguished cigarettes).

Shmexy. Set dressers, note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all cleaned, and they're all evenly stubbed out. Reality: They'd be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

Set dressers, take note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all clean, and they’re all evenly stubbed out an inch or more from the filter. Reality: They’d be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

I’ll spare you the details of the drinking game they played, because of course they played a drinking game, because in a non-apocalyptic world Beth would be a budding college frosh woo girl who does body shots off her roommates.  But we learn this:

We learn that Daryl is a mean drunk, but when he’s mean and lashing out he still manages to be vulnerable. He talks–yells, really–about how he nearly died because of his stupid brother and his stupid brother’s stupid friend, and reflects (angrily) on the pointlessness and casual violence of his former everyday life.  He takes a zombie apart piece by piece while pushing Beth around, “teaching” her to shoot a crossbow.  And he talks about how he feels responsible for Hershel’s head getting cut off, even though that’s silly because it’s not as though anyone could have expected to formulate an anti-tank plan.

Once I stop being an asshole I'll show you my sensitive side. Really.

Once I stop being an asshole I’ll show you my sensitive side. Really.

We learn that before the apocalypse, he was little more than a drifter, tagging along after his brother.  “I was nothing…nobody,” he says, and it was only after the start of the zombie apocalypse that he started to become his own person, choose his own path, and live according to his own set of inner decency, which could only have been trampled on by absolutely total dick brother Merle.

We learn that Beth has a taste for fire.  The episode starts with her building a fire in their makeshift camp in the forest and ends with her helping Daryl burn down the house that symbolized, for him, his empty, pre-apocalyptic life.  Because fire = awesome.  Maybe she’ll team up with Lizzie and start a smoked-meats business.  They can do bunnies, rats, the occasional snake…

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

We learn that Daryl really doesn’t want to be alone. When drunk Beth tells him he’ll be the last one standing, he doesn’t seem to find anything flattering about that idea.

And, of course, there’s the finger scene, which was a strangely heartwarming way to end the show. I’m going to imagine episodes of The Brady Bunch ending with the house on fire, the entire family gathered around to give it the finger. Sigh. Doesn’t it just make you feel good?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I've made. What's wrong with me?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I’ve made. What’s wrong with me?

So. They’re friends and a team and Beth has grown up a little while Daryl has let down his defenses just a smidge around Beth. I’m sure that bets are being made about how quickly the two of them will end up in bed together. I won’t be surprised. The episode I’ll be waiting for after that is when they encounter Carol again, and Carol and her child army purposely hunt down her romantic rival.  Because there’s nothing like hunting human for sport.

Next week:  Foggy zombie thrills in a graveyard!

Let Uncle Dave Macon play you out of this week’s episode, asking you to carve that possum, carve him to the heart.

The Walking Dead, S4 Ep. 8: Too Far Gone

SPOILERS GALORE! BE FOREWARNED! ABANDON HOPE OF NON-SPOILAGE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!

Here’s what I’m surprised about from last night’s The Walking Dead mid-season finale.

  • I’m kind of surprised Daryl wasn’t angrier about Carol‘s banishment.
  • I’m sorry Hershel died.
  • Rick lost another shirt.
  • I didn’t expect who actually pulled the trigger and put a bullet in The Governor‘s brain.

Ummmm…

  • Oh, and I hope they’re just messing with us and somehow, someone got baby Judith to safety before a zombie (or whoever) had the bad form to bleed all over her car seat.
It's too tidily placed on the ground for her to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes.  Li'l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Boo.  But!  It’s too tidily placed on the ground for Judith to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes. Li’l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Here’s what I’m not surprised about:

  • Everything else.  Mostly.

The prison was getting claustrophobic and that story arc was playing itself well out, so I’m not terribly sorry or shocked to see it go.  In the episode where Rick banishes Carol, I was relieved to be in a town and see a setting that wasn’t just gridded catwalks and cement. Besides, as a storyline…what do you do with the prison now?  The superflu has passed and they’re not all spewing blood on one another in quarantined cell blocks.  As much as it pains me to say this, good TV is not made by domestic tranquility.  Not even with relentless hordes of zombies roaming the outsides.  Oh, look, the walls held them back.  Oh, look.  The walls held them back again.  Here, son, have a bean.  And?

So what have we got, now that the mid-season finale has come and gone and the prison has been blown to smithereens by The Governor?

Daryl, in one of the greatest examples of how to manipulate the available resources in the postapocalyptic world–sticks a zombie on his crossbow bolt for use as a “human” shield, fights through to the goddamn tank, and disables it with a grenade.  BOOM.  He’s out in the world with Beth, Hershel’s insipidly boring daughter.  I mean, I don’t want to see Beth die simply because people are an increasingly rare commodity in the zombie world, but damn, I have yet to figure out her point.

I'm already bored talking about Beth. Let's watch Daryl take a zombie for a crossbow bolt cruise.

I’m already bored talking about Beth. Let’s watch Daryl take a zombie for a cruise down crossbow bolt highway.

Maggie‘s stuck with Sasha, recovering from the flu and Bob Stookey, who we’ve learned from past episodes has the uncomfortable habit of being the lone survivor of the bands he’s traveled with.  Here’s hoping Maggie shanks him before his bad luck rubs off on her.

Glenn, still weak with flu, is on a school bus full of children and other sickly types, driving who knows where.  I say we put the PA from an old ice cream truck on the bus, let the music rip to draw the zombies to it and call it a day, because that thing is rolling walker bait.

There’s a pack of child soldiers that Carol created, headed by the incomparable Miss Lizzie, running around in the woods.  They pretty effectively saved Tyreese‘s bacon after he ended up diving into a spot from which he couldn’t retreat during the invasion.  And by “saved” I mean, they shot two people point-blank in their heads so he could get away.

I call you "Killer" 'cause you *slay* me.

I call you “Killer” ’cause you *slay* me.

I like that you can see my Christmas lights twinkling in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

p.s. In the five seconds of this episode that didn’t deal with The Governor’s invasion of the prison, there was a nod to the “who’s messing with the rats” story arc, which I assume will show up again in the second half of the season.  I still say it’s Lizzie.  Remember when she played toesies in Glenn’s blood and sputum?  Ew.  Girlfriend’s got issues.  Hence when Tyreese found the board with a disemboweled rat nailed to it, it begs the question: can it possibly be the work of anyone other than toesie girl?

As for Tyreese, who knows where he is?

So sorry, Hershel.  I knew he was history when they handed The Governor Michonne‘s sword, and Hershel was closest by.  Because you don’t hand a lunatic a katana and not expect him to swing for the bleachers.

Ow.

Ow.

RIP poor little Meghan Chambler/Chalmers/Whatever, who was toast as soon as The Governor, that one-eyed Master of Disaster, The Captain of Crazytown, El Jefe de Horror, the Cyclops of Chaos, promised he would take care of her.  Because everything he touched turned to shit, that’s why.  There’s no reason she should be any different.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You'll be safe here, he said.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You’ll be safe here, he said.

Meghan’s mom, Lilly, is off on her own (more on her in a minute), as is her aunt Tara, who drops the mic on The Governor’s militia with perhaps one of the greatest “Fuck this, I’m out” faces in the history of TV.

Yeah, that's a whole lot of nope.

Yeah, that’s a whole lot of nope.

Which was smart of her, since pretty much everyone else who was fighting on the behalf of The Cyclops of Chaos ended up as zombie food.

And so. To The Governor.

Brian Heriot didn’t last long.  The kinder-gentler, yearning for personal reform Governor from…was it only two episodes ago?… Done.  Finito.  I think it’s safe to say the title of this episode pertains directly to The Gov.  His pathos and paranoia and love of power ran too deep for him to stop before hitting absolute bottom.  Kind of like Richard III, with zombies.

Richard III The Governor arrives at Bosworth Field the gates of the prison and draws forth a final battle, where he nearly strangles Rick to death but instead, is stabbed through the chest by “ooh, he so had this coming” Michonne, who’s anti-Gov laundry list looks something like this (and is in no way complete):

  • Remember when you confiscated my sword and wouldn’t let me and Andrea leave?
  • Remember when you kept your zombie daughter in a secret closet?
  • Remember the creepy-ass walker head aquariums you kept in your office, next to your zombie daughter?
  • Remember when you assigned Merle to kill me?
  • Remember when you almost killed Glenn and Maggie?
  • Remember when you tried to make Merle and Daryl duke it out gladiator style?
  • Sorry ’bout the eye.
  • Andrea, Andrea, Andrea.

Suffice to say…

That's gonna leave a mark.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Michonne left him to suffer in the field, though.  She didn’t finish the job, and left that to the hordes of walkers closing in on him.  Which, in its own way, has got to sting.  Michonne has taken off for parts unknown, and it’s my hope that she’s the one who got her hands on baby Judith and is off in the woods with her somewhere.  Baby tucked in a rudimentary sling strapped to her chest, katana on her back.  Dig it.  You CAN have it all–a career and a baby.

So at the end of the day, Meghan’s mother Lilly dealt The Governor his death blow.  Covered in bits of Meghan–and in rage and betrayal–she did what nobody else was able to do before and bring an end to Richard III the Captain of Crazytown.

If you're looking for Richard, you'll find him crushed under the bootheel of the ravenous masses.

Symbolism much?  If you’re looking for Richard The Governor, you’ll find him crushed under the boot heel of the ravenous masses.

And a word about Rick: of course he didn’t die in this fight with El Jefe de Horror.  Rick’s is the story arc upon which this entire series hinges.  He opened the show in the hospital, vulnerable and alone in his tacky hospital gown.  It’s his journey we’re watching, though other characters come and go along the way and divert us.  But expecting that Rick might die is like expecting Harry Potter to die.  Preposterous.  You don’t kill The Boy Who Lived.  (Note to writers: I am not issuing a challenge!)

So now Rick’s prison people are scattered to the four winds.  Rick is alive, but hurt, but has son Carl the sharpshooter with him.  At least he won’t have to worry about running into The Governor any more.  And he’ll need yet another shirt.

RIP, Rick's second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

RIP, Rick’s second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

As for what’s going to happen…I have no clue.  Since the writers have gone all metaphorically insane-regal, I’m half hoping they’ll run into mad Queen Carol, who’s become a post-apocalyptic Elizabeth Bathory and bathes in the blood of her enemies.  And Lizzie will, of course, have found her, and will be her handmaiden from hell.  Other than that…who knows?  We’ll see in February.  Just keep ’em coming, AMC.  Thanks.

Here’s a dedication to The Governor, from me.  Presenting The Wonder Stuff singing “Unbearable“.

The Walking Dead, S4, Ep 6: Hello, Governor!

Spoilers present here.  Read at your own peril. #consideryourselveswarned

He’s ba-a-a-a-a-a-ack.

That one-eyed Master of Disaster, The Captain of Crazytown, el Jefe de horror, the Cyclops of Chaos…Oh, my stars and garters, buckle your seatbelts, boys and girls, because The Governor is back.

Only…he’s looking decidedly worse for the wear.

This episode–season 4, episode 6, titled “Live Bait”, think about that for a while–was all Governor.  No Rick, no prison, no “what the hell is Daryl doing now that Carol’s exiled to Neverwhere?”.  Just.  The Governor.

Who is a shambling mess.

A narrative opened up last season that draws strong parallels between The Governor and the zombie.  This narrative was pretty gruesomely explored in S3 Ep 15, where he gets about as zombie-like as a human can be and literally bites off Merle‘s fingers (forward to 2:55 if’n you wanted to relive the magic) just before killing him, begging the question: what makes a monster?

So this episode picks up pretty much where season 3 left us with The Governor. The soldiers from Woodbury are freshly dead and The Governor is on the road with Woodbury henchmen Martinez and Shumpert, apparently in the process of losing his fricking mind.  Because he snaps and slaughters his allies in the street, he mentally collapses into some undefined dissociative disorder (my bet: depersonalization disorder, since he talks about “the guy in charge” who lost it–which is of course, him–as though he’s a separate and distinct person, but I digress).  He even distances himself from his own name when he finally meets the family that takes him in (though there’s some stuff about that family that I don’t like or trust, more on that later), neither calling himself The Governor nor his given name, Philip Blake.  But I’ll get to that in a minute, too.

First, Governor as zombie.

While he’s adrift on the road, he wakes to find formerly loyal henchmen Martinez and Shumpert have deserted him in the middle of the night.  In a perfect use of camera angle (psst, AMC, I hope you paid your cinematographers well in this episode, because they made it fly), we see The Governor as he truly is–one small man, friendless and alone in a vast, bleak world.

The Governor haz a sad.

The Governor has a sad.

The Governor goes back to Woodbury and burns it to the ground.  I saw one review that speculated he did that out of spite; if he can’t have it, no one can, and maybe that’s truly the motivation.  But that doesn’t ring true for me.  If he’s a man intent on distancing himself from his past, it would make more sense to burn it because it’s the scene of his greatest failing.  It’s where he stopped being human.  Torch that sucker and obliterate the past and maybe, some day, start over.

And while he’s burning his city to the ground he almost…almost breaks the fourth wall and directly faces the audience.  At least, he’s facing the audience thanks to his body and posture, turned and open toward the camera.  However,  if he had truly broken the fourth wall he would have looked directly in front and stared at the camera and thus, the audience.  Facing the audience would have implicitly asked the viewers what they would have done in his situation.  But he doesn’t (and we’re spared having to consider what it would mean to wear his ill-fitting shoes), because he barely faces anyone.

“[...] each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves”

“…each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves”
― Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

Instead, he’s focused on the zombies in the streets of Woodbury.

Whassup?

Whassup?

Who are zombie-lurching past him like he’s a brother.  They can’t even bother to glance in a cursory, perhaps-you’re-living-flesh sort of interest.  Nope.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

And when a horde of eternally ravenous zombies can’t even bother to send a perfunctory sniff in your direction, in some deranged sort of way…that’s gotta hurt.

Then blah blah, he stumbles into a town and blah blah, meets the Chalmers family–Lilly and Tara, sisters; Lilly’s daughter, Meghan, and the dying family patriarch, David–who takes him in.

What. Is wrong. With that family?  Because something felt entirely false.

Meghan, the little girl, hides behind chairs and her mother while dying Grandpa tells The Governor she doesn’t talk.  Yet she prattles away to The Governor and charms him with her air of insouciant youth so much that he lets his guard down and seemingly decides to rejoin the human race.  She also doesn’t make me believe that it’s hard to get words out of her.

It’s been two years (ish) since the start of the zombie apocalypse.  Who doesn’t know–two YEARS into surviving a zombie apocalypse–that you have to kill zombies in their brains?  It seems that the Chalmers clan has managed to survive for two years without knowing that tasty bit of trivia.  And I?  Don’t buy it.

One apartment, four people…I’ll give them a pass that they managed to scavenge enough food from that truck and from raiding the other apartments, but water?  Other supplies?  Enough…toilet paper?  I don’t buy it.  Not without knowing you have to kill zombies in their heads, because there’s no way one of them would survive a scavenging party out-of-doors.  It’s a forced helplessness that seems entirely facetious in the given situation.

Who lets their little kid hang out dead-center in a window for everyone to see, possibly attracting zombies looking for noms to storm their front door?

No.

No.

And I’ve watched and watched and watched the scene repeatedly; I still don’t know what Tara supposedly tripped on in the street to make her fall and wrench her ankle, slowing them down.  Why did the truck they drove out of town in–which seemed to work fine–suddenly die?  What mother thinks it’s a fine idea to bump uglies with a near-stranger while her sister and kid are asleep just inches away in the back of a panel truck?

Remember, the name of this episode is “Live Bait”.  And I think this family was assigned to catch people that cross their paths, so their group could acquire warriors, eliminate threats, whatever.  Zombies in the streets are one thing.  You know what they’re going to do.  But people?  People are quite another.  If the Chalmerses are working with Martinez (who, thanks to the preview of next week’s episode, we know is in charge of a camp) and funneling people into his camp for his judgment and/or dispatch–and I think they are–then we know he’s learned camp management from the psychotically best, if season three bears any weight.  It won’t take long for things to get bloody with Martinez back in the picture. It’s sad that The Governor has gotten hooked back in with Martinez again; running with your old pack, old habits die hard, ingrained interpersonal dynamics are a tough thing to overcome.  Because I think, right now, all The Governor wants is a second chance to not be a menace unto the world.

He just wants to be loved.

Remember when he came across the barn that had spraypainted instructions for certain people?  “Do NOT go home!”  “Went to Jim’s [something, I can’t read it]” or “Megan Cook died”

In Memoriam.

In Memoriam.

The Governor took his alias–Brian Heriot–from the side of this barn.  He didn’t choose the name of someone declared dead.  He didn’t choose the name of the mysterious Jim.  Instead, he chose Brian Heriot.  So, you’re asking?  It’s a perfectly functional first and last name, it’s male, he’s not going to be Megan, after all, right?

*sniffle*

*sniffle*

True.  But Brian’s was the only name that was accompanied by a declaration of love.  Why not choose to be a man memorialized so endearingly?  For a man completely alone in the world and already considers himself almost dead, that’s got to be a powerful lure.

And thank you, David Morrissey, for a gorgeous  bit of acting.

And thank you, David Morrissey, for a gorgeous bit of acting.

So when (not “if”, I’m that confident) he eventually realizes the Chalmerses had manipulated him from the start, his betrayal will be that much more intense.  His feral nature isn’t so far into his past that he can’t dial it up again when he needs to.  How do you torture the man who has nothing?  Give him back something he used to have, but give it back broken.  Give him the family that isn’t his, the daughter that turns on him, the lover who only sleeps with him out of a sense of duty to another man.

Then step back and watch as the Captain of Crazytown, el Jefe of horror, the Chaos Cyclops, rises.

I’m not sure yet how I think he’ll interact with Rick and crew.  On the one hand, it’s possible his fight with them came to an end with his break from reality, and he sees what Rick does as nothing more than protecting his people.  If that’s the case, then I can imagine him working behind the scenes to undermine Martinez, who deserted him on the side of the road.  Left him for dead.  Left him completely exposed and vulnerable, really, because it’s not like zombies can’t rip into the side of a pup tent, in which The Governor was sleeping when Martinez split.  On the other hand, if The Governor dips back into a crunchy batshit crazy shell, he may decide he needs to finish what he started.  I need to see a little more before I try to figure where this is going.

Don’t worry, kids.  That wacky Governor?  He’ll be back.

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