The Walking Dead – Live Bait
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“What happened to your eye?”
A man as well traveled as the Governor shows little fear when a zombie shambles towards him. Why? Well, he’s been around the block a few times and knows that one is easy enough to handle with relative ease. Of course, a sense of grave depression and loneliness tends to also engender more time to be with one’s thoughts; thoughts that the Governor turns into rage and hatred. Turns out, all hubris and anger are good for now is being a shell of the man Brian Herriot once was, drifting aimlessly through the landscape in search of something. What that something is ends up being holed up in a semi-abandoned apartment building, where a couple of daughters tend to their ailing father.
There’s an obvious, subtle jab at the Governor’s failure to keep his daughter alive amidst all the panic. He sees a chance at redemption in the little girl; one that is a little heavy-handed in presentation. The Governor helping the inhabitants though was something of a surprise, but if you set aside his rather sadistic tendencies at Woodbury, he did help many families and individuals make a go of it in the crazy world. It’s something that kind of gets lost when you factor in how angrily he went after Rick and the gang. And never has a quest to get a cart of oxygen canisters out of a geriatric home been so harrowing and fraught with peril. He’s still likely clever enough though to assume a false identity, as the name he gives was something of a surprise. The time spent with the seemingly innocent “family” put him back in touch with his own humanity. It also had the effect of reinvigorating his desire to reclaim what he felt was wrongfully taken from him. The chess lesson was a very valuable insight into his life view—he still maintains a desire to rule. He offered an explanation of the pawns as a means to and end and didn’t refuse the gesture when the youngest depicted the king with an eyepatch.
Governor aside, seeing another group of survivors was somewhat refreshing. There was a little suspension of disbelief considering that the girls and father had survived that long in an apartment building without knowing how to kill the Walkers. The explanation that the truck was well stocked added some plausibility to it, but the fact remains that they likely shouldn’t have survived this long. The Governor proved to be extremely brutal when the time called for it, as evidenced by yet another dangerous use of the oxygen canister. He’s endeared himself to his new neighbors across the hall, despite his stubborn insistence to continue killing. That endearment brings with it a sobering reality for the other survivors, as somehow they’ve been shielded from all the madness since it started.
The season is about a quarter of the way through and this episode really slammed on the breaks when it comes to pacing and progression. The Governor has a new running crew and it’s possibly the start of a brand new Woodbury for him. And he meets up with old friends, giving him an even bolder drive to get things done. It looks like he won’t have the same sway he had before, but at least he’s got more protection and his charisma will likely sway even more loyalty. The thing about the episode is that it establishes the stage for what appears to be a few episodes focusing solely on the Governor. While that’s not something that is necessarily bad, it does mean that there will be some strange pacing down the road.
The scenes about the Governor likely would’ve been better served had they been interspersed throughout the other episodes of the season so far. Dedicating entire episodes to a character that, at times last season was immensely fascinating, seems a little extreme. He’s definitely not one to forgive and forget, meaning he’ll inevitably end up squaring off against Rick and the survivors again down the road. That meeting will go a lot differently than the previous one that left him in his current state, even if he seems to be a lot more compassionate this time around. It remains to be seen how viewers will take to a few episodes that don’t feature Rick and the others. He’s still got that touch of insanity though, considering the start of him projecting his daughter on the little girl at the apartment.
This week’s episode was the first so far this season that didn’t really live up to its billing so to speak. Considering it was called “Live Bait,” there was some subtle expectation that the scenario would play out in some fashion as the Governor made his way through the mostly abandoned apartment building. There’s nothing to say that the episodes have to fulfill their titles, yet there’s something of a beautiful symmetry in those cases that adds an extra layer of intensity to the proceedings. The prison survivors need another foe now that the flu is dealt with, but the Governor’s appearance feels a little contrived and forced. Hopefully, his inclusion doesn’t hurt the direction this season has been going so far, especially considering it’s been pretty solid to this point. There’s also hope that this episode will look genius later on in the season.