Is it just us, or has it suddenly become very dark in here? Meet the Governor. He seems like such a lovely chap.
Fans of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series The Walking Dead will be very familiar with the character of The Governor, the notorious leader of a small community who took the book to some very nasty places. His appearance in the television series is not just a welcome sight for fans, but like Michonne a sign that the show is about to be wading in a thick molasses of blood. The third season has so far established Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) single-minded determination to keep his group together and safe no matter what the cost. In the previous season, there was some dramatic tension with Shane’s differing opinion as to how that should happen. With Shane’s departure, the Governor (played by British actor David Morrissey) fills the void as a more traditional antagonist, if “traditional” were a label that in any way applied to this character.
This atypical episode takes us away from the main group of Rick and co at the prison, with Rick having firmly established his dominance over the surviving prisoners in last week’s episode “Sick”. After Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) witness the crash of a military helicopter, they move in closer to investigate. However, a group led by the Governor has managed to get there first, making short work of what is left of the survivors. A surprise appearance from the group’s old pal Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who escaped sans hand way back in the first season, leads them back to the idyllic community run by The Governor. Assured that they are not prisoners, The Governor gives them few reasons to want to leave, protecting his community around the clock and providing the semblance of civilisation that they have been sorely missing on the road. Is he too good to be true? Yes. Yes he is.
“Walk With Me” is a significant departure for the series as it is one of the first episodes to be entirely free of any narrative around the majority of the regular series cast. Indeed, this is the first episode to not feature Andrew Lincoln or Sarah Wayne Callies at all, demonstrating a shift in the maturity of the show’s storytelling abilities. This is, after all, a large ensemble cast and it is only through these kind of episodes that their arcs will progress beyond the confines of the group dynamic. The few hints we get about Michonne’s past, for example, give us more in five minutes than some of the other characters have experienced in two years. Andrea is similarly given some development beyond the “tough, angry one”, but is still kind of pissy with everyone. It’s also an early indicator that Rick won’t always be the dominant force within the group, and that the power balance will shift and tilt as new elements are introduced over the coming season.
There are times that this episode could almost be considered too dark, pushing the bounds of taste that worked on page but not necessarily on-screen. Yet the undeniably electric element to this episode is David Morrissey as The Governor. Unlike his comic book counterpart, who looks like he’s stepped out of a 70s cop show, Morrissey’s Governor comes fully formed on the screen. Having reportedly sought out the canonical novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, in every scene he is present it is clear that Morrissey is fully aware of his character, where he comes from and more importantly, what he is capable of doing. As the two groups begin to come together over the coming weeks, we know there will be some fireworks and we simply can’t wait.
The Walking Dead screens Sundays 9/8C on AMC in the US. It screens in Australia on FX on Tuesdays at 8:30pm. It is also available on iTunes from Hopscotch eOne.