It's like, with "Dead Weight," The Walking Dead actively wants me to hate it. Like it's trying so hard to be hard to love.
The show was doing so well for five episodes. The writers were developing characters (hi there, Hershel) and creating drama (disease! potential famine!) and introducing a new social structure that really added a lot of tension and poignancy to the show.
And then they had to go and bring this fucking guy back.
I mean, you knew they would. You knew that if the Governor was still out there walking around, he was going to show up at some point. And that's fine. The show has proven that it's not above rethinking a character and strengthening him for the better (hi again, Hershel!). So when we saw the Governor lurking outside the prison fence, sure I groaned, but also I thought maybe they'll know what to do with him this time.
They do not.
The last two episodes have shown the Governor doing nothing more than a 360 degree turn. He started out last episode a broken man (who looked an awful lot like Kurt Russell in Escape from New York) and who had just finished murdering the people of his town in cold blood. This episode ended with him looking less like Kurt Russell, but also having just finished murdering several people from his new town in cold blood. New Governor, same as the old Governor.
The last two episodes also took us through the 50 Shades of the Governor. It felt like we were watching 120 minutes of the writers throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks. What if the Governor gets a family? What if he saves a little girl once…no, a couple times? What if we make him seem like he's changed, really changed, but then he goes and whacks his old buddy Martinez with a golf club? What if we change his motivation so many times that the viewers get whiplash?
Will the real Governor please stand up?
The big kicker is that these past two episodes were completely unnecessary. They reminded me of the prologues novice novelists always want to tack on at the beginnings of their books. "We have all this information we want to give you. It's really just information that we, the writers, need to know so that we can better do our jobs, but for some reason we feel like over-explaining things to you."
Think about it. This episode ended with the Governor standing outside the prison, pointing his gun at Michonne. The same place we found him two episodes ago. What if the writers had just come back after that episode and launched right into the Governor's attack on the prison? What would we have missed? Not much. None of the new characters in New New Otherton would matter to us, but they don't matter to us after two whole episodes with them anyway. What would we have gained? Well, some excitement, for one thing. Watching the Governor mount an attack on our zeroes in the prison is a much more interesting prospect than following the Governor, the cypher, around for two hours before winding up right back to where we found him. In fact, if the writers had just launched immediately into the battle, it may have -- I don't know -- drummed up some interest and excitement as to what the Governor has been up to during his absence. And then maybe, a few episodes from now, in the middle of the latter half of the season, these episodes might have meant something to us.
But that's not what they gave us. They gave us two episodes we never wanted, two episodes we never asked for, two episodes full of characters we don't know or care about. The writers (or the producers or whoever) grossly over-estimated our love for the Governor. No one has ever known what to do with him as a character and, based on what we've seen over the past 120 minutes of the show, they still don't.
He's the real "dead weight," people.
So, I don't know how much of what happened in the past two episodes is really going to matter in the mid-season finale or in the latter half of the fourth season. I'm guessing not much. Sure, Martinez is dead, but he was pretty much dead to us already. The Governor has a new lady to care about who's not Andrea, so she's got that going for her. The Governor has a bias against people who insist upon doing the right thing, but judging by his interactions with Sheriff Rick last season, I think we already knew that.
- Yay for The Walking Dead introducing its first openly gay character.
- Boo that she sucks. Tara, with all her fist pounding and bravado and cartoonishness, is the worst. She should be at the bottom of the lake with Pete. It's a travesty that T-Dog is gone, but she is allowed to live.
- I'm pretty sure the Governor's new lady will be dead by the end of the season, and I'm fine with that.
- I'd also be fine with us losing Megan (the little girl), but I'm predicting a Romeo & Juliet-style romance between her and Carl.
- I'd pretty much be OK with losing everyone from Camp Governor at this point, in case you haven't noticed.
- The Governor learned at an early age to let the good guys take the fall for him. And that's probably the most interesting thing we learned about him tonight.
- He needs to find a new stylist because his hair is a hot, brassy mess.
- When the Governor says he doesn't want it, I don't believe him. When the Governor says or does most things, I don't believe him.
- How long have they been living in that town when the Governor kills Martinez? Like a day? Why is Lily so concerned about leaving the new folks they just met without a nurse? Why is she so concerned that her sister is going to have to leave the woman she just met thirty-five minutes ago? Slow down, lady.
- The zombies stuck in the quicksand triggered some NeverEnding Story feelings I'd kept buried for a while.
- When Lily tells the Governor, "You don't have to do this," I don't know what she's talking about. What's "this?" Letting her touch his eye hole?
What did you think of this episode (and the last one)? Did you enjoy them much more than I did?
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