Quick question: who is the most hated, reviled, argument-inducing character ever to appear on The Walking Dead? Okay, I’ll give you Lori. Who’s number two? For most people, I suspect they would say the Governor. It looks like we’re getting back, like it or not, so let’s discuss what things we should expect to see in this Sunday’s episode, and what things I think we might see.
Before I prognosticate, here’s what AMC has provided us with this week. They’ve released two stills of the upcoming episode – the one at the top of this article with the Governor, and this one with Martinez:
and, as per usual, they’ve released two videos as well. We know just from the pictures (and from the very end of last week’s episode) that both the Governor and Martinez will be in “Live Bait.” What else can we expect? Let’s parse the Promo and Sneak Peek videos posted by AMC this week, beginning with the Promo short shown last Sunday.
Scene One: We see Michonne looking at her map, her finger poised over Macon. This is overlaid by her conversation with Tyreese about the Governor when they were at the gas station back in Episode.
Scene Two: The Governor sits in front of a fire, staring at the flames. A lone walker in a long dress approaches him from out of the darkness. Tyreese and Michonne’s conversation continues. “If he was here right now,” she says, “I’d cut him in two, ‘cos that’s how it needs to be.” The walker stumbles and crawls through the flames.
Scene Three: Bold white text on sickly gray-green horizon shot, “THE GOVERNOR” – cut back to the zombie crawling towards his feet, and then to the Governor’s face – he’s unmoved by her approach. Hershel in voice-over, “He’s a sick man.” Bold white text again, “RETURNS.”
Scene Four: The Governor standing in front of a building with flames erupting from the doors and every window, his head angled down and to the right as he stares forward, as though he’s daring someone, anyone, to react.
Not nearly as much information for us to work with as in last week’s promo that was full of smash cuts and action sequences. If last week’s episode was Hershel’s, and the week before’s was largely Carol’s, it looks as though this week will be the Governor’s. I don’t believe that this means that he’s going to attack the prison – not directly. I suspect there will be some violence, but he doesn’t have the manpower he once did, and is bound to be more careful after what happened the last time he made a frontal assault on the prison.
The Sneak Peek video gives us a slightly better idea about what’s been happening since last we saw the Governor back in Episode 316, but not a lot more information for this episode:
Scene One: The Woodbury bodies – the members of the Governor’s assault force that refused to attack the prison a second time, lying dead on the road. This is a flashback scene – obviously, the bodies would long since have been eaten and/or decomposed if we were in the Season Four continuity. This places us approximately six and a half months before the events of last week.
Scene Two: A truck engine starting, and then we see the Governor driving with Bowman beside him, Martinez in the back. Bowman and Martinez are staring at the bodies, both somewhat in shock; the Governor just looks angry. He spins the tires, and the speed off down the road through the fallen autumn leaves.
Scene Three: The Governor sitting in front of the same fire we saw in the Promo, only this time from a wider shot, showing us three tents and the truck parked behind them.
Scene Four: In tight on the Governor, as we see the same zombie approaching, falling, and crawling toward him. Then, a shot rings out, as a bullet passes through the walker’s head. The Governor doesn’t even flinch.
Scene Five: Side view of the Governor. Martinez is in the background, holding a rifle. He lowers the gun, staring at the Governor and shaking his head in apparent disgust. He turns and walks back to the tents, the Governor taking no note of his presence at any time.
Due to the connection between the opening scene of the Sneak Peek, and the presence of the truck at their campsite, I’m guessing that these events take place at the same time, right at the end of Season 3. This means we have a huge gap between the end of the video, and the end of Episode 405 last week, where we saw the Governor observing Rick and Carl. With his ability to organize and attract people already well established in Season 3 (Woodbury being largely his doing), it is entirely possible that he has more followers at this point than just Martinez and Bowman. If they were to take a cautious and tempered approach, even these three would be enough to do a lot of damage to the prison group; however, cautious and tempered have not been in the Governor’s playbook since Michonne put down his daughter and stabbed him in the eye. He wasn’t exactly nice before that – ruthless is a better descriptor – but he had been measured and careful in his approach up until then. Now, I suspect that his incipient madness has likely become a liability. I don’t expect him to have another large group of followers, and even if he did, they wouldn’t exactly have the loyalty required to be led into a battle that wasn’t theirs to begin with. The one thing that we can take from these two videos, and from his brief appearance last week, is that he has become extremely focused, even to his own detriment. He appears to be motivated purely by revenge, and anything not directly related to his desire to see Rick and the other survivors pay for their defiance is of no interest to him, even if it comes in the form of a walker about to gnaw on his boots.
Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the Governor. I don’t suspect any set-piece battles this week, although I do think the group will become aware that he is around, likely through a death. I wouldn’t expect it to be any of the core group, but if it is, the most likely candidates are Hershel and/or Michonne, as they’re heading outside the prison grounds to burn bodies. There’s also the possibility that one of the former Woodbury survivors now living at the prison is a spy still working for the Governor – my vote is for Bob Stookey, but that might just be because I don’t much care for his character at the moment. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it turned out to be Sasha instead? Of course, there might not be an inside person at all, but it would fit with the Governor’s underhandedness and tendency to play his enemies against each other.
None of this takes into account the upcoming showdown between Rick, Daryl, and Tyreese, which would under any other circumstances be the entire focus of this preview. Rick has to tell them about Carol, and I expect that will be how the episode opens up. I think that the pragmatic part of Daryl will allow him to see that Rick has taken the right action in banishing Carol, but I don’t expect him to like it. He’ll get angry, he’ll pace, he’ll probably shout a little, but I think he’ll accept that Rick did what he had to, especially in light of Tyreese. Tyreese is going to be angrier than Daryl, and may be difficult for even Sasha to control. Rick will likely survive his wrath, if only because he discovered Karen’s killer and has dealt with her; but Tyreese won’t be satisfied: he wants blood for blood. For him, it’s doubly hurtful, because I think he really appreciated Carol’s attempts at compassion prior to his run with Daryl, and he’ll see that as an even deeper betrayal of his trust. We could end up with a very tense and interesting scenario emerging here: I think that both Daryl and Tyreese will want to track Carol down, but for opposite reasons. They may very well end up working together to try to find her, both knowing that there will be a reckoning one way or the other if they succeed. And this, of course, would not only take away two of the most effective fighters the prison group has at a time they might really be needed, but it will also expose them to ambush, capture, or even death at the hands of the Governor. I think that this, then, might be the focus of this week’s episode, despite the Promo and Sneak Peek focusing exclusively on the Governor.
So, how do you feel about the Governor’s imminent return to the series this weekend?
I’m really looking forward to Sunday night. I don’t if they’ll be able to ramp up the tension any more than they already have this season, but adding the Governor into the mix certainly won’t calm things down.