After The Governor’s shocking return as last week’s episode of The Walking Dead faded to black, all the buzz going into “Live Bait” was focused on “the Govnah’s” surprise appearance. Many questions remained unanswered since his last appearance. Just where did he travel off to after his town burst into chaos? Was he alone? Did he get any crazier?
Luckily for fans of the gubernatorial pirate, The Walking Dead served up its fair share of answers on the subject of everyone’s favorite one-eyed baddie to quell any confusion on the topic. In fact, “Live Bait” was a first for The Walking Dead: centering an entire episode around a single character. Sure, we’ve seen great team-ups take place in single Walking Dead episodes, like with Merle and Michonne or Carol and Rick, but never has one actor occupied the whole plot as The Governor’s story did this Sunday. And boy, did he more than carry the weight of an entire episode atop his slant shoulders.
“Live Bait” did such a great job of showcasing The Governor and filling in the gaps of his absence while creating new twisted connections to his new clan that a strong argument could be made that the zombie-killing cyclops is deserving of his own series. While rumors have recently swirled that the alleged 2015 Walking Dead spin-off would be more of a prequel examining a new group of people dealing with the initial outbreak, Sunday’s Governor-centric tale provided strong evidence that maybe instead it should focus on the former leader of Woodbury.
The Walking Dead featuring The Governor this week not only gave us a face-full of eye-patch, but also managed to completely recalibrate the motivation of the character. Previously being seen as the embodiment of deranged evil, what with keeping infected family locked up, using zombie cock-fighting as entertainment, and ruling with an authoritarian iron fist, “Live Bait” put evil into relativity as we were exposed to a tender-hearted, lonely man – resembling less the brooding dictator of Woodbury and more a silent anti-hero brimming with rage – that we begin to root for more than hope against by episode’s end. Not to mention giving The Walking Dead a needed shot in the arm both creatively and aesthetically, as the cold prison setting is becoming rather stale, giving The Governor the spotlight helped to reinvigorate interest in the series but also may have turned him from hated villain to misunderstood but endearing loner in the eyes of the audience.
To start out, the ol’ Governor is abandoned by the remnants of his Woodbury crew. The episode also went a long way to re-conceptualize this character and his ideals at the same time introducing a new family for The Governor to protect. While first frightening them with his quick-acting by killing their recently-deceased and newly-zombified father as the family mourned him, the clan eventually come to see The Governor – or “Brian” – as their guardian, especially after rescuing young Megan by fending off a small horde of walkers in a pit that almost became their final resting places. Brian also seems destined to connect with Tara, the fiery woman of this all-girl group, herself a former law officer of Atlanta. Tara’s former law enforcement career makes one wonder if she has any connection to Rick, the sheriff of the fictitious King County of Georgia. And if so, does their mutual “keeping of the peace” end when The Governor shows his ocular-challenged mug? And what about Carol? Will she show up in Brian’s backwoods quest, or be recruited somehow? The addition of The Governor back into the plot combined with surrounding him with an innocuous family, and throw in potential conflict with a rogue Carol or between former allies, and this season of The Walking Dead just got much more interesting.
Just as The Governor melted away memories of his past by burning an old photo of his family, “Live Bait” went far in the way of reestablishing just who Brian is and what he’s fighting for. But letting the photograph burn all but for the image of his deceased blonde daughter lets us know three things. One, he still longs for her and carries the same belief-system that kept her at leash-length while infected. Two, he still carries the grudge and holds those same responsible for her death. And three, he obviously sees in Megan his own daughter, which sets up all sorts of Byronic ramifications for our newly reacquainted anti-hero.
When The Governor reunites with Rick and the gang, it will be interesting to see who attacks who, and whose side we will be rooting for? But until the inevitable confrontation, perhaps the best way to build up The Governor as the most epic villain to confront Grimes and co. would be to give him his own series, where both would build and cross-over for maximum effect.
And then there was that thrilling conclusion of “Live Bait”, that saw The Governor save young Megan, only to look up and see his former Woodbury gang have just uncovered his new whereabouts.
What did you think? Is The Governor strong enough to support a spin-off? Is the Woodbury gang going to let Brian walk away?