Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Devil Reigns O'er Woodbury


What makes the Governor a psychopath? He’s a true outsider like Shane, but he’s able to cloak his mental illness under the guise of father figure. He has anything but the best interests of his people in mind. The heads he collects in fish tanks are his trophies. Were all of the walker heads randomly selected? Possibly. But he also keeps the head of the downed pilot whom he undoubtedly killed. Serial killers collect trophies. The pilot’s floating head reminds him of his own power and control over the stronger people he vanquishes. If the Governor had succeeded in killing Michonne, for example, her head would have joined his collection. This is an interesting notion: the outsider living among normal citizens, pretending to be a part of decent society but actually working against its best interests because he lacks the necessary empathy to identify with them. The Governor fits the classic definition of a psychopath.


I can see just fine with one eye.

The Governor’s preferred method of torture is not reserved to women, but he seems to relish exploiting their weaknesses. In an attempt to extract information from a captive Maggie, he shames her by having her remove her top and positioning himself behind her, pulling her hair. He does not have to threaten women with rape in order to exert control, however.
When Andrea admits to the Governor that she doesn’t know what she’s looking for, that she doesn’t know what gives her existence meaning anymore, she’s setting herself up as a mark for him. By exposing her vulnerability, she’s unknowingly surrendering control. He gives lip service to the fact that he’s restoring humanity through founding Woodbury. Building Woodbury, however, is an undeniable accomplishment. It took a psychopath to bring that many disparate people together and make them feel safe. He formed a community of followers.
The Governor kills the military members he finds through the downed helicopter pilot. He can’t afford to absorb individuals stronger than he is. He can only take on weaker, more gullible people like Andrea. Michonne, another strong-willed character, also sees through his charade early on. Initially, the Governor thinks he can sway Michonne as he has the others, but she notes that the military convoy’s vehicles have numerous bullet holes and fresh bloodstains on them. Michonne goes by what her “gut” is telling her, asserting to Andrea that it’s served them well so far. It’s partially what kept them alive for almost a year on the run, along with her katana sword.

Even his “I’m afraid” speech after Rick and company attack Woodbury to re-capture Glenn and Maggie is designed solely to instill fear into the hearts of his charges rather than to share any personal vulnerability. Then it’s easy for him to segue into inciting them to chant “kill ‘em, kill ‘em” after revealing that Merle’s own brother Daryl was a member of the attacking group.
The Governor’s staged zombie-to-human gladiator fights are designed, he claims, for entertainment. His people live in constant fear of walkers but don’t come into direct contact with them the way the Atlanta prison group does. Perhaps walkers should be demonized and feared, but to use them as entertainment is perverse. It’s a far cry from sitting around the campfire and singing Southern folk songs. The fortified, guarded walls that separate Woodbury from the zombies on the outside act as a psychological buffer as well. Woodburians are aware that if not for these fortifications their prospects would be very bleak indeed, but they lack the intimate contact with zombies that the Atlanta group has. Hardly any one, after all, has Michonne’s knife skills or dispassionate determination. If they had to contend with walkers on a daily, face-to-face basis, the citizens of Woodbury might be less comfortable taunting them.
The only unconditional love the Governor exhibits is that for his zombie daughter Penny, whom he could not bear to kill after she was infected. But is this real love? He keeps her hidden away, locked in his quarters unbeknownst to anyone. Perhaps she represents a living trophy to him. Or, maybe she is one of the last remaining vestiges of his past life, his humanity.
It's a father and child reunion.


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