Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Governor's Hairy Return


“Live Bait”
Welcome back, Governor! This episode picks up from when we last saw the Governor and his henchmen. You will recall that he had just gunned down his followers and fellow inhabitants of Woodbury who had the bad luck of going on the failed mission to ambush the prison. After killing the militia group Jim Jones style (with a semi-automatic weapon rather than cyanide-laced grape Kool-Aid), the Governor and his loyal but stunned henchmen (Shumpert and Martinez) drive away. Hereafter, I will refer to the Governor as Philip, the Gov (or Governor), his new, assumed name, Brian, and Kris. Confusing? You bet. But the Governor is a man of many a varied personae, as “Live Bait” will reveal, so my choice to use all four of his names is not that strange.
Not the Governor! He seemed so normal.

Later, at an encampment, a crawling walker puts the moves on him and he barely blinks. Henchman Martinez takes her out before she can nibble on Philip.  When he wakes, he is alone. Upon his return to Woodbury, the battered town is now overrun with walkers, hardly resembling the idyllic haven it once was. The Governor sets it ablaze. What happened to his henchmen? Did zombies get to them? Are they running a sinister errand for him? All will be answered soon.
The Governor channels the ghost of Kris Kristofferson after leaving Woodbury for the last time. His hair is wild, his clothes are tattered, and now he is sporting a scraggly beard. Don’t forget the eye patch! He cuts quite the mysterious figure. In a voiceover, the gruff Gov is having a conversation with at least one woman in which he recounts the fall of Woodbury. He mentions that the leader “lost it,” but conveniently fails to note that he was the one who lost it.
Burn, baby, burn.

The Gov stumbles upon an armed family by candlelight, holed up in an apartment building. He’s not talking much. His welcoming hostess Tara warns him that she’ll kill him six ways till Sunday if he tries anything fishy. She’s with her sister Lilly and her sister’s daughter, Megan, as well as her dad Don, who’s oxygen-dependent. They’ve been living off the huge food truck their dad used to drive for a living. The Gov seems rather cowed, not his usual prepossessed self. But he’s as sneaky as ever, preferring to give a fake name—Brian Harriet, rather than his real moniker Philip. The Gov is no fan of the butterbeans his lovely hostesses deign to share, because straight out the window they go. He prefers to sample some canned cat food, as far as I can tell.
I’m wondering what horrible fate is going to befall this family. What will happen when the Governor gets his mojo back, and his true psychopathic self emerges? Don sends the Gov—I mean Brian—on a search for a keen backgammon set that belongs to a neighbor named Bill Jenkins. The Gov finds some bullets under the bed, as well as several discarded prosthetic limbs in a bathroom. Looks like Bill shot himself and reanimated in the bathtub, so the Gov puts the man out of his misery. He then helps himself to Bill’s gun. There is nothing more pathetic than a legless zombie.
The Gov saved a pic of his wife and Penny, but folds himself out of the picture. His gesture reminds me of Carol distancing herself from memories of her daughter. The man in the picture may as well be dead. The Governor has no one left, not even his adoring throngs at Woodbury.
Tara’s sister asks the Gov to get some oxygen from a nursing home a few blocks away; Don has stage IV lung cancer. Kris obliges, armed with the gun he took from Bill. Old zombies. Great. Maybe these zombies will be too weak to attack. They are bedridden and wheelchair bound, after all. The more amazing aspect of this scene is that the Gov is actually doing something nice. Unfortunately, the nursing home’s employees are a tad more spry than the residents, and the Gov narrowly escapes with one oxygen tank. Cue the Benny Hill music!

The Gov gets some tender, nursely treatment from Tara’s sister. He works his understated charms on Megan. In hushed, Desperado-like tones, he shares the abridged, G-rated story about how he lost his eye.
The Gov loses his Kris Kristofferson look and regains his former, clean-shaven appearance. Heavy symbolism with their chess game: After drawing an eye patch on the bearded King, Megan tells the Gov that it looks like him. Cute. Then the situation turns very scary, very fast. There is no such thing as a peaceful death. Don passes away, so the Gov swiftly intervenes to save Tara from being attacked. The women aren’t accustomed to seeing this, having been holed up in their apartment. Tara thanks him for his quick thinking, and attempts a fist bump, which the Gov returns. Thanks for doing me a solid, Brian!
The Gov burns his only family picture. Is this a symbolic gesture? He tosses it out the window. Will he start a massive fire? Tara’s sister wants them to join the Gov, which he doesn’t want at all. That would definitely put a crimp in his plans for revenge.
Everyone is on the road in Don's old food delivery truck. Is the Governor planning to repopulate the earth by inseminating these two poor women? They stop by a stream/lake/pond for a stretch. Cozy sleeping quarters back there in the truck. Lilly is lonely. She comes on to the Gov, cozying up for a little southern comfort. He’s apparently a little lonely and horny, too, because step one to repopulate the earth begins…
The truck’s engine turns over several times, to no avail. They walk. Megan is lagging a bit in the back. The Gov is on high alert; they’re very vulnerable, after all. A small herd of walkers shuffle about ahead.  Tara has sprained her ankle. They rush through the woods. The two women are hobbled, while the Gov carries Megan. The Gov lands in a pit with her and kills the walkers in disgustingly hideous ways. The dulcet sounds of submachine gunfire resonate in the background. Martinez is back, looking down into the pit with a submachine gun slung on his shoulder. Until next week, I bid you adieu, and happy Dead watching!


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