Walking Dead is back in full force and, while my pious little self had every intention of writing a review after the FIRST episode of this season aired, what better way to start off a new wave of confessions that with the debut of the infamous Governor?
And the return of now one-handed Merle.
And a serious dose of badass in the form of Michonne.
But I digress! In what (at least for this Sister) is likely the most anticipated episode in the series so far, thanks to the popularity of the Woodbury story arc in the comics, and also a heavy dose of teasing in the Comic-Con trailer, we open on a helicopter crash. (Shades of the inevitable demise of the survivors in the original Dawn of the Dead anyone?) Fortunately for the pilot, the lone survivor of said crash, the chopper lands right in the middle of a forest where Andrea, Michonne and her two walker minions are currently traversing.
And not just them but another small gathering of survivors who beat the ladies to the crash site, rescue the pilot and off the rest of the crew (they were all starting to reanimated as walkers). Though Michonne selflessly executes her zombie pets in an attempt to prevent she and Andrea from being discovered by the other survivors – remember, the slogan for this season is “fight the dead, fear the living” – her efforts are for naught and Andrea faints from shock when she sees, up-close and personal, that one of these other survivors is none other than Merle, whom she previously left handcuffed to a rooftop in season one.
Merle, now with a prosthetic blade-hand in place of the one he chopped off to escape death on a rooftop in Atlanta, and the other survivors whisk Andrea and Michonne away to the fortified survivor haven of Woodbury. Finally we meet “The Governor” who explains the nature of Woodbury and insists the ladies remain there to recover from their ordeals. Michonne wants her weapons back and to get the hell out. Andrea convinces her to stay for recon. The Governor finds out that the pilot from the crash is part of a small contingent of surviving National Guardsmen. He ventures out to their last know location, murders them and steals their supplies. But comes back a hero since he claims they had already been killed by walkers.
And oh yeah, he murders the pilot too and puts his head in a fish tank.
So let’s talk more about the sociopathic Governor. He’s definitely the most interesting character since Hershel, whose obsessively Christian devotions and blind dedication to the family farm may be totally crazy, but hey, at least he has a strong point of view! The Governor is certainly a “villain” in terms of his relationship to the main series protagonists, but he also has managed to sustain a highly successful community. Sure, he may turn on them at a moments notice and add their body parts to his twisted aquarium. Yeah, he kills people. But in avoiding other survivors, as Andrea and Michonne tried to do, isn’t everyone killing people indirectly?
Also, it helps that David Morrissey, who plays The Governor, is handsome and charismatic to the point that we totally buy into the idea that he could fool a community of 70+ survivors into believing him to be their benevolent savior — unlike the dirty goateed Danny Trejo-looking villain from the book.
It’s nice to see Merle back on the survivor roster as well. With his new and improved sword hand he’s gone from your basic crazy redneck to crazy redneck walker killing machine. Michael Rooker is just the right level of deranged and should he get the chance to face off against Rick and everyone else who abandoned him, the confrontation should be, at the very least, interesting.
Truthfully the biggest problem, which has been consistent throughout the series, is that the “good guys” just aren’t all that interesting. Michonne spends the whole episode being moody and static, even when we get a slight hint of emotion of her when she is asked about her relationship to her zombie pets. We get it, Michonne is strong and silent and her katanas are sick, but we better get a little background on her soon, or her one dimensional nature we’ll go from being elusive to straight up boring. Andrea, on the opposite end of the spectrum, easily begins to buy into the idea of Woodbury being an almighty safe-haven. Even if she’s trying to get some of Michonne’s stoic badassery to rub off on her.
Well, here’s hoping future adventures in creepy Woodbury reveal some additional layers to these banal broads.
Overall? I would give the episode 3.5 out of 5 bibles, which could have easily been a 4 with a few more walkers. I get it, the show is really about the people surviving the apocalypse, not the zombies, but let’s not have a repeat of season two…