luke kalamar meets the governor…
Plot: For unknown reasons, a helicopter filled with members of the National Guard crashes in the middle of a forest. The smoke attracts the attention of Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) and they promptly investigate. It doesn’t take long until another group shows up, and before they know it, Andrea and Michonne are face to face with Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) long lost brother Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker). The two are brought to the picturesque town of Woodbury, lead by a charismatic man known as The Governor (David Morrissey). Woodbury looks like Heaven in a world rapt with chaos, but Michonne believes that something sinister lies beneath this town and the man who runs it.
This is it folks! The Governor is here, and Merle is back in the flesh. These aren’t big surprises considering the massive amount of promotion for this season, but it was amazing to finally see these two characters on screen. Also, this is the first episode of the entire series where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was not on screen at all. The most we got was a mere mention of his name. Instead, this entire episode focused on The Governor and how he leads Woodbury. Considering how infamous this character is supposed to become, I have zero issue with this. The Governor is a major character, and he deserves a full episode introduction.
Before this season aired, a lot of fans complained about the decision to cast David Morrissey (Basic Instinct 2, The Other Boleyn Girl, Sense and Sensibility) as The Governor. They’re main issue is that he looked nothing like The Governor from the comic series. Within the comics and the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, the character is of Irish-Mexican descent with long hair and a prominent mustache. Clearly, the British Morrissey is not this. So why was Morrissey cast as opposed to someone who looks more like The Governor, such as actor Danny Trejo?
The answer is very simple, and you only need to see this episode to understand. Morrissey is a FANTASTIC actor. Yes, I needed caps for emphasis. He absolutely dominates the character of The Governor. What makes him so menacing is the fact that he looks so kind and welcoming on the outside, but is actually ruthless and maniacal on the inside. It’s this perfect formula that allowed The Governor to rise to power and get so many people to follow him. He’s alluring enough to convince people to stay in his town, but is perfectly capable of eliminating anyone that even remotely poses a threat to his goal of taking back civilization. Hell, if I was alone and lost in a zombie world and a man like The Governor came to my rescue promising food, shelter, medicine, and he can actually provide it, I’d probably follow him forever. Morrissey portrays this complex role perfectly, hiding his true intentions behind a warm smile and friendly demeanor. I never heard of Morrissey before this, but I am a definite fan now.
The return of Merle after a whole season, plus the majority of Season 1, of absence was great too. He only appeared in Season 2 as a hallucination by a very injured Daryl. Now Merle is back for real, and clearly he has changed a lot. Before Merle cut off his hand to escape the rooftop in Season 1, we saw him as a very angry and racist individual. He was definitely not someone who was open to the idea of following orders. The Merle seen in Woodbury is extremely different in terms of personality and demeanor. He is now less aggressive, and even has a pleasant conversation with Andrea after she is given medicine. He doesn’t throw any racial slurs towards Michonne either. Plus, he is almost entirely subservient to The Governor. He follows orders with precision and without question, but still obviously likes to be his own man.
Personally, I really enjoy this updated version of Merle. The man has been through a lot and owes his life to The Governor, so his altered personality is very believable. I do expect Merle to return to some of his old ways later, especially when he reunites with Rick’s group. He has to handle his changed brother, first of all, but also definitely holds resentment towards Rick for handcuffing him and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) for dropping the key in a hole. I foresee a lot of conflict between him and the prison group in future episodes, but that’s pretty obvious already.
My biggest issue with this episode was the apparent sudden distrust between Michonne and Andrea, and the complete willingness for Andrea to wholly trust The Governor. As the episode directly stated, Michonne and Andrea were traveling together for 7-8 months following the fall of the Hershel’s Farm. Not only did Michonne save Andrea from a walker at the start, she’s also been keeping her alive through her illness. You’d think the two would be best of friends now right? Apparently not! The Governor did an excellent job selling Woodbury and making the town seem amazing, but Andrea’s greater trust of him over Michonne felt wholly unnatural and completely unbelievable. The simple mention by Michonne that The Governor isn’t trustworthy even angers Andrea. In what world would you consider a man you’ve known for a day as a better person to follow than the one who has protected you for almost a year? Sure, Michonne wasn’t clear about the zombies she’s been keeping in chains, but that still isn’t a reason for the cold shoulder after so long. It really angered me, and I can see a lot of horrible events happening to Rick’s group because of her stupidity.
Regardless, the episode was pretty spectacular. I completely take back my comment from my review of “Sick” about my issue with the lack of Michonne and Andrea as well. My reasoning is that there is a solid chance that this episode takes place during Rick’s encounter with the convicts, and that the person watching Carol (Melissa McBride) was a scout from Woodbury. Not showing Andrea and Michonne in “Sick” makes perfect sense with this in mind. It’s even possible that the quiet whispering between The Governor and his companions near the end touched upon this discovery as well. I’m sure the truth will be found out in future episodes. Overall, the episode did an incredible job introducing The Governor, bringing back Merle, and thrusting us into the town of Woodbury. If only Andrea’s actions didn’t feel so scripted!