“The Walking Dead” proves unpredictable once again! You thought last week’s episode was a one-off detour into the Governor’s activities since last season, and this week would return us to the exploits of Rick, Glenn and the rest of the prison crew. But no, you’d be wrong! This week’s episode, “Dead Weight,” turned out to be part two of the Governor’s adventures, with Rick, Carl, Hershel and Michonne relegated to cameos in the episode’s closing minutes.
One thing that was completely predictable, however, was the Governor’s return to his cold-blooded, murderous ways. After hooking up with his old Woodbury follower, Martinez, the Governor along with his newfound mini-family of Lily, Meghan and Tara became integrated into Martinez’s camp of survivors. It’s probably not worth getting too invested in any of the new characters, since we’ve seen the series’ habit of introducing a clutch of new characters as a way to have some familiar faces to get munched by zombies a few episodes down the line. As a group, they seemed a little reminiscent of the “Tailies” from “Lost,” with the new group of survivors having their own Ana Lucia-type character in former Army reservist Alicia. I take back my earlier dismissal; we’ll probably be seeing a bit more of her.
It didn’t take long for the Gov to start wiping out anyone who stood between him and the role of camp leader, including Martinez (who should have known better) and poor unwitting Pete, who actually wanted to do the right thing as camp leader. By the end of the hour, he was back in his old position of power and looking to take out his vengeance against Rick and company. Oh, and this time he has a tank.
Giving two full weeks to the Governor may have allowed the writers to more fully explore his character, even though few new shades were actually explored -- the guy’s still a homicidal nutjob. But with just one more episode until the mid-season finale, it seems like a needlessly lengthy amount of time away from the show’s main plot thread. Especially when we ended up back at a spot we knew we’d get to eventually. Yes, the Governor had plans for revenge when we saw him lurking outside the prison two weeks ago. Just like we originally thought. Only now, he’s got a whole new crew of semi-familiar guest stars behind him to get mowed down when the two groups have their inevitable confrontation next week.
On the plus side, the zombie imagery has gotten increasingly hallucinatory this season, with this episode featuring a bizarre group of zombies trapped in the mud and zombie Pete chained and angry at the bottom of a lake. Both images were perceived by the Governor, standing alone just out of their reach, looking contemplative. It’s almost as if they existed only in his mind.
At this point, we have now seen that the Governor and Rick are really two sides of the same coin. Both are men up against the limits, but like Belloq to Indiana Jones, it would take only a slight push to send Rick into the Governor’s darkness. If Carol had put Carl in danger, for instance, things might not have ended so well for Carol.
When the Governor finally does go up against Rick, we’re meant to root for Rick, I suppose. But in reality I’m only rooting for two people: Little baby Judith, and little Meghan. Everyone else is just potential zombie chow.
With next week’s mid-season finale, hopefully a few of the dangling plot threads will be addressed. For instance, what will Darryl do when he finds out Rick kicked Carol out of the group? And what happened to Carol? And who’s been feeding rats to the walkers at the fence line? And is the flu still an issue or is everyone suddenly going to be OK?
And what about that giant horde of walkers clogging the interstate? Seriously, did everyone forget about them?