You’re a deadweight, right straight
On your way sunk in the midnight shade.
Skies burn, eyes turn
Learning to counterfeit their disease…
– Beck

Here's mud in your...oops, sorry Bri...

Here’s mud in your…oops, sorry Bri…

Part II of the mini-storyline answering the question “What was the Governor doing while the prison crew raised pigs and fought the bleeding-eye virus?” finds the newly-monikered Brian Herriot quickly reverting to his old Phillip Blake ways.

Well, that didn’t take long at all, did it?
Just by peeking ahead and seeing that there were going to be exactly 2 episodes before TWD’s mid-season break, I had a feeling The Gov would go rogue on us sooner than later. But the previous episode “Live Bait” led me to think there might be some soul-searching going on underneath that badly-dyed/combed-over noggin of his…and that there might be some deep psychological trigger that might make mean ol’ Phillip Blake shove nice guy Brian Herriot aside for control of the Gov’s mind/body/soul.

Nope. As far as I could tell, all it took was Martinez drunkenly requesting another golf ball during their round of tipsy RV-roof driving-range practice to get some cold stink-eye and a club to the cranium from Brian. Er, I mean Phillip; that was definitely Phillip going Happy Gilmore on Martinez’ dome, not Brian.

 

Brian killed a guy!

Brian killed a guy!

 

So apparently the Gov’s bottom line is that he is simply a megalomaniac whose power-mad tendencies are always so close to the surface that some boozy mild gloating from his former lieutenant is enough to set him off? Well, OK, if that’s the case…but it seems like a bit of a waste of all the nuanced character-building and psychological goodwill that was established in the prior episode. Kinda reminds me of how season 3 wasted all that almost-unbearable tension it built up in episodes like Arrow On The Doorpost/Prey/This Sorrowful Life to peter out timidly in the season finale.

A quick peek at IMDB confirms what is fairly obvious from watching these last 2 episodes, and that is that have been 2 different sets of writers/directors. I understand that is a fairly common practice on most shows, including this one…but there seemed to be a very noticeable break in continuity from the previous episode. A shift in tone is understandable going from the prison/virus scenario in episode 5 to the beginning of the Gov’s story-line in episode 6, but at this point it almost feels like TWD staff isn’t quite on the same page.

“Dead Weight” began with the Gov playing chess with his homegirl MeganPenny. It seems the Gov has become quite the family man since the last episode and was he actually doing laundry while they played? Wow, a regular Ozzie and Herriot…BRIAN Herriot, that is. We get a quick allusion to the Gov’s newly-revealed back-story that his dad was a bit of an abusive butthole (more to come on that later), followed by more of TWD’s infamous ALL CAPS fore-shadowing:

MeganPenny: “It’s your turn…Brian, it’s your turn.”
Gov: “I’m thinking…”

 
GET IT?
LIKE “HIS TURN” AS IN “HIS TURN TO LEAD THE CAMP!” AND HE’S “THINKING” AS IN HE’S “THINKING” ABOUT IT & MAKING NEFARIOUS GOV-PLANS!
GET IT?!?

We learn that Martinez is running the camp, along with some new favorite characters I’ll refer to as: Pete Stallone aka Italian Rick, his brother Mitch aka Redneck Tim Roth aka the less-Tiger Beat-ish Daryl of the group…and a promise of some steamy girl-on-girl action for Tara in the form of an army chick with dark curly hair I’m going to call Karen v2.0. Does Martinez seem a little quick to forgive and forget the Gov after he went postal on his fellow Woodburians in the season 3 finale? Well, maybe…but keep in mind they have a history in which Martinez witnessed the Gov be a hero and leader of men, protect people and build/establish Woodbury as a safe place. So if he thinks he can get that guy back, I’m sure he’s all for it.

Martinez brings the Gov along on a supply run with Pete Stallone and Redneck Tim Roth, which inspires the great line which I’ve chosen as the title of this re-cap. So going forward, I will alternately refer to the Gov as OEB, aka One Eye Bri. I really dug the headless corpses in LAZ-BOYs with signs identifying their various sins…it would have been great if in addition to LIAR/RAPIST/MURDERER, there had been additional signs that read: BAD TIPPER or TWERKER or LIMP BIZKIT FAN.

There were some interesting things in the cabin they found, including a picture of a father/mother/child that was eerily similar to the one the Gov carried of his family and oh yeah: severed heads. Because what kind of weirdo keeps severed heads around, right? (the Gov looks shiftily from side to side) One thing that was noticeable in the hanging-out-having-warm-beer at the cabin scene as well as the family cook-out with Martinez that followed was that OEB was always quick to change the subject whenever his topic of his past was broached…

Yo Bri: tell 'em bout that time you killed half the town and pass the potato salad...

Yo Bri: tell ’em bout that time you killed half the town…and oh yeah: pass the Sketti-O’s…

After he teed off on Martinez (literally) and then fed him to some walkers, the Gov grabbed up his family to leave…so maybe it wasn’t just all about him taking over the camp at that moment? Maybe he did just snap with Martinez and immediately regretted his actions, for the only thing keeping him from leaving the camp far in his rear-view mirror was a huge mud-hole in the road full of walkers blocking his passage. (“SLOPPING” my closed captioning read on my TV as the mud-hole walkers squirmed around) OK, I call B.S on this, because this show takes place in Georgia near where I live and let me tell you there isn’t a guy down here who wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to go muddin’ over a bunch of face-eaters! The Gov clearly is a Yankee transplant or even worse: an Atlanta native…

So the next morning OEB pays a visit to Pete Stallone, who very inaccurately says that he saw this coming…in fact he did NOT see what was coming, which was Mr. Blake/Herriot with a sharp object. Afterwards the Gov heads to Mitch/Redneck Tim Roth’s trailer for what you assume is a repeat performance…but instead the old smirking Gov we’ve learned to despise appears to recruit Mitch as his new right-hand man. Martinez had previously said that the Gov had “ice in his veins”, and this was very apparent in how utterly still and un-shaking his hands were when he extended Mitch a light. Cool as a Cyclopsian cucumber he is.

He offered up to Mitch a summary of how he viewed his late brother Pete Stallone similar to how he viewed Rick: “Men like him, always doing what they thought was the right thing…even at the cost of other people.” And his method of covering up Pete’s death was classic Gov as well, suggesting they tell the others that Pete “died on a supply run”, saving them and going out as a hero. Not the first time we’ve heard that before, right?
The Gov also told Mitch a story about his childhood and his abusive father, and I had an issue with that as well. Not with the content of the story itself – of course abuse is horrible – but the fact that we had to hear about it as implication for why the Gov has turned out to be such a turd. One of the things I liked about the Gov’s character was that he had a mysterious side, and while it was nice to learn more about him over this 2 story arc, I just felt the whole abused-kid angle was a little…well, cheap? Too easy? Lazy? I preferred NOT knowing what made the Gov the scoundrel he is today, using my imagination to wonder if maybe he just popped out of the womb a genuinely unpleasant person or if he was spanked too much by mean nuns in Catholic school, or whatever. “Silence of the Lambs” was great when we just had a glimpse of Hannibal Lechter; by the time the sequels/re-boots rolled around, we knew every little thing about him and it did NOT make anything better…

Anyway,  from there we are treated to the old familiar sight of the Gov running the show again, using his considerable alpha male charisma to rally the troops around him and clearly re-shape the camp to his personal liking (you got the feeling he’d been chomping at the bit to do that). As well as narrowly saving MeganPenny from a rogue walker who wandered into their otherwise secure camp. And in fine throwback fashion, staring at Pete Stallone chained just below the surface of the lake…yes, ol OEB still has a thing for keeping walkers alive er OK, I mean un-undead and suspended in H2O.

Once again we hear that tense tearing bass theme-music, the same notes that played when he was chasing Andrea in “Prey” and again when he first reappeared at the end of “Internment”. This must be what the Gov hears in his head while he is planning bad thoughts and/or about to go into stalker mode, for the next scene has him…

At the prison! Ah, full-circle tie out to “Internment”! He watches Rick & Carl, then moves along to Hershel and…Michonne. How chilling the sight of that one-eyed tiger lurking in the edges of the trees and watching them: Rick & Carl working obliviously, Hershel Claus & Michonne cutting up and laughing. The episode ends with him aiming his gun at her…of course we know he doesn’t kill her at that very moment, due to the fact that we see Michonne (with a band-aid on her head!) in the trailer for next week’s episode! Way to crush your cliff-hanger, guys!

So what will happen this week in the mid-season finale? The afore-mentioned trailer clearly shows a stand-off with the Gov + his campers (they need a name…New Woodburians? Briansburg-ians? Herriotsville-ians?) vs Rick + the suddenly-depleted West Georgia Correctional Facility. As well as the ominous warning that ALL WILL FIGHT…SOME WILL FALL!

Which leads me to my next complaint about this episode (wow, I guess I really didn’t like it very much, did I?)…isn’t this pretty much where we were back in March? I mean, maybe that’s intentional: that the last time the Gov ran away with his tail between his legs and then freaked out, etc…and maybe that’s leading up to how he’s rebuilt himself as a different guy and we will have a completely different outcome this time. And he finds the prison at a particularly weak moment, with stalwarts like Glenn and Sasha sick and suddenly tough cookie Carol banished. But I now have this feeling that everything that we’ve seen so far in season 4 has kind of been a waste if we haven’t really advanced the story any further than this.

So as we move onto the mid-season finale, a few notes:

  • Did anybody else notice that they referred to the other survivor from the Gov’s season 3 finale melt-down (the burly black guy with dreads) as “Shumpert”? LOL! I had to look it up on IMDB (again), but he was referred to as Bowman in season 3. Why the sudden name change to SHUMPERT (seriously: SHUMPERT?) in season 4? I feel like this is an inside joke that I’m not getting…or maybe his name was Bowman Shumpert, which would fit an English polo player much better than a machine-gun toting mercenary. But more than likely this is just another example of the lack of continuity over time.
  • At the Gov’s camp site there was a…wait for it…TANK!  Yay! Finally someone on the show listened to me! Hey, the Gov may be as wacky as a fruit-bat, but at least he understands practical transportation in a zombie apocalypse better than those open-air-riding hippie weirdos at the prison. The Gov in a tank > Tyrese on a pogo stick…
  • This season has been relatively death-free for major characters at the prison…sure, we’ve lost Beth’s victim of the week, Krispy Karen, that Indian doctor, etc, but who the heck were those guys, anyway? At this point in season 3 we’d lost T-Dog and Lori…we’re over-due for a tragic death of a major, and are we taking bets on who that might be? Now that Hershel has had his hero turn in “Internment”, is it his time to go? Does Beth Wayne Gacy finally check out? Does Team Glaggie (Glen & Maggie) get their numbers cut in half, 2 to 1? Does the Gov finally make good on my prediction that he would take or kill something near/dear to Rick, specifically Coral and/or Judith L. @$$-kicker?

Unfortunately, while I’m sure SOMETHING earth-shattering will happen, I have a feeling we will be left hanging til FEB 2014 to find out the really good stuff…

Or my name's not Bowman Shumpert, ol' chap...

Or my name’s not Bowman Shumpert, ol’ chap…

Tune in later,
-jcs

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avatar J. Christopher Smith (10 Posts)

Chris is a lifelong fan of anything dark + macabre, beginning with the old classic black-and-white horror movies (that he had to sneak and stay up and watch) as well as campy TV fare such as The Addams Family, The Munsters, and The Night Stalker. That led at an early age to the writings of Stephen King and Peter Straub, then onward to the works of artists such as Edgar Allen Poe, Edward Gorey, Thomas Harris, Carl Hiaasen, Chuck Palahniuk, and of course, Dr Seuss. Chris was born + raised in Middle Tennessee, received his further education at Western Kentucky University, and currently lives among the moss-covered oaks of historic coastal Southeastern Georgia. In past lives he's been a long-haired bass player in college rock bands and an over-worked restaurant manager, but currently crunches numbers and curb-stomps spreadsheets for a Fortune 500 company. Chris enjoys spending time at his spooky marsh-front manor (dubbed the Monster Plantation or Monsta P) with his lovely wife Melanie, their dogs, and a monkey butler named Amos Moses.


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