If this is how The Walking Dead is going to be playing its cards all season, then count me in. ‘Walk With Me’ has the distinction of introducing the audience to David Morrissey‘s interpretation of the Governor, and the task of illustrating just how dangerous this new villain will likely prove to be. And as the entire episode is devoted to the Governor – Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his fellow survivors are nowhere to be seen – the significance of the character is made quite clear.
Additionally, it’s great to see that Glen Mazzara and his writers can dedicate an entire episode to a group of people no one really knows and have it turn out this well. The season premiere proved the series needn’t follow Rick & Co. through every waking minute of every day, and that taking a break to check in on Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) was a great way to mix the formula up a bit.
Things begin after Andrea and Michonne happen upon a helicopter crash that also attracted the attention the Governor and his group of men. The women can’t decide whether to make their presence known, or remain hidden. Whatever is going on in Michonne’s head, it doesn’t involve getting to know strangers, so she readily sacrifices the two docile walkers she’s been traveling with to avoid detection. It’s all for naught, however, as Merle (Michael Rooker) – complete with his nifty new appendage – happens to stumble onto his old acquaintance and her traveling companion.
After some catching up with Merle, it quickly becomes clear that, after so many months fighting and struggling to survive, the blockaded streets of Woodbury make the town seem like a little oasis to Andrea – even if its walls don’t seem so welcoming to Michonne. Despite their early skepticism, the episode gives plenty of reasons for Andrea and Michonne to let their guard down around the Governor. It’s easy to forget that Andrea wasn’t around when Rick told everyone that the infection doesn’t require a person to be bitten or scratched in order to take effect. So, telling the women that fact gives the Governor his first bit of leverage – having food, shelter and medicine grants him his second.
The Governor has carved out a pleasant niche for himself that comes with plenty of power and authority, but as far as the two women can tell, it’s not based on fear or the threat of violence. Sure, the Governor has instituted a strict curfew that has all survivors indoors at night, and no one – not even Merle – appears willing to question him, but the regular folk don’t seem scared. It’s clear that whoever this enigmatic leader of men is, he’s probably hiding something – or at least pulling the wool over the eyes of all but the little militia he’s managed to band together. Most of the audience knows what he is, but still, ‘Walk With Me’ does a decent job of setting up the Governor as someone complex enough to hide whatever darkness is inside him from those who aren’t aware the way things work in Woodbury.
It’s interesting to see what a contrast the Governor is to the man Rick has become – especially the one we saw in ‘Sick.’ In essence, the two men are the same: leaders trying to do what they can for their people; the Governor has just managed to make a better go of things. Then again, it’s pretty clear the Governor didn’t have to deal with the likes of Shane and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), and all the drama that came from that. The biggest difference, though, is that instead of scowling to fill up the few moments he’s not burying a machete in someone’s head (living or dead), the Governor takes time to enjoy things like the company of a woman, a nice adult beverage and a wall of fish tanks with heads floating in them. Naturally, the episode saves that sight for last – after the Governor shows his hand by slaying a group of military men that had the misfortune of popping up on his radar.
As far as introductions go, ‘Walk With Me’ does an excellent job of providing all the pertinent information on the Governor, without getting bogged down with whatever is going on back at the prison. But it also grants a few interesting bits of information on the state of the world at large, as well as some interesting details on the walkers. As the governor’s scientist friend, Milton (Dallas Roberts), informs him, the walkers apparently can starve, but they just do it a lot slower than the living. Milton also manages to answer why Michonne’s pets became so passive after they’d had their arms and jaws removed.
Strangely, other than filling in for Rick’s ubiquitous scowl, we still haven’t really gotten to know Michonne, but some telling clues were dropped that have helped make her more interesting than someone who looks good while slicing zombie heads with a katana. (Not that you really need to be more interesting than that.) Chances are, though, there’ll be plenty of character development for Michonne as long as she remains inside the walls of Woodbury and within reach of the Governor.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Killer Within’ @9pm on AMC. You can check out a preview of the episode below: