The Walking Dead "Dead Weight" Review: Good Governor, Bad Governor

By Tim Surette

Nov 25, 2013

The Walking Dead S04E07: "Dead Weight"

You can take the Governor out of Woodbury, but you can't take the murderous maniac out of the Governor. "Dead Weight," the second term of the Governor's two-part solo arc of Season 4, continued the confusing wobbling between Good Governor and Bad Governor that started with "Live Bait." He's a nice man who wants to protect his surrogate family! But he's also a dude you do not want to go golfing with. I guess the whole purpose of these two episodes was to expect the unexpected from this guy while he's being ripped in two by his dueling consciousnesses. It made "Dead Weight" an hour full of surprises, but seriously WHO IS THIS GUY and what does he want?

On the one hand, Governor Brian is the protector and caregiver of Lilly and Meghan (and Tara, maybe?), willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. On the other hand, his idea of "whatever it takes" is systematically killing anyone who stands in his way of taking control of Camp Martinez. On its own, I don't see too much wrong with this. Zombie apocalypses can be confusing times for feelings, this is a TV show, and this is the Governor, after all, and he hasn't always been the most reasonable man. I can accept that these two Governors live in the same body, as heavy handed as it is. 

But I just don't buy or want lovey-dovey "Let's have a picnic!" Governor so far. An all-caps "UGH" to him and Lilly. Other than two people so desperate that they'll paw at any member of the opposite sex that's within pawing distance, what's the foundation for this Governor-Lilly hookup that is so important to his confusing dichotomy that we're being subjected to? How did these two go from strangers to hand-holding domestic partnership in such a short time? When I saw the Governor and Lilly playing House in the RV, it kind of made me want to puke.

It appears the show is trying to sell us that the Governor and Lilly are in love, but nope! Sorry, these people are not in love or whatever passes for a relationship in this world. We watch television hoping that everything happens for a reason, or that it will set something up for the future. I'm crossing my fingers for that to mean something really terrible will happen to both Meghan and Lilly, sending the Governor into an epic rage of bloodshed because I'm going to need some payoff for seeing one of the most diabolical characters in the comic world be sappy over some flavorless lady who fed him Spaghettios and jumped his bones in the back of a truck. This relationship didn't work in "Live Bait," and it still did not work in "Dead Weight."  Yet it's such a huge part of the story that's being jammed down our throats.

The other Governor I approve of. This Governor was a throwback to Season 3, still thirsted for power, and had the morals of a six-term Senator. He was like a lion taking over a new pride, with this "mane" (ha ha) goal being to kill the competition and assume the role of top cat. He 5-ironed Martinez while the two were keeping up the Woodbury tradition of hitting golf balls into the yonder and then dragged him kicking and screaming into a zombie pit. That was a grade-A kill, but he could have gotten the plus by saying, "Drinking and driving can be bad for your health!" before hitting him. The guy still needs to work on his one-liners. Then he took out self-proclaimed interim leader Pete by gut-stabbing him in his trailer and then rolling him into the pond with a weight attached to his foot. Again, creative technique with the cinder-block anklet or whatever, but no zinger like, "Out here, it's either sink or swim!" or "Water you doing down there?"

And finally, the Governor held Mitch at gunpoint and let him know that his life would be spared because Mitch was the only other one willing to resort to inhumane tricks to survive out there in the wilderness (and maybe it's because Mitch knows how to drive that tank they have). And for some reason, everyone had a problem when Pete said he was taking over as new leader but no one cared when the Governor, a scary new guy with an eye patch, took over as leader following the very fishy disappearances of the previous two leaders.

So now the Governor is leader of Camp Martinez and he's spying on the prison. It looks as though he'll lead his group, with Mitch's help, on an attack on Rick's turf, and this time, he's bringing a tank. But I just don't know who this guy is or why the show is taking the Governor in this direction. Are we supposed to be impressed that he adopted a new family? Or are we supposed to be scared that he'll do anything he can to "survive"? I'm not sure the past two episodes sold either of those options, instead spending way too much time on a muddled version of a character that we once feared. Can we get back to watching sick Lizzie slowly die now?



NOTES


– Mitch and Pete were played by Kirk Acevedo and Enver Gjokaj, a fantastic surprise (because I forgot they had been added as guest stars). Acevedo of course you know from Fringe and Oz, and Gjokaj had his big break in Dollhouse and played a friend of Abed and Troy's in Community. Given the way the Governor has handled threats to his power, I don't know how long Acevedo will stick around, and it was one and done for the talented Gjokaj, who barely got a chance to show off his skills. 

– But hey! The episodes LOOKED GREAT. It really took advantage of the beauty of the South.

– Well, Martinez's buddy Shumpert is dead.

– And the way he went out... tied to a block underwater! Total bummer. And yep, zombies can live underwater as per World War Z (the book, haven't seen the movie yet) rules. But did he stay dead for a little long without turning? 

– The search of the cabin was scary! And the headless corpses with "Liar" and "Rapist" signs were awesome, but I don't know what the purpose of this whole excursion was. 

– I also don't know what the purpose of the attempted midnight escape via car was. And what was up with all those zombies stuck in the mud? Was that the secret burial grounds of idiots from Woodstock '99?

– Ummm, how did Lilly and the Governor get their own motor home space? As newbies to Camp Martinez, shouldn't they be huddled under corrugated sheet metal first until there's a vacancy? That's like some vagrant off the streets getting the master bedroom.

– So Tara and the hottie at camp are a lesbian couple now? Does the zombie apocalypse make people lower their standards, ignore courtship, and jump willy-nilly into relationships? Or is it just that The Walking Dead has NO IDEA how relationships work? 

– More chess metaphors? What is this, a creative writing class from whatever year chess was invented? TV writers: Stop using chess metaphors!!!


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  • saraint Feb 14, 2014

    Yes it was nice to see the guest stars, but after Gjokaj's tiny role on Dexter, I wasn't surprised to see him cop it so swiftly.
    I thought the episode was v. interesting, as it showed the 'guvna' struggling to be good. I think it's clear, that the purpose of the cabin trip was to present another dead family (with a gone crazy grieving father) to the big 'G' dog and to emphasise to him that families can't survive the apocalypse in the long-term. He tried to escape his murderous cravings by taking them off in the car, but realised how vulnerable this made them and returned. At this point he came to the decision that he would have to do whatever necessary to keep them alive and accepted his prior crimes, no longer feeling guilt, but rather the conviction that his Woodberry decisions had actually been the right ones all along.
    It's true that G and Lilly aren't the perfect couple, but desperate times lead to heightened emotions and a longing for someone to keep you safe/that you can protect. I don't think that's that dificult to empathise with, is it? In the current state of affairs for them, it's not like they're talking long-term committment, is it?! Also, G dog's unhinged and desperate to get back the status of family man. None of this is that surprising is it, Tim?
    Ok, I think I've made my point. Enough rhetoricals.

  • ben45tpy Jan 19, 2014

    I mostly liked the previous episode, although some of The Governor's decisions seemed a little forced. This one though I had issues with, aside from the fact that this excursion is harming the pace of the show. The Governor showed us A LOT of different sides in this episode. I think most of them seem plausible enough, although the sickly sweet stuff with the GF and that insufferable child were less so. No I think my main issue is that all of these conflicting behaviours were all thrown together in an episode. They were too varied and too muddled to paint a clear picture, and even more troubling was that they were supposed to also represent a character-arc, taking him from broken loner to the head of a loyal community and dangerous militia. It was just too much to do in such a short span of time, not only episode time but also real world time and as such it feels highly contrived. If The Governor were away from Rick's group for a longer period of time then maybe I could imagine most of this arc actually happening. Maybe they could have done episodes showing the passage of time between some of these events happening. Without that he comes off as more of a cartoon character and it's a shame.

  • dolphin_intern Dec 10, 2013

    Well so much for Season 4 streak of awesome episodes. Good job Scott M Gimple for effing it, couldn't let a good thing keep going huh? Never seen a show that couldn't keep a pace going, even 24 in Season 8 with it's annoying Dana Walsh storyline was better than this garbage.

  • NeoWilson Dec 07, 2013

    seriously don't give a cr-p about Brain.. going back to the bad plot of S3 afer a few good episodes

  • SergiDomenge Dec 01, 2013

    Episodes 6 and 7 have been a breather for me and a pause from the boredom experienced with the last episodes of season 4. I think that this and the last episode are the best ones so far from season 4. I'm fed up with Rick, his kid and whatever, and am really rooting for the Governor!

    Tim, I always agree with your reviews, but gotta say that I don't really follow your points of view with the last episodes' reviews. I don't really care at all for the flu arc and the whats-their-face deaths we saw on the previous episodes.

  • zaidghazi Dec 02, 2013

    Completely agree with you.

  • gmanBegins Nov 30, 2013

    So the Governor is BAD? .....umm OK
    Just defeating what little depth you tried to give him last week.. This episode was straight filler to me. Martinez would have never let his guard down so easily after knowing what G-FRESH had done. This episode gets a D+.
    This next episode better be the final battle with "Brian"! time to move on from this plot line..

  • jenniferlmelv Nov 29, 2013

    I really did not like the intrusion of these two episodes centred on the Governor, it seriously disrupted the flow of the show and if there is one thing that has ALWAYS been a small niggle with me its the inconsistent pacing. These episodes were slow, tedious and why it had to take two episodes to tell the Governors story I don't know.......surely all of that could have been pared down to one episode and then we get back to the prison.

    Speaking of the prison, while I am intrigued by the prospect of Rick and crew fighting for their place of relative safety I am also completely bored by the prospect.....its The Tombs take 2 and this time one side has a tank. We have been there and seen it all before so could we please not rehash the hogwash that was The Tombs??

  • Ridnarhtim Nov 29, 2013

    Still don't like the governor, still don't care about him, and don't care about his stupid storyline and his obsessive murdering spree. The best thing I can say about this episode was that it was marginally better than the last. He's just not an interesting enough character to warrant a full 2 hours dedicated to just him. Especially not 2 hours essentially building back up to the same thing as last season.

    I'm really having trouble understanding why they decided to do this. And the season was going so well, too.

  • famous35 Nov 29, 2013

    Now we know his side of the story...He is still a sick motherF

  • azrail1982 Nov 29, 2013

    OMG WHO GIVES A SH.. ABOUT THE GOVERNOR AND THE SAME PLOTLINE FROM LAST SEASON WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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