Oh sure, you can look at a zombie apocalypse as a BAD thing while you're drinking your half-empty glass of toilet wine and watching the doors rattle as a zombie herd tries to break in to your rickety shelter. Or you can turn that frown upside-down and look at the positive things while drinking your half-full glass of American Standard Vintage Toilet Red while your dead grandmother patiently waits for you to open the door! The rise of the undead is all about perspective. While Rick and his survivor friends bitch and moan, there's a man out there who is making it work!
After last week's episode was exclusively prison set, "Walk With Me" stayed with Andrea and Michonne as they picked up and looked for a new place to live. This kind of dual storytelling is working incredibly well for the series as The Walking Dead goes further into its comic-book roots. The episodes in Season 3 so far almost feel like "issues" in this way, with a long-running drama chopped up into individual stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Imagine how less potent "Sick" and "Walk With Me" would have been had they gone the traditional route and checked in with all the characters in each episode. No, this was the right way to do it.
"Walk With Me" was the big coming-out party for The Governor, a character from the comics made infamous for doing absolutely wretched things. But this Governor is a kinder, gentler Governor than the one that made out with his [comic spoiler] and [comic spoiler]'d Michonne, at least for now. While Rick was begging for camping space outside a farm or bouncing around from abandoned building to abandoned buildings, this Governor was building a small-town oasis straight out of Leave it to Beaver called Woodbury and rebuilding society. And he anointed himself supreme ruler of the town, probably because the apocalypse has afforded him the opportunity to rise to power.
Glenn Mazzara took some early flak for casting David Morrissey (State of Play) as The Governor instead of The Governor's comic doppleganger Danny Trejo, but let's give credit where credit's due: Morrissey is a better fit for this more quietly menacing version. Trejo would have looked the part, but Morrissey IS the part. The man has presence like J-Lo has booty, and that's so incredibly critical to make his character come alive as this Governor is followed by others on account of his commanding stature rather than the fear on which his comic counterpart used. (Fear and iron fisting to come later, I presume.)
But who is this man? The Governor is just a slightly skewed, more well-established version of the new Rick. He's willing to do what it takes to keep his people safe, and sometimes that means making sure that the guns and the resources in the nearby vicinity are in his hands. Sorry military dudes, but in The Governor's eyes, firearms are a lot safer in his hands than they are in theirs. And did you see how he scoffed when Andrea asked him if he was military? This guy has something against men in uniform, methinks. It's a shame, because the military really could have taught him some better tactics than to just drive up to a bunch of armed men and start shooting. For dramatic purposes, it worked. But common sense says one of those army guys would have put half a round in The Governor before his support opened fire.
"Walk With Me" also reunited us with Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), Daryl's bro who is now one of those terrible "give this man a hand" punch lines. Though the episode was the introduction of The Governor and the reintroduction of Merle, the award for best new debut in the hour has to go to Merle's hand bayonet, which was cleverly held out of frame until Merle thrust it through the lower jaw of a walker like it was no big deal. I can't wait to see what other attachments he has for that thing. Salad fork? Egg beater? Toilet paper? The possibilities are endless! See, this zombie apocalypse ain't so bad!
That's the attitude The Governor is trying to foster inside of Woodbury, and while Andrea is fine as long as there are hot showers and scrambled eggs and tea, Michonne the cynic is ready to pack. Obviously Michonne is right, but in this situation wouldn't you welcome a safe place to rest your head after 10 months of running screaming from undead freaks? Andrea has little experience with what the apocalypse can turn people into, but I suspect something happened to Michonne that has made her an old pro at knowing a bad situation when she sees one.
"Walk With Me" was just a peek at the season's new villain and his version of an idyllic domain. There's a whole lot more behind the curtain than just fish tanks full of severed heads. And if The Governor sees a group of military men as a threat, what's he going to do when he finds out Rick has a well-stocked fortress a few clicks away? "Walk With Me" toned down on the zombie threat, but introduced something much greater.
– Apologies if I didn't make sense in this article. I'm writing through a head cold and the keys on my keyboard are dancing around like ants due to hallucinations.
– Having Rooker and Morrissey on board doesn't just make things more creepy, it makes them a whole lot better. I praise the Mazzara-era The Walking Dead for its improved pacing, more tangible threats, and the occasional zombie face getting peeled off, but I don't often applaud the strength of the characters or the actors because, well, most of the characters in the show are weak. Sorry, The Walking Dead, but it's true! But with Merle and The Governor, suddenly there's more than gore and suspense to look forward to.
– Goodbye Michonne's pets! It was sad to see them go without any ceremonial sendoff, but Michonne doesn't have time for sentimentality. She's a survivor.
– So there was the explanation of her pets, given out by The Governor's resident science nerd. Without arms and jaws, zombies become docile and lose the urge to try to snack on people. And they also "camouflage" their owners from other walkers. That's consistent with the comics, and I had a problem with it then and I have a problem with it now. Even if I had no arms or mouth, I'd still bury my face in a plate of mashed potatoes because food is yum!