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'Walking Dead' Recap: Power Struggle

There’s no right way or wrong way, there’s just The Governor’s way

Gene Page/AMC
November 24, 2013 10:05 PM ET

Happy almost-Thanksgiving, zombiefans! What are you grateful for? Both of your eyes? A new surrogate daughter? A safe camp set up between a tank and a trailer? Immunity to the eye-exploding flu? Onwards.

Where we left off: We caught up with The Governor and his new life as a seemingly-changed family man named Brian. Even though he and his new companions (his ladyfriend Lilly, her sister Tara, and the adorable Meghan) were all set in an apartment filled with canned food and meat jerky, they decided to hit the road and find a safer place to live. The Governor and Meghan fell into a zombie-catching pit and were discovered by The Gov’s old henchman, Martinez.

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Where we pick up:  Remember our buddies at the prison? They were trying to outlast a killer flu? Just forget about them for another week. Also, sure, Melissa McBride (Carol) is still in the credits but we’re not going to hear or see any sign of her. Just go with the flow here, kids. It’s like we’re tracking the Tailies from Lost, but thank goodness none of them are Ana Lucia. (Right? Right? She was so annoying!) We’re focusing on Martinez’s camp now – we don’t know any of these people, except the guy playing Pete was on Dollhouse,if you’re a Whedonite.

The Governor is playing chess with Meghan, whom he now calls Pumpkin. Okay, then. After Martinez warns him that he’s in control of this camp, and there’s no dead weight around here, "Brian" and his posse settle in to this new life: Lilly wants to set up a nursing station, Tara flirts with gun-enthusiast Alicia, and The Gov himself joins a supply run to a survivalist’s cabin.

This particular prepper was out for vengeance – the hunting posse passes several decapitated corpses, all labeled with their sins like a scene out of Se7en. There’s a dead liar, here’s a dead rapist, and oh look, here’s the murderer who took himself out. Martinez makes The Gov enter his cabin first, and of course it’s filled with the zombified remains of the survivalist’s own family – and a bunch of heads. What is it with people in this show insisting on keeping zombie heads around? Perhaps The Gov would have found a kindred spirit and they could have bonded over all those heads he kept in fishtanks back in Woodbury. 

But The Governor’s a changed man now, right? Martinez tells him to fix the hole in his roof, but one does not question The Governor’s authori-tay. He and Martinez get drunk and decide to hit golfballs off the trailer’s roof. Martinez tells him it seems like his new family has brought The Gov back – he’s not the crazy man he once was. Except then Martinez offers him the chance to "share the crown" and suddenly The Gov whacks him in the head with a golf club and drags Martinez off to the zombie pit, muttering all the while that he doesn’t want the power.

The camp spins this death like Martinez got way too schnockered and fell into the pit – a likely story. But now Pete is going to take control, at least immediately, at least until the camp can vote on a new leader. He leads another supply run with his brother Mitch and The Gov, and they discover another camp deep in the woods. Mitch wants to take out all the survivors and scavenge their supplies, but Pete knows that’s not the right thing to do. They hunt for some measly squirrels and then discover that the camp has been slaughtered – by humans, not by biters. It’s time to kill or be killed out here in the Georgia woods, and The Governor knows that he has to survive.

The Governor rushes back to camp, insisting that his new family (and their lovers) flee in the dead of night. Why? Because it’s not safe anymore and it’s survival time. Their escape seems all hunky-dory until he almost drives right into a giant puddle of quicksand. Quicksand zombies! Silly zombies, you are trapped! The Gov and his posse return to the camp. But now The Gov wants to get all Darwin on the remaining survivors.

He takes out Pete, because people believe what they want to believe, and everybody loves a hero. He recruits Mitch, promising that there’s no more choosing between right and wrong – in the world of zombpocalypse survival, the only choice is the one that lets you live another day. Maybe that means gunning down other humans and stealing their supplies, or maybe that means murdering anyone who wants you to take a leadership role in Tank Camp. Maybe that also means dumping that guy’s body into the fish-free pond and keeping him chained to its murky bottom so you can stare down at him like your favorite pet zombie goldfish. Either way. That’s what The Governor is doing when he’s surviving.

Even though he didn’t want to be in charge, The Gov surrounds himself with a cabinet of new leaders and assigns them all survival roles. Tara and Alicia share watch duty and Meghan plays tag and you just know she’s going to – oh, yup, she tags a zombie, who somehow wandered into their camp and is just hanging out in the laundry. Look out, Meghan! She squeals and hides under a trailer while Tara attempts to pull the walker off. You can’t just pull a zombie away, dummy – his leg will just disintegrate into goop. GO FOR THE BRAINS, LADY! The Governor, of course, shoots the zombie at the last possible moment and rescues Meghan, his beloved little Pumpkin. Let’s imagine life at Tank Camp is all a game of chess. What’s your next move, Governor?

Oh, right. Your next move is to drive up to the prison and spy on Rick and Carl. Hi guys! How’s that farm? And then The Governor spies his old nemesis Michonne and newly bad-ass Hershel disposing of the flu-bodies. (The end of this episode is on the same timestream as the end of the episode we all watched two weeks ago.) Michonne beams another one of her absolutely gorgeous smiles and the damn Governor takes aim. REALLY? You can’t wave a white flag (again, I know, you did that already) and try to make nice-nice here? You have to just take out our beloved Prison friends? Seriously? Governor, let this shit go, man. Go find another prison or another Woodbury for your new fambly. You don’t want your little pumpkin to catch the eye-exploding flu, do you? And who the hell is marauding through the woods taking out old people in their forest survival camp? And how are you going to explain it if anyone else discovers zombie-Pete at the bottom of your pond?

Death toll: So long, Martinez. (And adieu to Shumpert.) And goodbye, Pete. You seemed like a decent dude. And also: I wish we’d gotten to know you, old people in that other camp.

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