At last, the Governor has made his triumphant return to the small screen with, well interesting results. While I was hoping for a more epic and gruesome backstory to this character, what we got was more of the same, familiar territory that the show often portrays. But in a weird and strange way, it worked quite well. This character has a total of three personas that we have seen as of late. First, there’s Philip Blake who was once the happy, family man who had a perfect life (as the family photo suggests). Then, there’s the Governor who, at this point, needs no introduction. Finally, there’s Brian Heriot. When he lost everything that he worked so hard for, it helped him realize that he is no longer a machine, but a mere human. He is a victim to this post-apocalyptic world just like everybody else, regardless of his status. Seeing the name “Brian Heriot” spray-painted on the walls allowed him to understand that he isn’t invincible and powerful. He is just another statistic. And quite honestly, I am okay with him being just “Brian.” But will the other characters feel sympathy for his sudden change of heart?
I may be liking it for all the wrong reasons, but watching him burn down Woodbury was the most satisfying thing that I have watched in a long time. On the one hand, I am supposed to like it because his “perfect” town brought about more chaos than the walkers ever did. On the other hand, I enjoyed it because it was like they were burning down all of the issues I had with Season 3. It was like getting rid of the cobwebs for the viewers and for the Governor as well. Though it did seem a bit cliché because of the way he was standing in front of the burning buildings without looking at it, it was still great to watch, nonetheless. Also, it was nice to see him grow out his 5 o’clock shadow. He looked a lot more like a villain but it was also when he understood that he was vulnerable. He did look like a character straight out of the Metal Gear Solid franchise but still felt believable at the same time.
It’s interesting to note that for awhile when Woodbury was open for business, Brian (I’m going to start calling him that now) was so used to welcoming desperate families into his perfect town. Now, the tables have turned. Now we have a family welcoming him into their home. We are introduced to new characters; Lilly, Tara, Meaghan and David. Already off the bat, I thought these characters were expendable because that’s The Walking Dead formula as of late. Oh, a new character? Better kill him off now! But it turns out, they may be around for the long run. It’s going to be interesting to see them encountering the group at the prison. To everyone, the Governor is a ruthless monster but the audience understands that he is looking for redemption. I absolutely cannot wait to see Michonne confront Brian.
Even though the producers promised more walkers, I do enjoy seeing individual walkers by themselves. It reminds me of the pilot episode with the girl on the bicycle. What was her backstory? Did she have a family? Children? Siblings? Though those questions aren’t relevant to the overall story, we have to remember that these were once human beings with feelings, hopes, dreams, families and a purpose in life. So when Brian agrees to get the Backgammon game from David’s neighbor’s apartment, it was a tense moment with the walker in the bathtub. Again, what was his backstory? These type of questions arise when individual walkers appear but not so much when a horde of walkers are attacking. And that’s what the show needs more of. We want to care more about these individuals and this episode nailed it. Especially when the walker in the tub was missing a face completely and the old lady in the wheelchair at the hospital.
The relationship between the Chalmers family feels very familiar. It reminded me of when the group first showed up at the farm. Now we have Lilly and Tara as sisters, David their father, and Meghan as the daughter of Lilly. Not to mention, Brian is beginning to start a relationship with Lilly which does make me a bit worried for their future. I do enjoy seeing Brian helping out the family by getting more oxygen for David, as he has lung cancer. The hospital scene, again, reminded me of the pilot. The close corridors, walkers everywhere and with limited exits felt extremely tense. But he must have a ton of respect for this family if he is willing to do such a thing. It’s something that he would have never done as the Governor. Also, I like the parallel between his past family with his new one. The way Meaghan and Brian bond together was heartwarming and she most likely reminded him of his past daughter. Lilly will be his new love interest to help him move on. It seems that Brian was bitter in the past because he couldn’t save his family but now the Chalmers are there to help him cope. Not to mention, the very thing that was supposed to prolong David’s life would now save him from becoming a full-fledge walker. The way he bashed his head in was absolutely violent and bloody, but it was so great. My jaw dropped a few times in this episode and that hasn’t happened for me since Season 1.
The Chalmers family doesn’t have a clue as to who this man is or what he has done in the past. All they see is a man who needed shelter and in turn, helped them out. Now that Martinez has found Brian, some skeletons are going to come out of the closet. Once they encounter the group at the prison, all hell is going to break loose. I have a feeling that the show will return to a “Governor vs. Everybody” storyline come the season finale, but right now this season is still on the right track. “Live Bait” showed us a side to the Governor that we aren’t used to seeing. It was shocking to see him for a second in “Internment” and even more shocking to see him completely altered with this episode. Still, the show is moving at a slow pace and it’s almost finding its stride. With Martinez and company encountering Brian, tensions will build and his past will completely haunt him.