The Walking Dead Watch: “Dead Weight”

The Governor takes charge of a new band or survivors and plots to find a more secure home

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Gene Page/AMC

“You can’t think forever. Sooner or later, you gotta make a move.”

In a previous recap, we talked about how effectiveness of The Walking Dead‘s cold opens. More than just setting the tone and direction, they can also gives an overview of what’s going to happen before the closing credits. 

The opening sequence of “Dead Weight” offered a pretty good microcosm of events to come. We saw The Governor and Megan playing chess outside of an RV, a scene that was intercut with one immediately following where we left of last week, where Martinez pulled The Governor and Megan out of the biter pit. We learned a few things, most notably (and probably not surprisingly) that The Governor had a rough childhood and an abusive father, but the chess game was the central metaphor: The Governor needed to stop thinking, take one last look at the board and go ahead and make a move.

He made several moves over the course of this season’s seventh episode, starting with cold-cocking Martinez, his ex-henchman, with a bit of a sucker punch (actually, a sucker golf swing) when Martinez was drunk, then dragging him to the biter pit to be summarily torn to pieces. He then evaluated what was left of the camp’s leadership. Pete, who stepped into Martinez’s leadership role, was too soft; while Mitch was perhaps too reckless, and certainly too stupid. But at least Mitch does what needs to be done without too much thought about morality, so Pete was out and Mitch was in. By the end of the episode, The Governor was back in charge of a new group, with Mitch as his right-hand man and zombie Pete trying, very unsuccessfully, to shake his weighted chain and come up from the bottom of the lake.

Condensing the highlights into two paragraphs sure makes it feel like a lot happened in the episode; in reality, this was the second episode in a row that was heavy on character development and light on action. Perhaps the most nail-biting scene was when Martinez, The Governor, Pete and Mitch cleared the small cabin and a few walkers came out of the woodwork. But other than Pete freaking out a bit and The Governor breaking some skulls with a Maglite, the scene was pretty pedestrian. Same when the walker attacked Megan during a game of tag; other than Tara tearing the rotten flesh off of the zombies legs, the scene played out to its logical conclusion: The Governor arrived just in time to dispatch the zombie with a shot to the head.

Because of the way the story has been laid out, we needed to follow The Governor’s post-Woodbury journey, but the reality is the past two eps have been very slow and boring. And worse: they haven’t been particularly well-crafted, either. A TV-savvy friend of mine nailed it when she said that David Morrissey is such a good actor, he lends gravitas to anything he’s doing, but the past few episodes have been over-written and over-directed with lots of long stares and clipped sentences. Rather than an invisible hand guiding us through periods of tense drama, instead we have a fist beating us over the head saying, “See! We’re dramatic!” It’s a bit heavy-handed, and, thankfully, it’s pretty much over.

The closing scene of “Dead Weight” brings us back to where we first saw The Governor: just as the plague was subsiding — staring at the prison, plotting how he could get inside. We know why he wants to take over the place — he has a new group of people to protect and he needs a more secure home — and now we get to find out how. Given the relative safety of the security fences, it was very likely The Governor would try and take the prison to give his people a more secure place to live. But after seeing a smiling Michonne — knowing she dispatched his beloved Penny — he’s probably going to come with everything he has. After a slow couple of weeks, the fun can really begin.

Tara (Alana Masterson), Meghan (Meyrick Murphy) and Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gene Page/AMC

Zombie Kill Report: Kill-for-kill, I think this was the slowest episode this season. In fact, it may be the first episode where as many humans were killed as zombies. The Kill of the Week would probably be The Governor with a Maglite, but if we’re allowing human kills to be in contention, then The Governor’s brutal dispatching of Martinez would win flat out.

Best Post-Kill Aftermath: Perhaps the best single shot of the episode was the image of zombie Pete trying to shake his shackles and swim up from the bottom of the pond. When The Governor dumped Pete into the water, I was pretty sure he didn’t kill him so that he wouldn’t turn. Is Pete a trophy? The first zombie in a new collection like the one the Governor had in Woodbury? Or is The Governor just a true sociopath?

Relative Morality: From time to time, TWD does a great job of examining the difficult issues of life under intense survival pressure, when people have to compete for scarce resources. The fall of civilization and the continued threat of the walkers means that life has reverted to the most basic, brutal struggle to stay alive. Killing zombies is pretty much a no-brainer. But what about the humans? In this episode we saw a stark contrast: Mitch was willing to kill people just for their supplies, while Pete was not. In the end, The Governor was in charge because he is completely unambiguous in his willingness to kill. He has his little family and will do anything — and kill anyone — to protect them. Does that make him evil? Let us know in the comments below.

What’s in a Name? In the comments last week, an alert reader pointed out that I was calling The Governor’s new squeeze Melody, when in fact the character’s name is Lily. I’ll take the rap for getting that one wrong. Another reader pointed out that I had been calling The Governor’s former henchman Caesar. According to IMDB, the character’s name is Caesar Martinez, but everyone on the show seems to be referring to the character as Martinez. You’ll find him referred to that way in this recap, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem in the future as Martinez is clearly dead.

30 comments
zakaveli9
zakaveli9

I agree with the over directing but I LOVED these episodes.  As far as Morrissey goes, I think of the Gov's and Michonne's conversation around the tanks and how the Gov could just answer anything she questioned.  It was brilliant acting by Morrissey.

hgsmoth
hgsmoth

I respect your opinion, but with all due respect, does anyone proofread these things anymore??

flrmvn
flrmvn

No mention of the closing scene where the Governor has his sight-set on Michonne and Hershel. At first I thought he would miss at that range considering he is right-handed and most likely right eye dominant, which he lacks. I didn't notice the head tilt that most right-hand/left-eye dominant shooters use to line up the sights. Hence, I'm guessing he misses. But- the Governor mentions in the coming attractions that they need to move quickly because the prison group will be on alert as soon as they find out the fate of their people in the field. So I'm guessing at least one or both are toast.  

benji!
benji!

I'm sure the outcome of the second half of the season will be different, but I'm kinda dreading that the journey there is gonna be more of the same. Like last season, just a bunch of non-eventful episodes leading up to the finale. 

Gremlin
Gremlin

wOh, and one more thing: remember what the crazy lady said, "You can't come back". 

Gremlin
Gremlin

We have the luxury of wringing our hands over killing of others. A former Armored Cav soldier in Vietnam recounted that during the Tet Offensive in 1968 that his unit rolled into a supply base, town and airport held by the NVA and leveled the town, which had both soldiers and civilians. He had no misgivings about the actions. I have a farm out past electricity on the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I like living in CR, if the authorities can't take care of the problem,  I can take matters into my own hands. I've done it twice, delivered a chest compression (didn't break his ribs) to a chapulin who was running a scam to walk off with merchandise. We stopped him. 


Mitch with Pete, was willing to steal, with The Governor, I expect that he will be willing to kill.


I would say these are amoral times, that you do what you have to do to live. Like my buddy in Nam.  You do what it takes to survive. But Rick has the better plan: if all you do is crisis management, then you will live in perpetual crisis.

sukebe7
sukebe7

Wow, forcing someone to smoke at gunpoint:  That's a new low in television.

Pathetic that cigarette companies still have such a grip on television and movies.

gam81t
gam81t

I think what this show has proven over and over is that family, siblings especially, don't survive.  I think Lily's sister won't be surviving too many more shows.

Other thing you have to consider is that in a Post Apocalyptic world, Rick will tend to lead like Pete, wanting to save people from themselves.  The Governor will only save you if he thinks you will fight for him with the same morals.  Hard for anyone to live that way for too long.  This new group will have to attack the prison, killing everyone in order to live there.  They can't survive because if they win, anyone who survives that, won't want to live with their new reality.

GayleJohnson1
GayleJohnson1

Personally, I've loved the past two episodes and the chance to see the Governor's character development.  He's one of my favorite characters, and I'm hopeful that he and Rick will, eventually, discover a way to co-exist, as I'd hate for the show to lose either of them.  

Is the Governor wicked?  It depends.  Are we evaluating his morality by our own standards, or by the standards that might exist following a zombie apocalypse?

Jhera
Jhera

I think TWD did a good job at showing us just how complicated "Philip"...or is "Brian"?...really is.

It's obvious that he wants to be a good man to this new family. It's also obvious that life lessons have taught him that being a good man, a moral mean or a "hero," usually don't work out for the "hero" or the person or people he's trying to save. It's clear that the Governor had a really screwed up childhood (could that be why he took in Merle?), which is likely why he has the change of heart. 

Going back to Merle: TWD showed us already that two brothers can go in completely different directions based on their personalities going into horrific experiences. Merle took the beatings and tried to save Daryl, but Daryl was still hit and even more so after Merle ran. Merle gave into drugs to deal with his issues. Daryl stopped trusting easily. I think it would be very interesting to see Philip and his brother BEFORE the plague that caused the zombies. 
Given that the *SPOILER ALERT* Governor in the comics took his brother's identity, I think it would be very interesting if it was the same case for the TV show and we could learn more of the back story and just why The Governor turned out, as a comparison, more like Merle and less like Daryl and how much of that related to his brother's being a "hero" when they were children.I thought this was a good bit of storytelling even if it was slow. 
I do wonder why the group near the lake didn't get sick like those at the prison. The only thing I can think is that the prison was more enclosed... speeding up the spread... and they also were eating pork; whereas, the other group seemed to be eating canned food and wild non-swine game (for example, squirrels).
So... not a total loss of two episodes when you consider that we're nearly mid-season and the second half could really turn into some solid character development and action sequences once the Governor's plan to attack the prison goes into motion.
Besides, without these episodes, we never would have learned how he got a TANK.

SarahLeamonTurula
SarahLeamonTurula

I disagree that we needed these episodes. Thematically they treaded ground that has been run into the ground already. Seeing the Governor with a new gang and a woman and a baby to protect would have told us all we needed to know. A couple of flashback scenes could have filled in. But TWD writing is too linear and ponderous to do it that way.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

Also have to say, looks like Michonne was right all along to want to continue the hunt.  Though I'm glad that she's at least at the prison for the attack and not off looking for him in the wrong place.

Also, why don't the other people think to just ask to join the prison group?  The governor's probably going to make up some BS story about them being the people to kill off his last group.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

I knew the governor could never change.  That last boring governor episode was worth it to get to this episode and the attack on the prison.  Can't wait for next week.

AllisonJohnson
AllisonJohnson

"After a slow couple of weeks, the fun can really begin".

Actually, after two completely wasted weeks, there's little time left  for any fun.  Next week is the mid season finale and it will be February before the show returns.


TigByson
TigByson

Nonsense.  This is basic cable nonsense at its worst.  Drag out the show for two hours of filler to sell more Hyundai advertising.  AMC is awful.

EunjiroDomingo
EunjiroDomingo

@benji! simply visit GATVERcom if you would like to watch the replay of this episode

sukebe7
sukebe7

The message here, from your friendly tobacco consortium is:

Once an addict, always an addict... loser.

Gremlin
Gremlin

@gam81t I think you're close to what is going on. Agree with your assessment of Tara, she was in the police academy, just enough to be a danger to herself.  If Lilly was trying to rescue Megan, she would have been tacking the walker, not trying to drag it by the leg. Tara doesn't have good maternal instincts.


I dffer a little in that The Governor is amoral and worse: everyone follows his rules, directions to a tee, and lives up to his expectations.  If you don't, he'll smile and say, "Here's your sword" and then try to hunt you down and kill you. 

benji!
benji!

@GayleJohnson1 I liked the development as well. However, I don't like how they just reverted him back to his old self after all of that. I don't think there's any way they can co-exist. After what he did the Andrea and the prison, I don't see that happening.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@GayleJohnson1 

Yes, he's wicked.  The prison group manages to secure enough supplies without robbing people.  They also got the prison by clearing it out.  You don't have to act like the governor in order to survive.  In fact, the governor continues to put people in needless danger and goes postal when people won't blindly obey him.  For example, he led the woodbury group into a firefight with the prison group, and then slaughtered them when they decided they wouldn't obey him.

Gremlin
Gremlin

@ohlawdy My guess is that fear is governing their actions.  Fear causes binary thinking: either/or.  So they go with The Governor's lead.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@AllisonJohnson 

I hope they give us some amount of resolution instead of leaving a cliffhanger for February.

GayleJohnson1
GayleJohnson1

@ohlawdy So far, the prison group has managed to secure supplies without robbing people.  Who knows if they will be able to continue that way.  Also, if the Governor  or another group had been at the prison when they arrived, what would have happened?  Would Rick and company have fought for it themselves?  Their world is so unpredictable.

GayleJohnson1
GayleJohnson1

@AdrianArturoAquino @GayleJohnson1 @abe_kim7 I don't see anywhere in there where I said that the Governor hasn't suffered from psychosis.  I'm pointing out that Rick suffered from it at one point too, and that all human beings are capable of violence.

GayleJohnson1
GayleJohnson1

@abe_kim7  I'm laughing my head off right now at your descriptions of 'conservative' and 'liberal'!   Are you trying to make the whole thing political?  

I'm a psychologist and you're WAY off the mark there!  Any human being is capable of violence.  Just because Rick has managed to hold onto his sense of self and keep it together so far is no indication that he will always do so.  He was suffering from psychosis right after Lori died and came very close to losing it altogether.  The potential is always there.

abe_kim7
abe_kim7

@GayleJohnson1 

If rick and the company went to the prison with another similar group to the governor's they would have fought or left. First they would realize how they role and either leave or try the have the civilian realize how bad the governor is and then take it. The difference between the governor and rick is the governor is a psychopath and a killer. The love you see he has with his new family is actually the need for him to justify what he has done and force others to think him of as good person. Just as you saw with andrea he just wants that woman to love and respect him so he can believe that they think he is doing the right thing. He just keeps them as trophy to reconfirm himself he is doing the right thing. He has a thing for trophies if you haven't notice. He is a psychopath and once the family turns their back from him he will kill them but still be mournful. Pretty psychotic!!!  

Rick coming from a background of being a cop has morals he must keep. I can guarantee you that if he sees his son die he will suffer the same way he did with lory but still come back and become the leader that he his. The governor not so much.

Their world is unpredictable but the character themselves are not. Rick is the conservative keeping tradition back before the zombie apocalypse. The governor is the liberal willing to change and do the thing he thinks is right, which makes him dangerous because he is psychotic.


And are you kidding rick and governor coexist lol. Thats like wanting shane and rick to coexist. You saw what happen and the same thing is going to happen. 


The only "villain" i loved in this series is merle. He was interesting. Even merle thought governor was crazy.