The sixth episode of The Walking Dead brings us the origin story of a very different Governor compared to last season. He’s become more docile, broken, and survives by staggering around walkers and mumbling few words.
Surely not the same deranged, homicidal maniac that threatened the lives of Rick’s gang last season.
Where we last left off, The Governor had massacred all but two of his crew that had ventured into the prison, an extremely hostile and volatile dictator. After the following night, Martinez and Shumpert desert him, leaving him isolated. He goes on to ram his truck into the gates of Woodbury, burning the buildings and leaving the once-peaceful town in shambles. He obviously doesn’t take rejection too well.
After wandering for months with limited resources and no rest, the unkempt Governor loses all will to survive and collapses in an abandoned town, when he notices a little girl staring at him from the building opposite. Bringing himself over to the building, he is acquainted with a small family of four: two sisters (Lily and Tara), their father, and Megan, Lily’s daughter.
Though the Governor is immediately regarded with caution – with his grisly and disgusting appearance – rightfully so, he is allowed to stay one night. While they are gathered around, he introduces himself as “Brian” and mumbles his tale (though leaving many important details) about Woodbury, their deranged leader who ended up killing everyone, and how he only just got away. Lily and Tara explain that they’ve been hiding in their home since the apocalypse started. Though grandpa is extremely sick, he is able to provide some laughter into the Megan’s day over a daily game of backgammon.
After helping out the sickly grandpa, the Governor is approached by Lily to make a run into an old folk’s home not too far away, and to bring oxygen tanks that might lengthen the grandfather’s life just a tad. Though he is a bit rusty in taking down walkers, he manages to escape only just and bring back two tanks for the grandfather.
As the Governor’s cuts on his face are being attended to post-run, little Megan enters the room. She inquires about the eye mask and how he got injured. He explains that he was trying to protect someone he cared about, though they both got hurt in the end.
The next day, as the Governor and Megan are getting along and bonding over a game of chess, the grandfather passes away in the other room. They all gather around him, and though the Governor warns the family about getting away from him (once he resurfaces), the others are too caught up in grief to listen to him. As grandpa resurfaces and suddenly grabs Tara, the Governor takes one of the tanks and gruesomely smashes his head in, leaving Megan in hysterics as she leaves, extremely frightened of this stranger.
Though the Governor’s actions have frightened the little girl completely, the two sisters are not enraged and understand why he had to do it. Before he leaves the family, he takes one of his most treasured items, a picture of his old family, and burns it completely. As he stalks off to exit the town, Lily stops him and insists that they come along too.
They drive away from the home in the truck that the grandpa used to make deliveries in. After staying overnight near a lake, developing feelings between Lily and the Governor come to a head and they have sex. Just as things are looking up however, the truck breaks down the following day, stranding them on the road. As they tread down the dirt path, they come to a horrifying discover that just around the bend is a horde of walkers staggering toward them.
The Governor turns toward a paralyzed Megan, and desperately motions for her to come into his arms. She understands that her fear for the walkers is much more than her intimidation of the Governor, and runs into his arms. As the four of them run into the forest, Governor and Megan are suddenly confronted with a huge walker hole and fall right in. The Governor’s old rigor comes back as he takes down each walker with his bare hands, right in front of Megan.
Amidst all the violence, it becomes clear to Megan that the Governor is now a father figure, as she’s become a surrogate daughter to him. Running to his arms, she makes him promise that he will never “let anything happen” to her, and reaffirms it by crossing his heart. As the episode comes to a touching end of sorts, we hear a familiar voice, as the camera pans upward to focus on Martinez, who stares back down with a stunned expression.
The return of the Governor with a transition in characterization was definitely a pleasant change in the show’s swing of things. Showcasing Morrissey’s phenomenal acting skills, the backstory definitely brings a slightly sentimental appeal toward his character. There are so many reasons to suggest that he has become a changed man, between the interesting kissing scene between him and Lily (considering how his past romantic endeavor ended up; rest in peace, Andrea), and the game of chess where Megan knights him as the “Pale King”. On the other hand, we can’t be too sure. After all, this is the Governor we’re talking about, and as we all know, old habits die hard.