Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 4, Episode 7 of AMC's "The Walking Dead," titled "Dead Weight."
For the last two episodes, The Governor's (or Brian's) storyline has been in fast-forward while the prison's is on pause. The types of close relationships that took months to develop within the prison group have been created almost overnight in Brian's world, and even though he clearly hasn't changed, we now have emotional stock in characters who will soon be invading the ones we know and love at the prison.
The opening of "Dead Weight" jumps between "Brian" having a quiet laundry and chess session with Meghan and the story of their rescue from the biter pit by Martinez and his new crew. As Meghan asks gentle questions about good vs. evil, Martinez invites The Governor and his new family back to the camp he's set up nearby. "I'm in charge," Martinez warns. "Contribute or be cast out."
If Martinez's declaration of power didn't fully hint that he'd soon be meeting his demise, it was Meghan and The Governor's not-so-subtle chess conversation that told us that "Brian" isn't going to settle for being a civilian.
The Governor and Lilly have grown closer (she's already complaining about him going off on supply runs) and are sharing an RV home together with little Meghan. Inside he fiddles with a leak in the ceiling, perhaps a symbol of his other nagging problem, Martinez knowing who he really is.
Still, The Governor heads out to look for supplies with Martinez, Martinez's right-hand man Mitch and Pete, a guy who is far too nice and good-looking to survive in this show (hey, remember Zach?). Before they find anything useful, they happen upon a series of decapitated soldiers with signs that read, "Liar," then "Rapist," and eventually, "Murderer" (gee, sounds like someone we know!). They identify the man with the "Murderer sign" as the one who "86'd those military guys" (also like someone we know) and he had a wife/daughter family photo next to his body (OK, we get it! He's like The Governor!).
The guys enter the man's cabin for supplies and (obviously) stumble upon the aforementioned wife and daughter, now zombified. The Governor puts them down, then stares at their picture a while. You know, like he tends to do.
During some down time that night in the cabin, Martinez tells The Governor, "You seem different now," maybe hoping he's past his mass-murdering-for-the-hell-of-it ways. The guys sit around and drink beer and talk about what they did "when it all went tits-up," as Mitch so eloquently put it. Mitch was an ice cream truck driver turned tank driver. Oh yeah, and he has a tank back at the camp (let's call it Chekhov's tank). Cutie pie Pete was also a soldier. When asked what he did when the apocalypse started, "One-eye-Bri" doesn't share. He just says, "I survived."
But enough about those guys. Back at camp, there's a new type of relationship forming that we haven't seen yet on the show: Tara and Alisha's. The ladies have a pretty adorable scene where they flirt by teasing each other about gun preference.
Yeah, they're kind of perfect for each other. After the guys return to camp, everyone sits down to eat dinner and drink skunky beer. Life seems almost good... But, oh no. Martinez is tipsy and wants to go hit golf balls with The Governor. Yeah, this is not going to end well.
Fort the first time, Martinez and The Governor talk about the past. Martinez tells him of Shampert's demise and admits he's surprised that The Governor would want to have another family, knowing he'll eventually lose them. The Governor doesn't really appreciate that comment and even though Martinez says they can "share the crown," the man's last words are, "I should have taken some golf lessons."
The Governor does Martinez in by hitting him with a golf club and dragging him to the pit of biters, feeding him in head-first. The next day, Mitch tells the (suddenly massive!) group of people at the camp that Martinez was found in the pit and blames it on the alcohol. For some reason, no one suspects the scary guy with the eye patch whose ears perk up when Pete says they'll figure out a way to vote on a new leader in a few days.
Next, Mitch, Pete and The Governor go out on what ends up being a pretty revealing hunting trip. On the way, Pete asks if The Governor can help him run the camp, but seals his own fate when he refuses to rob a smaller camp of people that they spy in the woods. That was Mitch's idea, and although they don't go through with it, you can tell The Governor likes this guy. Maybe he could be his new Merle?
Ironically, the group they didn't rob was killed and rob in the time they took to hunt for squirrels and circle back. The Governor falls more in love with Mitch when he puts down an old man down who hadn't even turned yet. Pete, Mr. Good Guy, is not okay with it.
The night that follows is frantic. The Governor comes back to the RV insisting that Lilly and Meghan pack up and leave the camp with him. "It's not safe here anymore... I can't lose you again," he says, forgetting for a moment that they are not the wife and daughter he lost before. He rounds up the girls (including Tara's new GF) and drives them out of camp until they're stopped by a bunch of biters stuck in mud blocking the road, which was a very freaky sight.
The next morning they are all back at the camp. The Governor knocks on Pete's door and says they need to talk. "I knew this was coming," Pete says, but it's tragically ironic because he definitely didn't see The Governor's knife coming for his abdomen.
With Pete down, the next stop is Mitch's trailer. Although his gun is drawn, he has other plans for him. He tells him what happened to Pete and asks him to smoke a cigarette by gunpoint. You know, to relax him!
Brain praises Mitch's thinking in the woods and tells a story about that time he and his brother got caught smoking Lucky Strikes by their dad to explain why sometimes being a good guy isn't so good. But if Mitch goes along with his plans, he promises he'll never have to worry about whether or not he's doing the right or wrong thing, because they'll always do "the only thing."
Basically, The Governor is stump speech-ing again. He wins Mitch over and says they'll simply tell the group the Pete died on the supply run. He insists this won't be a problem because, "People believe what they want to believe," and "Everyone loves a hero."
After disposing of Pete's body in the lake, it doesn't take much for The Governor to become a leader once again. The next scene shows him back on top, being debriefed by his loyal citizens on the state of the camp, which is stocked and running efficiently. He's setting up a perimeter by building physical walls, but he's also setting up his culture, the subconscious walls that will keep him in power. For example, instilling fear of outsiders.
"If you come across strangers, you just avoid them," The Governor warns, adding that they'll need to save their ammunition "for more than biters."
Even with his new position of power, The Governor still wants to find a better place. Lilly doesn't get it. "This is home," she tells him in their leaky RV, not knowing that there's a prison out there with walls and electricity that could be all theirs. Poor, good natured Lilly. She has no idea that the man she's emotionally supporting (and even helping clean behind his eyepatch) is such a bad person.
The following scene made me laugh more than anything. Tara and Meghan engage in a game of tag that feels like watching a final girl run upstairs at the end of a slasher flick. By the time I was finished yelling "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" at my TV, Meghan was saying, "Tag, your it!" to a member of the undead.
After shooting that guy in the head and narrowly saving Meghan's life, The Governor goes to visit Pete. Yes, Pete. The guy he threw in the lake. Just like the heads in jars he kept in his secret room at Woodbury, The Governor now has Biter Pete to stare up at him from the murky waters. And, surprisingly, he still looks pretty hot!
In the final scenes, and because apparently Georgia is the smallest state in the country, we see The Governor arriving at the edge of the prison, right where we saw him at the end of "Internment." Just like before, he's staring at Carl and Rick farming, but he quickly leaves them to set his sights on the person he really wants dead: Michonne. The episode ends with his gun raised in the typical "Walking Dead" staring-down-the-barrel shot but he doesn't pull the trigger.
Phew! That was a doozy of an episode. In just two episodes, The Governor is almost as powerful as he was in Woodbury, and now he as A TANK. Taking on the prison is more than feasible now. Plus, although we want Rick and the gang to prevail, it's hard to hate the other side knowing that The Governor is the only truly evil person (OK, and maybe Mitch as well).
The promo for next week's midseason finale (and the final episode until February 2014) warns, "Some will fall." So now the big question is, which major character is going to die?