The Governor and his new family join his former henchman's camp. With the Governor no longer in power, what could possibly go wrong?
The Walking Dead
Credit: Gene Page/AMC

That’s more like it. Is it bad to be excited that the Governor has gone back to his murderous, maniacal ways? I say no, but not because I happen to like all things murderous and maniacal. (Well not that much.) It is a relief to know that the Governor is exactly who we think he is — a psychotic, power-hungry man. That doesn’t mean he’s pure evil or even unsympathetic. But in a world where everyone’s morality can be expressed in shades of grey, his is a very, very dark charcoal. It’s also a relief to not have to go through multiple episodes of “reformed” Governor Brian struggling not to fall again to the dark side. After everything he has done, it would have felt cheesy and disingenuous. “Dead Weight” reminds us why he is known as the Governor and not “One-Eye Bri.”

This episode also marks the end of the Governor’s two-episode solo arc, which means we have to wait another week until we find out about the aftermath of the flu virus and Rick’s decision to exile Carol. (What’s Daryl going to say?!) It’s also the penultimate episode before the midseason finale, but let’s ignore that for now since I’m not mentally prepared to handle that yet.

The wholly unique chess motif is alive and well as we start with the Governor and Meghan playing chess while doing laundry. (They must have recovered their belongings after encountering Martinez and his camp.) Speaking of Martinez, after a few tense seconds, he helps Meghan and the Governor out of the Walker pit. If it isn’t clear that Martinez would have left the Governor there if he was alone, then he tells the Governor exactly that later in the episode. (Thanks. We got it.)

In the flash forward with Meghan, we learn that (surprise!) the Governor has daddy issues. Meghan does too, as her dad was “always mean to [her]” before he took off. Governor Brian assures her that she’s “good” and they’re all going to be okay. But when Meghan asks if it’s because they’re “all good,” the Governor doesn’t answer. But we all know the answer to that. As he later demonstrates, he isn’t going to be “okay” by being “good” — he’s going to do what he thinks he needs to do in order to survive. For now, the Governor is following Martinez’s camp rules. Unlike Rick’s three questions, Martinez brings the Governor and his new family into the fold under the direction of two statements: Martinez is in charge, and contribute or be cast out.

Now a leader in his own right, Maritnez gets henchmen of his own — brothers Mitch and Pete. They are played by familiar faces to sci-fi TV, Kirk Acevedo (Charlie from Fringe) and Enver Gjokaj (Victor from Dollhouse). The Governor joins them on a run in a ridiculously green and gorgeous Georgian forest. They pass a glassy, reflective lake that serves as a symbol to the various foils, shadows, doppelgangers, and doubles that pop up this episode.

On their way to an abandoned cabin, they find the beheaded corpses of two soldiers, one tied to a tree with a sign stating “LIAR” and the other to a La-Z-Boy in a field with a sign proclaiming “RAPIST.” The group finds a third corpse on the cabin porch — the old man who presumably killed the soldiers holding the sign, “MURDERER.” The image of the dead man hits close to home for the Governor as he picks up a picture of the man and his family — a wife and daughter — taken during happier times. The Governor and his dead doppelganger are so similar, in fact, that they both have an affinity for storing zombified heads and Walker versions of their family. He might as well have greeted the corpse with “Hello, my shadow self.” The Governor easily disposes of the Cabin Man’s Walker wife and daughter and earns Mitch and Pete’s respect, even if Mitch continues to refer to him as “One-Eye Bri.” Mitch should know better — One-Eyes are quite formidable.

NEXT: Sharing is caring. It could be fun! But not sharing could be more fun.

Martinez, the Governor, and the brothers spend the night at the cabin, drinking beers and reminiscing on times past. We learn that both Mitch and Pete are ex-military. Before the Zombiepocalypse, Mitch was an ice cream truck driver-turned-Army tank operator. When the s— hit the fan, he peaced out of the Army with “his” ride in tow.

“End of the world don’t mean s— when you got a tank,” Mitch boasts. That is, as long as you’re not completely surrounded by Walkers and don’t know how to operate the tank. Unlike Mitch, younger brother Pete stayed at his Army base for awhile until he too left, most likely once the the base was overrun with Walkers.

Back at Martinez’s camp, they celebrate the spoils from the trip, which amounts to mostly canned beans and “skunky” beers. Lilly and Tara are very appreciative of Martinez, much to Governor Brian’s chagrin. But with full bellies and buzzed minds, everyone in the camp is happy and goes off to celebrate the day. (Tara and Alisha scurry off to spend some alone time together. Damn, Tara, that was quick!)

Martinez surprises the Governor with a golf set just like the one the Governor enjoyed back at Woodbury. But this is not the Governor’s setup — it’s Martinez’s, a fact Martinez does not mind reminding him. He explains Shumpert’s absence, stating he never got over what happened to Woodbury and eventually committed suicide by Walker. With the Governor’s return, Martinez concedes that they can maybe “share the crown a little.” Ha. If there’s anything the Governor isn’t, it’sa sharer. Remember that time about a day or so ago when Martinez asked if the Governor is different now and the Governor said that he is? He lied.

The Governor grabs a club, hits Martinez over the head with it, and kicks him off of the top of the RV. He then drags his body and feeds him to a pit full of Walkers, all the while repeating “I don’t want it. I don’t want it.” What doesn’t he want? To kill Martinez? To reclaim his role as camp leader? To live in a world infested with zombies? Whatever it is, he’s killed Martinez, wants to reclaim his leadership position, and lives in a world infested with zombies. Deal with it, Guv.

Rest in peace, Martinez. We won’t really miss you, but it was nice to see you again nonetheless. Thanks for dying so that we know that the Governor isn’t the boring “good” guy he seemed to become.

The entire camp meets the next morning, believing Martinez drunkenly fell into the Walker pit. (The camp is much bigger than it seemed — so much for Martinez’s warning about dead weight.) Pete assumes the role of leader, but the camp wants to vote. Things get tense for a moment as Mitch prefers the more autocratic side of things, but Pete agrees that they should take a vote as soon as they figure out a way to do so. Pete is a natural leader in the way that Rick is — leading by confidence and fairness rather than fear. Nevertheless, he is overwhelmed with the responsibility. While out hunting with Mitch and the Governor, Pete asks the Gov for help running the camp. Smug bastard he is, the Governor dares to look surprised by the gesture — maybe he genuinely is.

Before he can respond, Mitch finds a small camp hidden in the forest, flush with supplies. Pete shoots down Mitch’s idea to rob them and instead continues hunting. After disappointing results — a few squirrels and condensed milk — they stumble upon the small camp again. Another group came in shortly after them, killing and robbing the camp anyway. Mitch is pissed — taking out an old, injured camper in his frustration. Pete is more upset with Mitch’s erratic violent behavior than his failing to rob the camp. Throughout the debacle, the Governor remains silent — calculating his next move.

NEXT: Survival of the Fittest

Returning from the hunt, the Governor rushes to Lilly and orders them to leave the camp that night. He fears the camp will fall apart and he “can’t lose [her] again.” (He may or may not realize Lilly and Meghan are not his wife and daughter returned.) Unfortunately, his cut-and-run strategy doesn’t work — the road is blocked by Walkers stuck in the mud.

As such, the Governor returns his family to the camp and executes Survival Plan B. He heads to Pete’s trailer, stating he wants to talk. Pete, crestfallen, lets him in on the pretense of discussing what to do with Mitch after he killed the innocent man from the forest camp. NOPE. Instead, the Governor literally stabs him in the back before choking him to death. Next stop on the Governor Revival Tour is Mitch’s camper — and this time he even looks like his old self again, donning a dark leather jacket.

Rather than take Mitch out, the Governor goes through the process of converting him into his next Martinez. Never moving his gun from Mitch’s sight, the Governor shares a story from his past about his brother. His brother took the blame for stealing their father’s cigarettes, even though they were both beaten as punishment. Like Pete and Rick, his brother was a “hero,” the Governor accuses with bitter contempt. The Governor isn’t interested in becoming a hero — he wants to survive. In his mind, these are mutually exclusive. Given the choice between following the Governor or following his brother to a watery grave, Mitch chooses to survive. He asks what they should say to the others about Pete. The Governor states that they’ll say he died saving them on a supply run because “everybody loves a hero.” Everyone, that is, except for the Governor.

Flash forward a few weeks and the Governor is fully back in power. With Mitch at his side and the others following his orders, he is building the camp and its infrastructure better than ever before. Plus, he’s still rocking that leather jacket, a symbol of his power. Hey, it may not be a cape or crown but it sure looks intimidatingly cool — like he’s some sort of Henry VIII of the Zombiepocalypse.

Frustrated with the camp’s lack of fortification, the Governor talks to Lilly about finding a better place. Yeah, maybe like the Gorbelli apartment complex you abandoned. I still don’t know why they left besides pushing the story along to allow for the Governor and his family to join Martinez’s camp. He soon gets his excuse to search out a new location — or return to one he already has his eye on (no pun intended). In an ill-advised game of tag, Meghan is attacked by a Walker who stumbled into camp. The Governor shoots it in the nick of time, echoing his silent indignation when Walkers briefly overran Woodbury before all hell truly broke loose. With a real threat breaching their defenses, the camp will now more readily follow the Governor to wherever he deems better suited for their needs.

In another sign of rebuilding, the Governor upgrades his zombie head aquarium for a zombie lake, staring back at a fully animated Walker Pete, whose foot is weighted to the lake bottom. (“Dead Weight” double meaning!) He takes a moment to think but as he said, “You can’t think forever. Sooner or later, you gotta make a move.”

NEXT: Ugh, is the next episode really the midseason finale?

The Governor finally makes his move and drives to the Prison, catching us up to where we left off with Rick and the gang. He sees Rick and Carl tending the crops before spotting Hershel and Michonne in the forest a few yards away. He points his gun and… cliffhanger!

Maybe it’s my tendency towards self-conscious pedantry overshadowing my tendency towards GIF reactions, but this episode seems like one of the most formalist, structuralist episodes this season. I can’t decide if the motifs and themes this episode were heavy-handed, clever, or both. The Governor’s journey back to his old self is filled with mirror imagery and foils to compare. On one side of the mirror — or the lake — is the Governor, Mitch, and Martinez. They are concerned with their own survival and the survival of their people, which they see as only an extension of themselves. Martinez died because he failed to “survive” against the greatest survivalist of them all, the Governor. On the other side — and according to the Governor on the losing (read: watery grave) side — is Pete, Rick, and the Governor’s brother. Which side of the looking glass is the right one? Can anyone be a hero and a survivor?

Walker of the Week: Muddy Walkers. Were they planted in the road by someone, or did they fall into the same muddy puddle? Regardless, they looked like incapacitated Walker Uruk-hai, which could never be a bad thing.

Questions to consider:

Will the Governor shoot at Michonne and Hershel? Will my prediction of Hershel’s imminent death come to fruition?

Will the Governor’s attack on the Prison succeed? He tried to take it twice and failed on both accounts.

Will the mega-herd be attracted to the noise of the confrontation?

Who is the group that attacked the forest camp? Are they related to the group heard over the radio?

Will the Governor’s new group — and new family — learn about the Governor’s sordid past?

With the Governor right at their door, will the Prison community even get the chance to react to Rick’s decision to exile Carol?

Who’s the goddamn Walker Feeder?

Episode Recaps

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

  • TV Show
  • 10
  • TV-14
  • Frank Darabont
  • AMC
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