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“I guess this whole world gets a little smaller towards the end, huh?” — Merle
After months of anticipation, we finally meet The Governor in this week’s episode. “Walk with Me” starts out on a bad note and ends on a worse one, promising that our favorite survivors have plenty to fear from David Morrissey‘s The Governor.
The episode begins with a bang, literally, as a helicopter loaded with military personnel crashes in a field, and the camera pulls back to show that Michonne and Andrea, have witnessed the incident. That’s our first indication this episode will center on Michonne and Andrea, which is something we were totally fine with following last week’s Rick-heavy episode. The two women go to investigate only to find a lot more than they bargained for.
Andrea is sicker than when we saw her in the Season 3 premiere, and it’s clear she doesn’t have much left in her. She and Michonne survey the crash site, but quickly duck into hiding when they hear a vehicle approaching. Enter The Governor and his cronies from Woodbury, who find that one of the soldiers is still alive before they ensure the other men who were killed stay dead. They quickly dispatch a group of walkers that arrives on the scene, and seem almost ready to go when suddenly Michonne’s two walkers start making too much noise.
Without much hesitation, Michonne decapitates them to stop the racket. As fans of the comics will know, those two were her boyfriend and his best friend, but it’s unclear whether that storyline will remain the same in the television series. Regardless, her sacrifice isn’t worth much because Merle, whom we haven’t seen since Season 2’s “Chupacabra” (and then only as a hallucination), stumbles across their hiding place, his arrival causing Andrea to faint.
We next find Andrea being cared for in Woodbury by someone with medical experience. Again we play a bit of catch-up this season, with Andrea explaining to Merle how his brother Daryl has stepped up since he last saw him and telling him all the people who have died. Michonne clearly feels uncomfortable in this too-civilized environment, and that only gets cranked up a notch when The Governor arrives. She calls him out on stabbing the already-dead soldiers, and then he and Merle have to explain to the two women how everyone left alive is actually a member of the walking dead.
But the look on their faces when they hear that news is nothing compared to when Michonne and Andrea see Woodbury for the first time. It’s a real town, seemingly safe, enclosed and civilized. The two women get a look at some of The Governor’s guards, who seem pretty efficient, and are given a room that includes a shower with hot water and an array of food. Who said you can’t live in style during the apocalypse?
Michonne did, and she makes it clear to everyone that she wants to go. But every time she suggests it, The Governor twists her fear by telling her she can take her weapons and leave whenever she wants, cautioning her that Andrea is too weak to leave. The Governor then goes off to show us the man he really is.
First, there’s his little meeting with the injured pilot, who tells him there are other members of his group alive and stranded not far away. Then we see The Governor head to what we’ll call his secret control room, where he keeps a tight leash on Merle and examines Michonne’s dead zombies. One of his men, Milton, explains that the walkers lose their desire to kill when they can’t feed — a result of Michonne cutting their jaws and arms off — and thus become “docile.” He also says they act as camouflage against other zombies, which explains why Michonne and Andrea lasted so long over the winter.
The Governor and Milton have lunch with Andrea and Michonne to try to get more information, but in the process we learn more about The Governor’s motives. On the surface, they actually don’t seem so bad: He wants to give his people a sense of purpose by having a community with jobs and rules, which Andrea calls a “time to hope.”
“We’re taking back what’s ours: civilization,” The Governor claims. “We will rise again, only this time we won’t be eating each other. “Andrea clearly is intrigued by this sentiment and later tells Michonne she wants to stay, but Michonne’s lack of trust is quickly proven right.
The Governor had promised the helicopter pilot he would bring his men to Woodbury, and when he arrives on the scene, it seems like he’s going to do just that. However, he quickly pulls a gun on the unsuspecting men, leading his group in a massacre that leaves all of the soldiers dead. The Governor even ruthlessly beats a man’s face in, explaining his actions by saying you “never waste a bullet.”
When he returns to Woodbury, he claims that walkers had already gotten to the men before he could get there, but that his followers should thank the dead men for their food and weapons. The followers, and Andrea, buy the story, and we begin to get a sense of The Governor’s dual nature that draws people in and has everybody fooled.
In one of the most telling moments of the episode, Andrea asks The Governor what his name is, and he replies that he never shares it. When she pushes the issue, he emphatically says he never tells his name. She seems to take that as flirtation, but it’s clear his actions are more sinister than that.
And finally, the money shot of the episode: We get our first look at The Governor’s home as he walks by a woman passed out on his bed and then past a photo of his former family: a wife and son. He enters a locked room and sits in a chair, gazing intently and terrifyingly at something off camera. When it’s revealed, we see the preserved heads of those he has claimed as his victims, including Michonne’s two walkers and the pilot, sitting in a bunch of tanks stacked on top of each other. Ah, The Walking Dead, in all its gory glory.
It’s in this moment I realized just how much The Governor is going to change the show’s dynamic. Season 3 is already off to a great start, but throwing in a villain as twisted and charismatic as The Governor? And with an actor as good as Morrissey playing him? I have a feeling neither we nor the survivors know quite what we’re getting ourselves in for, and that’s definitely a good thing.