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When The Governor, the psychopathic ruler of Woodbury played by David Morrissey, survived the attack on the Prison in the Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead, many viewers presumed he’d return, guns blazing, in Season 4. But after four episodes, there’s not been a sign of him.
Of course, Rick Grimes and the other Prison inhabitants have plenty of other threats to occupy their time. But still, it’s difficult not to wonder just what happened to Philip Blake, an ever-present menace during the previous season. As Executive Producer Robert Kirkman explains to The Hollywood Reporter, it was simply a matter of just too much Governor.
“It’s not that we don’t like that character,” said Kirkman, who created The Governor with artist Charlie Adlard in the pages of the comic. “It’s just that we needed to give that character a break. Going right back into that would seem like more retread of Season 3 and that’s the thing we don’t want to do.”
He said The Governor’s absence amid the survivors’ other trials — a deadly flu outbreak, a killer in their midst and a mysterious figure tolling in walkers to the Prison — serves to heighten the the anxiety. “Viewers are watching this the entire time knowing that The Governor could emerge from anywhere at any time and add another threat to whatever these characters are dealing with — it adds another layer of tension,” Kirkman explained. “We wouldn’t be able to do that if we move right into his story.”
And when he does return sometime in this 16-episode season, The Governor will likely be a changed man — and not for the better.
“We like to keep people guessing and he definitely will return this season,” Kirkman said. “Just when you think things are getting to a breaking point, that’s when The Governor layer will be thrown in to make things that much more deadly and dangerous. It’s going to be a really big, memorable moment in the show.”
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.