Season Four, Episode Six
This episode is sure to receive mixed opinions from fans, not like The Walking Dead is unfamiliar with this still fresh from seeing Rick ban Carol from the prison. This is a Governor-focused episode, reminding us that he’s still a very important character on the show and still has a lot to offer with this story-line. It reminded me of the “Tower of David” episode on Homeland where Brody dominated the entire episode, after being practically irrelevant in the third season. But what this is mainly showing is how The Walking Dead is looking at the big picture in terms of how it wants to tell its story. Because why else would they dedicate an entire episode to the Governor?
The last time we saw the Governor he just finished mowing down a number of Woodbury residents with a machine gun before skipping town. His very quick transformation of charismatic, creepy leader to psychopath left a sour note on the show, which capped off a mediocre season with many questionable character decisions. We now see him on what seems to be his last few steps before giving up on life, until he sees a little girl inside a nearby building. There, he meets a small family who are cautious but not very equipped or wise about the rest of the world.
There is Tara, who introduces her as a cop but later on reveals she was still in the academy; Lilly, the sister who is kind and the mother figure of the family; Megan, the young child who enjoys playing games; and the dad. The Governor introduces himself as Brian and it’s clear he’s gone through an incredible amount of trauma from being run out of Woodbury and traveling on the road ever since. But this family is kind and caring to him, allowing him to stay the night. Brian even does a few favors for the family, first finding a game set for Megan and then retrieving a few oxygen tanks for their dad. But in the end, the father passes away and the family begs for Brian to take them along (which I’m curious about because why wouldn’t they just stay put since Tara commented how they had enough jerky sticks for years).
My concern about an episode like this is asking myself the question, What are we supposed to take from it? We can’t forget the cruelty of the Governor from last season, so is this episode supposed to make us sympathize with him? Are we supposed to see him in a different light, or are we supposed to wait until he snaps again? The interaction he shares with Megan is quite touching, as he sees her like he did his own daughter. But what purpose did this episode have aside from teaming him back up with Martinez? That’s where I’m not entirely okay with “Live Bait.”
And the most frustrating thing about the episode is that at the end of the hour, we still don’t know where the writers are going with it. That ONE shot of him staring at the prison as Rick and Carl retrieve some vegetables, that scene was more powerful than the whole “Live Bait” episode. Is he seeking revenge? I’m torn with what I’ll be satisfied with because I did in fact like the Governor at the start of last season, but his character went to shit towards the end. Is The Walking Dead trying to re-write his character and present him as the villain 2.0? I don’t mind stand-alone, focused episodes. In fact, “Clear” was my favorite episode of last season, but while there is a separation from the main cast, there isn’t really a distinct path the show is giving us a peek at. We see the Governor, how he gains the trust of a needy family, and how he meets with his top lieutenant. The fading question is, now what?