Welcome to Woodbury! Rick was not in this episode. At all. At first I was worried if the show could survive without anyone from his group. But it was a brilliant, and different, episode of the show.
The episode starts with a helicopter crash, which is an odd sight in the Walking Dead. It’s done well however, and Andrea, Michonne and her zombie pets witness it. They head to the wreckage only to be found by Merle and taken back to Woodbury. It’s great to see Michael Rooker back as Merle, and it’s another good thing that he’s not the racist, vile Merle we remember. I guess the excuse is that when we first saw him in he was flying high on cocaine, but now he’s become a kinder more thoughtful Merle. There’s still the old redneck Merle in there somewhere, but overall he’s a lot nicer.
The Governor takes in Andrea and Michonne and is extremely kind to them. He even cooks them breakfast! It seems him and Andrea are getting along a little too well. The Governor is the leader of Woodbury, a small town “sitting pretty at the end of the world”. They have food, guards with automatic weapons stationed around the fences and a semblance of ordinary life. The Governor looks after this place and people seem to like him. He acts reluctant (“some nicknames stick”) but as Andrea points out, ‘Governor’ is a title; he’s clearly enjoying it. If you’ve read the comics you’ll instantly notice that the Governor is very different in the show, if only in appearance.
The Governor’s conversation with the characters reveal a lot, especially about Michonne. She does not trust him at all. She is also very detached from everyone she used to know, decapitating her “pets” without hesitation. It’s nice to see she still cares for Andrea, and she seems genuinely worried for them both.
People who complained about the many differences between the Governor in the comic and the show will be eating their words at the end of this episode. After helping the pilot from the crashed helicopter to track down his lost army buddies he ruthlessly murders them all, with help from his Woodbury pals (maybe Merle wasn’t so good after all?) He is a terrific villian and David Morrissey plays him well.
He goes back to Woodbury and lies to his residents. You can tell that there is more to this character than meets the eye and David Morrissey plays him with a hint of humanity. Until he sits on his chair in front of a collection of reanimated zombie heads. That should please fans of the comic!
Overall this felt like filler, but filler of the highest calibre. It was an amazing episode and a great introduction to the Governor. With the army massacre being an especially cool scene. I’ve heard a lot of things about the next episode, I can’t wait to see it