The Walking Dead recap: The Pale King

The mystery behind what the Governor has been up to since last season is revealed
Ep. 06 | Aired Nov 17, 2013

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE The Governor (David Morrissey) unleashes his wrath upon the abandoned Woodbury. I guess that explains why Rick and the gang didn't set up camp in the fortified town and stayed in the Prison.

Gene Page/AMC

Before watching this episode, I had several lines waiting in the wings such as "The Governor is back and badder than ever!" or "The Governator has returned!" and even a permutation of the tag line "This time, the monsters are real!" from Scooby Doo on Zombie Island I was still revising. But no need — the Governor hasn't returned as a revenge-seeking mad man. Instead, he's become Brian...just Brian.

"Live Bait" starts off where we last saw the Governor: Having massacred his people, he drives away with his two remaining henchmen, Martinez and Shumpert. The trio set up camp where the Governor broods at the campfire, unmoving and unbothered by an approaching Walker. Martinez shoots the Walker before it can grab the Governor, but the Governor is still not bothered. The time of the Governor is over. Martinez and Shumpert leave him to his fate and let him stand alone. By the time the Governor awakes the next morning, his now former henchmen are long gone, leaving behind one truck and some supplies. They may be murderers and marauders, but they at least have the common decency to not completely leave the Governor in the lurch.

The Governor returns to Woodbury to rebuild. Ha! Just kidding — he destroys the town, systematically burning buildings and bulldozing the fortified barriers. With Walkers overrunning the ruins of Woodbury, the Governor completes his utter destruction of the town he worked so hard to build.

Months later, he is wandering on the road with a terrible beard and mullet. With no one left to govern, the Governor ambles on, walking with the same joie de vivre as the Walkers of the undead variety. Ben Nichols' "The Last Pale Light in the West" serves as the latest theme song of the week, expressing the Governor's bleak state of being.

The Governor wanders into another ruined town, dodging a Walker attack whose pratfall off of the sidewalk is funnier than it should be. But the Governor is pretty much done. He's lost his will to live. He collapses onto the gut-strewn pavement, waiting to die. Just then, he sees someone in a nearby building, perhaps the one person who could reignite his will to live. Is it his daughter Penny, miraculously brought back to life despite dying...twice? Is it a hallucination à la Ghost Lori? The Governor takes one more shot at life and investigates the possible apparition. (This scene in particular was cleverly shot, reflecting the uncertainty of the Governor's sanity. One moment, the girl at the window is present. The Governor takes a step closer to the building, and the next moment, she's gone. Is she real or merely a delusion? Dun dun dun!)

NEXT: The Governor meets the most trusting people in the Zombiepocalypse

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