The Walking Dead recap: Gunfight at the Not Okay Corral

Rick and the Governor face off for control of the Prison (again).
Ep. 08 | Aired Dec 1, 2013

WE ALL COULD CHANGE | The Governor (David Morrissey) illustrates that he cannot change — or at least refuses to — by killing Hershel (Scott Wilson) and initiating a climactic gun fight between Rick's gang and the Governor's new people.

Gene Page/AMC

The midseason finale marked the end for two major characters at opposite ends of the morality spectrum. Hershel, the heart of the series after Dale died, and the Governor, the dark, malignant force that has plagued our heroes since last season, both reached the end of their storylines. Who will you miss more — Hershel or the Governor? (Let's just say, I'm not going to be able to see Santa this holiday season in the same way. Only Scott Wilson as Hershel and Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle can pull off that short, sophisticated white-haired beard so well.)

The Governor goes into full politician mode as he convinces his group to march on the Prison. With Michonne and Hershel as captives, he plans on using them as bargaining chips — or pawns — to convince Rick and the gang to abandon the Prison. That way, they "don't need to kill anyone," assures the Governor before he adds, "but we need to be prepared to." He characterizes most of the Prison community as "thieves" and "murderers," which is ironic as that is exactly what the Governor is — a thief and murderer. He later calls Rick a "liar," which, again, is a representation of himself rather than the others.

Lilly is doubtful of the Governor's plan to move the camp into the Prison, reiterating her thoughts last episode that the camp need not find a better place. In a perfect example of "too little too late," she is also starting to have doubts about the Governor. She (finally) realizes that despite trusting this man with everything she holds dear practically the moment after she met him, he may not be who she thinks he is. When he tells her that he loves her, she responds, "I don't know who you are." By not keeping his "plan" secret from her, the Governor thinks he's making progress — at least from his most recent relationship. What he doesn't realize is that he's also revealing his psycho killer side, which is almost always a turn off for most women.

The Governor interrogates Michonne and Hershel, replacing his usual interrogation tactics like feeding people to Walkers or sexual assault with just talking face-to-face. He restates his plan to avoid bloodshed if possible, but Hershel hopes to convince him that the two groups can co-exist at the Prison. Yet we — along with the Governor and Michonne — know that it could never work, if not for the characters' issues with each other than for the sake of storytelling. We really need to get out of the Prison and, boy, do we.

Hershel attempts to appeal to the father in the Governor — displaying great strength in doing so since he knows what the Governor has already done to his daughter. (Don't call him that! But definitely do call him that if only to spite him.) He pleads, "If you understand what it's like to have a daughter, then how can you threaten to kill someone else's?" The Governor simply replies, “Because they aren’t mine.”

And so he encapsulates his post-apocalyptic philosophy, which is shared by many characters on The Walking Dead. Protect what’s mine and to hell with anything or anyone else. Rick also had this mentality, but it still remains to be seen which view leads to a better life. The three questions and even Martinez’s two statements seem more morally sound than the Governor's obsession with survival. But can anyone ultimately survive the Zombiepocalypse?

(Side note: During this scene, you can see the Governor put the white king chess piece Meghan customized into his pocket. That's how the piece makes its way to the field outside the Prison as the Governor meets his maker.)

NEXT: Daryl finds out about Carol. Someone is learning rat anatomy. The Governor makes his return outside the Prison gates.

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