The Walking Dead recap: Mr. Governor, I Presume?

Rick and the Governor meet on neutral ground to broker peace. It works about as well as the Treaty of Versailles
Ep. 13 | Aired Mar 10, 2013

CAN'T TAKE MY EYE OFF OF YOU In the comic books, The Governor was a great villain, but he was essentially a grotesque: All bad, all the time. Whereas TV-Governor has an intriguing lust for world-building, a character trait shared by all the great leaders and terrible despots in history. This nominally makes him a more interesting character. But does it make him a better villain?

Gene Page/AMC

Andrea. Andrea, Andrea, Andrea. Listen, there are other problematic characters on The Walking Dead. As much as I respect the pure dripping Mifune badassery that Danai Gurira brings to Michonne, I'm not sure the show has really established anything clear about her as a character: She's a loner except when she's not, she's suspicious of everyone except when she's not, she sort of loves Andrea but barely seems to know anything about her. After almost a full season, we still don't really know anything about Milton besides that he sure seems real nervous; after almost two full seasons, we don't know anything about Beth besides that she sings real pretty.

But that all pales in comparison to Andrea, a character whose whole character arc seems to be based on the writers trying to figure out what to do with Andrea. When she walked up to Hershel and said, "I don't know what I'm doing here," you could hear a nation of Dead viewers respond, "WE DON'T KNOW EITHER." She seems to love The Governor; she seems to just want everyone to get along; she gets a big kick out of killing zombies; she constantly feels betrayed by everyone. Any one of these traits would be a good core for the character. Laurie Holden has a steely look in her eyes, which makes you buy the zombie-murder-addict angle; I've grown to suspect that it's that same steely look that makes all of Andrea's "Woe is me, I'm so confused" plotlines ring so false. (It's a bit like Skyfall, when James Bond can't pass his physical even though Daniel Craig clearly has the same Renaissance-Statue body that all modern action stars have, their contracts mandating six months of weight training before every shirtless scene.)

So here we were, two episodes after everyone told Andrea that The Governor was a bad guy, and Hershel told Andrea...that the Governor was a bad guy. "I can't go back there," said Andrea. Later in the episode, she did go back there. This is a problem because, per Dead overlord Robert Kirkman, "The rest of the season really is about what Andrea is doing and how she’s handling this situation." Pause for a word from Team Grumpy: That's what the rest of the season is about? You've got a half-crazy cowboy war chief, a stealth-ninja biker-god with a crossbow, a badass female samurai, a full-crazy flirtatious racist ex-army wacko, a child soldier, and a one-eyed despot with delusions of grandeur, and the rest of the season is about Andrea?

Anyhow. Back in the Appomattox Shack, The Governor and Rick were getting serious. They were getting to that point in a dudes-having-drinks session when the defenses come down. "They still think I know what I'm doin," said The Governor -- admitting that, really, he's no more of a leader than Rick is. He told Rick that he knew about the stash of guns he brought into the prison. (ASIDE: So The Governor is watching the prison, and he let Rick walk in with enough artillery to level a small army? Where did these guys learn their tactics? Freaking General George B. McClellan? END OF ASIDE.) The Governor knew that his people weren't combat-tested, like the Grimes Gang. But he did have more of them. "Let's end it today," he said. He wanted to make a deal. Rick had something that he wanted. Resources? Manpower? An amazing ability to grow perfect facial stubble? Nope: The Governor wanted Michonne.

This came as a surprise to Rick...and to me. Rick perfectly voiced my concerns, too: "You've obviously got big plans," said Rick, plans to bring humanity back from the brink, to become Governor of the New New World. "You'd waste it all on a two-bit vendetta? You could have a statue of yourself in the town square. Killin' Michonne is sorta beneath you."

These are all very good points. To which I would add: Why would you spent so much time establishing the Governor as a long-range planner -- not just plotting two steps ahead but fifty years ahead -- only to reduce his ultimate purpose to simple vengeance? Doesn't this "vengeance" not even make very much sense, since The Governor tried to kill Michonne first? Why did The Governor even try to kill Michonne, instead of just letting her walk away into the magical forest? Why would The Governor go through the whole motions of engaging Rick in an extended rhetorical gambit -- "Rick, we're pretty similar, we're both leaders, our wives are dead, here's some whiskey, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, amiright?" -- only to suddenly make a request that is the rough diplomatic equivalent of twiddling your mustache and stroking your white cat? Why does The Governor do anything he does?

Here is the Governor's response to Rick and The Walking Dead's response to me:

Thus ended the negotiation. The Governor said he'd be back in the same place in two days, at noon. Bring Michonne, and there wouldn't be a battle. Do anything else, and the whole world would burn.

NEXT: Rick's Choice

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