The Walking Dead S4 Ep7 – “Dead Weight”

Misleading domestic bliss.

Y’know, I’m not sure whether it was me not having very high hopes for it, or whether it legitimately earned it, but I found this week’s episode of The Walking Dead alright. It wasn’t spectacular, and didn’t have me biting my nails and squirming with anxiety or admiring how much the characters have grown, but I suppose it’ll tide me over until next week’s explosive episode.

The Governor is back again for his second solo-starring episode, and he’s spending a lot of time playing chess with Meghan, sharing a lot of tender moments with her mom Lilly, oh, and and also, killing his way back up to the top of the food chain.

The Governor and Martinez stare each other down.After discovering the Governor and Meghan in the walker pit, Martinez pulls both of them out and invites the whole family to join his rag-tag group of survivors, who have set up camp in the middle of the woods. Martinez makes it very clear that he’s the head honcho, and spends the first third of the episode poking the sleeping dragon that is the Governor (by constantly bringing up Woodbury while talking with the Chandler family, and also taking the time to remind him that his place has been taken). Of course that means Martinez spends the next two-thirds of the episode being dead, after the Governor hits him over the head with a golf club and tosses him into the walker trench, still alive.

First, two things. One: Is everyone else in the camp deaf? Or did I miss something? Martinez is pretty much screaming until the walkers rip his lungs out, and it seemed like they were on the edge of camp, or not too far away from it. Why does no one come to investigate?

Two: Martinez accepts the Governor back into the fold pretty quickly, even offering to share leadership responsibilities with him just a day or two after his return, and that just struck me as happening way too easily. Even if they have no moral qualms about accepting a guy who straight up murdered a bunch of his own soldiers into your new group, any person of average intelligence would think twice (maybe even three times, or four!) about doing so, just from a logical stand point.

Those two things said, I liked the intensity of Martinez’s murder scene. The Governor yelling “I don’t want it” as he forces Martinez’s head into the walker pit was easily one of the most resonant scenes of the episode. Here is a Governor I could get behind, one that is less “ooh-I’m-misunderstood-and-trying-to-redeem-myself-please-pity-me” and more “ooh-I’m-a-psychopath-but-I-haven’t-yet-fully-accepted-that-yet.” If the writers had decided to head in that direction with The Governor’s character, I think it would’ve been a much more interesting story.

Brothers Pete and Mitch. Martinez’s body is discovered the next morning and his death is ruled an accident by the other group leaders, a pair of brothers named Pete and Mitch. Pete takes over leadership, promising the upset group that his tenure is temporary, until they can vote on a new leader. Now, I liked Pete almost immediately, pretty much as soon as he discouraged his brother from stealing from another group of survivors. He reminded me a lot of Rick. Of course that meant he has to die too, and of course the Governor has to kill him, which he does, stabbing him in the middle of camp (where, again, nobody hears), dragging his body to a nearby lake (which, of course, nobody sees), and dumping his body in with a weight clamped on its ankle.

The shots of underwater-walker-Pete were cinematically beautiful, and I actually enjoyed the obvious narrative device the two brothers represented. They were two sides of a coin, two opposing ways to think and live: the way of the hero and the way of the survivalist. This dichotomy is complicated by the fact that being the hero sometimes means you get killed, and being the survivalist sometimes means you get to live another day, a point perfectly illustrated by the Governor standing on the pier (very hated, but very much alive), watching walker-Pete struggle to get at him (likeable and heroic, but as dead as you can get).

The Chandler girls, looking innocent and lost.So in the end, these past two episodes haven’t achieved much of anything in terms of character growth or plot progression. I predicted ‘Good Guy Brian’ wouldn’t stick around for long, so his return to his homicidal self didn’t move me. I’m also predicting that one or all of the Chandler women are not going to survive (because, let’s face it, if they were going to make it, the writers would’ve spent more time developing their characters outside of how they relate to the Governor), so even though I like all three of them, I’m not super invested in them either. (Though I really wish the show would let them interact with each other. There’s so much potential there!) Plot-wise, we’re now back in season 3, with a trigger-happy, desperate despot pointing his gun directly at the Prison, and that’s a story line that doesn’t need to be revisited. And overall, I’m feeling very ‘meh’.

One of the more memorable quotes from this episode came from the Governor himself: “You can’t think forever. Eventually, you’ve gotta make a move.” That’s what this episode, and the last one, feels like to me. It feels as though the writers are thinking, taking their time, stalling, while they try and figure out a strategy that will win them the game and the faith of the audience again.

Here’s hoping their endgame is a bit more exciting than what they’ve played thus far.