Half a year has passed since the producers of The Walking Dead introduced Michonne, the sword-carrying bad-ass with the two pet walkers, yet we still don’t know much about her character. “Walk with Me” doesn’t really change that. Sure, a few mysteries are set up, such as the identity of her aforementioned undead companions, but mostly the episode reaffirms what we already got from a handful of brief appearances: the woman is intensely pragmatic; she keeps to herself; and she’s figured out better than anyone how to survive alone in the zombie apocalypse.
Instead of elaborating on these traits, the show runners present us with another icon from The Walking Dead comic book series, as Michonne and Andrea stumble upon a safe haven governed by, fittingly, the Governor. He’s played by David Morrissey as a benevolent dictator who instills fear in his subjects by way of suspicious courtesy. I like the inconsistency between his apparent kindness and the invisible eggshells on which those around him have to walk. Throughout the episode, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. His executing the military squadron struck me as somewhat predicable, but I’m intrigued by the final shot and where it’s headed (pun intended).
By the way, I mention the predictability of his coup in the final act not as a criticism but as a testament to how well the writers have set up his character in the span of forty minutes or so. After all, the Governor’s actions make perfect sense from a megalomaniacal egotist’s point of view: providing the Woodbury citizens with military resources would solidify his position as their saviour, but bringing in the actual soldiers into the community would only increase the chances of his authority getting usurped.
I dig the parallel with our heroes’ situation in the penitentiary: Rick needs the inmates’ food and medical supplies for his community, but allowing Tomas and his brethren to join the tribe would’ve hindered his ability to lead, thereby putting his friends and family at risk. For all his harsh decisions of late, Deputy Grimes still proves the gentler man, trying to negotiate with the convicts before shoving a machete in their leader’s noggin. Of course, the result turns out pretty much the same, give or take two live prisoners and a wall of floating Futurama heads.
This adds an interesting notion of intent to the driving question in The Walking Dead: do the ends justify the means? For two seasons, Rick and Shane (yes, I’m still rambling about the guy) have debated whether civilisation can ensure humanity’s survival or vice-versa. This fundamental philosophical difference (as well as Lori’s shenanigans) put them at odds, but their ultimate goal was the same. With Deputy Walsh out of his misery at last, our heroes need a new catalyst for their ethical dilemmas and constant squabbling.
The Governor not only serves that purpose; he also cranks up the stakes a few notches, exploring the theme in a more political context. Like Rick this year, the man’s hit a comfortable middle ground in regard to societal norms, but his motivations seem dubious at best. Is living under a despot an acceptable price to pay for both survival and civilisation in the new world order? They praise Mussolini for making the trains run on time, and that was before swarms of undead ghouls treated the few remaining human beings like an all-you-can-eat brain buffet.
What’s more, few people could have rehabilitated Merle and turned him into a productive member of society (or what’s left of it). I’m curious how Daryl will react to his return and get the feeling the writers will postpone that meeting for as long as deemed reasonable. In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for Andrea giving him way too much information, considering how little she thought of the racist blowhard. What’s wrong with the woman? She keeps looking at the Governor like she wants to grab his gear stick if you know what I mean. Oh, here I go bringing up Shane again…