Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead "Dead Weight"

Non Spoiler Review:
Continuing the Governor's story, Dead Weight finds Martinez taking his former leader and the girls into his own camp, and the subsequent power struggle and angst that results within the group. The Governor struggles to maintain his new family life despite the pressures of their situation that requires a strong hand to lead.

I'm enjoying the excess development forced upon the Governor and his own cast of characters, but the series is definitely feeling like it's plodding through molasses given this abruptly all came at the expense of the prison storyline. Despite this nitpick, the episode ends bringing things back to the present. And with the addition of a certain heavy-duty piece of equipment now under the Governor's command, the mid-season finale promises plenty of action.

Spoilers Now!
Martinez stares down at the Governor for a moment before reaching down to help pull out Megan and throwing the rope down to him. Martinez asks him quietly if he's been on the road all this time. He explains they have their own camp, but the Governor must accept he's in charge and there's no dead weight—contribute or be cast out. The Governor agrees.

The Governor and Lily set up house together in an RV, next door to a tank that a former army man brought. He wishes he could make it better for her (annoyed by the leaky roof) but she's optimistic.

He goes on a supply run with Martinez and some others, Mitch and Pete, to investigate a survivalist camp. They come upon a decapitated corpse tied to a tree with a sign on it saying liar. As they get closer to the cabin they find another labelled rapist. Inside they find another with murderer tacked on him, and who appears to have shot himself. There are two walkers inside—the mother and child—both quickly dispatched. But they also discover the still biting heads from the corpses. 

As they stay there for the night, finding some beer, Martinez reveals he would have left him in the pit had the girls not been with him, but he thinks the Governor's changed. They wonder what happened in the cabin to create such an odd scene. 

Back at their own camp and enjoying their beers, Martinez explains he wanted to recreate what they had before. Lily admits the Governor won't say a word about their former settlement. After everyone disperses, Martinez and the Governor golf on top of the RV. Martinez confesses his cohort is dead and got reckless after they abandoned the Governor. He notices a family really brought him back, though Martinez would never risk something like that again for fear of losing them. He offers to share the crown a little now that the Governor's here. The Governor abruptly hits him in the back of the head with a club and kicks him off, then proceeds to drag him to the walker pit. He doesn't want the crown, he tells him over and over again and feeds him to the walkers.

Lily and Megan return home to find the Governor sobbing. He explains he had a bad dream. In the morning Mitch announces they found the remains of Martinez in the pit, having gotten drunk and likely fell in. Pete takes leadership of the camp, prompting cries for a vote. He assures them it's temporary until they arrange something more democratic, and asks the Governor to come along on a hunt.

Pete confides in the Governor that he needs some help with leading, but they're distracted when Mitch finds another camp ahead of about ten people with ample supplies. Pete suggests they take them in, but Mitch counters they need their supplies, wanting to take what they need and go. Pete refuses. 

They manage to trap a few meagre animals for food by the end of the day. The Governor walks off and they follow him back into the other camp, which has been massacred and pillaged. Mitch is furious that someone else took the supplies, while Pete is horrified they're all dead. 

The Governor returns home, directing Lily and Megan to pack. Things are about to go very wrong, he explains, and he can't put them at risk. They leave at night, including Tara and new girlfriend Alicia, but they stop on the road when they see a crowd of walkers blocking it, trapped in the mud. They return to camp.

In the morning he goes to talk to Pete, and quickly stabs him in the back. Next he goes to Mitch, pulling his gun on him, sitting down to have a chat. He explains Pete is dead. He admits he was right about taking the other camp's supplies. Pete was weak for wanting to do the right thing. His own brother was similar, always being the hero. He's running things now and will do anything it takes to protect the camp, and if he joins him, he'll never have to worry about doing the right or wrong thing...they'll do the only thing.

Later the Governor drops Pete's body in the creek, telling the rest he died on a supply run. Everybody loves a hero. The camp begins to organize and starts construction of a secure perimeter. The Governor warns them to avoid strangers and report back what they see when they search for supplies. 

A walker gets into camp and nearly kills Megan. The Governor shoots it in the head and everyone comes running. The Governor goes down to the dock and stares down at Pete beneath the water. Pete is a walker, struggling to reach the surface. The Governor then takes the truck to the edge of the woods, spying on the prison as he sees Rick and Carl tend to their garden. With gun drawn he moves on to find Michonne and Hershel disposing of the bodies of the walkers from the fence incursion. He raises his gun.

The Verdict:
I'm torn between my appreciation of the the Governor's arc and the derailment of the momentum of the prison storyline. It's unacceptable that the whole Carol/Daryl revelation has yet to happen. I'm also left wondering what the point is if we've basically brought the Governor right back to his post-Woodbury mental state. Did we really need two episodes to hit the reset button?

It will be curious to see if the Governor can put his need for revenge against Michonne aside in favor of protecting his new family. Or if he will let that opportunity cloud his judgement (I'm assuming he doesn't shoot Michonne and Hershel in the opening act next week).

The massacre of the other camp didn't make much sense given the close proximity the Governor, Mitch and Pete must have been over the course of their day out and heard nothing. But it also means there's another dangerous group of survivalists running around close by too. Will they show up again?

What intrigues me more is the preview for next week which sees the Governor at the gates of the prison with his iconic tank—if this storyline is playing out as it did in the graphic novel then the mid-season finale is definitely going to bring an abrupt change of direction for the entire season. I don't know if I'm even ready for that level of plot development coming on the heels of such an erratically paced batch of episodes.

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