Hello out there in Nerd Reader Land, my name is Jason and I will be taking over for Regina this week as your The Walking Dead reviewer. If you happen to be a hater of the new season, I suggest you find some reviewer with more negative opinions of the show, as I am currently working under the firm belief that this is the season that shows what The Walking Dead should have always been. If you are in the same fanboy boat as me, then please read on and enjoy my examination of ‘Live Bait‘, the latest installment of the AMC zombie apocalypse.
In this episode, we take a break from the hectic day-to-day of Rick, Carl and all the prison gang to focus on someone that, in my opinion, was one of the most poorly used aspects of season 3 – The Governor. We pick up with The Gov in full suicide mode, not giving a rat’s ass whether a zombie is about to eat him or not. His former allies abandon him and off he goes, on the road to adventure! Of course, that adventure is lost on him because Guvsy is suffering some serious depression. He’s gone from leader of a town to psychopathic killer of his own people and now he has nothing left to hold onto. We see right from the beginning that he doesn’t even want to kill zombies. A lack of caring whether he lives or dies? Is the Governor now facing his demons and realizing that he’s such a douche that he might just deserve death? Yet still he struggles on.
Eventually he comes upon a small family that has managed to hole-up and survive the zombie hordes. Though he’s initially just looking for a place to stay for the night, the involvement with the family becomes deeper and deeper as his inherit disposition requires that he help these people when they ask. He was, after all, a family man at first and later the provider for an entire community. To say no to someone asking help is against his nature. And though season 3 did a fairly piss-poor job of spelling this out, a little reading between the lines and it’s pretty easy to spot the motivation. In the end, Guvs and his surrogate family head off to find someplace nice to live, although that idyllic quest is cut short by circumstance (and a pile of zeds).
I’ll start off my review portion of this post by saying that I did not at all like The Governor in season 3. His character was interesting and had great motivations and David Morrissey did a great job of portraying him, but the writers never used the character as anything other than a generic obstacle for Rick and his gang to overcome. And while some may disagree with me, this was only a small step above the 1 ½-dimensional version of the same character in the original comics. So while there was an improvement from one medium to the other, the show simply couldn’t make him interesting enough for us to care on a deeper level. Thus, it was pretty hard for me to give two shits about him when he showed up this time around. By the time the episode ended, however, I found myself very much interested in how this will develop.
Morrissey once again shows his acting chops in portraying a melancholy version of Guvs, this time running with the alias of Brian. His connection to the new family and how their presence breaks him free of his depression and restores some degree of humanity was a good writing choice in general. It failed a bit in that the transition should have been more heavy-handed. We did not, after all, really see a full dynamic of character in season 3, so much of what he’s going through can only be appreciated if you assume certain things. So, big plus for the writers, not so much for the director this time around. If the pacing was picked up just a bit, it could have been a Walking Dead high-point, but as it stands it was just okay.
Next week we shall see a continuation of this story, it seems, which is okay by me. We left off with quite a bit of chaos in the prison in episode 5, so a shift is well-placed at this time. And with The Governor taking his own center-stage, we could have a very interesting side-arc happening here. All-in-all, ‘Live Bait’ wasn’t the best of episodes, but it still manages to keep season 4 going as the strongest season The Walking Dead has been able to put together. I praise Scott Gimple for the dramatic shift from mediocre to something more reminiscent of the original tone the comics conveyed and cross my fingers that the rest of the season shall continue to be exceptional.
What do all the lowly folks on the Internet think of ‘Live Bait’? Of season 4 in general? Are you happy with the darker tone or do you long for the soap opera of previous years?
In the meanwhile, entertain yourself with this sneak at next week: