Having a double helping of something good isn’t always a pleasure. After five episodes without the Governor, watching two episodes focused solely on him chokes the pacing of “The Walking Dead” halfway through season four. The energy viewers get from characters like Daryl and Michonne is impossible to duplicate for the parallel story line following Phillip as he finds himself again after setting Woodbury ablaze.
Review of “The Walking Dead” 407 – “Dead Weight”
By RC Murphy
Having a double helping of something good isn’t always a pleasure. After five episodes without the Governor, watching two episodes focused solely on him chokes the pacing of “The Walking Dead” halfway through season four. The energy viewers get from characters like Daryl and Michonne is impossible to duplicate for the parallel story line following Phillip as he finds himself again after setting Woodbury ablaze. Unfortunately, what seemed like something viewers would enjoy, isn’t paying out as expected. While there are some stand-up-and-yell-at-the-TV moments, they’re too few and far between to keep the momentum rolling into the mid-season climax on December 1st.
Don’t go into the light! It’s the vast brightness of the many spoilers lurking below.
A couple times during the episode, it became painfully apparent that Phillip had forgotten who, exactly, he’s dealing with as his “family.” The way he looks at Meghan is a look reserved for someone who’s watched a child learn and grow since the day they were born. He’s only known the Chamblers for a couple of weeks, a month maximum. There’s no way his connection to Meghan is that rock solid. Toward the middle of the episode, Phillip tells Lilly that he can’t lose them again. Only, he’s never lost them. He lost his wife and Penny—the walker he kept captive in hopes of finding a way to fix her short of putting a bullet in her head. Phillip’s attachment to the Chamblers, namely Lilly and Meghan, is disturbing. He’s out of sync with reality, leaning on two people he hardly knows to keep his humanity in check. It didn’t work.
Martinez’s days were numbered. There’s no use lying to ourselves. Once he made it crystal clear that he was in charge of the camp, things were already set in motion. When he asked Phillip to help him, work for him, there was only ever going to be one outcome. The Governor fully returned to power. He’s so desperate to keep Lilly and Meghan safe, he’ll jump back into the darkness he used to keep Woodbury going during the last weeks of its existence. Even though he repeatedly says, “I don’t want it.” Doesn’t want what, the responsibility of leadership or the blood on his hands from securing his place at the top of the food chain? Does it cost Phillip anything to kill anymore? Anytime we see Rick pull the trigger, you see a piece of his soul wither. With Phillip, who knows? He’s a hard read, a violent man with sociopathic tendencies. However, he makes this impossible connection with a woman and her child that goes against everything known about sociopathic behavior. Is it an act? But to whose benefit? Surely he can’t be trying to fool himself after all this time.
How difficult is it to form a functioning society when everyday Joes are forced to become murderers? Since day one we’ve seen survivors struggle to regain some semblance of normality by coming together to form little neighborhoods. Places where they should feel safe enough to relax, let their kids play. But they don’t in most of these camps. Everyone ends up on edge, watching the one or two people who enjoy the death and destruction around them a little too much. The apocalypse is the maniac’s playground, guns their toys of choice. And since they’re so willing to kill, inevitably, they’re the ones to gain power, become the person to look up to. It corrupts the people in the camp eventually. Look at Woodbury, at how many of the soldiers willingly followed the Governor into battle against Rick and the prison crew. And it is happening all over again next week. Why? Because Phillip knows how to work people. He told Mitch, “You’ll never have to worry if you’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing. We will do the only thing.” That was exactly what the other man needed to hear. He needed a way to absolve the guilt he felt for first, not securing the supplies for the camp, then killing the injured old man, and lastly not killing Phillip after he murdered his brother, Pete. Fighting for the safety of the camp gives Mitch his Get Out of Jail Free card.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown . . . covered in the blood of his predecessors. Can Phillip succeed this time? Will this new group of survivors secure the golden egg—the prison? Tell us what you think in the comments.