Last week’s ep. And thank you for your patience today! I’ve had family responsibilities keeping me tied up. But screw those guys, let’s get down to the family that matters: the one we meticulously craft over and over and over until we get it right. (More on that in a minute.)
The Gov knows how to pack for a family road trip: board games! But magnetic chess boards are hard to come by in End Times, so it’s the real deal for them. “Brian” teaches Megan how to play chess by ruthlessly beating her time and again, just like his daddy did to him. Well, his daddy beat him at everything. Beat him, rather. Poor baby Governor… (Not so fast.)
Interesting note I want you to think about: Megan is playing white, and she’s playing with the King piece she decorated to look like “Brian.” Megan is the only person who can actually “play” the Governor. She just doesn’t know it.
During their game, we have flashbacks to the pit where Martinez found them. Megan is easily pulled out, but Martinez thinks on it before tossing a rope [mistake number one] to his ol’ working buddy, the Gov. Oh excuse me, he corrects himself, Brian. And there’s a chink in the Gov’s armor, his carefully constructed life with Lily and Megan beginning to fissure. There are two heavies with Martinez, the Dolgen Brothers, played by two of my favorite character actors: Enver Gjokaj as Pete, the good guy, and Kirk Acevedo as Mitch, the tough guy.
Side note: Enver is a-freaking-mazing and should be working every damn day. He was the best part of Dollhouse, and I just want his talent on my screen, PTB. Seriously. The man is a chameleon of the highest caliber. And I gasp every time I see Acevedo, because I cannot help but cry for Oz’s Miguel giving in at the end, going against everything he believed in. Damn, that was a good show. THANK YOU FOR INDULGING ME, onto the Walking Dead.
Back at the chess game, Megan wonders if “Brian” was beat up by his daddy because he was bad. “Sometimes.” She then wonders if she is bad, because her daddy was mean to her all the time. The Gov tells her “You is good, you is kind, you is important.”
Martinez has told “Brian” that there are two rules: Martinez is in charge, and you contribute or get tossed. Gov is okay with that, and you know he’s already thinking of his first “contribution.”
Now our timeline is squared away and “Brian” and his family are put in an RV of their own. Only problem is that there’s a bullet hole in the roof that leaks. There’s no reason for it to leak, mind, but it does. (Water lines tend to run on the sides and the undercarriage.) It’s almost perfect, their new little home.
Also almost perfect is Lily, the Nurse Sis. She’s easily pleased, eager to please, and is the physical embodiment of Maggie with the conscientiousness of Andrea. (The Gov has a type.) Aww, what a lovely family they make, right?
He’s requested for a supply run with Martinez and the brothers to some survivalist’s cabin they’ve heard about. They skirt an idyllic pond that’s essentially dead – no fish there. The Gov finds a headless body tied to a tree with the word “LIAR” written on a piece of cardboard that has been nailed to its chest. Um. They push on, more wary now.
Back at the camp, Lily sets up an aid station to enable her obnoxious kid sister Tara a chance to awkwardly flirt with another woman, who happens to be a former Marine, Alicia. Tara is all, “I hate big guns. I’m more of booby trap sort of gal.” Alicia stares blandly back. “Guns? Sticks?” Tara tries. “Don’t like ’em, never did. Now, give me a nice…fur trap–”
Alicia puts her out of her misery and accepts the offer of post-apocalyptic lurve. (And seriously, good job, Show, on following up on the whole “there are gay people in the apocalypse” thing. That’s important.) It’s nice that love can happen in this awful world. We all know well and good that in this world, it’s more often than not nothing but heartbreak.
Gov and Co. roll up on the cabin, where a perfectly useful Jeep lies, just waiting to be plundered of it’s useful items like rubber belts and hoses, clamps, siphoning off of gas… They do none of that, and probably because there’s another one of those headless bodies tied to an easy chair out on the lawn. This one also has a sign nailed to its chest: RAPIST. Jesus, what are they rolling up on? And yep, another body on the porch, one who clearly did himself in by the looks of the shotgun in its arms and the missing head. There’s a sign hanging around this body’s neck: MURDERER.
More interesting is the picture in the body’s hand: a family picture. And lookee there, it’s just like the picture the Gov had on his desk back in Woodbury. This strikes the Gov more than the others, but then it would, wouldn’t it? Oh, how we’re going to talk about this.
They cleanly sweep the first and second rooms, but they can hear a Walker, one who is trapped maybe, banging around. The Gov hears it first, which is bad for Pete seeing as the Walker is on him before he’s the wiser. Fortunately the Gov ends its unlife with a head beating. Pete, on the floor, discovers two chomping, glassy-eyed heads trying to get a taste of of him. He puts a heel to their brain boxes, ending that hunger for good.
Another Walker comes out of the shadows and the Gov again kills it, beating its head in with a flashlight. (Those MagLites are awesome.) He gets a look at its face and is clearly upset when he realizes it was the little girl from the family photo. The ghost of Penny shivers down his spine.
They all camp out in the living room, now that the house is clear, and wonder what the hell happened there. (I have ideas, ones I don’t want to think about because oh my god.) A few beers loosen up the talk, and Martinez makes no bones about the new family being the Gov’s entrance to their camp. He thinks the Gov is presenting himself as changed. Is he? “I am.” Good. (Martinez’s second mistake.)
Jokes are made at the Gov’s behalf, and Mitch calls the Gov “One Eyed Bri,” so we’re going to call him OEB, which rhymes with G-O-V, which starts with G, and that stands for GOOD GOD, MARTINEZ, DO NOT PISS THIS MAN OFF. He doesn’t heed my warning and starts picking at OEB, about his ice water for blood, his calculating nature, and–
Gov redirects the conversation pronto to learn the brothers’ stories before they can learn his. Both in the Army (which confused me by the whole “HOO-RAH” Marine Corps thing they did, because the Army has a different pronunciation. Sorry, I was married to a Marine, and they get touchy.) and now with Martinez. And Mitch’s ride is a tank, not too shabby. They turn to OEB and ask what he did before?
Guys? This is a man to fear. Of course, to Mitch and Pete, he looks harmless. Ask Maggie how harmless he is.
They bring the beer back to camp and errbody in the camp getin’ tipsy. [Errbody in the camp gettin’ tips.] Well, everyone but the Gov. Lily says something off-hand to Martinez about how great the camp is and how it’s the first time she’s felt safe. And oh, does that not sit well with Phillip/Gov/Brian. Martinez starts talking about how it’s not as great as Woodbury, right Brian? Brian walks off with his hands full of paper plates and a heart full of malice.
Megan tells Brian the hole in the roof is leaking to which Martinez says, “You should fix that.”
The Gov looks at Martinez, notes how drunk he is, and replies coolly, “Yeah. I’ll do that.” He’s gonna fix a leak, all right. Gonna plug that hole right up, just not the one in the RV. Before he gets going on that, he and Martinez take a break to hit some golf balls off the top of a distant trailer, one overlooking the Walker Pit where the Gov and Megan were found.
“Some things you just can’t come back from,” Martinez says, lining up his shot after informing the Gov that Bowman/Shumpert was dead, and because of reckless behavior. “They’re a part of who you are.”
Buddy? Why are you saying this and not realizing– Ugh, keep reading. Also, this is essentially the theme for this season, and the overarching theme from last season, too. Rick is on the down slope of his coming back, Carole is an unknown (even though I say yes), and the Gov? Well. The Gov is definitely the control group for this experiment, and the result is expected to be NO.
Martinez lets his guard drop even further [mistake number four] and says something about how family isn’t anything he’d let himself have again, not when he’d just lose them again. The Gov hears the weakness of that statement. “You don’t think you can keep this place running safe?”
Martinez replies (stupidly), “I’ll try.” There is no try! Do or do not! He turns his back on the Gov and says that now they’ve got the band back together, maybe they should share lead vocals. Share. Ha.
At that, the Gov brings his 7 iron down on Martinez’s skull, knocking him for a loop and to the floor. The Gov, shaking with rage, kicks his body off the RV, hops down, and starts dragging him towards the pit which happens to be full.
Martinez screams and pleads as his head hangs close enough to grab, to be bitten, when the Gov starts screaming, “I don’t want it! I don’t want it!” The leadership, that is. Except that’s not true, is it? I think he’s the type who will either tend to his personal flock, or be the Head Honcho; there is no sharing. Martinez goes for the Gov’s one weak spot, his patched eye, but he doesn’t have enough leverage to do real damage. The Walkers grab Martinez, pull him into their waiting mouths, and his dying screams drown out the Gov whispering, “I don’t want it.”
We find him in the RV later shaking and crying, and guys? I think this is a ruse. I think he’s working himself up for the sake of Phase Two of his plans: Operation Bug Out. He lays the groundwork by saying to a concerned and newly returned Lily that he had a bad dream, that’s all. (The Life of Brian was the bad dream. The life of a good guy who does the right thing – that’s bad.)
The Bros call a group meeting to announce they’ve found Martinez all over the Walker pit, and that’s why you don’t golf drunk. Pete says he’ll act as leader, when everyone in the group is all, “Democracy! Voting!” Well, them’s fighting words, and a scuffle breaks out, notably between Tara and Mitch. Pete solves this by taking Mitch and the Gov on a hunting expedition, because if you’re not contributing, then you can’t stay.
They find an encampment in the woods, and Pete wants to bring the ten or so folks back to the RV camp, and Mitch just wants to do a B&E and take stuff. Rick, I mean, Pete says they won’t do that but just push on and find more supplies elsewhere, so spread out and look alive.
I don’t understand how they don’t hear gunfire, but they don’t. And as they circle back, they see everyone in the encampment is dead and the supplies are gone. (We all agree the Gov killed them and hid the supplies, right? I mean, he says “this must have just happened,” right after joining back up with the brothers.) One of the bodies isn’t quite dead, so Mitch knifes it in the think boxer, to Pete’s horror.
When they get to camp, Gov tells his women to pack their things because they’re leaving that night, no arguments. Lily doesn’t understand and the Gov lets something that is key slip when he says emphatically, “I can’t lose you again.”
Again? Lily doesn’t pick up on that. They slip out (Alicia’s with Tara, which is nice) and come to a screeching halt when they find a mini-herd of Walkers trapped in quicksand, blocking the road. First, this is an awesome looking scene. Second, it seems to remind the Gov that it’s hard out there for a pimp, and it’s easier in a group. It’s better to be in an encampment with people guarding a perimeter instead of being on the run all the time. They go back to the RV camp.
He dresses the next day, tells an inquisitive Lily that he’s “surviving,” and goes to see Pete. And shivs him once the door shuts. He then starts choking him, whispering, “Shh, shh,” until he passes out. (He passes out; he doesn’t die.) With a bloody hand and gun drawn, he then knocks on Mitch’s door.
Here’s the thing, Mitch, your brother is dead because he was a good guy. And Gov will spare your life if you’ll just fall in line. See, it’s not about being good and noble, it’s not about weighing what’s right and what’s wrong, it’s about surviving. And a man will survive if he does the only thing necessary in the moment to stay alive. Here, have a smoke and a story.
See, when the Gov was little, he stole a pack of cigs and smoked up with his older brother. Their dad found them, and as their dad whipped his belt off and gave it a crack, older brother took the heat to save his little brother from a bad whipping like a good hero. Except it didn’t matter as they both still got whipped. And in this little story we learn so much of why Phillip hates Rick. (Not necessarily Andrea, because she filled the “little woman who looks to him for guidance” slot for a while. Women can do what’s right. Men can’t.)
Doing “right” doesn’t mean diddly. The end result is the same. But I bet you anything the Gov’s brother got outside praise, praise little Phillip didn’t. And I bet their daddy admired and respected the older brother for standing up to him and saw little Phillip as a weakling. Someone he could “beat at everything.”
And his entire life has been built on proving that man wrong, on never being beaten again. On getting it right. In his New World View, there won’t be heroes. There will just be him, doing what had to be done. And they’ll all be alive at the end, won’t they? And following along this thought of getting things right, that would be his family: a loving wife and child. And he could have had that all over again in a way with Andrea and Penny (even if Andrea didn’t know about Penny, because Phillip did.) Michonne ruined that, and for that she must die in his eyes.
Now he has Lily and Megan and he’s not going to lose them again, Martinez. He’s going to keep them alive this time, his little family. But if they don’t make it, why, he’s sure to find another woman and little girl who need him, don’t you think? Repeating patterns and never learning the real reason why things fell apart, that’s our Gov. See, it didn’t work at Woodbury because Milton did what was “right” by Andrea, so the Gov got rid of him, too. Just like Pete. Now smoke up, Mitch, there’s planning to be done.
The Gov drags Pete to the quiet pond where no one goes and dumps him in. It really is a lovely spot. And Pete couldn’t have been killed by being strangled because he would have turned straight away. That bag wasn’t moving. It’s that, or there’s some serious need for a new continuity guy on the show.
And life continues on at the RV camp with Mitch following right in line as the Gov knew he would. Mitch is a survivor, too, after all. The Gov explains to the group that they’re going arrows only on hunts, now. They need to save bullets. Later, he pores over maps, circling key spots (the prison?) for them to move to. A better place, he tells Lily. She disagrees that they’re not in a good place; after all, this is her home now. I think because she called it a home that that is why the Gov didn’t get angry with her. (You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, Lily. He likes it when his ladies are grateful for all he does for them.)
Megan skips through the camp playing tag with Tara (who stupidly hands off her handgun to Alicia) while Lily plays nurse with the Gov’s eye hole. She doesn’t judge him for it, and he clearly appreciates that. Megan, still skipping around, pulls aside some washing on the line and is beset upon by a Walker. Her screams draw everyone’s attention. Guess you should have kept your piece, Tara, seeing as when she tries to pull the Walker off Megan, the Walker’s rotten leg falls apart (gross! Cool!).
The Gov shows up at the nick of time and shoots it in the brain.
He takes a moment for himself, going to his thinking spot, the pond. He looks down at the water and we see Pete, chained and floating, reaching up for him. This is an amazing shot. Also, damn, this guy loves his fish tanks. And seeing as this one wasn’t stocked…
He continues his day, driving to the edge of the prison, watching Rick and Carl in the garden sharing peas, then turns to see Michonne and Doc Hershel laughing over something. He pulls his gun and trains it on Michonne. AND THE EPISODE ENDS HERE. [tears out hair]
Next week is the last ep before the hiatus (ugh, I hate that they do this) which means cliffhanger or someone we love dies. IF DARYL OR MICHONNE DIES, WE ARE BURNING THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND.
I don’t think they’ll be the ones killed, though. Maybe Gov’s makeshift family? Or him? What do you think? I mean, he’s gone over, completely. He’s never going to redeem himself, because he can’t. It was specific, the way they found those bodies and the Gov’s sins laid out. And there was no hope for anyone at that cabin, not with all the damage done. No one was coming back from all of that.
So, by horror movie rules, he’s either Jason Vorhees (will never die) or Annie Wilkes (cause life-altering damage to the survivors and then dies trying to take as many with them as they can). My money’s on the latter. I think he’s going to bite it at some point.
(But maybe let him fill up his new fish tank so we have that macabre visual? I’m gross, I know.)