by Thom Yee
4×07: “Dead Weight”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if I ever find myself in a post-apocalyptic zombie world, I will give up almost immediately. None of this running around, gathering supplies, forming uneasy alliances with groups that clearly have their own interests at heart until the whole thing goes belly up in a final confrontation between the good and evil that stirs within all men’s hearts (because who are the real monsters?). Supposedly there are innate patterns of behaviour we follow given certain stimuli, instincts that tell us — right or wrong — what to do. Instinctively, we can sense danger. Instinctively, we’d run if a zombie were after us. Most of us, instinctively, would reach out to help someone running from a zombie if we could do so without putting ourselves in too much danger. I still maintain that in a world of the walking dead I would find my way to the top of a tall building and jump, my instincts having told me that survival in such a world wouldn’t be worth it.
The first time we really met the Governor, after an episode of apparent, though Spidey-sense-tingling kindness, was when he unexpectedly murdered a bunch of innocent soldiers he and his group were ostensibly there to rescue (unexpectedly if you didn’t already know the character or hadn’t figured out that we needed an out-and-out villain by that point in the story that is). Right then and there, we knew not only that he was the bad guy, but that he was bad on the inside. I thought about that scene, this moment of chilling violence, and how numb we’ve become to those sorts of scenes as we listened to “Brian”, Pete and Mitch argue over attacking the camp they stumbled over while on their supply run in this episode. At this point in the show, it seems almost natural that there are going to be times when you have to be the bad guy, to rob a camp of innocent survivors and leave them with nothing, just to keep your own side safe.
So in “Dead Weight”, “Brian” takes over the camp as Martinez and his lieutenants die through misadventure (i.e., never trust the Governor), thus proving who is really the dead weight. While it was merely notable last episode that we could realize empathy for “Brian” as he found some sort of salvation, it’s striking to realize how much you’re now on his side in “Dead Weight”. If you think about the scene in the cabin where “Brian”, Martinez, Pete and Mitch are attacked by biters, instinctively you probably would have preferred to see anyone but “Brian” die in that scene. Not just because you’re still interested in his story, but because he’s become the protagonist. You care most for “Brian” and his family now, and anyone else in the camp can go to hell. Which is pretty much where they all seem to be going.
“Dead Weight” wraps up the Governor’s side story, leading us all the way to where we’d last left the prison and just before the confrontation that will cliffhanger next week’s mid-season finale. Though, to be honest, the threat of the Governor is significantly diminished given the size and type of army he has now as opposed to the one he commanded in Woodbury. Mostly, he seems to have nothing but older, out-of-shape men and womenfolk. He does have that tank, though.
All through this episode and last, the Governor never lets anyone know any of the truths of his past, telling anyone who asks what he did before (before that moment, before they met him, before the biters) only that he survived. Even if he saved the Governor and his family, even if he offered the Governor a chance to lead this new camp, Martinez was pretty much a goner just because he knew a little bit of who the Governor really is — a man whose instincts will lead him to take anything, kill anyone, to stay safe and get what’s his. And in a world where man’s survival instincts means killing former lieutenants, attacking innocents for supplies and eventually stabbing everyone in the back, I still think survival just wouldn’t be worth it.
Plus all those zombies.
The Walking Dead “Dead Weight” final score: 8
Items of Note:
-I’ve missed seeing Kirk Acevedo in anything since his days as Agent Charlie Francis, but man, he’s just a jerk on this show.