I had high hopes for this season after watching the first few episodes of the series. The clash with the Governo was thankfully over considering howawkwardly it had been resolved in the previous series. Now the group had to merely contend with itself and living a day to day life in a horrendous zombie apocalypse. I personally find this angle a lot more interesting than big crazy bad villains trying to kill all your friends and take all your things.
A huge influx of new people had entered the prison camp due to Rick’s group taking everybody in from Woodbury who was willing. This in the words of Rick brought safety in numbers to the group which was the most important thing in dealing with the walkers. Unfortunately a much more common problem surfaced due to these numbers. Disease. We have a world that despite the guns and cars and remnants of modern technology littered around has reverted to a pre-historical state . In this case it’s seemingly caused by bad pig farming. Another thing ancient societies had to tend with and a reason that many societies such as the ancient Israelites banned the eating of pork.
The unfortunate thing about diseases in this world is the lack of antibiotics to treat them and the fact that when you die you return as a biter. This creates sheer chaos in the cramped prison complex with people dropping dead then eating everybody else alive. Tyreeses girl Karen and another poor sick fella David are quarantined to prevent it further spreading. Then in an even more drastic turn of events stabbed to death in the night and set on fire by some mystery assailant. Tyreese isn’t best pleased and goes a bit bat shit crazy for a while until calming down to a more seething rage. Complete with punching people in the face and angrily digging lots.
As this is algoing on the walls protecting the camp are slowly and surely falling to the growing hordes of zombies. Teams are being sent out to trim the growing zombie hedgeand occasionally release some catharsis but the problem seems to be one of those daily chores in the zombie apocalypse along with searching for supplies, looking forlorn and sobbing. Exacerbating this issue is another or perhaps the same mystery person whose feeding delicious rats to the zombies at the gates to attract a further growing horde.
So we have high tensions amongst the group , sabouteours in the ranks and a situation where every bodies a potential threat to the entire group and might have to be dealt with violently. This takes the throws the show into the direction of gritty, paranoid, psychological warfare between people in confined quarters who cannot trust one another. Which is very entertaining to watch play out.
Carol turns out to be the dark horse. Rick feels he has no choice but to expel her from the group. Although the rats still do remain a mystery. This was done in rather undemocratic fashion. Rick had already given his leadership over to the council which included him and other key members of the group such as Hershel to vote on decisions. Yet with Carol he expelled her himself in order to protect his own family without consulting anybody. Something that may have repercussions down the line.
The episodes dealing with the disease rampaging through the camp and how the survivors all managed to deal with it were a superb direction to take the show in as it introduced a far more real and terrifying villain in the form of a rampant disease than they ever managed to make a crazed figure such as the Governor. Even the zombies can be shot, but with disease people just have to wait, hope and not go mad in the process.
Unfortunately this is where the good ends and it coincides with the governor rearing his ugly head again. The first episode he appears in is handled rather well if not somewhat rushed. We see a shambles of a man roaming around, surviving, growing a beard and at the brink of giving up. He manages to stumble on to a family and while his relationship with them begins as paranoid and reluctant on both counts with him accepting their food then dumping it out the window as if it was about to turn him into a zombie and them confiscating his weapons and quarantining him.
There’s two sisters, one of their daughters and their father. He gradually begins to bond with them in true RPG fashion through a series of fetch quests. His main relationship develops between him and the little girl who he ends up transferring his own dead little girl issues on in vowingto protect. Then protect he does, in most brutal fashion by beating the grandfather to death in front of them all when he dies of his crippling lung cancer and turns.
The Governor soon is bedding one of the sisters, rather creepily on a bed they’re all sleeping on while taking them out on the road to survive. While this transformation of the character from a violent sociopath to the caring father figure we see in the picture of Brian keeps happens a little quickly it’s still refreshing to see. David Morrisey plays the guy wonderfully which is difficult to do when switching between sociopath and loving family man.
Sadly in the next episode he ends up coincidentally bumping into Ramirez and their new group. This group happens to have a tank which is the most literal clumsy plot device I’ve seen. A sudden need for vengeance back on the Governor’s mind he proceeds to go back to his usual self. He promptly murders Ramirez and the poor tank commanders brother as they both posed leadership threats then takes control of the group. He captures poor kindly old Hershel and angry, angry Michonne then convinces his group to launch a full out assault tank included on the prisoners. He pretends that he’ll be diplomatic in this process but it all inevitably goes to shit when he chops Hershel’skindly old head off.
What could have been really interesting is if he’d actually remained focussed on simply caring about his new adopted family and the new group he found himself in. The same rough course of events could have happened but actually fleshed out the governor and made him that more human so much so we might feel bad when Michonne stabs her samurai sword through him.
Michonne would be the key to this, she’s already proven that she’s vengeful and she still goes out hunting for the Governor. Imagine if she found him , fought him and in the struggle accidentally killed the little girl, or the mother. This sends the governor into a fury, he rallies his group around and that’s when he decides to attack the camp and get his vengeance. It would at least make him seem more well rounded as a character rather than an entirely unhinged villain and make Michonne seem the unjustified one.
Still, at least he’s dead. I was genuinly concerned when Michonne stabbed him then smugly walked away but he was promptly shot by who had clearly realised she needs to stop going out with such terrible men.
Special mention should also be given to Carol’s child army which came as a lovely brutal shock when they gunned down some bad guys about to kill Tyreese. As well as how the ethnic minorities in the show have actually been fleshed out this season with Michonne, Tyreese, Sasha and Bob all becoming far more than silent, replaceable caricatures.
What can we expect next then? The group at the end is split up and scattered so it’s likely we’ll see a range of stories from each small band of survivors. On the bright side this will hopefully mix things up again and keep it interesting although it will be hard to create focus and direction with this and I imagine they’ll reunite in some shambolic form at some point. Carol will surface again and whether she’s found a new group or is on her own is up to debate as is if she’ll ever be able to rejoin the group. Tyreese still doesn’t know it was her and if he doesn’t find out I can almost imagine the people who do know just letting that shit go. As Rick says in the final episode, we’ve all done things we’re not proud of to survive.