Well, that certainly was 42 minutes of hardcore character rehabilitation, wasn’t it? And there sure were a lot of meaningful scenes of people talking very quietly to each other in dark rooms, right? Also: little blonde white girls are the ultimate image of helplessness in this world, and when one of them is sad or scared or needs to have a bullet put through her undead brain, the whole world weeps for them.
Seriously, what is the fascination with little blonde white girls on this show? From the opening moments of the series, when Rick had to shoot that little walker in the head, to The Hunt for Dead Sophia, to the Governor’s undead daughter and now his latest, likely-soon-to-be-undead adopted daughter who looks just like the first one. Then there’s that creepy, crazy one back at the prison, who keeps getting crushes on corpses. It’s like the ultimate indicator of how things are going in this story is, “What’s going on with the little blonde white girls? Are they alive? And if they’re alive are they mute with fear or creepy and crazy? Won’t someone think of the little blonde white girls?”
Feh. We were bored and a little annoyed, can you tell? And yet, there was a part of us that kind of enjoyed seeing a side of the apocalypse from another point of view, although it’s getting irritating how often the characters on this show run into new characters who are so stupid, clueless, and without resources that it makes no sense for them to still be alive. This is the third time this season (Rick and the crazy moss lady in the woods, Rick & Carol and the two dimwitted young people hiding in a bathroom) someone met up with a character or group of characters who seemed to have absolutely no idea of the world around them. It’s almost like the show is saying that survival in this world just comes down to dumb luck, but that negates pretty much everything we’ve seen in the story so far and it renders the struggle of the main characters as a spin of the roulette wheel, with their own actions and decisions serving as nothing more than window dressing for the story.
One of the major failures of this show, as far as we’re concerned, is the lack of world-building; the sense of what’s happening beyond the tiny borders of the main group. You could argue that’s a feature of the show and that it adds to the sense of despair and isolation, not knowing what happened or what’s happening anywhere else. Never knowing the whys or the hows. And that’s a pretty good argument. On the other hand, it’s probably the Number One reason why the show has been so directionless throughout it’s previous three seasons. It’s definitely the main reason why the show has a history of focusing too much on debates and arguments and internal conflict. If you’re committed to not showing the rest of the world, you’re stuck with claustrophobic scenes of characters sniping at each other. The other downside to this lack of world-building is that when the show does try to depict something or someone new, it always winds up being just a little off or nonsensical.
We spent a good 2/3 of the episode thinking he was hallucinating that family because so little of their story made sense. Like those two kids from a couple of weeks ago, it strains disbelief that this group would survive a couple of years in this world without even knowing such basics as how to put down a walker or that all people become walkers when they die. Or that someone with Stage 4 lung cancer would survive several years with no treatment at all. Or that they had somehow stockpiled two years of oxygen tanks for him. And roughly a thousand candles. And three adults and one child could live off a food truck for two years without severe malnutrition. And somehow have enough clean water to do dishes after dinner every night, even though they seem to have done nothing to secure it. Sure, you could work to provide answers for all of these questions, but the fact that there are so many questions – and the story doesn’t seem to want to ask or answer them – that makes it a little annoying. Let’s face it: they wanted a little blonde girl to be his surrogate daughter and a grateful, pretty lady to need his help. They’re simply pieces on the playing board to get the Governor to the front gate of the prison. Redeemed? We’ll see. We doubt very much he’ll manage to keep this new family entirely intact and there’s a part of us that wonders if he’ll wind up murdering them for some reason. But that’s probably us holding onto the hope that the writers aren’t seriously going to try and foist a redemption arc on us. Not with this character. They turned him into a cartoon villain last season and to be perfectly honest, we’d rather see him exit the story permanently, rather than sitting through some weepy series of scenes that cast him as a hero, after we watched him murder, torture and sexually assault an uncountable number of people last season.
It comes down to this, for us: David Morrissey is great in the role, and the Governor was a fascinating character in the books, but the show pretty much damaged him to the point of making him useless. If he comes back as a villain again, we’ll be bored. If he comes back redeemed, we simply won’t be able to accept it. If there’s a third option, we’re willing to listen, but we can’t conceive of a direction for this character we’d actually like.
But lest we sound terribly negative, we did appreciate the opening up of this world and the point of view of new characters, including (YAY!) the show’s first gay character. The acting here was fine, across the board. We were just intrigued enough by the new folks to want to hear more about them, even if everything they told us just opened up more frustrating questions. We were captivated for the whole hour, but we really don’t want much more of this direction in the story. There’s a huge part of us that just wants a ten-second scene of Michonne silently beheading him, and then have everyone move on.
[Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC]