Review: The Walking Dead - 'Dead Weight'

By: Heather Seebach

This week brought yet another Governor-centric bottle episode, which of course made this Gov fan very happy. 'Dead Weight', however, is a far more balanced entry, which ought to appease those viewers who just could not swallow last week's sympathy-for-the-Governor episode. As I predicted in my last review, "Brian's" former identity begins to rear his nasty head again when he joins up with Martinez's camp. The episode is certainly not without moral conflict, though. Hell, it opens with the Governor discussing childhood abuse at the hands of his father. "Were you bad?" "Sometimes."

Throughout this episode, he continues to grapple with doing what is moral vs. doing what is necessary. That internal push-and-pull is never more obvious than in that tank vs. RV shot.

The chess metaphor from last week continues, as Megan tells him, "It's your turn." Indeed it is, but will he choose the domestic father-husband role, or again take on the position of leader and warrior?  To the Governor, they are really one and the same, as he will do anything to protect his family. Maybe his ultimate decision isn't such a bad one - look what happened to the last person who was living la vida RV. Rest in peace, Dale.

The Governor goes on a supply run with Martinez and his redneck buddies, where they come upon a creepy cabin and headless bodies. The former resident was clearly enacting his own martial law by brutally putting "liars" and "rapists" on display. Little is told about this whole scenario, and I found that very eerie. Why were they mostly military men? Who was this murderous cabin man? And how bad was that first dude's lie to warrant the same punishment as the rapist?! Yikes. I saw a theory on Reddit that Michonne left these bodies as a message to the Governor. I highly doubt that's the case, but an interesting theory nonetheless considering she has sent morbid messages before.

 Whoever lived in that cabin, he was clearly meant to parallel the Governor - a fact which probably was not lost on "one-eye Bri" when he walked through the place. From the decapitated trophy heads to the family photo, the signs were all there. Here was another man who did unspeakable things and justified them in the interest of family and survival. As Brian says multiple times in this episode, he is all about surviving - at any cost. It's probably also not a coincidence that the Governor is a liar, a rapist (well, almost-rapist), and murderer, too.

Another obvious but poignant visual metaphor this episode was the leaky roof of the RV. Not only does it foreshadow the structural weaknesses of the camp itself, but it represents the Governor's need to fix a problem. In this case, Martinez (and subsequently Pete) is the leaky roof that needs fixing. When Martinez and "Brian" are driving golf balls off the roof like old times, Martinez pretty much admits his inability to save his people. "I'm not going to lose them", Brian says of his new family. That, combined with Martinez's offer to "share the crown", is all the justification Gov needs to get rid of him.

While it may seem like another crime of passion, I believe it was premeditated. He was eye-fucking Martinez every time he got drunk and sloppy, and almost seemed to be waiting for the right inebriated moment. Of course, Martinez also knew the truth about him - something the Governor would rather his new family not hear. And naturally, there's the alpha dog element of it. Share the crown? Um, no. Did you see the look on Gov's face when Lilly told Martinez, "This is the first time I've felt safe since all this started"? I think he was crying underneath that eye patch.

While dragging Martinez to his death, the Governor repeatably uttered, "I don't want it!" Presumably, in response to Martinez's last words, he was referring to "the crown" aka the leadership role. Is this Philip talking rather than the Governor? Afterwards, he is shaking and possibly even crying for what he has done. Clearly, there is still a good man in there, but he is in a constant state of tug-o-war with his the Governor's rage. All it takes is his loved ones in peril to justify any and every horrible act of violence. So when the nearby camp is raided by thieves and zombies start closing in, he finally makes his chess move.

I found it really telling how Brian tells Lilly, "I can't lose you again!" He didn't lose her before (unless you count five minutes in the pit). With that line, he practically admitted that he sees Lilly and Megan as substituting the wife and daughter he once lost. "Things are about to go very wrong", he says. "I've seen it before." Philip tries taking the higher moral ground by loading the girls in the car and fleeing, but when their path is blocked, the Governor's plan wins out. Good guy Pete has got to go. Pete would have failed to protect these people because, much like Rick, his morals get in the way of him doing what must be done. 

 It may not have been intentional but I like to think of Mitch and Pete as the proverbial devil and angel on the Governor's shoulders. He has a little of both inside him, constantly duking it out. It makes perfect sense that the Governor would off Pete and turn to Mitch for assistance. Not only can Mitch operate that tank (HINT HINT), but he's a malleable soldier-for-hire thanks to his questionable morals. He even manipulated him into smoking! As Gov reminds him, "You'll never worry about whether you're doing the right thing or the wrong thing - you'll be doing the only thing." That line is the Governor in a nutshell.

Side note: the Governor mentioned his brother in the Mitch scene. That was a tiny but tasty bone for fans of the novels.

 As if this little coup wasn't enough to convince you the Governor is back, he chains zombie Pete to the bottom of the lake and watches him thrash about. I guess he really missed his zombie aquariums, huh? Not much has changed after all. He circles the prison on a map and starts plotting his next move. Lilly is reluctant, citing how safe the camp is, just moments before a walker attacks Megan. Shit, I wouldn't be surprised if the Gov planted that biter just to manipulate the survivors into making a move on the prison!

In the episode's final moments, it catches up to the end of 'Internment' with the Governor standing outside the prison. He points his gun at Michonne in the distance just before it cuts to black. I'm pretty confident he won't be pulling that trigger, but will instead plan a surprise attack now that he has a group of survivors to manipulate into helping him again. Yes, it's redundant, and yes it could go tits-up like it did with the Woodbury folk. Or maybe it will work this time since these people are desperate and hardened, not comfortable and domesticated.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. That's 3 for 3 now! I don't think I enjoyed 'Dead Weight' quite as much as the last two episodes, but it was very exciting to see the Governor's dark side returning (even if it unfortunately means a looming end to my beloved villain *sniff sniff*). Also, as a fan of the comics, I got a raging nerd boner at the sight of the tank! And in the preview for next week's episode, we see the Governor standing on it outside the prison! I got goosebumps! Looks like the mid-season finale could be the epic prison attack that season 3's finale was supposed to be!

Finally, as always, here are some funny reactions to 'Dead Weight' from Reddit:

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