After last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, it was clear from the preview that this week we were going to see a Governor-centric episode. I believe that usually, when television shows break away from their main characters and do extremely focused episodes, they tend to fail in terms of moving the plot forward.
Unfortunately, the writers of Walking Dead clearly didn’t know what they wanted ‘Live Bait’ to be. Is it a good episode? Generally, yes – it features a new situation, a change of environment, and new characters, along with the development of a previously existing character’s arc. The problem is, like many of the worst episodes in seasons two and three, ‘Live Bait’ featured a lot of drawn out and unnecessary scenes – and it appears that they plan to continue this separate Governor plot line in the next episode, as well.
While we were introduced to new characters in this episode, they generally fell flat. The father of the family that takes the Governor in is clearly going to die in the episode; as for the women, the old man’s daughters Lily and Tara and Lily’s daughter Megan are empty additions, clearly only there to serve the Governor’s supposed character arc. Though Tara claims to be a cop from Atlanta, Lily is the more world-weary of the two, and essentially tells her sister how to handle things. It’s pretty obvious – very soon in the episode – that Lily is meant to be the Governor’s [probably short-lived] love interest, while her daughter Megan is no more than his ‘replacement’ for his own [now dead-dead] daughter.
When Lily tells the Governor that he’s ‘done so much for them already’, it’s almost nonsensical. So far, they’ve taken him in and fed him (food that he literally threw out the window), while all he did was retrieve a backgammon set from a neighbor’s apartment and inform the family that they need to destroy the zombies’ brains in order to actually kill them. Somewhat surprisingly, though, when Lily follows up her praise by asking him to retrieve more oxygen for her father, the Governor actually agrees to do so – and while the rest home scene is definitely another interesting change of pace, especially for this particular episode, it’s also confusing. While understandable that the Governor is a lot more apathetic about killing zombies at this point, the fact that he gets overrun by ones that are clearly weaker than those he must have encountered in the past goes unexplained. He escapes the rest home with the oxygen, though, and while it’s unclear how much time has passed, when we see him again he is clean shaven and seems a bit more sure of himself and his place with this family.
When the father inevitably passes away, though, we are left with another questionable scenario. Tara claims that she knew he would turn, yet their reaction to the Governor smashing his head in with an oxygen tank doesn’t fit with that knowledge. And yet, when he packs his bags and tells them he is moving on, they go with him anyway – leaving what is essentially a safe harbor, and leaving with a man whom – as far as we have seen – they barely know.
It’s unclear how far they travel before their truck dies, and when they get out to walk it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t going to get very far. This is The Walking Dead, after all, and one man traveling with two women and a child, all carrying heavy bags…well, if any part of the episode fit the title ‘Live Bait’, it was this scene – it seemed that no sooner did we see them walking down the road than they are forced to run from a sizable group of zombies. And of course, how very convenient that the Governor, who is carrying Megan, falls into a zombie trap that was dug by no other than Martinez and his crew!
Last we saw Martinez, he was guarding the Governor and their campsite after their failed attack on the prison. He left during the night, and to be honest who can blame him? Martinez witnessed the Governor’s meltdown, as well as the fact that he wasn’t even able to raise himself to kill a single walker. However, the issue here is that The Walking Dead has used this type of storyline – the ‘surprise’ reuniting of characters who had parted ways (or been forcefully separated) – several times before, and it’s getting more than a bit old.
I believe that this episode was meant to show that the Governor has become more of a ‘neutral’ character or force in the series – but then, why has he made his way back to the prison, as shown at the end of 4×05? Again, while ‘Live Bait’ was in and of itself a fairly entertaining addition to season four, it didn’t really move the general plot line to where it needs to be. The writers took several steps back with this one, but only one step forward, and I can only hope that we aren’t once again being dragged into that mid-season mire that Walking Dead seems to favor.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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