The Walking Dead: 406 “Live Bait” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson.
Is David Morrissey’s character becoming a Governor 2.0?
I’m gunna go ahead and say, I like the idea, it’ completely sideways from the comics and to many it’ll seem like something out of a WWE storyline where the most hated becomes the most loved, yet still I think it’s the right way to go for the TV show.
Before I talk about the episode, which I thought was outstanding in the way it handled the restructuring of this character from a broken, lonely mess to a rejuvenated father figure, I want to discuss why this is the right move (contrary to what some fans may hate). Let’s face it, we’ve already had a season of Rick Vs The Governor and it’s fun to watch, but during the seasons you knew where the show would eventually end up, at it’s own Wrestlemania where the good guy gets his revenge.
This predictable formula is too easy for TWD and it’s one thing Robert Kirkman tries again and again to challenge in the comics. For the TV adaptation I think waiting for the Governor to attack the prison again for 16 episodes (which may still happen) it’ll be a little tedious even if the tension is well constructed in the meantime.
However, breaking the Governor down like this and rebuilding him as a scarred, realigned man means the character is free to explore new territory and let’s face it, what better actor to do it than David Morrissey? Okay, it’s a tough sell we know that, so it was refreshing to see ‘Live Bait’ succeed at laying the framework for it.
For me the episode seemed to pass in moments as I was completely drawn in to this story. From the opening montage of the Governor finding himself alone, burning down Woodbury and reflecting on his past before being almost isolated to insanity, we instantly knew where this edition of the series was going to take us.
The story of the family trapped and struggling was compelling, even if it was a little obvious that this would be the perfect place for us to begin to support the Governor. The episode did well in its mix of pace, dialogue and action sequences; there was enough of each at the right time to make it enjoyable without being over the top or drawn out with long, soul searching interactions.
One criticism I will give though, is that it does feel a little rushed and despite its qualities & intentions, it’s a bit of a highlight reel of the Governor’s transformation. Having the little girl there as a key to unlocking the personality that once reside within this man was predictable and at times a little too direct, although, it’s hard to see anything else that would trigger such a change. I’d say that’s what the episode’s title refers to as she is the Governor’s “Live Bait”, drawing him back into the world of the living.
Ultimately, I think the Governor being fully integrated into the group is an incredibly big ask and if it does happen it will take time. A lot of time. Even though he’s done a lot of bad things during his Woodbury rein he didn’t go as far as his counterpart in the comics did when it comes to being evil – that was a move I think worked in the favour of the show having a slightly more ‘Hollywood’ approach and to allow a storyline like this to unfold in the future.
It’s also worth considering that this could just be a convenient swerve to distract us from what may well be the type of season final showdown we’d expect if the Governor and Rick were still out to kill each other. Perhaps it will just take the Governor getting burned somehow, maybe his new woman gets killed or something happens to the girl and we’ll see him press the self destruct button and go down in a ball of flames.
Whatever the case, this was one of the best episodes of the season and deserves a lot of credit for its gutsy attempt at redefining the (arguably) biggest baddie in the comics.
Scene of the Episode: Walking Alone – The opening compilation of ‘what the Governor did next’ was brilliantly constructed and although convenient as a highlight reel of his actions, set the tone for the rest of the episode.