Much like last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Dead Weight” follows the exploits of the Governor as he and his new family runs across Martinez, a member of his old crew from Woodbury who is now the leader of his own clan of survivors. However, instead of reclaiming his role as the one-eyed capo, the Governor finds himself just another soldier, taking orders from a man who used to be his subordinate.
The episode begins with the Governor teaching Meghan how to play chess (symbolism!) and contemplating his next move while under the thumb of Martinez. For the first half of the episode, the Governor is Martinez’s lackey. He’s too afraid that Martinez will tell his new family about the massacre at Woodbury, so he just takes his orders and hangs back as Martinez slowly emasculates him. But when Martinez tells the Governor that his new family is doomed to die in this zombie apocalypse no matter how hard he tries to prevent it, the true Governor finally makes his triumphant returns by bludgeoning Martinez with a golf club and throwing him straight into a walker pit.
With the pecking order of the group in turmoil, the Governor makes his move to become a leader once again by taking advantage of the tension building within the camp’s leadership. But instead of going about this in a methodical way like the chess game alluded to, he simply kills Pete, the one true threat to his leadership, and violently threatens anyone else in his way.
After claiming the top position in the camp through the Corleone method of murder and intimidation, the Governor begins to militarize the society through paranoia and firepower. By the closing moments of the episode, the old Governor fans everywhere grew to hate is back and perhaps more ruthless than ever.
As the episode draws to a close, we finally catch up to where the episode “Live Bait” left off, with the Governor lurking on the outside of Rick’s prison. But this time we see him stalking Michonne and Hershel from afar, pulling out his gun, and pointing it toward the two of them from a distance before the closing credits hit. With only one episode left before a mid-season break, this is a maddening cliffhanger to end on.
The Walking Dead has been suffering from a severe lack of zombie action over the past two weeks, and there are sure to be fans letting their frustrations known in message boards across the Internet after this episode’s drought. Still, despite its pace, “Dead Weight” sets up an inevitable conflict between the Governor’s newly-formed society and Rick’s crew in the prison. Fans of the comic book will certainly recognize the significance of this upcoming battle, especially with the Governor’s tank sitting in the background, ready for war. Hell, even if you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life, you should understand why the Governor owning a tank is bad for Rick and company.
Within the span of two episodes, the Governor has gone from a mass murderer, to a broken loner, to a family man looking for redemption, to a man swallowing orders, and finally back to being the militant leader he was when he debuted in season three. Now that he has returned to his psychotic best, it’s time for the Governor to get revenge on the people who have wronged him in the past. This time he has a tank. Word of warning: don’t get too emotionally attached to anyone in Rick’s group.