I’ve held off on Woodbury as long as I could. I figured that I could wait a little bit, collect my thoughts and present to you my view on the town that the apocalypse forgot in one post before the show’s mid-season finale. But, I’ve decided to split up my thoughts into two separate posts. This post will deal with The Governor and Rick, seeing that their meeting has now become inevitable. The next post will deal with my thoughts on Andrea, Michonne and Merle “Knifehand” Merle (Dixon).
*WARNING: There may be spoilers aplenty!*
Woodbury, on the outside, looks like a hippie commune gone right. The streets are clean. The people are friendly. The town is secure. Everyone does their part. There’s running water and electricity. There’s so much food and drink around that they can have picnics. This town is the antithesis of sitting pretty at the end of the world.
Just below it’s finely polished surface, however, lies a cruel truth – this town is no better than the world it tries to hide from. For spilled blood, whether it be fresh and red or brown and dead, has kept this town alive. As I’ve said in a previous post, there is a hefty price one must pay to sit that pretty for that long. It’s unclear, however, if the residents of Woodbury know the price of their luxury or not. But, I would think it safe to say that they really don’t care either way. This world has turned survivors on both Rick and The Governor’s side to shit anyhow. So, why should we expect anyone to blink an eye at killing innocent people? It’s survival, baby! We need ice for our beer coolers!
Although we know that The Governor and his militia have killed seemingly innocent people to ensure and protect the community, we can’t really say that all they are doing is bad, can we? Who are we to say that Rick and his group are the ultimate good in this new world when they have spilled innocent blood, too (old Hobo Jack, you’ll be missed.)? What makes The Walking Dead so great is that the writers can weave you a tale that seems one way when you watch it and another when you think back on it. When you see The Governor sit and brush his dead daughter’s hair, you think he’s somewhat insane. But, when you step back and think about it compared to Rick’s little collect call to Heaven, it doesn’t seem that crazy anymore. They’re just two men trying to cope with their new realities. But, who’s the saner of the two is anyone’s guess.
I love The Rick Grimes Gang, I really do, but I can’t help but see something admirable in what The Governor is trying to do in Woodbury. On one hand, The Governor has taken it upon himself to study the outbreak. He has enlisted the help of Milton, a socially awkward doctor, to study the “biters,” and, as I assume, help develop a cure. On the same token, The Governor is also like the Vatos from season one, taking in those who need help the most and caring for them. But, on some days, The Governor can act more like Dave and Tony from season two, expecting to intimidate and kill his way into safety and security. But, doesn’t everyone have to do that these days?
One of the turning point moments for The Governor came when he ambushed and killed the National Guard troops after the helicopter crash. Upon watching the episode the first time through, it seemed that The Governor was just a ruthless killer who thinks the only solution to his troubles comes from the end of a gun. But, what if you thought about it this way:
Let’s say that The Governor allowed the troops to come back to Woodbury with him. Sure, these guys are military men and they are used to taking orders. But, who’s to say that they will take orders from someone like The Governor? Who’s to say that they wouldn’t just overthrow The Governor and set up a sort of military government as they wait for the world to bounce back? What would that be like for the people of Woodbury? Would you want to risk it?
I know I wouldn’t want to risk it. Believe it or not, I don’t think that Rick would risk it either. Although he has allowed new people into his group before, the few people he’s let in had to earn his trust first. Also, the few he let in were just that – a few. Allowing a large and organized group into your inner circle could spell disaster. So, when looking at it a different way, The Governor was just playing it safe. I believe that if Rick were posed with that same situation, he would have acted a little more diplomatically. But, it would have ended the same way eventually.
Ole Hobo Jack knows all too well that hell hath no fury like a Rick Grimes cornered…
Ultimately, when you break down the characters of The Governor and The Ricktator, you find that they aren’t too different. Although The Governor’s tactics for gathering information are little more extreme that Rick’s (he was going to rape Maggie into telling him where the prison was located. How many people has Rick raped for information?), both men seem to care greatly about the well-being of their groups, and will do anything to ensure their survival. Both men have come from seemingly humble backgrounds, assuming their positions when times got tough, and when no one else would stand up and lead. But, in the world of The Walking Dead, as in the world of the Highlander, there can be only one. And, we’ll soon find out that the world of the undead ain’t big enough for the both of them.
In knowing that The Walking Dead of television and The Walking Dead of print are two separate works, there is no telling where the story will go and how wrong my assumptions about The Governor may be. I’ve actively refused to read the part of the comics dealing with Woodbury until this season has ended, so I can’t even venture an educated guess on what we’ll be seeing next week and beyond. But, I will tell you that if I don’t see some cannibal action and hear someone cry out “tainted meat” soon, I’m going to be a very unhappy boy.
And you won’t like me when I’m unhappy, Mr. Walking Dead…