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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 6 - Live Bait

22 November 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: We follow Philip as he's abandoned by Martinez and stumbles across a family living in an apartment building. He slowly wins their trust and comes to care about them. Particularly mother Lily and daughter Megan. After Lily's father dies they decide to move on. They are attacked by a group of Walkers but Martinez rescues them.

The Bad: The pilot aside, The Walking Dead writers have done a poor job of introducing new characters. A consistently poor job. Here we got a double whammy, we got several new characters plus the Governor. It was never dull but it entirely failed to generate emotion or real tension.

Surely we aren't meant to feel sympathy for this psychopath? Clearly he does some good for his adopted family. But his description of chess pieces strongly implied that he still feels he can manipulate others for his own benefit. His mourning process over his old identity seemed to focus only on the loss of his daughter. It wasn't clear if he felt any remorse over mowing down his own people. It seems doubtful given that he steps into a new leadership role and doesn't seem to be worried that he might lead these people to disaster.

Questions over the purpose of this episode coloured everything for me. If it was meant to rehabilitate the Governor even a little then it failed. Not because what we saw here was bad in itself but just because the accumulated baggage of the character is too great to overcome. The only way he could gain a modicum of redemption would be in sacrificing himself to let others live. And even then that would merely be acknowledgement of his black soul rather than something which could turn him into a beloved figure.

If on the other hand the Governor is just a main character now then the episode was adequate but deeply misguided. Perhaps another writing team could craft genuinely intriguing stories around a bottom-feeder who spends the apocalypse going from one group to another taking what he wants and destroying them. But on The Walking Dead this story just hits repeated false notes. It's impossible for me to invest in characters who align themselves with the Governor because their fate just seems set right from the start. And as last year's "Walk With Me" demonstrated, hanging out with deceived people is a frustrating experience.

As for the details of the episode. I have to wonder how anyone can sleep in tents in this universe. Surely you'd be terrified of being killed in your sleep. I was particularly amused to then see the Governor wake up and there behind him is a small building. Sleep in there you idiot! I then found his slow bearded walk through empty streets unintentionally amusing. Walter White with his barrel this was not and the moment where he side stepped a Walker as if he was too depressed to even notice was farcical.

The Unknown: The interaction with the new family was adequate but always felt contrived. A family unit with an ill grandfather and an absentee Dad just happen to be waiting for a strong alpha male like him to turn up. They are suitably cautious but of course under the surface keen for his company. His little missions to another apartment and the hospital were fine but not special. I always wonder why these characters can't smell dead people (like the old man in the bath). But then again I understand the needs of production which would mean most of these corpses would have been consumed with flies or rats by now and there are just some things you don't want on your TV. The sex scene was hilariously inappropriate. Are you really going to start groping each other with Tara right there? And presumably Megan not far away? A simple cuddle would have made the same point more plausibly. Finally the Governor's brutal killing of three Walkers caught in a trench (seems like Martinez could teach the Prison gang something about defences) was an interesting moment. I couldn't tell what the brutality was meant to tell us. A) That the Governor really would do anything for his surrogate daughter. B) That this is too violent a man to be a good father figure. Or C) that we needed some cool kills to please the fans.

The episode ends with Martinez finding the Governor's group. I suppose that could go a number of ways but there's no way he should take him in. I still assume at this stage that the Governor is meant to be a villain and therefore soon enough he will be back at the Prison causing trouble. But I suppose I should acknowledge the ludicrous possibility that the Governor might end up at the Prison begging to be taken in with his new family. If Rick were to do that it could kill the show.

Best Moment: Martinez and Shumpert leaving the Governor behind. They should have killed him but that was a start. Who burnt Woodbury down? Was that meant to be an accidental fire or did Rick and co do that to stop people living so near them?

Conclusion:
I just don't see how the Governor can be presented as human at this point. If he remains demented then we just sat through an hour of waiting around for him to show his true colours. Which remains as dull a sport as it was last year. If this was meant to make him more human then it failed and I can't say I'm too excited to see more.

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  • I'm sure Live Bait has more than one meaning but I think it was on the sign which the Walkers were milling around just before they chased the Governor and co into the trench.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 22/11/2013 4:27pm (6 years ago)

  • ***AFTER PODCAST COMMENTS AND PREDICTIONS***

    Hello Everyone!

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the comments made during the podcast and posted here afterwards.

    Robin you have a great ability to tie everyone's thoughts together and it helps me process what I have been seeing, understanding, interpreting in an episode and figuring out how it fits into the context of the show upon a rewatch.

    I will say I normally I don't like making or hearing predictions with any show because it can spoil an episode as it is unfolding (for everyone.) However, if it helps explain and appreciate something better in a show that I already saw, then I am all for it.

    ***Predictions (based on all that has happened until now and all of your comments.)***

    Story Direction: (P for Predictions, LP for Long Term Prediction)

    * We see the Governor at the end of the fifth episode at the gates of the prison.
    P: It appears he's not over losing the war with Rick, Michonne and Company and he wants to take them down. Otherwise why the heck is he there?

    * We know the prison itself is not the motive based on conversations with the Governor had with confidants at Woodbury in Season 3, where he stated he wanted it overrun with walkers after defeating Rick (probably because secure facilities breed adversarial forces.)

    P: However, the security the prison provides is a great way to motivate and manipulate Lily and her family into doing whatever he wants them to do.

    * The show we just saw was titled *Live Bait*.

    P: It's most likely the *live bait* is Lily and her family and that the Governor will use them to spring a trap on Rick's group. (BTW: I did have difficulties interpreting what exactly was the *live bait* whilst watching. Robin's podcast helped me draw some conclusions.)

    P: The Governor knows that Rick would see this family as being ill equipped to survive by their own means so they wouldn't pose a threat to the group in the prison and he would certainly take them in if they were begging at the gates of the prison.
    The governor begging at the prison gates is ludicrous, however Lily’s family at the gates isn’t.

    P: So my theory is the spy will be Lily not Bob Stookey.

    LP: Meghan will eventually become an Arch Villain (possibly facing Carl.)

    Character Development and Direction:

    *The Governor*

    He is still a psychopath. He’s way beyond redemptive (the end of Season Three saw to that.) He’s just using goodness (which was always there) to manipulate situations and people as things unfold. He’s always operated this way. The Governor always needs confidants to aid in carrying out his psychotic escapades and fantasies. At Woodbury, this was through *Andrea and the three Ms* (sounds like a band huh?): Milton and Martinez and Merle. Milton and Merle are dead and the trust between the Governor and Martinez has eroded. He will get more confidants and keep on being his royal badness.

    *Martinez*

    I think Martinez doesn't see the Governor as a good leader anymore (that could be regained a little though in the next episode.) He will try and lead for himself.
    Will he succeed? Probably not.

    *Meghan*

    So now we have another *M* confidant in Meghan.
    You touched on this possibility Robin with your description of the Governor's motives.
    The chess game does convey that the Governor sees Meghan as a surrogate daughter of sorts and she (through the eyes of a child) sees him as a leader and a manipulator (drawing the eye patch on the King.)

    I believe the Governor sees Meghan as a way to pass on essence so it lives on since his daughter can't do this because she's dead.

    I believe in the long run Meghan could become an arch villain. The most predictable outcome is that she’s just merely another pawn or a reminder of the governor failures with his own daughter. If he fails with Meghan than he has let down his daughter twice.

    *Lily*

    Love interest for the Governor and the prison spy. Another Andrea potentially finding herself torn between two groups that each have their good points and bad ones.

    *Tara*

    A pawn for use by the Governor in a soldiering capacity. He will teach her to be a killing machine. This will allow him to gain more trust from her so she can do his bidding.

    Posted by Fluids, 22/11/2013 4:05pm (6 years ago)

  • This was so unbelievable in so many ways. Those oxygen tanks only last a few hours. This would have required hundreds and hundreds of those tanks. That is not even feasible. The week where the young couple came upon Rick and Carol--that guy had super short hair in the back and sides. I guess that can be done with scissors but--really?

    Viewer score: 40 / 100

    Posted by Ann, 22/11/2013 3:47pm (6 years ago)

  • @Fluids:
    I double checked "Home" to make sure, and confirmed that Carol never actually saw Gov. I absolutely may be wrong, but TV logic says that Carol probably will run into Gov at some point after the flash back we saw in "Live Bait", and since she doesn't know who he is, and since he carefully avoided referring to himself as the leader that "just lost it", she may well be a perfect source of info on the prison, and who might still be there...

    Posted by Matt E., 22/11/2013 2:32am (6 years ago)

  • big SPOILER alert for breaking bad ------------------

    Hey Robin, I recently listened to the podcast and loved it like always.
    I just wanted to add something about my comparison between Walter White and the Governor.
    I guess there are some problems in my way of explanation. So it caused some misunderstanding. I must say that I will never compare THE BIG Walter White with the Governor.
    As you know there was no redemption for Walt in the end, because he had passed the line of redemption with his choices. So the ending was all he could catch in that situation. So in my comment, I just predicted maybe there will be an ending like this for the Governor too. Just like it. Not with that quality and level of emotion that we saw in Breaking Bad.

    Posted by Reza, 21/11/2013 5:41pm (6 years ago)

  • I took that present tense dubbed audio underneath the flashback to be the governor talking to Lily (not Carol). The governor tried to kill Carol in Season 3's Home episode after he killed Axel with a high powered rifle at the prison.

    @Matt E
    Yeah I felt he was talking to Carol too!

    Posted by Reza, 20/11/2013 9:27am (11 hours ago)

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 20/11/2013 8:46pm (6 years ago)

  • I think it's unfair to conclude that we're expected to sympathize with the Governor. In retrospect, I believe this episode is intended to provide some insight into the internal struggle the Governor is facing as well as his shock from losing everything he's worked so hard to build.

    I appreciated the stark contrast in hardness between the Governor and the family held up in the apartment building. The family's isolation and lack of basic survival skills, such as shooting walkers in the head and inability to deal with a dying family member, reminds us of how far the main characters of the show have come and the skills and ambivalence they've had to develop in order to survive in this new apocalyptic world.

    Setting aside the Governor’s atrocities to humanity, he aptly demonstrates what one must do to survive, as is evidenced with the brute physicality used in dealing with the deceased father and killing the walkers in the pit. The sheer horror on the faces of the family during both of these events illustrates just how far we've come and how naive they are. Think back to the first season when Rick kneeled down and mournfully spoke to a "crawler" before killing it - mentally, this is where the family is as they have yet to be exposed to the stark realities of the "new world".

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by MAS, 20/11/2013 5:07pm (6 years ago)

  • @Matt E
    Yeah I felt he was talking to Carol too!

    Posted by Reza, 20/11/2013 9:27am (6 years ago)

  • I kinda liked this episode a little. I still enjoy imagining the world they have built. I like to see the effort in character building.

    They seemed to try at least to give us more depth to the new characters introduced. I think the grandpa even gave us a brief characterization of the Zombie in the tub, that Phillip got the board game from.

    As I have mentioned before my expectations have lowered for the show.

    I mean, tell me the logic of driving the gas guzzling truck? Their departure was terribly planned and carried out. The tent thing has irked me for weeks, and sleeping with no guard, perilous.

    As another poster mentions, I do see the resemblance to the novels. I somewhat enjoyed the first two but not the recent release.
    ** (Note; Brian is the brother of Phillip who took his name before becoming the Governor)

    Because I enjoy the world built by the Walking Dead so much, I am willing to stick around.


    Viewer score: 52 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 20/11/2013 12:51am (6 years ago)

  • Was I just imagining it or did the episode begin with Phillip speaking with Carol??
    And can they possibly make Qui Gov Jinn look any more like Liam Neeson? :)

    Posted by Matt E., 19/11/2013 10:17pm (6 years ago)

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