The Walking Dead ‘Dead Weight’: The Governor’s killer identity crisis

The Governor (David Morrissey) and Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) in Season 4, Episode 7 of The Walking Dead -Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
The Governor (David Morrissey) and Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) in Season 4, Episode 7 of The Walking Dead -Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

In “Dead Weight,” Walking Dead episode 407, the Governor has to reaffirm his new identity, which means his old ways must creep in and take human lives.

In the previous Walking Dead episode, the Governor expertly addressed a pit of walkers, saving Meghan and proving he can still care about people. In “Dead Weight” the pit comes into play again, only the walkers aren’t the true danger. Rather than further re-establishing his humanity, the Governor arguably loses it again. A bunch of questions emerge. Why does he attack Martinez, the new designated leader of a new group of survivors? Is it simply because Martinez isn’t confident in his own leadership? Is the Governor jealous of Martinez? Is he just a murderer who needs to feed the need?

Those are all likely factors, but another one is simply that Martinez knew too much of the Governor’s past life, threatening his new identity as “Brian Heriot.” Not only could this expose the Governor as a liar, but also as a murderer and generally untrustworthy person. With his new family — his new life’s meaning — around, he doesn’t feel secure with vestiges of his past.

Yes, the Governor has cruel ways, but he always thinks he kills for the greater good. Of course, that greater good is always what elevates him above the rest! Tied in with his murder is a belief that he’s the center of his world. He may not always be animated by a grand vision, but by what instantly benefits his worldview. If someone even remotely challenges his dominance, he’ll beat ’em with a golf club and feed ’em to a pit of walkers. Then, after the fact, he’ll convince himself it was meant to be. Maybe the Governor doesn’t believe in “God’s plan,” but he’ll step in to play that role. Yes, he remains one of The Walking Dead’s most compelling characters.

Playing leader means playing God

Interestingly, “Dead Weight” suggests the Governor is hesitant to do all of this, but does it all rather swiftly anyway. He considered leaving the camp, but turned back due to a walker horde. Upon coming back, it seems to flip his dictatorship switch, reactivating his confidence as a “whatever-it-takes” style leader. He has killed and will kill again, and not as a last resort. His “walker trophies” remind him of his own power, but also reinforce notions of what he must face in order to survive. Martinez had too much self doubt, and Pete was too kind to be cruel. That’s why the Governor also kills him, weighs him down and puts him in a lake. As he watches Pete the walker in the water, the Governor literally stands high above him. He towers above and beyond Pete’s silly, childish ways.  A moment of affirmation?  You bet!

For someone like him, the lack of hesitation is always a strength. In this context, it’s actually an understandable view, even if full of pitfalls. When the dead are returning to devour the living, what time is there to think? Life in general is in crisis mode. Thinking is only necessary as a last resort. It’s a luxury he can’t afford! This is also evidenced by the lack of democracy in the new camp. Unfortunately, the camp is burdened with a series of lummoxes who think they deserve to lead everyone. For them, democracy is naïve, even unnatural.

If someone doesn’t rise as a natural leader, a process of determination is a waste of time! One may call this an “alpha male” thing, and the episode supports that premise. However, in the past, Michonne clearly demonstrated some Governor-like qualities. In other words, it’s probably not just a man thing (though they particularly excel at it).

The prison

The Governor’s obsession with the prison is kind of pathetic. After all, is it really that safe to begin with? Also, hasn’t it been shown that Rick and crew are forces to be reckoned with? Nevertheless, “Brian Heriot” sees it as a safe haven for his new family, and won’t let go. In a way, it is tantamount to stalking someone in a relationship.

For whatever reason, the Governor wants to build his life around this prison, and do whatever it takes tio make it happen. Also, quite simply, he does not like the way Michonne, Rick and the others challenged his authority. Although the new future is a tangled mess, it’s now “Brian Heriot’s” mess, and he’ll need to assemble a cleanup crew to pick it up. So the episode ends with Brian aiming a gun at Michonne and Hershel — two more elements from his past that need to go.

What are your thoughts on this Walking Dead episode? Let us know in the comments!