A sign of things to come? I can only hope that the show recreates this single comic panel verbatim.
My first exposure to THE WALKING DEAD source material was much like a drug dealer handing out free samples… it pulled me in and gave me a zombie-esque appetite for more. “More” finally arrived from Amazon earlier today and I already blew through it in about four hours. Now I am caught up to where I assume this current season will end and there are certainly some astounding differences, especially in the character of The Governor. But even with the glaring departures, I can see how this season can easily calibrate with the source material to plausibly follow it more closely moving forward.
In my last post comparing the show to the comic, I was fairly torn between which one was superior. There were certain pros and cons about each one leading up to The Governor’s introduction, although now that he has come and gone by way of the comics, I need to give massive props to the comic as being heads and shoulders above the show in regards to the overall Woodbury storyline (which is saying quite a bit seeing as the third season has been excellent thus far).
Warning: Massive potential spoilers ahead which may or may not give away the remainder of the season. Head inside at your own risk:
In the show, DAVID MORRISSEY’S portrayal of The Governor is that of a fairly sympathetic character. Even though he stooped to some fairly low lows in murdering the military detachment and torturing Glen and Maggie, it was always under the guise of keeping his people safe. On the other side of things, he seems to be a tragically devoted father to his zombified daughter and the only fundamental reason that he wants to exact revenge on Rick’s group is that they wronged him and his town. It’s interesting how the show starts to blur the line between good and bad showing Rick almost being a tad more of a jerk at times than The Governor ever was.
Now tear that script in half and enter the comic. The Governor is one crazy, violent, disturbed, sadistic and perverted son of a bitch. And this all becomes obvious about three pages after he’s introduced. In the book Rick, Michonne and Glen leave to follow the smoke plume from the crashed helicopter when they inadvertently stumble upon Woodbury. Everything seems hunky-dory for about two pages until The Governor shows them their fighting arena and hoard of captive zombies. Rick asks him what they feed the zombies to keep them alive and The Governor responds with a great line “Well stranger, we feed them strangers.”
Everything instantly goes crazy from there. The Governor cuts off Rick’s already-mangled hand and throws Glen and Michonne into makeshift prisons made out of garages. Here’s where things get really twisted. The Governor ties up Michonne and does things to her that no grown man should ever do to a woman. Repeatedly. All Glen is able to hear is her screams and cries over two or three days’ time.
Rick is helped by a doctor and his assistant who hold no love for The Governor. Teaming up with one of the wall guards, they break out Glen and Michonne and escape. Michonne leaves them right before jumping clear of the wall to pay a personal visit to The Governor. Once she gets him where she wants him, she repays the unspeakable acts he did to her with even more unspeakable acts that are inappropriate even for a largely standard-less blog as MWTVG. Think power tools except that Michonne was not remodeling a bathroom. She leaves him for dead sans arm and eye (amongst other sensitive parts).
Oh, and his daughter that he has tied up in his home? Not his daughter, actually his niece, whom he does not treat all that nicely either.
The wall guard who aided in the escape turns out to be a royal douche and runs from the prison to tell The Governor where to find Rick. Rick winds up gunning him down and blowing up a cache of ammunition nearby. This clues The Governor in to where the prison is located. After The Governor fully recovers from his many wounds, they stage a frontal assault on the prison complete with jeeps, tanks and most of the citizens of Woodbury. Rather than admit what actually happened with Rick, The Governor tells everybody that Rick is a murderer and monster and deserves to die.
On a fairly unrelated note, Carol is a very strange pseudo-nymphomaniac with deep seated acceptance issues in the comic book. After being rejected by Lori for a three-way marriage between her, Lori and Rick, she finds that the only ‘person’ who can relate to her is one of the walkers whom she feels compelled to hug, which understandably breaks badly for her.
A very intense battle ensues which claims the lives of basically everybody. The Governor hacks off Tyreese’s head with Michonne’s sword in front of everybody. Rick’s group puts up one heck of a good fight but are no match for The Governor’s insanity/tank. One of the Woodbury women, grief-stricken over accidentally shooting Rick’s baby fires a bullet into the back of The Governor’s head and kicks him into a pack of walkers. At the end of the book, the only clear survivors are Rick and Carl who are on the top of a hill well outside of the prison’s safety fences. There are a few living Woodburians who escape further into the prison which was overrun by walkers after The Governor’s tanks plowed over the fences, and Michonne is presumably alive. The fate of Andrea and a few others who fled in the RV is unclear as Andrea was technically hit by a truck but not shown to die.
Bear in mind that Daryl and Merle do not exist in the comic, so their fates will be a mystery until revealed in the show. In my opinion, it would be a shame to introduce Tyreese this late into the season only to kill him off a few episodes later.
At this point, I’m torn as to which characterization of The Governor I like better. DAVID MORRISSEY does an excellent job as an actor, but is nowhere near what The Governor should be. I completely understand why fans of the comic are so critical of Morrissey’s portrayal. On one hand I like how the TV Governor’s true anger stems from tragedy rather than pure insanity, but I think the show missed some major opportunities to show how brutal he really is.
They tried to allude to his sadism with the awkward scene where he forced Maggie to strip, but that is ultra-tame compared to the torture he aimed at Michonne in the comics. Which was also interesting, seeing as Michonne really didn’t have a huge excuse to be so angry at him in the show other than the fact that he was mildly prickish to her from the get-go.
One last gripe… why did the show need to resort to ghost-Lori in the last episode? It really cheapened the slow mental degradation of Rick and could have been handled much more elegantly. If there’s one thing to say about the comics, it’s that it is based in plausible reality, not needing to resort to super powers, ghosts, or ESP like alot of other similar movies/shows turn to. The book itself is really not so much about zombies (ironically) as it is about the people and their interpersonal relationships as being affected by the circumstances around them. And that’s what makes it so unique. Stupid ghost-Lori… how about we not do that again.
Decisions like these might start to hint at the root cause of why ROBERT KIRKMAN (comic creator) canned GLEN MAZZARA as showrunner in favor of a professed uber-fan of the comics, SCOTT GIMPLE.
At the rate that the show is heading, I can see a very similar result where essentially everybody dies minus Rick and Carl. If this ends up not being the case, SCOTT GIMPLE has some big explaining to do in the start of season 4. Granted, I still have two more of these monster omnibus editions to read through so I might be off base with a couple of my assumptions…
Can’t wait to see what transpires on the show. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a new episode and check back here shortly afterwords for expert analysis, guaranteed 10 times more insightful and at least 15 times less douchey then whatever CHRIS HARDWICK has to say.