The Walking Dead Season 4 Review “Live Bait”

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 6 Live Bait (2)

He’s baaaa-aaaack!

Yes, after being conspicuously absent from the first five episodes of this fourth season (save a brief cameo last week), The Governor made his big return in tonight’s Walking Dead installment “Live Bait”. We all knew he’d be back eventually, but how he returned and why were always the more interesting questions.

The episode opened with a flashback, as we see what happened immediately after The Governor slaughtered all of the Woodbury folks in last season’s finale. Seeing all of those poor, innocent people splayed all over the field was just as affecting tonight as it was last season. The long shot with Woodbury burning behind The Governor was a little gratuitous, though. It seemed like they just threw that cool looking shot in so they could use it for promotional purposes (and as you can see by the above picture, it worked).

One of my biggest questions after The Governor’s actions last season were whether or not his wingmen Caesar and Bowman would stick around with him. They’d seen him do some pretty terrible stuff, but the slaughter of innocents seemed like a bridge too far. Well, it appeared that they did part ways in the beginning of the episode, but the reason isn’t quite clear. I mean, if they wanted to part ways with him because of what he did, then they wouldn’t have even got back in the car with him, right? No, they stuck around long enough for that cool scene with the walker at the bonfire, but then they parted after that. Caesar didn’t seem to like the way that The Governor was completely checked out, but that was an odd place to draw the line. Either way, this left The Governor open to meet up with a new family, one that was unaware of his murderous past.

Tonight introduced us to several new characters, with Tara the fake cop, Lilly the sexy nurse, and Megan the Penny substitute. I liked seeing even more people tonight that were just holed up in a house and didn’t really know how to function in a zombie apocalypse. We saw Sam and Ana two weeks ago in “Indifference” with a very similar situation, so I think it’s smart for them to flesh out the Walking Dead universe with characters who aren’t all survival experts or zombie killing machines. These ones didn’t even know that you’re supposed to aim for the head! Come on, that’s just zombies 101!

Tonight’s installment was the first to be directed by Michael Uppendahl, who is best known for directing another popular AMC drama, Mad Men. He’s done 9 episodes of that series, with some good and bad ones on that list, but you could really tell that this episode was in that same slow paced style. That may be all well and good if you’re telling a story about Don Draper and a advertising agency in the 60s and 70s, but it doesn’t really work for Walking Dead. People tune in to this show for the suspense and zombie killin’, so it was definitely a big risk to make this such a slow and contemplative hour. Especially considering that the last episode was one of the most stressful and suspenseful hours in Walking Dead history!

I’m also not entirely sure what the point of the episode was. You’d assume that the point is that we’re supposed to think of The Governor in a much more sympathetic light, and possibly even root for him a little bit, but…isn’t he still the villain? I guess we don’t know the reason for him standing outside of the prison last week. It could be that he’s simply going to show up and ask for his new family to come in and live with Rick and the gang, but I don’t see that happening. I don’t think that Rick, or especially Michonne, would be willing to let that slide. Plus, don’t people want to see The Governor and Rick duke it out? Isn’t that the big conflict that they were hyping up all of last season? It never really happened last season, so maybe they can make that the goal this time.

While “Live Bait” was a well acted and well directed episode of television, I can’t help but feel like it just muddied the waters. We’re still supposed to root for our group at the prison to take out the evil Governor, right? Either we’re going to end up seeing Rick kill off a character that this series is trying to make us feel sympathy for, or we’re working towards a resolution between Rick and The Governor that will not feel earned whatsoever. It seems like a lose-lose, so I’m hoping the Walking Dead writers are smarter than I am and have arrived at a more satisfying third option that I haven’t foreseen.

What do you think is going to happen? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– Yet another licensed track used tonight, with “The Last Pale Light In The West” by Ben Nichols being played during the opening montage. It appears that this is a new direction that they’re sticking with for this season, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. As long as they limit themselves to one song per episode, I think it’ll be fine. I just don’t want them to go all CW and have it be the entire soundtrack.

– Any fans of The Wire out there? The scene of The Governor teaching the little girl chess was very reminiscent of the season one scene of The Wire where D’Angelo taught Wallace and Bodie how to play. The whole thing with the king and the pawns was very similar. Hey, and Larry Gilliard is on both shows!

– Is it just me, or was that sex scene totally weird and out of place? I’d be surprised if that pops back up again or ends up being relevant at all.