The Walking Dead Coverage: For a Brief Moment, There Was Brian Heriot

In “Dead Weight” audiences watch the return of the Governor. Although he technically came back in “Live Bait,” it was only in body but not in spirit. In that episode, viewers watched a man find peace in a chaotic world. The love of family brought him back from spiritual despair. For a brief moment he was Brian Heriot.

Sadly, it was not meant to be. Once he takes his new family out into the world of Walkers, he cannot be Brian. The ghosts of the past are never far behind. They will not let the Governor die.

Writer, Scott Gimple, gives viewers insight into this character. He is not some diabolical creature, but a man who is conflicted and haunted. One haunting is revealed in the first few minutes of this episode. The Governor tells Megan his father beat him at chess and pretty much beat him at anything. The line is delivered to indicate a violent upbringing. Yet, he is determined not to be that father to Megan. He tells her she is good when she asks him if she is bad. He reassures her that the people she loves will be fine. She declares that they will all survive because they are all good, but he does not answer her. He can’t.

His inability to agree with Megan is made clear when the Governor recalls the time he stole his father’s cigarettes when he was a boy. He and his older brother hid in the family garage to smoke. Their father caught them and was enraged. As his father moved to attack them, his older brother blocked his father with his body to protect his younger brother. He even took the blame for taking the cigarettes. It’s a story of terrible sadness, but also of great love. His older brother was willing to sacrifice himself for him. It was a moment that should have consoled him. He was not alone with that violent father.There was someone who loved him so much that he was willing to take on fear and pain for him.

The Governor can’t see that. He reveals that even after what his brother did, he and his brother were still beaten by their father. He sarcastically refers to his brother as “The hero.” In the Governor’s world, heroics are exercises in futility. He is reminded of that after joining Martinez’s camp. He quietly watches Martinez and his men lead. He endures their insults and follows their orders. He soon realizes Martinez and his men cannot protect his new family. He does not want to take over Martinez’s camp, so he leaves. He does not want to hurt anyone and take power. He wants to be noble and good, so he drives away with his family. However, the road he has taken is blocked by a pit filled with Walkers. It’s a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno. The Walkers seem to be in quicksand. The bottom half of their bodies are stuck in the pit, but they reach out to him as he moves closer to the pit, trying to pull him in. He cannot get away from the Walkers, his past, and the Governor.

His fear of reliving the loss of his family drives him to become a ruthless killer. His lack of faith in love and humanity convinces him he is right. Thus, he shuffles off the spiritual coil of Brian Heriot. He resurfaces as the Governor and tells his second in command, “I will do everything it takes to protect this camp. You join me, and I promise you never have to worry about whether you do the right thing or the wrong thing, because we will do the only thing.”

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