Whoa. Did The Governor just become legit with a fist bump? In all seriousness, tonight’s Phillip-centric episode was a somber work of brilliance. Separated from his former Woodbury thugs, Phillip is in dire shape as he travels alone. He pauses to watch his beloved Woodbury burn to the ground. Even then I was feeling a surprising amount of empathy. Does he truly deserve it or was this episode so well done that we had no choice but to ponder The Governor’s traumatic past?
The first scene of Phillip tonight might have showcased his internal struggle best. He sits alone at a fire when a walker shambles out towards him. She falls and crawls clueless through the fire. He doesn’t even glance at the scene before him and one of his thugs puts a bullet in her head. Nearly catatonic, the once powerful leader forcibly delved into his recent decisions and actions. Disheveled and weak, he watches his beloved Woodbury burn. This was one of the many scenes that played on my empathy tonight.
Finally on the verge of collapsing, he meets a family living in a local apartment building. The family of four reluctantly takes him in and gives him food and shelter. Nearly unable to communicate, Phillip grunted and flinched his way through the evening. The family consisted of two girls, their dad, and a granddaughter . The dad isn’t long for the world and he eventually passes. He turns quickly only to be dispatched by Phillip, or “Brian” as he takes for his name. He took the name from a communal message board used to communicate the missing and found of the community. The big deal tonight was Phillip’s bonding with the granddaughter, Megan. Once they connected, his role turned into one of a protector, culminating when he killed a group of zombies with his bare hands. All that because Megan was in danger. Looks like someone has a new “daughter”.
Rick and the gang were totally absent tonight, giving Phillip the entire hour to show us his desire to change and get back to the man he once was. Is he deserving of forgiveness after committing such atrocities last season? Now on the road with his new ready-made family, will this terrible man redeem himself? Is he headed for a confrontation with Rick or has he forgotten those old grudges? Live Bait was a wonderful example of the show’s often amazing characterizations and only makes the human side of the series that more pronounced and necessary. Great episode.