So… has he changed? Has the Governor’s post-Woodbury walkabout left him a new man, or rather, returned to the man we’ve seen hints that he once was, before “the turn,” before he lost his wife and daughter Penny? Or is the "Walking Dead” villain destined to make a comeback to evildoing, with Rick, Michonne, and the other prison dwellers taking the top spots on his hit list?
We’re down to just one more episode — Sunday’s “Dead Weight” — before the Dec. 1 midseason finale, and “TWD” producer Gale Anne Hurd talked to Yahoo TV about why the Governor fascinates viewers, the new approaches writers have used to tell stories this season, and the “incredibly intense” midseason finale.
Last week, we caught up with the Governor, a character we had all been waiting for. What is it about the Governor that fascinates fans so much? He really has become an epic character on the series.
I think that the Governor was certainly a character that a lot of fans of the comic book and the novels very much wanted to see on the show. The novel gave a lot more backstory, as well as a fully, well‑rounded character, because readers got to see him become the Governor, whereas in the comic book, he was already the Governor. We were able to do a little bit of both in the TV series.
So there was already a huge [desire] to see him by people who were familiar with the character, but then even fans who haven't delved into the greater “Walking Dead” world, I think, are really compelled by David Morrissey's portrayal of the Governor.
In spite of everything he’s done, it’s difficult not to like him. He was almost huggable in those scenes with Meghan, the little girl, in “Live Bait.”
I know, exactly. He's got incredible charisma. I keep reading online that people want him to have had a change of heart. They want him to be redeemed. I think that's a tribute to not only the writing, but also to David, who is bringing the character to life.
David Morrissey talks about the Governor's motivations in this "Talking Dead" clip:
The approach to the way the stories have unfolded so far this season has been unique. Why the decision to focus in on just a few characters at a time for certain episodes, or, as with last week’s “Live Bait,” just one regular character, the Governor?
We have a very large cast, and one of the things we realized last season was there were certain characters we weren't getting to know very well, like Tyreese and Sasha, and we wanted to give all of our fantastic actors in the cast their due.
We really wanted to be able to explore the characters that they are playing, and sometimes it involved multiple storylines, like during the epidemic when one group is on the road trying to get medicine and the others are back dealing with the flu crisis.
It’s a good problem to have — a large, very talented cast — but it does present challenges.
It does, but at the same time, we have such a great cast that we don't want to let any one of their characters down. They all have enormous numbers of fans, and when we introduce new characters, they have fans, too.
Will this format continue in the second half of the season next year?
I cannot talk about that.
Get a sneak peek at Sunday's episode, "Dead Weight," right here:
The second approach that has been really clever and fun for fans of the Governor novels is that a lot of the characters and storylines from those books have popped up, but in different ways, especially in “Live Bait."
Absolutely. There are some Easter eggs for people who really know the “Walking Dead” universe very well, like the Governor — Philip — taking the name Brian, which, of course, in the life of the Governor is the name of his brother, and encountering a family. We did the family a bit differently, but there are elements that are similar, although quite different things happen.
One thing a lot of viewers commented on from “Live Bait”: the “Sketti Rings” the Governor was given. Those were SpaghettiOs on that plate, right?
Were you not allowed to actually call them SpaghettiOs?
That is correct.
This season has been so tension-filled that it feels like the midseason finale came up really quickly. A big part of that is that they’ve faced so many major problems this season, and get sometimes only a few minutes of breathing room before something else happens, that they learn they can never get comfortable thinking they’ve learned how to navigate this new world.
Isn't that life, though? Really, it's a metaphor for life. When you think you have it all figured out, that's exactly when life is there to give you a little reminder that you don't. The difference is that in most people's lives, those reminders are not life-or-death problems, but in the apocalypse, they are.
When we spoke with Andrew Lincoln before the season premiere, he said he thinks the midseason finale is the biggest thing the show has ever attempted to do. Do you agree with that assessment?
Oh yeah, absolutely. It's a nine‑day [production] episode, as opposed to our typical eight. It's intense. It is incredibly intense.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.