For the comic book fans who worried that The Walking Dead's version of the Governor would not live up to the evil and dastardly dictator in the graphic novels, last Sunday's episode proved that David Morrissey's take on Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) most formidable foe is just as dangerous as the original.
After lulling the audience — and Andrea (Laurie Holden) — into a false sense of security, his true nature was revealed last Sunday after murdering a group of soldiers for their supplies and then enjoying a little viewing time in his special room... filled with decapitated heads in fish tanks. Special. So what does the Governor ultimately want? TVGuide.com turned to showrunner Glen Mazzara to get the scoop on what's in store for this version of the Governor, including what other comic book aspects we may see. Plus: Why is he so darn interested in how walkers work? [Warning: Some spoilers from The Walking Dead comics below.]
Showing the Governor and his stash of heads in the tanks was such a shocking moment in the comics. How did the idea to use that particular moment come about?
Glen Mazzara: It was important. There were several things that the Governor has or does in the comic book that we thought were very important to get upfront right away. Our take on the Governor is that he's charming, he's duplicitous, he's unpredictable, but at the end of the day, he is a dark character. I was afraid that if we kept too much of that material at bay that fans would feel, "This is not the Governor from the comic book!" So what we're doing with those heads in the fish tanks by having them at the end of the first episode in which you meet them, we're saying, "Yes, this is our take. This is a recognizable character. This is the guy from the comic book. We're going to do it our way. We're going to tell our story. We're going to flesh him out." In a way, that scene is a promise to the comic book fans that we realize how important this character is to them and we mean to deliver.
In that same vein, in the moment right before that, we see him look at a family photo and we can assume this is his family member Penny.
We didn't actually see her, though. Have you completely ruled that out or is that and other aspects from comic book Woodbury still on the table?
Mazzara: We just started! Everything is on the table. Obviously, in the comic book he brutally rapes Michonne (Danai Gurira). There's an expectation that the minute he meets Michonne in Episode 3, he should just brutally rape her right there. The fans are calling for this. There's a whole story to be told. We just met the guy and he's a major character. We're building this season, and perhaps future seasons, around him.
You're keeping the dastardly side of him on the table, and yet you're developing an attraction between Andrea and the Governor that didn't actually exist in the comics.
Mazzara: It's interesting. There's a texture. It makes him more unpredictable. The fact that he goes back and forth between good and evil, it makes him feel more real and accessible. It's more complicated. If the Governor is a straightforward villain from the beginning, then you just really get into an escalation of violence every week. We're more interested in a sinister twist and turn every week.
Through the introduction of Milton (Dallas Roberts), this version of the Governor seems to be even more interested in the walkers and how they work. What can you tease as to why he cares so much?
Mazzara: I think he cares about these walkers because it's a major problem. He has to understand this. If he can control walkers, or if he could understand them, that lays in with his agenda, which I think is not just power over a little town; I think this guy wants to build an empire. I think he sees himself as a historical figure on the world's stage. He sees himself as a future emperor. By controlling walkers, he can control people.
Knowing how much of a dangerous, well-oiled machine the Woodbury crew is, what can you tease of their first interaction with the prison?
Mazzara: That's actually very surprising, very interesting and very plausible. It's very much a thrill ride. I'm very proud of the way the writers constructed that story. It's coming. People will not have to wait that long. We still have some stuff to get up and running, but I think it's pretty exciting. I'm really, really happy with it.
Do you think Rick & Co. can stand up against the Governor? Do you like how he's been depicted so far?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.