[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk!]
For comic book fans who had complained that David Morrissey wasn't quite the Governor they were expecting, Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead finally really introduced the sadistic, eye patch-wearing bastard we know and hate.
After Michonne (Danai Gurira) killed his zombie daughter Penny and stabbed him in the eye, the Governor we've come to know died — metaphorically at least. Born anew was the uber-sadistic Governor from the comics, who is known for actually raping Michonne, cutting off Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) hand and storming the prison in a battle that actually lead to Lori's (Sarah Wayne Callies) death. Although Lori is already dead on the TV series, there is still plenty of damage this Governor can cause in when the third season returns since he holds the fates of brothers Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) in his hands and is on the warpath to kill Michonne. But will Andrea (Laurie Holden) be able to prevent any of this?
To get the scoop on what's in store for the show's return, TVGuide.com turned to executive producers Robert Kirkman and Glen Mazzara, who also dish on the surprise return of another character, the upcoming Woodbury/prison showdown and another character joining the fray in the latter half of the season. Get the scoop below:
Was the Governor losing his eye and losing Penny the turning point to make him more similar to the vicious Governor of the comic books?
Glen Mazzara: Without a doubt. People were asking us, "This guy doesn't look like the Governor in the comic book!" I was thinking, "Well, let's watch him!" When he was introduced he didn't have an eye patch in the comic book, he got one! Look at what he'll do to protect Woodbury. He'll kill National Guards and he'll have a wall of fish tanks with severed heads. That's just to be able to [have comforts like the town] picnics. Now, think of what this guy is capable of when he wants revenge. At a point when Rick and Michonne are at very weak points — and Rick is actually losing his mind — the Governor is bent on their destruction. He's furious. He knows where the prison is. He feels betrayed by Merle. He feels like it's all crashing down and he's desperate. He's pissed off and he's coming after them. That's the story for the second half of the season.
Kirkman, you wrote this episode. Was it fun for you to write this turning point for the Governor?
Robert Kirkman: Yeah, when everything was getting mapped out in the season and it became clear that I was going to be writing those scenes in this episode, I was absolutely thrilled. Having that big confrontation between the Governor and Michonne is something that's really important to the life of the show and definitely a turning point in this season.
The Governor has Merle and Daryl at bay. Is there any chance they could survive?
Kirkman: There's always a chance, but it certainly doesn't look good. What are the odds on that? Are both of them going to survive? That certainly seems unlikely. Is one of them going to die? I don't know. Could both of them die? You never really know on this show. It's certainly something I'm going to be biting my nails over for the next two months.
The Governor knows Merle is his best fighter, so why give him up? Does he actually think Merle has turned against him or is he just a scapegoat to scare the town of Woodbury?
Kirkman: He lost his eye because of Merle. He sent Merle to kill Michonne. Not only did he fail to succeed in that task, but he also activated her and made her aware that the Governor had sent him to kill her, sending her on the path that resulted in her coming back, taking his eye and killing his daughter. So he doesn't really care what kind of benefit Merle is going to provide him now; he's completely turned on that guy.
Mazzara: The Governor's going to sanitize his version of the story. Now, Andrea knows the truth and that's going to require a different story on his part. There's a lot of great character stuff coming up. We certainly don't lighten up on the pace. We don't lighten up on the horror in the back half. But now that all of the different story lines have been introduced, it'll be interesting to be able to push in and spend time with these characters. I'm not saying the show will slow down in any sense, it doesn't. It gets crazier. But all of the characters are now on stage, except for one. There's still one more character coming in the back half.
A comic book character?
Mazzara: Can't say, but all of the characters are now on stage except for one.
Will Andrea step up or is she too far on the Governor's side?
Kirkman: We're certainly seeing a lot of cracks forming in her relationship with the Governor. She's now aware of Penny, she's seen the fish tanks, she's seen what this guy is capable of and a little bit of what is going on behind the scenes. Now she's aware that Daryl is in the mix. There's a lot of questions for her to ask coming out of this episode. It's a big unknown where her loyalties will actually lie when all the chips are down on the table.
Mazzara: A lot has been said online about Andrea. I think Andrea has made choices that are very rational. Woodbury has been a very reasonable place to live and she's been trying to fit in. Andrea is looking for a home. Now that the veil has been lifted and she has seen what is really going on, it's going to be very interesting to see that strong character in motion. She's the connective tissue. She's the point where those two worlds collide. She has a foot in both worlds now. That's very interesting. She really has quite a journey ahead of her.
Could Andrea ever turn against the group?
Mazzara: I think the Governor would love for her to turn against the group. We'll see what happens.
Was that standoff between Andrea and Michonne the end of their friendship/alliance?
Mazzara: That's a story to be told. How do those characters ever come back together? There's certainly a moment of shock. In a way, that particular moment is where it all shatters for both characters. Andrea has felt that she's achieved her dream of living in a safe place and maybe having a relationship with someone like the Governor. That all shatters. Then you have Michonne. Look at what's happening in that room! She's just stabbed this guy in the eye. She stabbed the little girl in the head. There's fish tanks all over the place. She could not sink lower. I think she realizes that she has hit rock bottom. What is her life going to be like if she continues in this world alone? That's why she makes the choice to go back to Rick at the end of the episode. She doesn't want to be alone because she just realizes she's on the road to death.
Do you think the group can ever trust Michonne?
Kirkman: That's the real question. She certainly hasn't given them too much to go on. They have reason to distrust her, but I think, coming out of this episode, Michonne is a bit of a different person to a certain extent. In this episode, she feels like she's lost Andrea forever. She feels like she really doesn't want to be alone in this world. So she might work towards getting that trust. We're going to see a little bit of a different Michonne in the second half of the season.
Mazzara: Rick is not willing to take in strangers. We've seen that. He has no reason to. It just only causes trouble. He's only lost his wife because that decision. So why would he ever want to take in this crazy woman with a sword? She's going to have to earn her way.
How does Michonne still not realize the identities of the people she's with? Andrea has to have mentioned even their names in passing. Or does she?
Kirkman: Well, that's certainly a possibility. I will also say that they were killing a lot of zombies over the winter. Andrea even admitted she doesn't know a great deal about Michonne, so the extent she's given information about the previous group she was with is a big unknown, which would certainly explain why Michonne wouldn't seem to be picking up on who these people are just yet.
Will the Governor be on a personal mission to kill Michonne now? And might that affect his judgment and ability to keep people in Woodbury safe?
Kirkman: Ah, you're very wise. He's definitely going to be changing his tactics and taking the threat from the prison a little more seriously coming out of this episode. This has sent him on the warpath to a certain extent. The coming conflict is going to get a little bit crazier quite a bit quicker.
Mazzara: It refocuses him. He's always a very intelligent mercurial character. He's willing to sacrifice anything to achieve his goals. It'll be interesting to see what happens to those people of Woodbury.
Will we now see the Governor take the fight to the prison?
Kirkman: It stands to reason, to a certain extent, that we've seen an assault on Woodbury already, so by nature we'd expect an assault on the prison as retaliation.
Daryl was the No. 2 for Rick in place of Shane, but will Tyrese (Chad Coleman), whom we finally met in this episode, fulfill his comic book destiny and fill that role given the circumstances?
Kirkman: If Daryl were to die in the next episode, that would leave some shoes to be filled, but whether or not that happens remains to be seen. I think Tyrese is definitely going to be a vastly important character to the show, much the same way he was in the comic. I would expect big things from that guy. I've been pushing for [his introduction] for a really long time. There's just always been some reason why is wasn't good to introduce that character just yet. There's been a lot of pitches on the table. It's always just not come together. It finally came together! And also to get Chad Coleman, who was my pick to get Tyrese before the show even existed, I'm just really thrilled to have him on board and he's doing a great job. I think people are really going to dig Tyrese in the show.
Mazzara: Tyrese is a major character. He's not someone we're just introducing and then just pushing to the background. He will have an effect on all of our characters. I consider him a fourth element at play. Tyrese and his group are a new element that we've put in to complicate things. Tyrese is tied into this story we are telling right now and he's there to service the Woodbury/prison war.
What a surprise to have Jon Bernthal back! Was his appearance in the midseason finale the reason Shane wasn't a part of the phone calls from beyond the grave?
Kirkman: Yeah, it was a little bit of preserving that moment. It definitely comes out of left field and it's something we're extremely proud that it didn't leak and it's a big surprising thing. Also, I don't think that Rick's subconscious really wants to talk to Shane yet. He's still mad.
Mazzara: We broke in the writers' room the idea that we'd have this visual hallucination with Shane before we wrote the script with the phone calls, so we preserved Shane's presence because we felt the maximum impact was to actually see him walking up with his shotgun.
Might we see Shane appear again at some point so Rick finally confronts what he did?
Mazzara: Rick's sanity is really in question. He's really suffering from the trauma of losing his wife in such a horrific way. He's not on the road to health any time soon, OK?
Do you hope Daryl survives? Are you glad Michonne stuck it to the Governor? Or do you fear she's created a monster? And which character do you think is coming in the second half of the season? Could Morgan (Lennie James) finally return? Hit the comments!
The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, Feb 10 at 9/8c.