The past two weeks of The Walking Dead have raised a lot of questions regarding leadership, most notably the mental competency of Rick Grimes and his ability to effectively lead by example. Rick’s skills in the first two seasons helped his group to survive and persevere while learning to trust one another. they’ve been surviving and living, but in fear of anyone and everyone unassociated with them. From Glenn to Hershel, and most recently his own son, Carl, it also seems that the majority of the members living within the prison are having a difficult time maintaining confidence in Rick.
In a previous post, I made a comparison between Rick and Woodbury’s leader, The Governor. Both have recently experienced losses that have made them desperate and have left them as unpredictable, dangerous leaders. While they have both been shaped by their recent losses, those shapes are now becoming ever more distinct from one another.
Ever since Lori’s death, Rick has lost purpose and direction. He knows that his first priority is to protect his family and friends, but if he has any goals beyond that, we are unaware of them. Interacting with visions of the dead, he is clinging to the past, without giving a thought toward the future.
The Governor, on the other hand, has taken initiative ever since the assault on his town in which his daughter was permanently taken away from him. His losses have taken with them any vulnerability that he ever had. He is intent to torment the prison survivors and eventually destroy it. The attack on Woodbury is seen by The Governor as a wake up call to a community that had become soft and care-free. He is determined to make his people stronger, and is willing to use them for whatever means necessary to come out on top.
As an audience member, I feel just as lost as the characters within the show when it comes to whom should be trusted with the responsibility of leadership. While complex, The Governor is obviously villainous, which is convenient for us. Rick, on the other hand, with his good intentions combined and erratic behavior, make make him more detrimental to the group’s survival.
There is one thing that was brought up this week that I’m curious about. One is the training that The Governor is putting the citizens of Woodbury through. As I said, he’s rebuilding the town and making them stronger than they were before, but to what end? Merle reveals that The Governor outmatches Rick’s group in numbers and resources. He says that they will eventually all be targeted and killed one by one in front of Rick. At the end of last week’s episode, entitled Home, The Governor takes a team to the prison and wreaks havoc. A few gunshots are exchanged and he eventually leaves. From the impression that Merle gives, they should have been destroyed right there and then. If this is the case, then The Governor is merely toying with them, and this combat training in Woodbury is overkill for such an endeavor such as taking over the prison.
Maybe that’s just my interpretation, but I feel like the stakes are much higher than the mere survival of the prison group. What his true intentions are, and the possibilities of where this season might lead, both captures my imagination and fills my gut with dread.