Warning: Spoilers for the latest “Walking Dead” lie ahead.
With so much time spent on Rick Grimes and his downward spiral of delusion lately, you could be forgiven for forgetting about the Governor and his own unique forms of psychosis. But after the most recent episode of the AMC drama, titled “Prey,” the one-eyed dictator’s mental state is plainly clear: This is a deeply dangerous and disturbed individual.
But there’s another school of thought that says the Governor is more clear-headed now than he’s been all season long. That school of thought belongs to David Morrissey , the actor who plays the Governor on “The Walking Dead.” Speaking with MTV News about the pulse-pounding events of “Prey,” Morrissey says that the Governor’s goal of vengeance is so razor-focused that little else matters to him right now — which means the safety of sharp-shooter Andrea, held captive in the Governor’s torture chamber at the end of the episode, is far from guaranteed.
Read on for more of Morrissey’s thoughts on where the Governor currently stands.
MTV: As if it wasn’t already clear, this episode solidified that Phillip isn’t exactly the sanest man in the room. Doesn’t seem like he’s doing so well.
David Morrissey: Yeah, maybe not so well. [Laughs] But it might depend on where you’re coming from on that. Before Penny was brutally taken away from him, before he was attacked and before his town was attacked, he was in a place where he was finding himself. His objectives were many. He was wondering how best to run this town and how to keep these people in check. He had many ways he could turn and many cards to play. But since the attack and the killing of Penny and the taking of his eye, there’s something of a liberation of the man from a motivation point of view. He’s just after revenge now. It’s a very dark place, and a very brutalized place, but having one objective is a central place for a human being. It’s a very scary place for the victims of that, but in a way, he’s in a much clearer place. He has a clarity to life now, just one objective: revenge, and that’s the elevator he’s traveling on. He doesn’t have many paths to tread anymore, he just has one. He’s pursuing that with brutal efficiency.
MTV: There’s even a line in this episode when he’s talking to Milton, who is pleading with the Governor that revenge isn’t necessary. The Governor says something to the effect of, “revenge is all that matters.”
Morrissey: That’s right. And I think what complicates matters with any sort of negotiation, or politics, or in our lives, is multiple opinions. It’s that idea that the series covered in [season two]. Do we live in a democracy, or do we live in a world where everything goes through me? There’s a sense when we live in challenging situations, very volatile situations, that the loudest voice and the strongest person comes to the fore because it isn’t a democracy. He does have that clarity about one objective, that this is all that matters, this revenge.
MTV: The Governor’s fixation on Michonne is pretty clear — she killed Penny and took his eye. What’s his fixation on Andrea about, from your perspective?
Morrissey: When you look at leaders like him, what they demand is absolute loyalty. “When I want your opinion, I’ll ask you for it.” With Andrea, he can see that she’s torn between him and her old life, the life she led with Rick and his group. I think he feels terribly betrayed by that. I think he demands total loyalty not just of Andrea, but of Milton and the people around him. That’s how he saw Merle and he felt betrayed by Merle. When we look at leaders like that, they do demand loyalty from the people around them. Whenever they smell disloyalty and betrayal, they come down hard on it. And I think he loved her. I think he absolutely loved her. That loyalty felt deeper to him; they shared something with deep intimacy. I think he felt that he and Andrea could really build something together.
MTV: And it doesn’t help that the one guy who has been completely loyal to him the whole time, Milton, looks to have betrayed him as well.
Morrissey: He can see with Milton that Milton has done an act of betrayal, but he can also see that Milton is frightened. He sees a fear there. The Governor feels that he and Milton have a dream together, that there’s something about the future that they were going to build together — and this man has slightly reneged on that, or has started to question my character’s authority. That’s very worrying for the Governor. We know he isn’t a totally rational man, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. Obviously I can’t give much away, but I think he feels very different to the betrayal of Milton than the betrayal of Andrea. With Milton, they had a world plan, a real plan for the future together. There were no secrets with Milton. He let Milton completely into his worldview, which he didn’t with Andrea. I think that betrayal hits harder for him as well.
But you still see the Governor playing games, with Tyreese, how he reacts to him is very interesting. He’s covered in blood, but he’s standing there and he’s working these people, side-stepping them and courting them and sort of flirting with them. He’s offering them sanctuary in a way. It’s very seductive, how he plays with those people. It’s interesting that he can still play that dance. While people like Andrea and Milton are slipping away and betraying him, he’s still grooming other people to come on board and follow him. He’s able to do those things. Leaders do that all the time. When they see one person heading for the exit, they’re able to grab other people who are walking in through the door and recruit them. The Governor is very skilled at that.
MTV: Looking forward, we know that the Governor has offered Rick an olive branch — if Rick hands over Michonne, the Governor will spare the prison. But we also know the Governor doesn’t mean to make good on that deal, and on top of that, he has Andrea captured in that torture room. Fans of the comics might be able to guess at some of what’s coming up there. As the season is about to wrap up, what can we expect from the Governor and his plans?
Morrissey: I think what we’ve just seen in this episode is that the Governor is dealing with internal betrayal, within his own group, whilst he’s also planning and plotting to attack another group. In order to do that, one has to keep many plates spinning. I think what we see going forward is this idea of spinning plates. There’s a meeting in the cards, there’s a deal on the table as far as Rick’s group is concerned. And what he’s banking on is that Rick is tempted by that deal. I think it makes sense to a man like Rick: do you sacrifice the many for the individual? He’s appealing to the man’s better nature. But in his own camp, he’s dealing with betrayal. There’s a sense of the Governor in that bunker, looking at his generals and wondering, “Who is going to back me up? Who is going to stab me in the back?” He’s juggling those balls all of the time, and because he knows his back is against the wall, he’s a very, very dangerous fox. In the season, what we’ve seen so far is the Governor is happy to let others do his dirty work. And what we’re starting to see is that he’s going to do the dirty work himself.
MTV: One final question for you. We’ve seen the Governor’s missing eye a few times now, and it’s pretty gross to look at. How grueling is the makeup process for the wounded eye?
Morrissey: It’s like baking a cake. Sometimes you follow the recipe and it goes totally fine and I can wear it for hours and hours and hours. Other times, it goes on exactly the same, and it drives me mad. [Laughs] There’s no rhyme or reason to it! It can be the most comfortable thing, and it can be the most absolutely torturous thing to wear. I never know which way it’s going to go. Sometimes when it’s not comfortable, I don’t tell anyone about it, and I play with it in this sort of masochistic way. But what I love about the world we inhabit in “The Walking Dead,” is it’s like a medieval or wild west world where people wear their scars with pride. It’s not a world of vanity, where people are trying to hide their scars and wounds they’ve collected along the way. They have no choice but to wear them. And it says a lot about them. I love that. I love that it’s not a vain world that these people inhabit. The Governor wears that scar with pride.
What do you think of the Governor’s plans? Are you worried for Andrea? Let us know what you think in the comments below!