Written by: John Edward Betancourt
There's a certain air of melancholy over here at the Girls of Geek offices. The mood is sour, everyone is a little drained, and with good reason; The Walking Dead is off the air until February. But alas, rather than mope at the fact that our Mondays have returned to true Mondays, we found a way to keep the excitement that only zombies can bring going, and what better a way to do it than sit down with all of you and discuss the first novel set in Robert Kirkman's zombie infested universe; The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
The world has been ravaged by an unexpected virus, one so grizzly that it has brought forth our worst nightmares; it resurrects the dead and they hunger for the living. Civilization collapses and outside of the city of Atlanta, two brothers; Philip and Brian Blake are doing their best to survive. Their only hope is to find somewhere away from all of the madness and live their lives free of terror. But they will quickly learn that their hopes and dreams are just that, for the world they live in now, is full of horrors that will change them from men, into monsters.
Let's get one thing straight about Rise of the Governor; this is no literary masterpiece. In fact I think the fiction world is still waiting for its own Dawn of the Dead when it comes to zombie novels. But if you are picking this book up, you're doing it for a few simple reasons. For one, you're a zombie fan, you love The Walking Dead and you love gore. Plus, you are damn curious to learn about what made Philip Blake, the Governor of Woodbury, one evil son of a bitch. But before we go any further let me give you a warning about this novel. Don't expect to see the same iconic villain you saw in the comic. This truly is an origin story, and you will spend a lot of time with the man, when he was just that, a regular guy.
In fact at times when you read this story, you may feel cheated. You may feel as though you aren't getting enough insight into Philip's twisted little mind, or that it feels rushed or that 308 pages is just too short of a story. If those thoughts come into your mind at any given time as you read the book, know that I agree. But I can tell you to stick with it. The ending of the book is the payoff to this unique story in The Walking Dead universe when you finally see, and no this isn't a spoiler, Blake become The Governor. If anything this book could be considered a philosophical exercise, because rather than hand us the answers it instead makes a greater point. That perhaps there is no process as to how someone "becomes" evil, it could have always been lurking within, just waiting for the right moment to escape.
As I reflect on the last eight episodes of The Walking Dead, the only word that comes to mind is "wow". I truly had no idea what a treat we were in for this year, and when the credits roll every single week I'm either wiping sweat from my brow, clutching my chest or taking deep breaths. This show is exhausting to watch and absolutely worth it. The "slow cook" approach that Seasons 1 and 2 took have now paid off in full, and we are all reaping the benefits of the best show on television. But what made this first half of the season so great? Let's take a closer look.
The Good: The biggest surprise of this year? Character development, at least when it comes to the primary cast. Finally we are getting to know this group inside and out. We have a better idea of who they were before the plague, and who they are becoming because of the circumstances surrounding them. It's made the show just that more compelling and it is raising the stakes as we deal with the dangers of Woodbury. Speaking of that tiny little town, it is a welcome change of pace to what we have seen in the series thus far. I know, a lot of folks watch it for the kills and for the gore, but Woodbury is a nice break from all of the blood and guts, at least for now. I have a feeling the second half of the season will turn the tables on the two safe havens in the show. Actually, I should correct myself, neither place is a safe heaven when we really get down to it. While Woodbury may provide a little bit more security, it's still dangerous, and the prison was definitely the most terrifying place on the show this year, and it gave us some of the show's greatest moments. I am of course referring to the blood bath that cost Lori and T-Dog their lives. Their loss was easily the hardest part of the season to watch, only because their deaths were completely heartbreaking. I don't want to say that Dale and Shane deaths weren't tragic in their own right, Dale's death was a complete surprise and left a void for sure, and let's face it, Shane was building toward the end, but there was finally growth in Lori from the raging bitch she was last year and there were those hints of reconciliation between her and Rick and well T-Dog was T-Dog. But you take all of those elements, throw in the wonder that is the Governor and this first half has been spectacular.
The Bad: I don't have too many complaints about this year to be honest, in fact there is only one glaring issue; the dividing line between principal cast and secondary cast. While we get top notch work out of the series regulars, the secondary characters and their development, screen time and well everything is a disappointment. The most glaring example of this issue, T-Dog. You all know my anger on how that went down, but we keep seeing it. Milton, Beth, Oscar, Hershel, the list goes on and on of talented actors who have brought so much to the show and now they just sit in the shadows. I've ranted about this before, and it is really is the only issue holding the show back, but there has to be a way to balance out everyone that is apart of this magical piece of television, I can only hope they figure out soon.
The Verdict: The Walking Dead has finally found its groove. Every episode flows and there isn't a wasted moment of screen time. I am always on the edge of my seat and always hungering for more. This is the best season to date by far, and the wait until February 10 is going to be absolute torture.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
It's a bittersweet day here at Girls of Geek. We get to celebrate the wonder that is The Walking Dead but on the downside, it's a celebration of the mid season finale. Which means we all have to sit and wait to see the resolution of last night's wild episode, "Made to Suffer".
The Good: Oh man, when I settled in to watch this episode, I came to realize that my anticipation and impatience to see the prison gang and the citizens of Woodbury was a waste of time, simply due to the fact that the rescue was the mere appetizer in what will become an incredible main course. Don't get me wrong, what played out on screen was great. Rick and company did a fine job risking life and limb to get Maggie and Glenn back, and kudos to the little guy for improvising on the fly to help break free of Woodbury's grip. We also got to meet a long time character in the comic, Tyreese when he and his cadre of survivors found a way into the prison. I take that back, they didn't find a way, it was right there ready to go, and a hole that big can only mean trouble in future episodes. But the big story here tonight was Woodbury. Not just the rescue, but the Governor once again. I don't think it is a bad thing by any means that we have spent so much time there this season, or that in a way the focus has shifted toward Philip Blake and his attempt to recreate life before the plague. There is something building here and the payoff will be worth it. In fact, the Governor was perhaps at his most disturbing tonight. Between the scene with Penny, the rage that he displayed when Michonne put her down and the complete change in him we all witnessed when the dust had settled. He was controlled evil before this night, now I fear the monster is unleashed. The other big highlight was of course the reuniting of the Dixon boys, and the show delivered on a hunch of mine, the reunion was in no way pleasant. Unfortunately for Daryl, his brother's cowardice and "save my own skin" mentality has the both of them in trouble since our last glimpse of Woodbury for this year was Andrea stunned to see an old friend, and the Dixon boys in a bit of hot water, with the crowd calling for their deaths.
The Bad: The fact that we have arrived at the mid season finale. It's going to be a long wait to see how Rick and the gang get Daryl, and possibly Merle out this mess and already the wait is killing me.
The Verdict: Another incredible episode in what is clearly becoming the best season for the series thus far. If the second half is anything like the first half I will have to invest in more Tums and possibly a handkerchief for the tears, yes I have misted up a few times this year. But alas, before any of that can happen we must wait until February 10th of next year.