[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.]
Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead was brutal. The virus took hold and starting killing people, who then, in turn, came back as zombies and started killing more people. We almost lost Glenn, and Sasha too. But the moment that will no doubt have people buzzing the most was the very last shot, which revealed the long-awaited return of the Governor. We saw the Woodbury villain staring at the prison in the distance. But what does it mean? Where has he been? And what comes next? I spoke to the man behind the eye patch, actor David Morrissey, to get some answers. (Also make sure to check out our Q&A with Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who talks about what to expect next with the Governor.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Well, sir, a very ominous reentry onto the show as we see the Governor spying on the prison. This guy just cannot let it go, can he?
DAVID MORRISSEY: He’s looking for safety, and the main thing for the prison is it’s the safe place to be. It’s the alternative of our world in the zombie apocalypse. The prison is a place of protection, not a place of incarceration, so that’s why he’s looking at it.
EW: So it’s not a personal vendetta?
MORRISSEY: He’s looking at the building, I would suggest, rather than the people in it. Although the people in it are an inconvenience, because they’re in his way of getting safety. But it’s more about the building than the people.
EW: So I know we’re now going to finally find out what the Governor has been up to since we saw him slaughtering his own and disappearing with his two foot soldiers, and I know it will involve flashbacks showing what happened to him in the aftermath of that. What else can you tell us about what we are going to see?
MORRISSEY: What you see at the end of this last episode is that he’s fit, he looks well, he looks healthy — so he’s ready for confrontation in whatever form that takes. So our questions are piqued at the end of episode 5 and that’s where we’ll go in episode 6. We’ll see a bit more of where he’s been in the ensuing months. I think it’s fair to say that at the end of season 3 we left him in a very difficult space. He had turned on his own people and he didn’t do that with any pleasure. He’s not somebody who was doing that in any premeditated way. It comes out of him in a quite spontaneous anger. It’s like a red mist has descended on him and I think what we’ll see in the coming episodes is someone who is coming to terms with that new person that we saw at the end of season 3 — whether he’s embracing that person or fighting that person. That is what we will see. He’s changed. He’s definitely changed. That is fair to say. And what we will see is where that change has taken him.
EW: Last season when we were introduced to the Governor we saw him at an earlier point than we did in the comic book in terms of his evolution. And then we watched him devolve over the course of the season. Where is that evolution now?
MORRISSEY: He’s still the man that we know. It’s not like we can erase his past or change the character totally. He is a man who is aware of himself now. I think the Governor at the beginning of season 3 was a man who was building a future. He had a future for Woodbury. He had a plan for Woodbury. And those plans get smashed. And certainly the future for his daughter and any sort of cure experiment that he and Milton were exploring — that’s out the window now. We leave him with himself and his two henchmen — he’s lost everything. So he is a man that has lost everything. And I think what we see coming up is how he deals with that loss. He’s a dangerous man still and he knows how dangerous he is. He knows what he’s capable of and that is a very dangerous thing. And like I said, it’s about whether he embraces that man and how dangerous he is, or whether he fights him. That’s the question coming in — which character is he happy to be? Which character is he trying to be? We see him at the end of episode 5 and he’s standing outside that prison and looking at that prison and we don’t know whether he’s come in peace or come in war. We don’t know that yet. So we have to wait for that reveal in the upcoming episodes. He might have had an about face, but we don’t know. He’s a man who recognizes his own capabilities. That is fair to say.
EW: There’s always that question: Does a villain realize or even think of himself as a villain? And it sounds like what you’re saying is that he is really taking stock of his own situation and trying to make sense of what he is and what’s he’s become.
MORRISSEY: I think he’s intelligent enough to know that there is something that can take over himself. I don’t think he’s totally happy with the capabilities that he’s shown. It was never in his plan to turn on his own people. And the loss of his daughter has done something terrible to his brain. That’s the fight he will have going forward. I think once anybody has committed an act like that or done something like that, they know their capabilities, and it’s about whether they can keep control of themselves. Because they really know now — it’s that cliché of “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” — there’s a sense from him that he knows where his anger can take him. And that’s his battle. And will certainly be his battle in season 4.
EW: I know you used Robert Kirkman’s Rise of the Governor novel for help with your backstory last year. With two more Governor books out now, is that something we’re going to be exploring more? Is that a tool you’ve used heading into this season?
MORRISSEY: Everything is a tool in Robert’s writing because he writes so well. I strongly urge everybody to read all there of those novels because I think they are brilliant. I personally like Robert’s writing in those three novels more than the comic books. But that’s my genre: I like novels more than I like graphic books. So I get a lot from his novels. Whether we use that in the season coming up, you’ll have to wait and see, but I get such a lot from Robert’s writing about the Governor as a character and all his building blocks are in them for me. As I said, whether we use them in the season going forward you’ll have to wait and see, but they are so rich in characterization, so yes, I do use them in that way.
For more ‘Walking Dead’ news, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.