There were a couple of brief glimpses of Andrea and Michonne in the first episode of The Walking Dead’s third season, but they were entirely absent in episode 2.  That wasn’t a problem because those first two episodes have been very good, but their pairing is one that does have potential, and episode 3 seems like the right time to give them their own 40-odd minutes to shine.

The episode begins with them investigating the scene of a helicopter crash.  Other than the cars the group previously had on the farm, this is the first sign of life existing in other places in the show for a while, but the landing hasn’t gone so well for the crew and passengers, as there appears to be only one survivor.  As Michonne investigates, a car pulls up and we get out first glimpse of David Morrissey as The Governor.  He’s a big character from the comic series, but I haven’t read them, so I was able to watch this episode free of expectations about what he is and what he does.

The first thing we see him doing is calmly watching a (sliced in half) soldier waking up as a walker (he calls them biters) before slamming a knife into its head and twisting it to make sure of the job.  Michonne and Andrea are watching this from a distance, so it looks like he’s mercilessly killed someone he could have helped, although he does bring the survivor to his home.

Michonne’s walkers start to draw attention to them, so she casually lops their heads off, but before they can leave, they are interrupted by the returning Merle.  He’s missing a hand, of course, but has a rather helpful knife attachment over the stump that allows him to casually kill a walker through the chin as he re-introduces himself to Andrea.  The pair are then transported to the Governor’s base, which is a surprisingly clean and normal looking part of a small town that he’s fortified and guarded long enough to make it feel like a regular home for the 70 or so people who live there.

While he appears to be a decent and normal man, there’s immediately a sense that the Governor is hiding something, or rather that there’s a side to him that most people don’t get to see.  Of course, it wouldn’t be that dramatically interesting if he was just a good person protecting a small community from a zombie apocalypse, but even so, his actions later in the episode still come as something of a surprise.

The Governor talks to Milton, a scientist experimenting on walkers to try and learn more about what causes them to ‘live’ and if there’s anything left of the person they once were inside them.  They later have breakfast with Michonne and Andrea, and Milton questions Michonne about her relationship to the walkers she roamed the country with, but Michonne is suspicious about the Governor and his town, and isn’t willing to answer Milton’s questions.

The survivor of the helicopter crash tells the Governor what happened to him and the other men, explaining that a group of soldiers are still somewhere nearby.  The Governor promises that he’ll find them and bring them back, if they’re still alive, and heads out to find them.  He seems to come in peace, waving a white rag as he approaches the group, but he then executes the first soldier he speaks to, before his men kill the rest of the soldiers in a hail of bullets.

He brings back their equipment and vehicles, telling the town that they were already dead.  It’s clear that the Governor is a ruthless and probably dangerous man; something confirmed when he opens a door in his home, and sits in front of rows of aquariums, full of the decapitated heads of walkers, including Michonne’s two jawless friends, and the one surviving soldier.

It’s a bizarre and shocking ending to a strong episode.  It’s a very good sign for the show that it can handle two separate storylines so well, and the Governor already looks like he’ll become a big part of the show in many ways.  This is The Walking Dead rebooting itself and finding a new, stronger path for the future, and it’s becoming a great show again.