Up front, if you don’t have a passing interest in The Walking Dead (watch up to the 11/17 episode before continuing) or old school pro-wrestling, just move on. You won’t like what follows.
I’m incredibly conflicted by the development of The Governor’s character. In many ways, he is the epitome of “the bad guy:” a character that stooped to such depths in season 2 that there was almost no way that he could die that would be poetic enough. While Walking Dead fans can rarely agree on anything, the near unanimous sentiment was that The Governor needed to die and it needed to be particularly awful.
The Face Turn
Flash back to early 90’s pro wrestling. In 1991 my dad was deployed to Kuwait to serve in Operation Desert Storm. Around the same time, I became aware of a professional wrestler named Sgt. Slaughter.
As you can tell from the picture, Sgt. Slaughter was as American as apple pie. Heck, he even made an appearance in G.I. Joe!
But in 1991, with tensions in the Middle East reaching their climax, Sgt. Slaughter aligned himself with Iraqi characters, began wearing Arab headdress to the ring, sported the Iraqi flag, adopted the Camel Clutch as his finishing move, and won the WWF Championship. As an exceedlingly patriotic 6 year old whose dad was in a war against Iraq, Sgt. Slaughter’s betrayal was inexcusable and my first taste of genuine antipathy. He needed to get his, and get it soon.
Justice was finally served when Hulk Hogan defeated Sgt. Slaughter for the title and restored balance to the universe. Sgt. Slaughter went away for about a month before reappearing in a taped vignette in which he declared that he wanted “his country back.” Naturally, skepticism abounded. Why trust a turncoat?
Enter the face turn. Sgt. Slaughter triumphantly returned rescuing Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Instantly, all that antipathy was forgotten. Sgt. Slaughter, the worst traitor I had known in my young life, had truly seen the error of his ways and would forever be changed (or so the now much wiser 7 year old was convinced).
The Governor and Redemption
Part of me still wants The Governor to get his. The need for poetic justice and retribution resounds in my heart and mind.
Part of me longs to see The Governor redeemed. I want to believe that even the worst of us can change. That we can lose our way for a while and, even if we go incredibly off track, that there is hope for us to find our way again.
For this, I blame Jesus. I blame my love affair with hearing stories of how faith has changed people and brought individuals who had very much lost their way back to sanity, wholeness, and restored relationships.
I also blame face turns.