TBT TWD: Brian’s Game of Chess in Episode 407
Bicycle Girl breaks down the powerful opening scene of Dead Weight Epx407 of The Walking Dead in this week’s TWD Throwback Thursday post
How’s it going, TWD family? It’s time for another TWD TBT post! This week, I started watching Epx407 Dead Weight to write a completely different article, but I never made it past the opening scene. While I’ve seen this episode a few times, I never really paid a lot of attention to the scenes between Meghan and “Brian.” I was always concentrating on the action with Martinez that appears in between those moments. This time, though, I paid careful attention and was struck by how much more was going on than I originally realized.
So let’s take a look at that part of the scene…
The scene opens with a chess board. Meghan is playing white–a color associated with good, while the Governor is playing black–a color associated with evil. The pawns, the most expendable pieces, are in play along with one of the knights, the only pieces on the chess board that are actual symbols of fighters or warriors.
While wringing out laundry, the Governor looks up and says:
Meghan replies that she’s thinking. The scene cuts away and then returns to find the Governor urging Meghan to take a turn by saying:
She then laments:
and the Governor informs her that being allowed to win isn’t really winning. He says his father used to tell him that and then hints at what seems like past abuse by saying:
As if noticing the darkness in his tone, Meghan first asks if his father was mean and then if the Governor was bad as a child. To both questions, he replies:
After another cutaway to Martinez, Meghan asks:
Clearly upset by the little girl’s question, the Governor goes and crouches beside her, asking her why she would think such a thing. After Meghan reveals that her father was always mean to her, the Governor assures her in a rather tender way that she is good.
Another cutaway interrupts the scene. When it returns to Meghan and the Governor, he makes her a promise, saying:
and then says, “All of us?”
The Governor is silent. You can clearly see him reflecting on those words.
He can’t say yes because he knows he has done terrible things and is not good. When his gaze meets Meghan’s, his expression morphs. He realizes that to keep his promise, he can’t sit idly by in the camp washing clothes and playing chess.
The Governor rises to his feet, now lost in thought.
Meghan makes her chess move. She appears to have moved her bishop. This to me is significant. The bishop as a member of the clergy is a symbol of religion or good. It shows that Meghan is innocent, a symbol of good that the Governor seems intent to protect.
As he is silent and simply staring ahead at the clothesline, she calls his name. Now, in a reversal of the earlier part of the scene, he says:
Only we know it’s not the chess move he is thinking of; he hasn’t even looked at the board. Suddenly, as if it were the winds of change blowing across the camp, a breeze whistles and rustles his hair.
It is at this moment the Governor formulates his plan to take the prison. How will he do it?
Well, the camera zooms out and shows us.
The symbolism of the game and the breeze make this scene that was so masterfully acted by David Morrissey incredibly powerful and much deeper than meets the eye. We’re left now sensing that despite the fact that Martinez made it a point to say:
he is nothing but a pawn in the Governor’s game of chess. Pete, too.
And the rest of the people living at the camp? They’re soon going to become his knights, sent into battle as he attempts to take Rick’s castle.
But ultimately, no one wins the game. The white king’s castle is lost. And the black king’s life is taken.
Special thanks to Amanda for helping me analyze those blurry chess pictures! Give her a follow over on Twitter, TWDFamily, why don’t you?