Phillip? Brian? Novels? Show?
(Spoiler warning: This post looks at the portrayal of “The Walking Dead” character The Governor on the show, the comics, and the novel “Rise of the Governor. If you still plan to read/watch them, you might not want to read this.)
On Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” The Governor took on the fake name “Brian.” Or did he?
In the show so far, we’ve seen him go by Philip Blake. But that’s not necessarily his real name. And the question of what to call him goes to the question of which version of the “Walking Dead” is the “right” one: the comics, the show, or the novels. Whatever the case, Sunday’s episode provides an interesting look at the way the show bends and reconfigures Robert Kirkman‘s original ideas.
Sunday, The Governor passed graffiti with the name “Brian Heriot.” Later, when he met sisters Lilly and Tara, their dying father, and Megan, the little girl they’re trying to raise, he gave his name as Brian.
The storyline is a variation on one in the “Walking Dead” novel “Rise of the Governor,” in which the soon-to-be Governor meets two women, April and their Tara, and their dad. He’s a loving, gentle man at that point, and his name is Brian Blake. Later he adopts the name of his dead brother, the brutal and ruthless Philip Blake. It’s a way of casting off his powerless past as he becomes The Governor.
Perhaps The Governor on the show was also born Brian, and also adopted his brother Philip’s name. Perhaps he sees the return to Brian as a way to reclaim his former kindness.
But: It would be awfully weird if the Governor encountered two different pairs of sisters, both with a dying father, and both with one sister named Tara. So it seems like the character who meets Tara and April in the book is not the same man who meets Tara and Melody on the show.
The Governor on the show clearly isn’t The Governor in the comics, because the comics Governor (pictured, as drawn by Charlie Adlard) is dead.
It seems possible to me, someone who has read the first “Governor” novel but not the second two, that The Governor in the comics and novels is the same. It seems unlikely that Kirkman, who wrote both the novels and comics, would contradict himself in them. He co-wrote the novels with Jay Bonansinga, and the show with an ever-changing group of writers. The show has deliberately taken different directions from the comics to keep things fresh.
As for the Governor’s real name? It’s probably easiest to just go with The Governor.