The Walking Dead: The Many Similarities (and Differences) Between The Governor and Kenny

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Jacob Heard compares two popular characters from The Walking Dead universe.

Season 4 of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' is by far my favourite of the seasons. It is the start of a transition from the sub-par show-runner Glenn Mazzara to the more focused attitudes of Scott Gimple, it features a clutch of strong episodes (such as 'The Grove' and 'Too Far Gone') and an excellent cast of both actors and characters. Season 4 includes development for characters I previously considered to be lacking, such as Beth Greene and Tyreese Williams, but the character I felt had the strongest season was Phillip Blake, otherwise known as the Governor.

Performed beautifully by David Morrissey, the character suffered from a fairly lacklustre season 3. Treated as a comic book style villain, and not in the good way, the character's interactions with Andrea are tedious to say the least and led to me begging for both characters' deaths in the season finale. Usually, the villain is supposed to be someone you want dead, but not because their scenes are boring to watch and they seem to lack a lot of motivation. This all changed in season 4 in which two episodes centre entirely around the Governor trying, and failing, to rebuild himself as the person he once was. Beginning in episode 6, 'Live Bait', Morrissey's character undergoes some of the strongest development in the season; all starting with a highly moving montage set to Ben Nicholls' 'Last Pale Light In The West'.

It is in these moments that I was drawn to the character of Phillip Blake, the song's lyrics truly symbolising the motivations of the character; the 'always survive' mentality and motivation to keep moving forward taking prevalence. However, the song itself also led me to think of another character in 'The Walking Dead' franchise: Kenny, of TellTale's game-of-the-year winning 'The Walking Dead'.

Now, this is not the obvious comparison between a character from the video game and TV series. These come in the form of Clementine to Carl (a child growing up in a world clearly not kind to children) and, funnily, the Governor to Carver (an unhinged violent dictator who lies through his teeth to keep his people in check). Whilst the Governor and Carver certainly share similarities in their respective positions of power over a community, it is the motivations and drive of Phillip Blake that draw me to believe that he is more similar to everyone's redneck friend than the antagonistic Carver.

The start of the similarities come from the back-story of the characters. Both are implied to have had some form of abusive parenting; the Governor referencing in 'Dead Weight' how he and his brother were beaten for stealing cigars from their father. Kenny, similarly, remarks how his father was a "mean son of a bitch, but taught [him] respect". The apocalypse begins with both characters taking care of a family, believing them to be the most important thing in the world. Beginning the apocalypse with his daughter, Penny, the Governor is immensely protective of her, even after her reanimation as a walker prior to the events of season 3. Kenny, similarly, will do anything to protect his wife, Katjaa, and son, Duck, going so far as smashing a dying man's head in with a salt-lick in order to prevent him turning and stopping him from reuniting with his loved ones.

The character's descent into madness begins with the death of those they care about. As Michonne runs Penny through with a sword in 'Made To Suffer', the Governor loses everything, influencing his decision to assault Rick's group in the prison. Kenny also suffers loss, Duck and Katjaa dying within seconds of each other in 'Long Road Ahead', driving him to the point of giving up. With nothing left to live for, Kenny supposedly gives his life for Ben/Christa in the season 1 finale 'No Time Left' and is not seen again until 'A House Divided', clearly suffering from some form of PTSD or depression. Whilst how the characters react to their losses is vastly different, their loss provides their motivations for their actions in future episodes.

When the characters reappear in their respective series', both have found replacements for what they have lost. The Governor seeks comfort in Lily Chambler and her daughter Megan, a girl of age with Penny, in season 4; Kenny does the same with Sarita and Alvin Junior in the video games' second season. When their replacements are seemingly lost, the characters are sent into a red-mist in which anyone and everyone is to blame for their deaths. The Governor beheads Hershel, sets on a tank on the prison and attempts to beat Rick to death after Megan's death; likewise when Kenny believes AJ dead, he attacks Jane, potentially killing her depending on the player's choice. Their mentality has also deteriorated greatly since the death of their original loved ones; the Governor feeding Martinez to walkers and Kenny beating Carver to death with a crowbar.

Mentality, attitudes and qualities are highly similar in both characters. Leadership skills are prevalent in each, the Governor put in a position of power by his group of survivors due to his intelligence and charisma. Kenny, likewise, assumes control over the characters in season 1, usurping Lilly from power almost as soon as he arrives on the scene. Both characters dislike others disagreeing with them, and both keep walking forward, despite having lost everything; the lyrics of Nicholls' 'Last Pale Light in The West' are a great reflection of this mentality:
"Dark clouds gather round me
To the west my soul is bound
I will go on ahead free
There's a light yet to be found"
Whilst the multitude between the characters make it hard to dispute their likeness, it is worth mentioning that the inherent difference lies within their role in the story. The Governor is an antagonist who never ceases to be a threat to Rick's group, and even in his final moments the Governor does not seem to feel remorse for his actions. Kenny contrarily, takes on the role of deuteragonist; he has moments where he is an antagonist, but also plays a supporting role throughout both the games' seasons. At the end of the game, no matter which choice the player makes, Kenny realises what he has become and either embraces death or aims to rectify his mistakes and keep Clementine and AJ safe. While this may set them apart, the pair share so many similarities you almost wonder if it was intentional on the part of TellTale Games. Hopefully this article has informed some of you that the similarities between the characters is not limited to their badass beards and eye patches... although that one is quite creepy too...

Jacob is a long-time Walking Dead enthusiast with a bizarre idea of what constitutes a 'good character'. He tends to spend most of his time crying into his pillow over Beth Greene's death that happened two years ago.

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