'Walking Dead': Welcome to the Governor's Woodbury

The Governor
Gene Page/AMC

David Morrissey enters as The Governor, the first human Rick and the group will have to square off against. "It's very different from what you know of the character from the graphic novel, with the long stringy hair," executive producer Greg Nicotero says. "In the graphic novel, the minute he meets Rick, the hand comes off and all of this crazy stuff goes on."

After two episodes spent securing the group's stability at the prison, AMC's The Walking Dead leaves the gated walls and heads to a new community: Woodbury.

After months of buzz about the arrival of the Governor -- the eye-patch wearing villain made famous in the Robert Kirkman comics on which the series is based -- David Morrissey will make his debut Sunday on the zombie drama as the leader of the community known as Woodbury.

"He picks them up in a very vulnerable place; they've been out in the wilderness for a long time and he admires the fact that they've survived," Morrissey tells The Hollywood Reporter of Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne's (Danai Gurira) arrival into the Governor's fold. "He recognizes in Michonne that she's a piece of work and he knows he needs soldiers and people who are not afraid of walkers who can really fight if they need to and he needs people like that in his town."

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The duo, who have bonded while they've been out on the road all winter, encounter the Governor after following a downed helicopter and eventually wind up back in Woodbury -- a flourishing town that's nothing like anything that's previously on the AMC series.

"Andrea is a woman who's very vulnerable when he meets her and he can see that she's strong and tough and he's not frightened of strong and tough people; he's very drawn to that and he wants to be surrounded by that," Morrissey says. "He sees that as the strength of them as a community going forward. Not just strong physically but mentally -- he likes intelligence and likes people to be surrounded by people with good ideas. Michonne and Andrea he sees as a great addition to the community."

In Kirkman's comic series, Rick and his crew encounter the Governor when they find a settlement of fellow survivors in Woodbury. At first glance, the man otherwise known as Phillip, is a kind and fair leader but later revealed to have a deadly dark streak -- and a surprising humanity. His sadistic methods of leadership are counter-balanced with a personal struggle involving his daughter.

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While previews have shown that Andrea and Michonne aren't being held against their will in AMC's Woodbury, there's a dark undercurrent within the community that one of the duo will sense almost from the start.

"Michonne can't ignore her instincts; she's not happy with the world she's in, what she's hearing, what her instincts are saying about the Governor from the get-go -- it's not sitting right with her," Gurira tells THR. "There are clues and she's picking them up every second; she'd rather be in the jungle than be in the Ritz. She doesn't care about where she is, she cares about what the truth of the situation is. For her, it's very jarring and it triggers her."

Andrea, meanwhile, isn't in the best shape as Michonne has been tasked with helping to care for her -- and fetch her medicine from where ever she can find it, like the abandoned drug store in the season three premiere. 

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"She's terribly dehydrated and very sick. Michonne is her caretaker and she's on her last limb and there's no medicine," Holden tells THR. So when the do witness a helicopter fly overhead and crash nearby, the signs of life -- and hopefully a survivor leading back to a military community potentially with medicine -- is enticing.

"It appears to be nirvana, a land of hope and opportunity," Holden says of Woodbury. "It's the only place that Andrea has ever encountered that resembles the old world. It's a dream and Andrea is desperate for a home, for a community. She's been deathly ill on the road and it's a safe haven."

After fending for their own, Woodbury -- and the Governor -- will seem quite appealing at first pass to Andrea, the woman who reinvented herself as an outspoken sharpshooter who had a leadership role within Rick's fold. 

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"We're really like magnets and very attracted to one another in the sense that we see what we believe to be a kindred spirit, but of course we all know that what you see on the surface isn't always the truth," she says. "She is in awe of the fact that this man built this town and saved all these people and that he's so eloquent and has a kindness and a self-assurance and she feels safe for the first time in her life since this all went down."

"It's a dream, a salvation. But you know the expression: if it's too good to be true it is? That's Woodbury," Holden says.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Are you looking forward to finally meeting the Governor? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit