The Walking Dead went 4 for 4 last night with another thrilling episode. Was it the best yet? I don’t know – a solid argument could be made for each episode thus far. Here’s what I do know – “Vatos” was superb. It was genuinely scary. And it was sad. For the first time in 4 episodes of a Zombie show – people died by Zombie. And it wasnt just redshirts either. The straggling survivors group lost Ed (not a huge loss) and Amy the sweet blonde who we barely got to know. This was a packed episode so lets get down to it.
Vatos started with the A sisters goin’ fishin’ at the waterin’ hole (sorry) where they began to argue about which knots to tie – a skill taught by their father. We got to learn a little about the sisters – asides from them being 12 years apart – mainly through them reminiscing about their fishing and arguing about knots. When Andrea would fish with their father; what they caught they kept but with Amy; they’d throw them back. They cried when they realized that he had done that to tailor the experience to each of his children – acknowledging their differences. I knew this scene was setting me up for something, I though possibly to accentuate their differences; to emphazie the character’s change or arc when it occurs. I had an inkling that death was upon us (but certainly not for the opening credit featured Laurie Holden who plays Andrea) but I quickly buried those thoughts in the back of my mind. The teaser ended as we flashed up to Dale observing the girls in the boat and then over to Jim on the hill top… just digging.
NOTE: I love the way the theme song starts in the last few seconds of the teaser – LOVE! For some reason it really gets me pumped for the show. Degrassi: The Next Generation does it. Psych does it too. And I love it.
The episode had two main plots – one back at camp and one in Atlanta. We’ll start in Atlanta, back on the roof where we ended last week. With T-Dog (stupid frakkin name), Darryl, Glenn, Rick and Merle Dixon’s hand. Darryl in some morbid attempt at preservation asks Tdog for a Doorag (hilarious), wraps up the hand and puts it in Glenn’s pack. Gross. They follow the trail of blood into the kitched where there was evidence that he cotterized his stump. Tough bastard. Darryl put it best – no one kills Merle but Merle. The plan was set – get the guns first, then search for Merle. Glenn made a map of the are and organized the plan of weaving and dodging through city blocks. I love when people use things around them to illustrate a plan. Darryl and Glenn had the best exchange of the night here: “hey kid, what’d you do before all this” “Delivered Pizzas” HA! Perfect. In the zombie apocalypse Pizza Deliverers will rise up and save us. Thank
The plan was perfect, until Darryl came into contact with a kid, a latin street gang member, who just looked scared and screamed. This was actually kind of funny. His screaming paid off as his gangmates (right word for that?) drove up to save him. There was a scuffle, in which Glenn was kidnapped, Rick got the bag of guns (AND HIS AWESOME HAT) and the kid was stuck with Rick and Co.
Rick took the kid into the Dept store, and terrified him by using Merle’s hand, threatening to cut off his feet. It was comic gold. Darryl Dixon is a creation of the series, he’s absent of the source material – and a really good indication of the writers’ abilities to know when to stick to the source material and when to create anew. Like Alan Ball not killing Lafayette like he was in the True Blood books. He realized he had gold and he ran with it. Well the hand did the trick and the kid spilled the beans on their leader; Guillermo.
They went to Guillermo to trade the Kid for Glenn but G was having none of that. This tough sonofabitch wanted the bag of guns too. Either come with the guns or come back locked and loaded. Well they came back locked and loaded and entered into a Mexican Standoff with the gang. A Mexican standoff that ended with interruption by the cutest grandmother on television.
I really didn’t see the twist coming. It’s a testement to the writer’s room just how surprising the series can be. I was prepared to find the Vatos to be a gang akin to Gunn’s gang on Angel, but the streetgang in reality is a group of survivors, mostly old folks, held up in a retirement home. Like a building within a building, a fortress, when the undead began to rise, the staff abandoned leaving Felipe, a nurse and the defacto leader Guillermo, a custodian. There they stay taking care of the old people and surviving. Rick, Darryl and Tdog looked about as astonished as I did. Rick ended up leaving with Glenn but giving up some guns (there’s that socialist attitude I was clamoring for last week!). With victory in their pockets they returned to the van (on the way having my 2nd fave exchange of the night. Darrryl: “Admit it. You only came back to Atlanta for the hat.” Rick “Don’t tell anybody”) but when they got there they found the van was missing. Merle. Shit.
Back at camp in the hills Dale was worried about Jim and his feverish digging, so he narcs to Sheriff Shane, who fresh off his beating of Ed, tries to take a more diplomatic approach with Jim. Acting a camp counselor or kindergarten wrangler with futile condescending attempts to reach him; Come on Jim. Take a break. Have some water. You digging to China… He won’t say why he’s digging (it should have been obvi that they were graves but whatev) but does share he managed to escape becuase the dead were to busy eating his wife and sons. Ouch.
Sheriff Shane tied him to a tree for the day; a fair punishment. Let him calm down. They tried to ask him again why he was digging. He said he had a dream, he could barely remember. Carl was there – he was worried about his dad but that’s pretty much all he remembered. I can’t begin to imagine what Jim went through, but Andrew Rothenberg wore Jim’s whole experience on his sleeve with his telling of Lori to never let Carl out of her sight (More forshadowing to Amy’s death). He was perfect and I hope he sticks around for a while.
Elsewhere, Andrea was asking procurer Dale for wrapping paper, it’s Amy’s birthday tomorrow (Fine. I did see it coming. I just refused to believe it.) and she’s going to give her the Mermaid necklace she pilfered in the second episode.
Shane and Carl went to untie Jim and ask him if he wanted to join the fishfry (Andrea and Amy had caught a bunch of fish). Jim was totally creepy here. I would not have untied him. But I am not Sherrif Shane.
And wow, the number Shane did on Ed’s face. Grilled Cheezus that looked rough. Ed wanted Sophia and Carol to stay with him rather then fishfry, but Carol let her go and Ed turned over in bed like a big ol’ sourpuss.
Meanwhile Rick and Co. are jogging back to camp. What? They can’t steal another car? Really. Fine.
At the fishfry Morales asked Dale why he winds his watch every day. It’s a fair question; as Jacqui pointed out – the world has pretty much ended or at least hit a speed bump for a while. Dale quoted Faulkner’s the Sound and the Fury – “I give you a mausoleum of all hope and denial which will fit your individual need no better than it did mine or my fathers before me – I give it to you not that you may remember time so that you may forget it for a moment now and then and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it” Indicitive of Dale’s character, if not exactly fitting of the series – the quote basically proves Jacqui’s point – of there really being none to keeping time. Amy summed it up with an astute “you’re weird” before getting up to pee.
And again. I saw it coming but didn’t want to believe it – but after everything Jim said about never letting someone out of their sight – I knew what was about to happen. Ed heard some rustling outside his tent. He thought it was Carol or Sophia so he called out – now when he got no answer he should have known it was zombies – but no he kept hollering till his face got eaten.
That’s when Amy stepped out of the RV and got her arm bit. The moment was surreal the first time I watched it (yeah I watched the whole sequence again right after – it was that good) almost as if it happened in slow motion. I was thinking – if a person sustains an injury like Amy’s and immediately chopped her arm off – would they turn? Probably. Amy’s screams sent the camp into a frenzy where on top of Ed (Adam Minorovich) and Amy we lost a few redshirts. The scene was scary, heightened by the violence and quck editing cuts it played out like a zombie smashing opera. Shane went a blazin’ with his gun, Jim went choppin’ with his axe; and Morales was swingin’ like DeNiro’s Capone. It was all too late for Amy though as a Zombie bit into her juicy neck flesh. Andrea ran to her dying sister after Jim dispatched with the Zombie that killed her. And it was time for the series’ first (and certainly not last) gut-wrenchingly sad death scene.
As Andrea looked down at her sister, she said the same thing we’d all be thinking in that situation; “Oh Amy… I don’t know what to do”. What could she possibly do. It killed me. Andrea’s sobs ruined me; the whole thing was so difficult to watch but on the bright side I am becoming a Laurie Holden fan – so I guess that’s something. I though the first scene was setting up character arcs for both sisters, but really Amy’s entire purpose in the series was to set up Andrea as the female Protagonist, she is much more likeable and sympathetic than Lori.
The episode ended with Jim; “I remember my dream now… Why I dug all the holes. And they panned out to show a field of dead. Wow. Minor gripes aside, the Walking Dead is 4 for 4. Next week is the penultimate episode called Wildfire. There’s a promo below and here’s a link to an EW interview with Robert Kirkman, the comic creator and writer of Last Nights episode.
What did you guys think of last night’s episode? Is the Walking Dead 4 for 4 in your books too?
Till Next week!