Review

Review

'Vatos' - 'The Walking Dead' Episode 1.4

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The Walking Dead Episode 1.4
"Vatos"
Written By: Robert Kirkman
Directed By: Johan Renck
Original Airdate: 21 November 2010

In This Episode...

Tensions run high on the rooftop. Daryl wraps his brother's severed hand in a bandana, and tracks the blood to follow the path Merle took to escape. He had made it inside, where he managed to take out two zombies, and there is evidence that he cauterized his stump. It looks like he left the building, so Glen sets up a plan of attack. He will go out into the street to grab the guns Rick left behind, with Daryl watching his back, then they will meet up with T-Dog and Rick and get the hell out.

In the alley, a kid surprises Daryl, and Daryl, naturally, overreacts. Glen jumps in to help, but the kid's friends jump in as well, then Rick and T-Dog find their way into the fight. When the dust settles, the two gang bangers have driven off with Glen in their hoopty, and the kid, Miguel, is now Rick's "hostage." Rick tries to interrogate Miguel, but he won't say anything. Daryl tosses Merle's hand at the kid, pretending it was the last guy who wouldn't talk, and it scares the intel out of him. Miguel leads the guys to his gang's hideout, a big, reinforced warehouse complex. Guillermo, the leader, doesn't see Miguel-for-Glen as an even trade; he wants the guns, too.

Rick and Daryl return with the guns, while T-Dog sits sniper. It is a tense standoff. Guns are pointed in all directions, with everyone trying to decide who will blink first. Then grandma saves the day. One of the guys's grandma comes in, interrupting the proceedings. When Rick tells grandma that they are just there for their friend, she offers to take them to him. Grandma's word is law, and Guillermo lets them pass.

The kindly old woman takes the men through what appears to be a makeshift hospital. They find Glen with a group of people, all trying to assist an elderly asthmatic. The "man-eating dogs" that Guillermo had previously threatened them with turned out to be a trio of teacup purebreds. Guillermo finally admits that they had just been protecting themselves - they had been hit by scavengers enough to be hyper-protective of what supplies they had left. The complex was a nursing home, abandoned by most of the staff when they decided their charges couldn't escape fast enough. Guillermo, the janitor, stayed behind with a nurse, and as survivors came looking for family members, they made themselves at home there. With a truce in place, Rick leaves behind a few guns, and the quartet leave. Finding their van missing, they are forced to hoof it back to camp.

At camp, things are pretty chill. Amy and Andrea go fishing, and come back with a bounty of fish. Ed remains in his tent, pouty over his pulpy face. Joe is up on a hilltop frantically digging graves. He is suffering from heatstroke, and can't or won't explain why he is doing it. He won't stop, and grows manic when confronted, forcing Shane to handcuff Jim to a shady tree until he calms down. Once lucid, Joe recalls that he was digging because of a dream, but he couldn't remember what the dream was.

A pleasant evening fish fry is interrupted by a zombie invasion! They seem to come out of nowhere. Three invade Ed's tent and devour him. One gets Amy on the way back from the bathroom. Mayhem erupts and the campers fight their way towards the camper. The quartet return from the city in the nick o' time, and help conquer the invaders. When all the ghouls are dead, Jim surveys the battlefield. "I remember my dream now."

Dig It or Bury It?

I love that, no matter what kind of hell has descended on to earth, there are always gangbangers around to make it even worse. And yes, they revealed themselves to not be thuggish, but that was how they presented themselves and frankly, that was not an interesting angle. If I wanted to see turf wars I would turn on any one of a dozen police procedurals. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, when the world has turned to shit, why take it out on the few living people?

The front half of the episode was oddly timed. The show cut between the survivor camp and the city expedition too much, revealing only slivers of story. Most of it was banal, every day activities. I am not sure if the slivers of story were meant to create tension, or a failed attempt to liven up otherwise boring activities, but either way, it didn't work. It just left me antsy.

Zombie of the Week

Finally, a zombie invasion! A true zombie invasion! All that was needed were a few decaying arms grabbing blindly through poorly boarded-up windows. No one zombie distinguished its self; it was a group effort of gory proportions.

Wisdom of the Walking Dead

"Feed him a hammer, he'll crap out nails." - Daryl Dixon on brother Merle's toughness

New World Order

Even with the world coming apart, you always listen to grandma.

Prophecies?

In the wake of the zombie attack, the survivor camp tries to decide if they stay put or move out. My husband and I theorize that it was Merle who stole the van, loaded with zombies, to teach the camp a lesson.

 

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