(Post by nerdbastards contributor Nick Bungay- Twitter @NickBungay)
It’s Sunday night and while people are laying theirs heads to sleep for the night your up watching another episode of The Walking Dead. In this week’s episode, entitled “Vatos”, our hero’s continue their search for Merle and the ammunition bag Rick left behind in the city. This special Robert Kirkman written episode allowed this creator to show why his series was brought to television in the first place. While not directly connected to the original graphic novel, this episode showed the connections between people. Whether these people are join together by circumstance or their bonded by blood they must work together to survive. By the end of this week’s episode everyone is going to be left deciding who the can truly trust to watch their backs to stay alive.
WARNING: This article is a recap. It contains spoilers.
This week opened with sisters Amy (Emma Bell) & Andrea (Laurie Holden) reminiscing about their father and what he taught them fishing as children. Growing up between two different parenting styles yielded different result between the siblings. Showing that change can happen suddenly and without warning, Amy asks if not going to Florida when they could have changed the outcome for survival. The shot panned to Dale and Jim with an ominous image of Jim digging what appeared to be multiple graves. He seemingly doesn’t have high hopes for everyone in camp. The tension between Rick, Daryl and T-Dog is reaching it’s eventual peak since last episodes reveal of Merle’s severed hand.
Dale speaks out to the group over the current mental condition of Jim, continually digging the ominous holes just yards away. As for Rick and the others back in Atlanta, they’ve discovered Merle is still alive somewhere, having cauterized his wound and escaping the building. Having one hand didn’t stop him from killing a few walkers on the way out (how bad ass is that?). Back at camp Shane and the remaining survivors speak with Jim about his current issues. Only worried for his well being, as well as his sanity they ask him to stop. His response was only met with calling out Shane, calling him “Judge and Jury” and tried to swing the shovel at Shane. After a quick scuffle, Jim revealed to everyone that he watched his son get torn away from him and watched his remaining family die. Seeing something like that really warps one’s perspective on life and death.
Glenn formulates a plan to retrieve the bag, showing his knowledge of the streets thanks to his previous employment. Being a pizza delivery boy really has it’s advantages in the undead world. After a little game of avoid the walkers Glenn makes it to Rick’s big bag of boom, with Daryl watching his back. Local gang members also want the bag but fail to grab it, kidnapping Glenn instead. Back at camp, the now tied up Jim apologized to everyone for his actions, citing a dream he had the night before. In a moment of clarity between his self and Liz he tells her to “keep her child close”, something Jim wasn’t able to do.
Interrogating the member now in their possession Daryl uses his own brother’s hand as “..the last guy who messed with me”. The local gang member leads everyone to meet “G”, head of the gang. After a quick explanation of mistakes on both side they try and work out a trade. Holding Glenn as their bargaining chip, “G” tells Rick and the other to bring him the guns and they’ll get their friend back. ”G” wants the guns, Rick wants back Glenn, it looks like a stalemate to me.
Rick, Daryl and T-Dog discuss whether it’s worth trading Glenn for the guns. Rick tells them about how Glenn helped save his life while he was trapped back in the tank. He could have let Rick die, but he stayed and Rick owes him his life. Taking the young gang member back to his hideout they discover that the gang has their own secret. They are not as tough as they seem when they discovered to be protecting a home of Senior citizens. The dogs weren’t so big either. “G” explains privately to Rick that he couldn’t let these people die as well as also being an employee of the building, protecting those who are left. Keeping everyone alive through a fight or flight method Rick give the gang half the guns and ammo to keep them safe. Heading back to their van and back to their fellow survivors, Rick and company find the van stolen. Merle must be alive and he’s taking a bit more than a tan back to camp.
None the wiser to what has occurred everyone at camp keeps to their routine, with ed still bitching back in his tent. Over the evening dinner of fish Dale answers a question about his watch, which he always winds every day. He tells everyone about “The father and the son”, that Even with the end you should remember the beginning. With all this peace it could only lead to chaos and boy howdy did ever get chaotic.
With Ed still complaining after his ass kick from Shane last week he’s more than annoyed to be bothered at night. Going to confront his annoyance he’s met with the bloody jaws of an undead woman. With walkers coming out left and right it becomes an all out bloodbath, with an abundant loss of life. Coming out of the camper unsuspecting Amy also gets attacked by the undead, a very sad way to go and a tragic lose for sister Andrea. With people dying left and right Rick and the others make it back a little late, but with firepower in tow. Several spent shells and bodies later everyone finally gets a chance to survey the scene, with Andrea crying over the death of her younger sister. Jim appears, remembering his dream and why he was digging the holes. He wasn’t going crazy, he foresaw this evenings events and prepared everything, as sad as they were going to be.
With the bodies of friends and foes lying among them what is our group of heros supposed to do? With only 2, that’s right 2, episodes left The walking dead may have a climbing body count and we still don’t know where Merle is! Stayed for next weeks episode, Wildfire, for when the shit really hits the fan.
“Vatos” was a very character driven story just like the graphic novel series. This weeks episode continued the disconnection from the original series as well, bringing in new side stories and situations. This isn’t really a problem for the series, while it does throw loyal readers for a loop it keeps everyone guessing. Creative liberties were done on purpose. If readers know whats going to happen then why watch? This is a great move from the safety zone that everyone already knows about, gearing up viewers for the following week. A great episode, a great dramatic setting, this was another awesome hour of television. Episode 4 is a solid 9, it would have been an 8 but showing that your willing to kill members of your cast before the season is done payed off for the extra point. The risk was worth the reward, well done AMC.