Walking Dead: Ep4 “Vatos”

Just when I think “The Walking Dead” was ready to slip up a bit, it ends with such a bang the entire episode was totally redeemed.  It also turned out to be the most action-packed episode to date, giving us a glimpse into the ferocity of the zombies.  So lets recap:

The episode picks up with Andrea and Amy fishing on the bluest lake in the world, talking about how their dad taught them different fishing methods because they were such different people.  How heartwarming.  After going on and on about how happy they are to be together again, we reunite with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and Glenn deciding the best course of action after finding Merle’s hand on top of the building in Atlanta.  The bag of guns is still out of the street, but Daryl wants to go right to hunting for Merle.  Rick agrees, but only if the weapons are retrieved first.  Glenn decides it’s best if he maneuver alone on the streets, so he sets Daryl up in one alley while Rick and T-Dog occupy another alley to cover him.  But as Glenn is running back to Daryl’s alley, a young urbanite appears out of nowhere and starts calling out for help.  Just as Glenn gets back, a car speeds up and a few other thugs get out only to grab Glenn and speed off with him.
Back at camp, Dale notices Jim is acting a bit strange, as he finds him digging numerous holes.  Dale brings it up to Shane, and the group confronts him.  Jim is in a state of dementia that scares the group, because it seems more and more apparent he’s digging multiple graves.  Shane ends up having to subdue Jim, and they tie him to a tree for his own safety.  He gets let out later on good behavior though.
Back to Atlanta!  Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl kept the kid who got Glenn kidnapped, and force the location of their safe house out of him.  When they arrive, they are confronted by the apparent leader of a group of gang bangers named Guillermo.  He believes that the bag of guns belongs to him, and is only willing to trade back Glenn if the guns are involved.  He says either that, or that Rick should come “locked and loaded.”  So what does Rick decided?  Just that.  When he returns, Rick and the other two bust in guns loaded, invoking a standoff between them and Guillermo’s crew.  Tensions run high, until an elderly woman appears out of nowhere.  She starts pleading to Felipe, Guillermo’s second-hand, to come with her and offer help.  When she sees Rick, she starts pleading not to take Felipe anywhere because he is needed.  Rick informs her he’s not there to arrest anyone, but takes the opportunity to have the old woman guide him to Glenn.  What he finds is something far better than he could have hoped for.  Guillermo is revealed as an old janitor and Felipe a nurse, both of whom used to work for an old nursing home.  When the zombies hit, all the workers left the elderly to die except for Guillermo and Felipe.  They boarded the doors and windows except for one entrance through the chop shop connected to the home, and took care of the elderly because no one else would.  They assembled their gang just by taking in stragglers, and were only so hostile because they’d encountered too many less than rational people in the past.  After their secret is revealed, Rick is able to have a civil conversation with Guillermo, and gives them a few guns and a portion of ammo so Guillermo can keep his good deed going.  Of course the gang lets Glenn walk unharmed, and Rick’s group decides to return to their truck.  Too bad it’s missing.  And the only other person they knew of in the city was Merle.  They fear the worst, an enraged Merle driving straight to the camp for revenge, and start booking it back to camp.

Once again we’re back at camp.  Earlier, Andrea and Amy had returned to camp with a ton of fish and a “fish fry” is planned for the night.  It’s revealed that it’s Amy’s birthday and Andrea has a necklace she can’t wait to give her.  Fast forward to the fish fry and everyone is in a joyous mood.  Real food and reunited families finally have a night they can enjoy.  Everyone but Ed of course, who isn’t very into spending time with the group after Shane rearranged his face.  Amy has to go to the bathroom so she returns to the camper.  While Ed pouts in his tent, someone tries to get in.  It isn’t any of the campers.  It isn’t Merle.  It’s exactly what the entire group feared.  Zombies.  Ed opens the tent only to be the first of the campers to meet his fate.  When Amy comes out of the camper, a zombie appears from around the corner and sinks his teeth into her arm.  Victim #2.  From there on, all hell breaks loose and the living have to fight off the zombie wave that somehow stumbled upon the camp.  In the middle of the ruckus, Rick and his Atlanta crew reach the camp and clean out the rest of the zombies.  Andrea has her last words with her sister, and what turned out as the first good night in a while, ends as a disaster of epic proportions.

So many questions were answered in the last episode.  For one, I was waiting for Amy to bite the dust since she appeared.  Sticking to the comic, I knew she didn’t make it out of camp, and knew it was only a matter of time before they get jumped by zombies.  Well, I got my answer, and I also realized just why they decided to make such an age difference between Andrea and Amy.  If you’re a reader of the comics, think about where Andrea turns to comfort and who gives it to her (that’s all I’ll say).  But again, the show stays along the major guidelines of the comic, while deviating in its own appropriate way.  And again, the show was able to trigger the visual of Amy getting bit in her arm as she comes out of the camper, just like in the comic book panel.
We also got our first glimpse of the type of outsiders Rick and the others will have to deal with over and over again.  Like I said, the comics reveal that the gang has just as many problems dealing with other survivors than they have dealing with the zombies themselves.  Of course Guillermo and his crew are unmasked as good and sane people, but the others Rick will meet won’t be so forgiving.  It brings the human element back into the story, having problems that are much easier to connect with between two people instead of people and zombies.  It also ramps the tension but because in the back of your mind you know at any time zombies can attack.  They are everywhere.  There will never be a place that can be deemed totally safe, only the safest for the time.
Finally, bring on the action.  As I stated before, the beginning of this episode turned out to be a little slow.  A lot of talking, and a lot of lovey-dovey I miss you/you mean the world to me conversations back at camp.  It was only fitting it be a total foreshadowing of the events to come.  When the zombies hit, we got our most intense moments of the series to date.  It was just chaos and panic.  Characters are knocked off, and you get the “no one is safe” atmosphere.  I mean, Amy is killed on her birthday.  That’s pretty damn cold-blooded.  This is what I was waiting for in the series.

So what comes next?  Well, a presumably pissed off Merle is still on the loose, driving around somewhere in the van Rick took back to Atlanta.  Zombies are now also a more imminent threat because of all the gunfire going off at the camp.  The comic explains that zombies never travel alone, but more in herds.  The camp was hit by a small group, but that usually means larger groups are in the surrounding area.  All the gunshots do is attract zombies, so I have a feeling the survivors are going to have a location problem on their hands.  Pretty promising problems for the last two episodes of the season.


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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