So that's what "Vatos" meant! Completely outside the comic again this week, but this is the first episode that Robert Kirkman's written himself, so it's forgivable. Not to mention the fact that this is the best episode to date, in my opinion. Did anybody else get the feeling that this could easily have been a "deleted scene" from the comic? I can totally see where Kirkman would've used this, it fits perfectly with the tone of the book. Of course several details would've needed to be changed, but stll.
Episode 4: Vatos
So far there really hasn't been much need for this, but as of this week I think it's for the best that I add a huge SPOILER ALERT to these posts. If you haven't seen this episode yet, or are waiting to watch the whole season at one time, do NOT read any further. You've been warned!
This week kicked off with Andrea and Amy fishing in the quarry, noticing the little differences in their respective style, which both found strange being that their father had trained them. Another little bit of emotional drama for the series, and a good scene, but so far I don't much care for Andrea in the show. In the book she's one of my favorites though, and hopefully as the show progresses she'll start turning more and more into that. Amy as it turns out, doesn't last long enough in either iteration for me to form much of an opinion one way or the other. But more on that later. Before getting back to Rick and co.'s search for Merl, we get a quick look at camp, where Dale notices some unusual behavior from Jim, which I totally called, and again, more on that later.
After discovering Merl's severed hand on the rooftop last episode, Rick and crew begin following the tracks left behind trying to find the rest of Merl. He managed to get outside the building after cauterizing the stump where his hand used to be, and of course Daryl wants to follow. Rick tells him they'll look, but first they need to grab the guns out in the street, and after a little scuffle, Daryl agrees. The plan is for Glenn to run solo to retrieve the bag, and then meet up with either Daryl in one alley, or Rick and *ugh* "T-Dog" in another if the path isn't clear. Of course things don't go exactly as planned, and after grabbing the guns, Glenn is attacked by what appears to be gang members, or "vatos" (cool mexican guys, similar to homies- thanks Urban Dictionary!). They grab him and the bag, but before they can get in the car, Daryl shoots one of them in the ass with his crossbow. Vato drops the guns, but they drive off with Glenn, but not before Daryl captures one of them.
After some convincing, Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog (I seriously hate that, and is this supposed to be Tyrese because I really hope not) get the captured vato to bring them back to his camp to meet with his leader "G", to attemtp to negotiate a hostage exchange. Unfortunately, G isn't as interested in exchanging hostages as he is getting his hands on the guns, and he recommends Rick leave and decide whether to return ready to hand over the guns, or "locked and loaded" and ready for a bloodbath.
Well, how about Rick this week?! It took three and a half episodes, but this week I finally got a "GO RICK!" moment when he returned to the garage with the bag of guns, and no intentions of leaving without both them and Glenn, ready to get all "O.K. Corral" up in that bitch. G threatens to cut Glenn up and feed him to his dogs, which he assures are 3 of the meanest, man eating bitches on the planet, bought from Satan at a yard sale...
Before things pop off though, a sweet old lady walks in and the entire situation is diffused. Turns out G and crew are holed up in a nursing home, with G and one other being the only former employees who refused to leave the guests behind when the zombies attacked. The rest of the vatos are children and grandchildren who came to visit family, and ended up staying to help out. This is exactly what makes The Walking Dead so great, this easily could've gone the stereotypical route with the "gang bangers" and all, but Kirkman completely flips the situation, and basically shows us that the two groups are pretty much exactly the same, just a group of people trying to survive in a bad situation. Absolutely loved this entire scene.
So after parting with almost half of the guns, and getting Glenn back, the gang returns to find their van stolen and decide that only Merl can be responsible. And where's the first place Merl would head toward? Camp. So they take off on foot after him.
Now, for that strange behavior, earlier Dale noticed Jim up on a hill by himself digging, and he's been at it all day, in 100 degree Georgia summer weather. Anybody who's ever lived through a summer in the southeast knows that clearly this dude is off his rocker a little bit. Worried about him, eventually the group heads up to see what he's really up to. Not taking kindly to being questioned, Jim eventually has to be wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by Shane. That night at camp, chained to a tree, Jim explains that it must have been the heat, and that he's fine. He had some sort of dream, and that's what prompted the digging, but he couldn't remember any details. As mentioned before, I called this, as soon as I saw him I said "he's digging graves", and I knew this episode wasn't going to be ending well.
And it didn't. While the gang sits around cooking up all the fish that Andrea and Amy caught, the zombies attack camp. First they get Ed, who has refused to leave his tent after the ass-whipping that Shane handed him last episode, then Amy who had left the group to pee. Several of the group are taken during the attack, mostly show-only characters who had existed mainly in the background thus far, you know the "red shirt" wearing types from Star Trek. Rick and crew arrive just in time to help fight off the last of the zombies. Right before the credits roll, Jim remembers his dream, and why he was digging, he was digging graves.
So as I mentioned, this was my favorite episode so far. I know you'll probably assume it's because of the carnage at the end, and you're not totally wrong, but it was the scene at the nursing home that really did it for me. Even though there wasn't much from the book, this is the first time I really felt like I was watching a moving issue of The Walking Dead. You can accredit every bit of that to the fact that Robert Kirkman wrote this one himself. Nobody gets these character and this story the way he does, obviously. I say let him write the rest of the show too, provided of course that it doesn't interfere with his comic book writing in any way. Only two episodes left, and then we're forced to wait a whole year for season 2....