Monday, November 22, 2010

The Walking Dead Season 1, Episode 4: Vatos

This week on The Walking Dead:

Andrea and her sister Amy have a pleasant time fishing in the quarry, discussing their childhoods. Jim, one of their fellow survivors, can’t stop digging holes that looks suspiciously like graves. Back in Atlanta, Rick, Glenn, T-Dog and Darryl follow Merle's bloody trail to the building next door, where unfortunately the trail ends. They then go back for the Big Bag O’ Guns that Rick dropped in Episode 1. They have a run-in with a Hispanic gang and Glenn gets kidnapped. Rick and the others rescue Glenn and discover that the gang isn’t what it seems. Rick and his posse discover their truck has been stolen (by Merle?) and have to hoof it back to the survivor camp. They return just as the camp is attacked by zombies.

As soon as I saw Andrea and her sis having their nice moment in the boat, I had a feeling one or both of them were doomed. And then when Andrea was looking for wrapping paper for the necklace she looted for Amy, I knew it for sure. In a series like this, any happiness or peacefulness must be squashed. Violently and with gusto.

For a guy we never see, Merle’s becoming quite the major character, isn’t he? He’s what I call an “Absentee Character.” Someone who figures prominently in the storyline and has a big effect on the other characters, but who is never actually seen.

Many have doubted that Merle could tie a tourniquet on his arm, make his way to the adjacent building, kills several zombies in his way and then cauterize his stump without passing out from blood loss. It’s probably unlikely, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Several years ago there was a news story in which a teenaged farm boy was involved in a horrific tractor accident and lost both arms. He staggered back to his house, saw that no one else was home, dialed 911 with a pencil held in his teeth, and finally collapsed in the bathtub because he didn’t want to ruin his mom’s carpet! He was eventually rescued and taken to the hospital and his arms were reattached. If that kid could do all that before passing out, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for Merle to do what he did.

I need to watch the episode again to see for sure how Merle got off the roof of his building and into the next one, but it looked like he just left through a rear entrance. So why then in Episode 2 was everyone acting like they were trapped on the roof for good? Didn’t they check to see if there was a back door?

Previously silent character Jim finally got to speak, and had a horrible tale to tell. The only reason he got away and survived is because the zombies were too busy eating his family to notice him. Yikes. That’s harsh, dude. I thought it was pretty obvious that the “holes” he was uncontrollably digging were graves, but apparently the other characters didn’t think so, or they were just to polite to mention it.

Glenn has a pretty good head on his shoulders. His plan to retrieve the guns was well thought out and brilliant. It’s nice to see a character in a horror series who doesn’t do stupid things.

The whole “Vatos” (gang slang for homeboys) subplot was a bit odd, but I liked that the gang turned out to be the good guys, taking care of their grandparents. I thought Glenn’s goose was cooked for sure; glad to see he survived unscathed.

Darryl is fast becoming one of my favorite characters. Sure, he’s a crazy hillbilly with a crossbow, but he seems a bit more rational than Merle, and can be reasonable when the situation calls for it.

So Rick and Co. head back to their truck, only to discover it’s been stolen. Amazingly they decide to jog back to the camp from Atlanta. Were there absolutely NO other abandoned vehicles they could have taken? Surely in the entire city of Atlanta there was at least one vehicle with the keys left in it?

So in every episode so far we’ve seen Dale up on top of his RV, standing watch and protecting the camp. So why wasn’t someone guarding the camp during the fish fry? Was it because it was night time and a lookout couldn’t see? Surely there was some way to rig up a perimeter warning. Tin cans on a rope strung in a circle around the camp, perhaps? Bubble wrap on the ground? Something, anything, to avoid being taken by surprise like that.

I liked that Carl acted like a real kid and started crying and clutching onto his mom during the attack. That’s exactly what a real kid would do. I’m glad they didn’t make him some Hollywood kid who joined the attack and killed several zombies single-handedly.

Last week I predicted that Merle would stagger back to the camp, unaware he was leading a parade of zombies behind him. I guess maybe not. If he did steal the truck, he would probably have arrived at the camp long before the zombies did, and that didn’t appear to be the case.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Merle though, and I still have a sneaking suspicion he will turn out to be the TV equivalent of the comic book character the Governor.

I was fully expecting Andrea's sister's eyes to pop open after she died. Maybe next week.

OK, BIG SPOILER PREDICTION HERE. Highlight the inviso-text if you want to read it, but remember you’ve been warned.
At one point several years into the comic book, one of the characters dies of a gunshot wound, and before they can be buried, they come back as a zombie. The others are shocked and confused, as the victim wasn't bitten. They come to the horrible realization that whatever caused the zombie outbreak is inside and all around them, and the minute any of them dies for any reason, even natural causes, they too will become a zombie. It’s only a matter of time before they all join the ranks of the undead. It’s a great twist and a defining moment in the comic series, and leeches away what little hope the survivors had left. My prediction: This scene will happen in the last episode of the season, and Rick will look at the others and say, “We ARE the Walking Dead,” just like he did in the comic.


  1. I wait for this post every week, it's my fav!
    I think Merle stole the van too and I was thinking would he be capable of packing a load of zombies up in the back and dropping em off at camp out of revenge or craziness. I questioned some of the things you did. The camp perimeter being somewhat protected. Booby trapped in some way at least. What happened to the buddy system too? No one goes anywhere without some going with them! I knew when Ed opened his tent that something gruesome was about to happen. I went to bed after the show was over, and was sure I heard something rustling in the dark. So I hopped into bed and threw the covers over my head as fast as I could(because they protect you from.....anything.....right?). I am such a chicken! I cannot wait for the next episode!

  2. Thanks, Dawn!

    Yeah, some of the character's actions (like Glenn's) are very well thought out, but then others do bone-headed things like not posting a sentry at the camp. I guess they had to set up an attack somehow, and they've only got an hour, so we just have to accept that things like that are going to happen.

    I've heard others comment that they think Merle intentionally brought the zombies back to the camp, and it's looking like that's likely, however... I have to ask why he'd do that when his own brother is living in said camp? Maybe he's mad at his brother too?

    Yes, bed covers are impervious to monster attacks.

    Now the only question is... what am I going to watch and write about when this show's over?

  3. .....when the show is over.....a sad day indeed.

  4. According to internet reports, season 2 will be 13 episodes, but it won't start until October 2011. That kid that plays Carl will be in high school by then!

  5. Huge Walking Dead fan too -- I got into the comic after hearing that the AMC series was based on it. Just finished issue 48 last night, and eagerly tearing through the next 30 issues as fast as my eyes can take me.

    So far I like that the AMC series has some slightly different storylines which keep it interesting for fans who have already read the comic.

    Great post, I agree with you on the spoiler part. :)

  6. Yeah, usually when I see a comic book movie I get mad and say, "That's not how it's supposed to happen!" But for some reason when they change the storyline in WD I think, "ooh, this is interesting."

    I bought the first 3 trade paperbacks back in 2007. There were more available at the time, but I thought I'd limit myself to 3, "just to see if I liked it." I read through all 3 books in an hour! I ran out and bought all the others I could find.

    Robert Kirkman, who writes the WD comic, also writes a superhero comic called "Invincible." I like it as well. Most superhero comics today are too dark and depressing for me, but Invincible is kind of a fun throwback to early Marvel comics.

  7. My prediction is that Merel stole the truck, led a bunch of zombies into the back of the truck and drove it up to camp and let them out. Hmm, can't wait to see next weeks episode and really happy AMC has decided to make another 13 episodes in Season 2.


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