Subscribe To The Walking Dead Watch: Episode 4 - Vatos Updates
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Yes! The Walking Dead had me engrossed from beginning to end. It's something I thought would happen every week, but had not previously done so. I think it definitely took three slow shuffling steps in the right direction with "Vatos."
In the quiet opening, sisters Amy and Andrea fish from a kayak. Both are surprised to learn that their father often taught them things, such as knot tying and baiting, completely differently. Essentially, he was setting them up with different skillsets; it's a nice touch that isn't appreciated until the end of the show. And then, in a mysterious moment before the opening credits, Jim is seen on top of a hill, digging holes.
Why is he digging holes, you ask? The group is determined to find out, because almost immediately (and only when the group actually gangs up on him), his adamant digging is scaring the children!!! Shane slowly demands that Jim stop digging holes, against Jim's sensical argument that digging should not inherently scare anyone. Then Jim gets smartmouthed and references the asswhooping Shane gave Ed last week, then takes a swing at him with the shovel. This gets Jim handcuffed and tied to a tree for most of the episode; it's determined he was suffering from sun stroke. He soon apologizes to everyone, and tells Carl he'd had a dream about Rick doing something brave, something to do with the holes he was digging. I'm not sold by actor Andrew Rothenberg's performance as Jim, because during all of his relatively bizarre behavior that I've explained, his emotions don't waver, and it was almost boring.
Meanwhile, Rick and his group are caught up in the immediate aftermath of finding Merle's severed hand on the rooftop where he was handcuffed. Daryl wants immediate retribution, aiming his crossbow at T-Dog, but cooler heads prevail. Merle's blood trail leads them down into the building, through several offices that offer Daryl zombo targets for his crossbow. A skinned-up piece of iron is soon found next to a lit stove, and it's determined that Merle has cauterized his stump wound, making him more mobile. The group butts heads again before deciding to venture out a few extra blocks to find Merle after they retrieve the lost gun bag that is their secondary target.
A plan is conceived. Glenn will snatch up the bag while the rest of the group stands guard a few alleys away, in case the zombies decide to follow Glenn. It would have been a good plan, had a group of Hispanics not been after the same bag. A young male, Miguel (Anthony Guajardo) surprises Daryl in an alley and yells for his friends, who immediately drop in and beat the shit out of Daryl with bats. When Glenn comes back with guns, the titular Vatos do the same to him. Daryl shoots one with an arrow, and suddenly a car swoops in and the gang escapes, taking Glenn but leaving the gun bag and Miguel behind. Rick and the boys question and lightly threaten Miguel, who gives up his group's location, and their leader, Guillermo (Neil Brown, Jr.)
After they approach the ominous and deserted-looking building, the gang is greeted by Guillermo and his right hand Felipe (the one who got the arrow in the ass), who demand a trade: Glenn for the guns, Miguel being an incidental issue. Guillermo has a large squad of armed men behind him, so impulsive moves aren't an option. He gives Rick a while to get the guns and make his decision. When Rick and Co. come back fully loaded and ready to go, Guillermo doesn't flinch, and it looks like a huge shootout is about to occur. But it's averted because of....Felipe's grandmother, who walks into the room and hilariously drains all the tension from the situation. If it sounds like a letdown, it wasn't; it makes more sense than anything.
Guillermo and Felipe are a custodian and nurse, respectively, who worked for the elderly care facility that everyone is currently inside of. The grandmother takes the boys to Glenn, who stands with a group of others watching a man calm his asthma down. Guillermo explains that everyone other than he and Felipe left after the zombies hit, leaving all of the helpless patients to fend for themselves. Relatives eventually showed up, and the group worked to self-sustain, trusting no outsiders in the process. Many of the younger men worked on cars with the goal of transporting the patients elsewhere, but knowledge of their worsening health rendered this a pipe dream; but one that serves its purpose of creating busywork. As depressing as that thought is, it absolutely strikes a truthful chord. So in the end, Rick leaves them some guns, and all should be well. Except when they go back for their van, they see it's been stolen, and Merle appears to be the likely culprit.
Back at camp, there's a big fish fry happening, thanks to Amy and Andrea. Everyone is having a good time, even the recently untied Jim. Oh wait, Ed isn't. He's cooped up inside his tent, not wanting to be bothered by anyone having fun. Around the fire, Dale's continued habit of winding his watch is the source of conversational ridicule, and he rounds out a handful of time-related references peppered throughout the show. Is time important when life as one knew it will never be the same? Are birthdays, such as Amy's, still important, as they are to Andrea? Can the absence of time also be an ally?
We aren't really given time to give a thought provoking answer, because a zombie is soon eating the shit out of the party pooping Ed. Amy, exiting the RV, is also attacked. A large group of walkers are soon taking over the campsite, moaning and grasping anything in their way. Put on your raincoat, because the blood is flying all over the place for the next couple minutes. Jim and Morales use a couple of bats to demolish some faces, and Shane's shotgun tears holes in everything he aims at, but they're outnumbered. Wait...here returns the fearsome foursome with larger amounts of firepower. Rick and Daryl go to town, and even the nerve-wracked Glenn gets in on the violence. Really good camera work went into this entire episode, but these last few minutes are amazing.
Punctuating Amy's death scene beneath Andrea's sobbing face is Jim, who remembers the dream that made him start digging the holes. And then we see the group of casualties from this zombie, and the suspicion that Jim was really digging graves is confirmed. Chilling! I see big things ahead, now that the camp's location has been breached. Did anyone notice I didn't complain about anything? The Jim thing was more unfounded criticism. I really liked this episode. It was funny without telling any jokes, it bent expectations, it held the subtext buoyant, and it served up a righteous helping of sinewy headshots. Glenn used to be a pizza boy? Of course he did. Give me all you've got Walking Dead. I'll see you guys on next week's day of un-rest. We fans should have a nickname, shouldn't we? What should it be?