Review - The Walking Dead: Vatos

Wow. That's all I can say about this past Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead. For an episode of a TV series this one had it all with action, emotion and story that get you hooked and concerned for the characters. I have nothing but praise for this show with great casting and keeping close to the source material and my only complaint is that this first season is only 6 episodes. This episode, titled “Vatos,” gives you a chance to see more of what sort of world Rick and the others are living in (here's a hint: it's an unforgiving one). Here is my take of this episode, Spoilers Ahead.

The last episode ended with Rick, T-Dog, Glenn and Daryl back on that roof only to find a hand, but no Merle. They follow his likely path off of the roof and come across some clues as to where he went with a few downed zombies, a spot where he cauterized his stump and eventual escaped from the building. With Merle’s whereabouts unknown they decided to go after the bag of guns to make it easier searching for Merle. They separate into two groups to cover Glenn as he makes a grab for the guns and the plan goes off almost exactly right, except for a run-in with another small group of survivors. This other group of survivors was looking for that bag of guns as well; they run off with Glenn, but leave behind one of their own with Rick’s group.

Meanwhile back at camp it’s a little more peaceful with warmer moments of the two sisters Andrea and Amy out fishing thinking about their parents. Actually they get into a discussion about their father and how he taught each of them a different way to fish, seeing how different the two are. A lot of this goes on in this episode, with each of the survivors sort of reflecting more about things from their past and how they ended up here. Another focal point of the episode is on Jim, another survivor there, seen by Dale digging a bunch of holes up on a hill with a blank look on him. It gets him worried enough that the group confronts him and we learn what happened to Jim's family that brought him here. It's pretty heartwrenching.

Rick and crew want Glenn back and while his captors want the entire bag of guns, but Rick ain’t having any of that. As they go in locked and loaded ready to kill as many as they can and get Glenn back, there standoff is diffused by an unlikely moderator. This other group is actually one with good intentions as they are holdup at a senior center protecting the people that were left behind by the doctors and staff doing what they can to protect them and survive any way possible. Rick's compassion really shines through here and is just about equally matched by Guillermo, a former janitor turned settlement leader.

Rick, Glenn, Daryl and T-Dog fear that the truck they used to get to the city was taken by Merle back to the camp with vengeance on his mind, leaving them no choice to hoof it. They get there just in time to deal with zombies coming out of the woods causing panic and death in their wake. What's great about the campfire dinner scene is you know something bad is about to happen and you expect Merle to come back ballistic; instead it's zombies. There are the requisite casualities of some other settlement survivors that haven't really been focused on much, but there are also two somewhat significant deaths as well. I mean with these characters you get involved with them and are invested in them, but this ending of the episodes shows that no survivor is safe from the zombies. It makes a death have more of an impact and sort of makes the show more real I feel.

This show has just exceeded my expectations in every way possible and really can’t wait until next week’s episode. The ending of this episode is really the first time we see zombies do what they do best in swarming survivors and taking them down. Since the comic and show started with the zombie outbreak already happening and the world falling you don’t see any of this chaos until now. It really shows the nature of the zombie up close and makes these survivors have to face choices and realize that where they are isn’t safe anymore. Daryl also showed some complexity to his character; he was concerned about Glenn being taken and he showed some trepidation upon discovering the truck was gone and Merle was possibly on his way back to wreak havoc. The characters are finally settling in and things are evening out a bit, meaning the last two episodes are going to be phenomenal.