The Walking Dead episode 4

Episode 4: “Vatos.”

At least I can say The Walking Dead series celebrates cultural diversity, even if a diverse racial medley embraces American stereotypes. This episode, called Vatos, features a Latino group holing up in a warehouse. When Rick, Glen, T-Dog, and Darryl trek back into Atlanta looking for Merle and a bag of guns, a run-in with the “vatos,” leads to a hostage situation and a stand-off. Instead of the situation culminating in bloodshed, Robert Kirkman’s teleplay reveals another humane survivor group – the “vatos” are maintaining an abandoned nursing home, looking after the elderly and indigent. Their tough exterior gives way, Rick donates some weapons, and a kidnapped Glen is released.  Here Kirkman’s episode demonstrates a positive outlook towards humanity; unfortunately it’s the last moment of stability the episode delivers.

It’s about time I come straight with the few readers I’ve had since recapping TWD episodes. I didn’t want to say anything about the characters since I feel one of the strong points in the comics is the uncertainty. So many times I’ve become attached to a character and they die; one of the strong points of the series. When beloved characters die suddenly its all the more devastating. I think adding the Merle storyline was clever since it allowed characters to build, only to break them down and shatter any illusions of security. Almost 79 issues into the series and any sense of comfort is impossible, even when the protagonists find sanctuary. I’m glad the television adaptation’s adhering to this trope. The episode’s climax – zombies attacking the survivor camp – is extremely violent and many characters die quickly, denying solace and making their world even more dangerous and final.

The episode’s opening sequence is quite foreboding and upon reflection is foreshadowing the events of the third act. The opening shot features a rowboat housing Amy and Andrea, fishing and talking about their father. The sisters reveal the differences between fishing styles they were taught: Andrea learned fishing for food and Amy learned so she could throw them back. This scene reveals the importance of their father’s teachings. Andrea, taught fishing for survival, lives through the zombie attack – Amy doesn’t.

Amy’s final moments, with Andrea holding her, are very touching and avoid the melodrama of the previous episode. Instead of being maudlin, the hushed musical drone accompanying the scene imparts Andrea’s sorrow. This drone represents Amy’s life fading away and the note’s conclusion marks her death. Although I believed Rick’s emotional display valid in the last episode, the scene itself was flawed; this week’s episode doesn’t repeat that blunder. This horrific moment maintains all the seriousness of the situation, not pandering with cheap sentimentality. Personally I liked this scene. Even though Andrea’s loss is heartbreaking, this scene marks the birth of Andrea as the character I’ve grown to love in the comics. She’s my favorite character in the series and I’m hoping Darabont and company develop her well. If they do, Andrea will become a valuable asset and an excellent character, filled with wit, intelligence, and sincerity.

The other portion of the opening scene involves Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) digging holes. The camp residents believe he’s going insane – “scaring people” – and later he reveals a dream inspired his actions. The episode concludes with Jim saying he remembers his dream and dug the holes for a reason. Considering the invasion and loss of life, Jim’s digging is quite ominous, even if this revelation is a little clichéd. I thought this forgivable since the episode’s events were so good. Rick’s group searching through the city and the battle at the episode’s conclusion all worked well together and Kirkman’s first teleplay shows his strengths as a storyteller – his script flows well, has a strong human element, and contains all the carnage any zombie fan expects.

Merle’s whereabouts are still unknown; even if we know he cauterized his arm and took off out a window. Since this episode features such a large loss of life I’m questions whether Merle will appear again. Michael Rooker is a talented character actor but it’s entirely possible he’s gone for good. Before I mentioned the uncertainty of the comic series and these deaths bring that home. The new characters, not in the books, were a little distressing at first but now I really appreciate it. For those not familiar with the comics every event is new; for the fans it’s creating that sense of ambiguity all over again. Characters like T-Dog are enigmatic, since I have no idea what’s going to happen to them. He could become a regular part of the show or die next episode – I really have no idea. I like that and I’m hoping the comic fans do too. It makes a familiar story unfamiliar. Instead of a verbatim copy, the television adaptation is fresh, taking all the positives from the original source and making it something new.

However, keeping with the themes from the comics, Shane’s descent into dangerous territory is still growing. There’s a brief reprieve in his violent outbursts, but Shane detains Jim and shackles him to a tree which questions his stability. This scene is ambiguous, since Shane acted out of concern for both the refugees and Jim, yet his handling of the situations may reveal his volatility. I still believe a showdown between Rick and Shane is on the way, although the catalyst isn’t clear.

The level of violence in the episode has surpassed previous episodes, making this the most brutal series not on HBO or Showtime. There were over a dozen headshots this episode and Amy’s death was quite bloody. I remember reading in an interview with Kirkman a while back his amusement seeing people on the set portraying characters he’d killed a long time ago; I just didn’t know how violent it would actually be. This show continues to surprise me, intensifying the anxiety with each episode. I’m only curious now how far into the comic series the next two episodes will go.

Here’s the trailer for episode four

12 responses to “The Walking Dead episode 4

  1. Encrazed Crafts

    Huzzah! Episode 4 delivered, and how! The first was good, the second “meh,” the third was amazing, and this one is outstanding. Just enough action, just enough character interaction, excellent episode. I am also glad that we are not meant to loathe the Hispanic gang, as they are just defending the older family members, but that was only discovered by an extremely unlikely event of an old lady going unnoticed down several flights of stairs and walking into the giant chop shop they got going on that turned into a Mexican stand off. Weak transition, especially as the only reason she was there was to tell a guy to have a patient use an inhaler that anyone could have held in their pocket or on a near-by desk for emergency situations. They attempt to make the group seem nice by having Glenn walking around freely in back, but what if Rick killed most of the men? Would they have not shot Glenn just for association? Annoying, but passable.

    Also, what was Rick’s reasoning behind shooting anyone at all? I thought the options were return the guy and the guns for Glenn, or shoot them all. They drop off the guy and then plan on shooting them all anyway? (What was up with the guy they took screaming his head off at Daryle, anyway? I’m assuming it was spanish, why would he just start screaming like that instead of running away? Weirdness.) Did Daryle get to Rick’s head in that scene or something? I remember Rick saying he wasn’t going to leave Glenn alone after he saved him from the tank…but he goes in ready to blaze the weapons? Seemed a bit off. And Rick was much more aggressive this episode from the moment he pointed a gun at Daryle’s head, I noticed. Pushing Daryle, guns in peoples’ faces left and right. Not that I didn’t like it, just seemed a bit like Shane-territory based on what we’ve seen so far.

    And you are right, maybe now your fav. Andrea can actually do *something* positive for the group. Though I don’t think next episode is going to be the episode that she does that…as someone said in the preview “she’s a ticking time-bomb” telling me she hasn’t gotten far from the soon-to-be undead Amy. But at least Ed’s dead. And random people that have no names that I never remember seeing in the past but not conveniently die on camera. Silly, Hollywood.

    And in the previews I heard the music when they find (what the audience knew long ago) that Merle was going to lop his hand off. The music was very close to 28 Days, now that I remember music was playing then at all 😛

    • The way you called me out last week on the handcuffs situation, I’m going to call you out regarding the inhaler. I’m thinking a good deal of these nursing home patients aren’t even 100 % sure what’s going on – some look like they have dementia, others are just very, very old. Many people in nursing homes (assisted living and skilled nursing facilities) don’t have access to their medication, relying on outside help for this. One of the “vatos” is a nurse, who probably doles out medication at least 3-5 times a day for these residents. Remember Milos Foreman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the patients lined up for their medications every morning? It’s not that different except the nurses and med techs wheel the drugs to the resident’s rooms instead. These old people are institutionalized; they become reliant on their caregivers for just about everything. It’s actually pretty sad.

      The kid in Rick, Darryl, and T-Dog’s custody was just that: a kid. I’m trying to suspend disbelief and just accept it. I remember running from the cops after a minor prank in middle school and stopping dead in my tracks when he said “stop!” Luckily I wasn’t really in any trouble, but that’s the power of authority, especially armed authority. I do agree that Kirkman’s teleplay went a little over the top with the desperate stand-off but his “one world, one population,” sentiment wasn’t bad. The episode came across as racist at first, only to become another anti-racist statement. In a time when Mexican immigrants are accused of beheadings in the desert and demonized by terrified white people a message like this is helpful – especially in a highly popular television series. Even during a zombie apocalypse the show demonstrates that racial barriers are generally human constructions and not necessarily innate.

      Rick was much more aggressive this episode, but the world they live in is becoming more and more belligerent. I think his stance reflects his position as leader, which he’s naturally becoming. Guillermo, the leader of the Latino group, even states some of the other groups he’s encountered are dangerous, necessitating their initial false hostility. I understand that resources are scarce and people are vicious when facing starvation and death. I personally enjoy Rick assuming control of situations – which will be a detriment later if the show follows the comic storyline – and feel he’s a strong character with a solid moral and ethical base.

      Also, that music from 28 Days Later is by a group called Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It’s from an album called f#a#oo and the song is called East Hastings. They contain a punk rock aesthetic but their music sounds like it’s a soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist. I’d highly recommend checking them out; they’re one of my favorite groups. Many members also went on to a band called Thee Silver Mt. Zion, which is similar but not as avant-garde.
      I can’t wait for next week’s episode; only two left. I’m curious if Merle will show back up. Since he’s not in the comic books I have no idea what’ll happen. I’m wondering if he’s gone forever, since the world they live in is so unorthodox, indicating that anything can happen. Since its television I’m sure he will – people like clean and tidy wrap-ups. =)

      • Encrazed Crafts

        Ah! Your icon is a picture of your kitty! Kawaaaii! (Translates to “Cute”.)

        Hmm. I’ll go along with the medication dispenser idea, but I still think it’s a little hazy. Say there is one guy that is in charge of medication (I think the leader even said that dude was the nurse at the Home) which I’ll buy. But, shouldn’t he have been back at the home to help with them directly? I’d recommend sending someone else in his place, but really doctors aren’t common in times like that, so he really should be staying safe for everyone at the hospital section. I’ll concede that it was at best, a terrible decision by the leader of the gang/group.

        Oh, and you reminded me of something. I think they are using the Vatos leader to voice their intention of Rick picking up the lead, as the leader said something along the lines that “they look up to me, and I don’t know why” which Rick replies “because they can.” Fairly blunt and out in the open statement/foreshadowing there.

        Something I see fairly often pop up is that Merle might turn into ‘the governor’ character that appears later on in the comics. I know nothing of him, but the insistence of other commentators seems to make that a strong case. Perhaps that will knowledge will make sense to you, who has read the comics?

        I’ll google that band, hopefully youtube is shining brighting upon them so I can hear more 😀

  2. Rick definitely becomes the leader of the group and it’s not a spoiler to say so. Aside from being the chief protagonist, his character embodies the traits of a natural leader. I believe the scene in episode three where the camera follows him through the camp (he talks to Glen about the Dodge Challenger and ends up talking to Lori) gives the impression that he’s a leader, surveying everything in his charge. Your assumption about his comment, “because they can,” is insightful; it indicates he knows why he’s now the de facto leader of the group. It’s not because he openly challenged Shane’s authority, but rather because he exudes confidence and a level head. That was seen in the department store scene in episode two and again in the following episodes when he spells out his moral code for his wife and everybody else listening.

    I hope Merle doesn’t become the Governor, since the Governor is a despicable character. He embodies everything wrong with humanity and our current civilization. In essence he’s a prime example of America gone askew: he tortures, he creates bloody public spectacles, and a master propagandist. Hopefully this character shows up on the series, since he’s a vile person that makes everybody else look righteous. Since you haven’t read the comics I highly suggest you pick up every graphic novel out there. They’re probably the best comics I’ve read in years.

    The cat picture is my girlfriend’s cat. His name is Foucault and I usurped his identity as a pseudonym for the blog. I don’t really know why, but I like it. He’s a rambunctious little cat she rescued. He was feral and vicious; now he’s cute and slightly feisty. I’ve formed quite a bond with the little bastard and he’s really calmed down over the last year and change. As I’m writing this little Fou-Fou just scratched my girlfriend. She was provoking him though. =)

    By the way, is that you in the suit and tie on The Feminine Miss Geek’s blog?

  3. Encrazed Crafts

    The only guy in a suit and tie I saw was the Dr. Who actor, and the comedian interviewing him on Miss Geek’s blog. Either way, I doubt the guy in a suit, where ever he is, is me, as I have only worn a suit and tie like once some ten years ago. And even then it was only for Halloween. (Suits = too stuffy, bleh.)

    “I’ve formed quite a bond with the little bastard” haha sounds like what I say about ‘my’ dog we got from a friend. He’s a goofy thing, looks kinda like a white Irish setter with floppy ears. When he gets shaved he looks like a dead ringer for Falcor outta Never Ending Story. Extremely fast, but not the brightest of things…

  4. I can’t think of Never Ending Story anymore without Keyboard Cat coming to mind ( I was just wondering since you have a link to the Geek Girl blog – I might have wrongly assumed that’s your girlfriend’s blog. I like that blog and my girlfriend does too. She’s not into traditional “geek” activities but she still finds it very interesting and funny.
    Happy Thanksgiving =)

  5. Encrazed Crafts

    Ah, yeah. The Misses and I have the Encrazed blog. I do all the typing, but it is ours. Geek Girl linked to me after I left a few comments on her blog so I had to dig up how to link back to someone (that took me a good hour since I deleted the blogroll option sometime last year) but I will be adding all the blogs I frequent shortly. Turkey Day, WoW’s Cataclysm patch, and crafts have been keeping me pretty tied up the last few.

    And that keyboard cat was so wrong on many levels. Completely forgot about that scene probably due to the emotional trauma that it caused. Darn you Swamp of Sadness! But that does make me wonder if that is where the zone “Swamp of Sorrows” came from in WoW.

  6. It wouldn’t surprise me if WOW took something from The Never Ending Story. I’ve never played WOW; mostly because I know I’d get addicted quickly. I like video games but don’t play them because I do like them. I like playing music more but it’s harder than video games and if I found an awesome game like WOW I’d probably become a junky immediately. When my PS2 broke a few years ago I vowed to give up gaming. I understand why people enjoy video games so much – they’re really, really fun.

    I also noticed your webstore is empty currently. When are you adding items? Let me know when =)

    I love Keyboard Cat; partially because it’s cute and partially because the clips they use are so awkward and uncomfortable. It’s really funny. That Hall and Oates clip I put up today kills me every time. I saw today there’s a Keyboard Cat church, but I think I’ll pass. I’m already an ordained minister and I think that’s irreverent enough for one lifetime.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Only three days left until the next TWD episode. I can’t wait.

    • Encrazed Crafts

      Man, I’m surprised I forgot this but there was an NPC named Rockbiter in the game since it first came out. (Hope he’s still there, as they changed quite a bit in the most recent patch for Cata.) I forgot the details, but he was a rocky Giant-based model and the quest chain he offered ended with you leading a girl named Shay back to him by ringing a bell. Trying to look it up but the site isn’t working, but from what commentors said on the quest they quoted a few of the things Rockbiter said in the movie. Then there was Un’Goro Crater that was *filled* with Nintendo references…

      Yup, the store is-a empty for now. I’m just finishing up a blanket I’ve been working on for awhile, and I’d like to have it up within the week but I need to see how much it weighs when completed so I know an accurate shipping cost. And I might as well check the weight of all the other stuff I need to toss up on there haha It shouldn’t be too much longer, I’ll let ya know!

      Hope your Turkey Day was great, mine was quite filling and I just have some left-overs now. (Stuff is still good, I don’t know why some people are so adverse to left-overs.) Zombies just two days away, woo!

      • That first paragraph confused me. I’m not in the know in regards to video games anymore. When I do play them I go to the arcade; my usual haunts are the various pinball machines and Marvel vs. Capcom II. I’ve actually never played WOW. I thought about it but didn’t. It looks fun, but I know I’d become an addict and ruin my life.
        I am curious about your crafts and will keep checking back every few days. I’m not very crafty myself and couldn’t even sew a patch if my life depended on it. I think my girlfriend knows how to sew, but she never does. =)
        Thanksgiving was good. Ate lots of food, watched a few movies, read for a few hours. The little lady had to work but she loves her job, knowing it’s what she signed up for. At least she receives ridiculous pay since it’s a holiday.
        Now it’s one more day until TWD. I’m stoked but bummed because there are only two episodes left until next year. What the hell is that? You really need to check out the comics; you’ll get addicted quickly and spend all your money on the graphic novels. Eventually you’ll start picking up the issues every month and writing letters to the editor – that’s what happened to me. At least they printed my letter in this month’s issue (jumping for joy for some inane reason).
        By the way, I have a webstore too. My buddy and I run a small record label, releasing CDs, tapes, and LP’s (when we have the money for them). It’s not a suggestion to buy anything, but you can check it out here:
        I’m looking forward to your take on the episode tomorrow. Take care.

  7. Encrazed Crafts

    Sorry, I forget how much gaming terms can be out of place to people not steeped in them. The short version is: There was this big ol’ friendly rock monster named Rockbiter as a homage to Never Ending Story. I’m fairly sure he also said a few quotes from the movie.

    Haha, just like how you don’t want to bite the WoW forbidden fruit, I don’t want to touch the graphic novels. Almost 20 bucks a month for a game keeps the wallet company enough for now 😛 Your musical webstore is quite fairly priced. I was surprised to see the cost so low, actually. When I first think of ‘new’ or ‘unique’ music I think extravagant and thus out of the park prices, but yours is quite affordable. (Etsy is kinda the same in that regard. Some things look like they are way over priced while other great looking stuff seems almost too low. While I can see a higher price for high quality and cost of materials/time spent working, I will admit seeing some cross-stitched bunnies for eighty plus when it is like three inches by four inches does sound a bit ridiculous.)

    • We try and keep prices low because noise/experimental/hardcore/etc. is a niche market. It’s not like there are millions of people hankering for the latest sound collage or hardcore ep on cassette. We do limited pressings of everything and do a bunch of stuff by hand, keeping costs down. If we could sell 2-3,000 copies of a single release we’d have them professionally pressed but that’s not happening. That takes times; it also takes touring (which we haven’t done). Plus, tapes are cheap to release (at least in comparison to CDs and LPs), which is why we sell them for $6 instead of $8 or $10 like many labels.

      I know this is naughty, but you could probably find TWD trades for download somewhere. Lucidmedia just went down the other day (bummer) but I’m sure there’s a decent blog out there with them. There’s always torrents, but I don’t know how to do that (I’m old…well, not really, but old enough to not know). WOW’s really $20 a month? I had no idea it was that much. I thought it was around $10 at the most. I guess it’s cheaper than Magic: The Gathering. One last place to look for TWD trades is your local library. The one down the street has every volume and they keep adding them as they come out. I also live in a historic, upper-class neighborhood with high taxes. My house is small (with lower taxes) but I reap all the benefits of rich people. It’s pretty awesome actually.

      Don’t worry about the language, I’m just inept when it comes to computer speak and all that jargon. If I had the time I’d play WOW, but I fear addiction, which may lead to my girlfriend leaving and a lost job. Trust me, it would happen if I played that game; it looks way too fun. =)

      About 10 hours till the new Walking Dead. WOOP!!!

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