Friday, November 26

The Walking Dead Friday - "Vatos."

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Season 1 – Episode 4: “Vatos.”

Another Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We (gobble) have much to (gobblegobble) discuss.

First off, I hope everyone had a happy, healthy and myocardial infarction-inducing Thanksgiving Day. As I am writing this recap before the actual holiday, I’m going to assume that my Day of Giving Thanks went as well as could be hoped. I’ll project that I consumed three mixed drinks (whiskey, I hope), two glasses of white wine and approximately 30-40 pounds of lumpy potatoes. Those Pilgrims were really on to something, before they went and obliterated a pristine American landscape with smallpox and Christianity.

Also, the Missus celebrates her 27th birthday tomorrow, which (for the observant) is her Golden Birthday. If you get the chance, send some love her way. For the last three weeks, my mom has been mailing her a little gift for every day of the month leading up to the big day, which means that we have a kitchen counter stacked to the rafters with various nail polishes, perfumes and novelty kitten calendars. We’d have it no other way; it all blends in nicely with the piles she already had prior to November.

Happy Birthday, Celia. I’d buy you something special, but nobody’s buying my book, so it’s really everyone’s fault but mine as to why you get nothing this year. Enjoy eating cat food in the basement while I snort Ritalin off of a Ouija board in my office (I hope people think we live that way).

My birthday is February 1, which means that my Golden Birthday was also my first birthday. Even though I didn’t have the cognitive faculties to grasp the significance of this day (or even know what a ‘day’ was), my family tells me that I still managed to drink so much formula and juice that I pooped myself and had to have my stomach pumped later in the evening. I never miss a party; I probably had my shirt off, too.

Last Saturday, me and the Missus caught the latest Harry Potter movie, which I thought was just fine, considering that it’s really only the first half of a two-part story. It did its job, and I’m looking forward to the epic finale, even though Celia insists that I will not get the R-rated romp between Hermione and Ron that I’ve been waiting so long for. Really though, they’re all over 18 now; let’s make it happen, Hollywood. On that same train of thought (i.e.: a perverse one) I don’t know who was the costume consultant for this movie, but whoever was in charge of the jeans that Emma Watson had to wear from scene to scene deserves a raise. Keep an eye on that while you watch the film; she’s always wearing the most perfect-fitting jeans on Earth. I’m actually more jealous than I am turned on. She’s got a body like me.

This week’s Walking Dead was another solid peek into the character-building and ‘nobody is safe’ mentality that makes the comic so intriguing. People were killed. Alliances started to form. Living people pointed guns at other living people. Wrist stumps were cauterized on kitchen stovetops. There was a lot to love about ‘Vatos.’

So let’s make fun of it, with THE THICK & MEATY!

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In a field above the campsite, we see Jim feverishly digging holes. Nothing suspicious to see here. Just a quiet loner that watched his family get eaten scooping ominous graveholes in the 100-degree heat. Let the man be.

In Atlanta, on the Department Store rooftop, Daryl sees that his brother Merle had to saw his hand off (and cauterize it on a stove) in order to escape the Roamers. He’s understandably pissed, but Rick promises to continue looking for him, provided they don’t leave the city without their big bag ‘o’ guns.

Back at the campsite, Jim’s actions are starting to creep everyone out. After a brief intervention/tussle with Shane, Jim breaks down and laments about his family getting eaten. He’s tied up as a precaution while he cools out. We see that Shane is the top dog at camp, and an eventual showdown with Rick is inevitable. Specifically, he's going to crack that giant nose of his like an expired egg.

In Atlanta, Glenn, Rick, Daryl and T-Dog outline a plan to get their guns back. However, they’re ambushed by another group of survivors (Miguel, Jorge and Felipe) also focused on the weaponry. Rick’s crew takes Miguel hostage and Jorge’s people speed off with Glenn in tow. Amongst the scuffle, Daryl manages to shoot Felipe in the ass with his crossbow, and Rick retains his guns. This was a fun scene-- that arrow went in deep.

At camp, Jim is recovering from sunstroke while still tied to a tree. He recalls digging the holes because of a dream he had the evening prior. Dude, if I tried to replicate everything I dreamed about, I would have probably been killed way back in 1993, when I fantasized that my cute Science teacher wanted to make out with me in the Specimen Lab. Some things are best left in your head, Jim.

In Atlanta, Rick’s crew meets up with Guillermo and his crew of survivors. Guillermo wants all of the guns in exchange for Glenn, and when a tense standoff ensues, it descends into West Side Story-esque fingersnapping and circular dancing. Well, sort of. You see, these hard-looking Mexican dudes are really the last protectors of an inner-city nursing home, and they’ve been ramping up their act to ward off looters, bunglers and crossbow-wielding ass-shooters. Sort of like what the Dharma Initiative people did to keep their tests secret from the Others (beard glue?). Fair enough. The trade is made, guns are exchanged, and Facebook friend requests are linked. Everyone leaves content, and the elderly continue to be oblivious that the Apocalypse even happened, which really is the way to go, if you think about it.

As Rick, Glen, Daryl and T-Dog walk back to their van, they find it missing. They assume that Merle hijacked it, where he’s probably speeding towards the campsite as they speak, bringing the kind of vengeance that can only brew inside of a racist man that hacksawed his shootin' hand off. And thanks to the Apocalypse, he can’t even apply for a Handicapped Permit.

At the campsite, Jim is untied and everyone participates in a big fish fry (it looked like every restaurant in Wisconsin on a Friday). Everyone except for Ed, that is. After his ass-kicking at the hands of Shane, he’s been keeping a low profile. Besides, his lumpy, misshapen face was scaring the children (and Dale).

Just then, a horde of Roamers attacks the camp, killing Ed, Amy and countless other unnamed survivors. By this point, Rick’s crew has arrived from Atlanta, and assist in killing the Roamers (again) and bringing the attack to a halt. This was a brutal scene that arrived out of nowhere; at least 3-5 people died. The survivors now face the unenviable task of re-murdering their loved ones as they come back as zombies, but that’s a story for next week. Andrea is crushed, and Amy fades into a void of blood and subtle cuteness.

Smash Cut, episode over. ‘Vatos’ had it all. A little character development for the comic nerds, and some insane violence for the gore purists. The subplot with the ‘gang’ was mediocre, but I understand the sociological point they were making. The rules are different now.

Now, pull the arrow out of your ass, it’s time to PICK YOUR BRAIN!

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1 – This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly proclaims The Walking Dead ‘Best Show of the Year,’ and hey, who am I to argue? Pick it up if you get the chance; the article is really quite fantastic, giving us a glimpse into Season 2, as well as some interesting behind-the-scenes info. They also mention how ridiculous the ratings have been. I guess if Friday Night Lights would have introduced a zombie Running Back during Season 2, it could have been more of a ratings contender for NBC.

2 – Not to talk too much about the comic, but the Entertainment Weekly article mentions that the Shane/Rick/Lori thing is going to play out a bit longer than it did in the print version. This is a great idea, as the original storyline ended, well…abruptly. The show producers think there’s a lot of story that can be mined from this Triangle, and I totally agree. There’s something endlessly intriguing about it, and the actors are doing a fantastic job of ratcheting up the gooey tension.

3 – I’m sure some of you already knew this, but the role of Merle Dixon is being played by the incomparable Michael Rooker, best known for his portrayal of Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Henry is easily one of the rawest, bleakest and (probably) most realistic depictions of a serial murderer ever put to film, and I recommend it to everyone and nobody simultaneously. I remember renting it from Express Video as a teenager and watching it alone, which was an experience that wrecked me long before the Internet even had a chance.

What I’m getting at is, trust Michael Rooker. Dude knows what it takes to be a psychopath.

4 – Either Rick doesn’t care how long he was in a coma, or he asked and got an answer off-camera. What I’m getting at is, we don’t know how long the apocalypse has been going on, and we’re not supposed to care. I can surmise it’s been a few months, but according to Dale and his goofy-ass watch-winding theory, it matters not what time it is, but what time it is not. Or something baffling to that effect.

5 - I challenge any fans of Zombie films to find me a movie where the undead look better than what we're currently seeing on The Walking Dead. I'm consistently shocked and memorized by how much work, creativity and genius they put into each and every zombie that gets a close-up. Greg Nicotero is easily the best in the business (and if you look at his unbelievable resume, you'll notice that he's essentially competing with himself).

Don't believe me? Check out this week's HYPOTHETICAL ZOMBIE SCENARIO OF THE WEEK!

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Holy crap, I can't even remember what I was going to say. Give me a minute. Okay, I'm ready.

Is the crossbow the perfect zombie-killing weapon? Is Daryl on to something by tooling around with a silent, precise, portable, brain-puncturing implement with no reliance on bullets or gas? Or can you think of something better? Something tangible, mind you. No Hydrogen bombs or zombie antidote, please. I've thought about this longer than any human who hasn't already experienced the Apocalypse, and I'm coming up pretty empty.

Think about this, won't you? Thank you.

Well, there you have it. Another Walking Dead Friday in the books. Thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section, click the links to previous recaps if you need to catch up, and enjoy your weekend.

Season 1 - Episode 1 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 2 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 3 Review.
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Comments:
I was barely paying attention to this episode since Survivor Series was on. I should've watched the replay or DVR'd it, but I got the gist of this episode.
 
It was pretty good. If you're desperate, you can probably grab the episode (legally) on AMC.com, or just wait until Sunday. But yeah, this is pretty much what happened.
 
Was I the only one that thought Merle hijacked a truckload of zombies to let loose at the camp?


I was so relieved that the janitor was only pretending to be a gang leader. Up to that point I thought they had cast some seriously bad actors. Turns out they were great at acting as though they were janitors pretending to be gangsters.
 
The gang subplot made the episode hard to take seriously. My girlfriend I also hated how no one tried to get Amy's sister off Amy, I kept thinking, "She's going to be undead, get over it." So it will be interesting when they have to kill her again.

Who were the unnamed survivors? It's like they threw extras in and hoped we wouldn't notice.

Not to be a jerk, but in #5 it should be mesmerized not memorized.

@BluStaCon - I thought the same thing about Merle. I mean, Merle should know where the camp is and he should of beat the group to camp. Then again, I remember that the truck didn't separate the cab from the cargo area...unless Merle did something crazy to keep him from getting bit.
 
Hah, oh man, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who noticed how awesome Hermione's wardrobe was in the new HP movie. I think the first thing I said to my fella after seeing it was, "I want Emma Watson's clothes," which probably confused him momentarily with potentially sexy/unnerving thoughts before figuring out what I meant.

And The Walking Dead continues to rule.
 

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