We've now seen four episodes of The Walking Dead's six-episode first season, but last night's installment did little to straighten out the short stories we've been following so far. Rather than moving toward resolution for some of the show's ongoing arcs, last night's episode introduced a whole new group of characters and barely inched forward on the wicked dangling handcuff storyline.
I can't be too harsh on The Walking Dead because I've already pledged my undying and undead allegiance to the show. But I was pretty disappointed that we didn't get more of the Merle plotline—the dude cut off his hand! I'm like a kid at Christmas waiting to see how he reacts to seeing both Rick and T-Dawg! And I wasn't that excited to see the whole Latino gang full of vatos and extras from Michael Jackson's "Bad" video. Perhaps it was my fault: I went into the episode expecting fireworks from a one-handed redneck Merle and got a pretty pedestrian bait-and-switch instead (oh, they're nice gang members!).
The episode's real interesting parts bookended the whole barrio showdown, as we lurched forward with character development and got something the series badly needed: zombies chomping on familiar faces. The sister-to-sister chat that began the episode seemed innocuous enough, a way for us to get to know these survivors. But really it showed The Walking Dead's fearlessness and answered one of my prayers: Kill someone off that we've come to know and like. And they killed off the hot girl! How many shows do that? R.I.P. Amy, and good job, Laurie Holden (Andrea) for giving us a convincing portion-and-a-half of grief. How many of you were waiting for dead Amy's eyes to pop open as America's Next Top Hottest Zombie? It didn't happen. But will it happen in the next episode? This could lead to one of those pesky "She's not really your sister anymore! Now lop her head off with a shovel!" conversations.
Jim, who may become a more important character than I initially imagined, went from diggin' holes like a madman to being eerily psychic over the course of the episode. I'm guessing his dream becoming reality was just a coincidence, because adding supernatural elements to this series would kill it.
Overall, "Vatos" was damn close to being a great episode, though I could have done without the sidetrip with the titular vatos. Sure, they may pop up again later, but as of now it simply seemed like a wasted trip. Give me some more Merle!
Notes from beyond the graaaaaave!
... Hillbilly racist or not, Daryl is now my favorite character. Tie for first place with Glenn, the former pizza delivery guy.
... How about those gorgeous shots of the lake? I'm really liking the saturated colors.
... As much as I didn't really take to the gangster storyline, I did LOL at the three dogs.
And now it's time to rank the episodes, just for the sake of ranking them:
1. "Days Gone Bye," the premiere episode.
2. "Tell It to the Frogs," Episode 3.
3. "Guts," Episode 2.
4. "Vatos," Episode 4.
5. Most of the rest of television.
How would you rank The Walking Dead so far?