The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 4 – Vatos

Rick and friends are still in Atlanta searching for Merle. While they don’t find him, they meet another group of survivors who may not be as ruthless as they first appear. Meanwhile, at the camp, Jim has started digging graves, for no reason other than a dream, and we learn a little more about Amy and Andrea.

Up until now, The Walking Dead appeared to be still finding its feet, and definitely suffered from pacing issues. This week’s show not only rectifies the pacing issue, but also widens the survivors’ world a little. The other survivors that Rick et al meet in Atlanta are not the merciless gang they are first portrayed as. Yes, they kidnap Glen and hold him to ransom for the guns, but it turns out that they are looking after a building full of elderly people whose carers left at the first sign of trouble. This gives a nice twist to the idea that the biggest enemy the survivors have to face is not the Walkers, but each other, and broadens the world within the show just a little. There is no doubt that the two groups will encounter one another again during the course of the season.

At the camp, the conversation between Amy and Andrea gives us a deeper understanding of survivor’s guilt, and the quest for normality and stability in a world gone mad. The same goes for Dale’s insistence at winding his watch, and Andrea’s search for paper to wrap her sister’s birthday present in. While this is interesting from the angle of understanding the characters, it also plays a bigger role in the episode as a whole.

The two storylines were given equal time on screen, and for once neither of them felt like a sub plot. The show has centered on a single character to date either due to writing or the strength of the actor’s performance, but this episode gave equal time to the A and B plots, and therefore gave the audience a better understanding of the more minor characters, which led to a bigger pay off at the end of the episode.

The episode’s pace appeared to be what the show has been aiming for all along; yes, there was a lull in the middle, but overall this was much improved on episodes gone before. This could also have something to do with the explosive ending to the episode – until now, the Walkers were in the city and the survivors were in the country, but this all changed in the last 10 minutes of the episode. This twist reminded the camp, and the audience, that nowhere is really safe from the Walkers and served to cull some of the characters, which will surely allow the writing and the storylines involving the central characters to improve.

Overall, one of the strongest episodes of The Walking Dead to date – pacing issues resolved, world expanded and the feeling of safety and security at the camp destroyed. The Walking Dead has hit the perfect mix of violence and human drama. Long may it continue.

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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