Saturday, 27 November 2010

'THE WALKING DEAD' 1.4 - "Vatos"

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Possibly the best episode yet, despite a saggy middle, but I still find this show annoyingly flat overall. I just don't care about anyone, and the situations the characters find themselves in are just Walking Dead's version of countless other moments from apocalyptic/zombie fiction. I actually get quite bored halfway through.

It also continues to be very stupid: everyone treats Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) lost bag of guns as if they're the last firearms on the planet, when the whole city of Atlanta must be full of empty gun shops just waiting to be looted (this is America, right?), and there was a climactic zombie attack on base-camp that everyone deserved, as they'd apparently taken no precautions against zombies invading at night. Heck, a perimeter of fishing wire suspending empty baked bean cans would have been something to alert them, right? What exactly are their defenses when old codger Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) isn't standing on his RV's roof with binoculars during the day? Everyone's told to keep their fingers and say a prayer before bedtime?

Still, there were moments I enjoyed. Watching Rick, T-Dog (IronE Singleton) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) track Merle through the department store, following the footsteps of a desperate man who sawed his hand off and cauterized the wound, was more tense than anything involving the zombies. Although, in another example of character stupidity, why didn't Merle just saw his thumb off to escape those handcuffs?

There was also a nice opening scene between Andrea (Laurie Holden) and her sister Amy (Emma Bell), fishing alone in the quarry's lake, reminiscing about their presumed-dead parents. It only existed to create belated emotional attachment to Amy, before she was viciously attacked and killed in the climactic zombie attack, but that's acceptable. Holden's wailing performance over the body of her sister did more to sell the closeness of their relationship than any writing could deliver. Still, it's a shame Amy was a character I barely knew existed before this episode, and four episodes isn't enough time to grow attached to someone who only had perhaps 5 minutes of notable screen time.

The primary storyline, with Glenn (Steven Yeun) captured by a street gang, had a twist that worked well (the mob were actually compassionate folk, protecting a retirement home's elderly residents), and the backbone of that idea reminded me of something Survivors would have done. It was just a shame it came across as rather preachy here, mainly because of gang leader Guillermo's stupid dialogue.

Overall, "Vatos" (written by the comic's creator Robert Kirkman) was entertaining and contained two good sequences, but I'm still not craving this show. It just is what it is. But I'm intrigued by the addition of Jim (Andrew Rothenburg), a survivor who freaked everyone out by tirelessly digging graves all day. At first, it appeared to be a symptom of sunstroke and guilt (his family were slaughtered by zombies, allowing him to escape), but it became clearer it might have been a premonition, as the day ended with a camp full of corpses now requiring those graves he dug. We're possibly embarking on a story where Jim comes to believe he's in communion with God, right? A cliché, but one that could be fun.

As usual, I suppose everyone else thought this was the bee's knees?

WRITER: Robert Kirkman
DIRECTOR: Johan Renck
TRANSMISSION: 26 November 2010, FX/HD, 10PM