Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Walking Dead: Episode 4 (Vatos)

Spoiler Warning! This post contains spoilers for episode 4 of The Walking Dead.

Episode Synopsis: Rick heads back into the city to locate their group's missing member. But things turn ugly when an encounter with a street gang leads to an armed hostage exchange. Meanwhile, there is trouble back at camp.

Discussion: Please welcome my friend Scott, who is joining me for a discussion of the episode.

Q: What were some of the highlights of the episode, in your opinion?

zharth: I thought this was a very tense episode, and very entertaining. I liked the mystery of the group trying to track down Merle, and how everything went to hell when the street gang showed up. And, of course, the zombie attack on camp. Talk about all hell breaking loose. I was really sad that they killed off Amy (the pretty one), though...

Scott: The best moment of the episode for me was seeing how a single old woman defused an incredibly dangerous situation. I never saw it coming. I was completely sucked into the "Mexican gangsters" stereotype, much to my chagrin. That was an absolutely great plot twist not only because you don't see it coming, but also because it reveals something about you, as a viewer. I know I felt ashamed.

Q: How do you feel about Rick's reaction to the hostage situation? Was he justified in taking that risk, or should he have just handed over the bag of guns?

zharth: I have to say, I did not really see a good solution to that problem. I couldn't justify leaving Glenn behind, yet I really did not want Rick to give up that bag of guns, which was rightfully his - furthermore, the street gang did not present itself as being very trustworthy; what if they broke their word? But when Rick decided to go in locked and loaded, I thought that was totally badass. I was sure it was the end for all of them, but what a way to go. Never back down.

Scott: If I had been in Rick's situation, I probably would have done the same thing. Given the behavior of the gang and the way they treated Glenn, parading him on the roof, there was absolutely no guarantee that the guns would buy Glenn's life. To be honest, though, rather than going inside, I would have wanted to just snipe everyone from outside and hope that they wouldn't kill Glenn inside. Less risk to my own men, equal risk to Glenn.

Q: Later in the episode, the leader of the street gang explains the reason for their aggressive facade. Do you think this justifies their earlier behavior?

Scott: I do. I believe that racial profiling is a huge problem; lawmen are suspicious of minorities that look like they're in a gang. A lawman walks in with one of my kids, saying he'll cut my kid's feet off... I don't think I'm going to just come clean about the situation and say that I'm protecting old people. This guy shot one of my guys in the butt and wants to cut the feet off of one of my kids -- he certainly doesn't seem like the reasonable type!

On the other hand, I feel like the group out on the street was completely unjustified in attacking everyone. They were just plain dumb.

zharth: I'm surprised at how quickly I forgave the gang, because I really resented their earlier aggression. I didn't think there was anything they could do to justify that, but I guess the way it all ended so neatly, compared to how messily I was expecting it to go, made me forget how much I hated them. I have to admit, the gang leader makes a good argument for their tough image - "the weak get taken" - but I still, idealist that I am, wish there was a better way. Though there's a very real sense of every-man-for-himself out there in the zombie apocalypse, I think the survivors really need to work together, and not against each other (although the issue of limited resources is important to consider). I guess few people are as badass as Rick Grimes (and would have instead given in to the gang's demands, or just run away), but if things hadn't worked out so smoothly in the end, a lot of innocent blood could have been shed...

Q: Assuming that Merle intentionally brought the zombies back to camp, do you think this act was justified by the way the group treated him on the roof?

zharth: It's interesting, in light of what I said last episode, to consider whether this tragedy could have been averted had the scavenger group indulged Merle's racism, in the hopes of keeping him stable and on their side. But this is, of course, only apparent in hindsight, and it's quite possible that Merle's behavior could have endangered the group in other ways (that possibility was in fact readily apparent at the time). I certainly can't say that Merle's counterattack is justified, but it's hard for me to blame him for feeling angry enough to do it, after what he had to go through.

Scott: I don't. As much as he suffered, he didn't die; there's no reason to murder everyone, let alone children. Rick and T-dog were the ones who mistreated him the most; his anger should be directed at them rather than the community as a whole. I can understand why he wouldn't be thinking clearly, though.

I don't, however, think that Merle brought back the zombies. Not only did nobody hear the van, but there was already a hint in the previous episode when they found a random zombie wandering around. I think it was pretty dumb that Shane, after all of his constant griping earlier, would let his guard down at nightfall and not have shifts of watchers.

zharth: I do wonder where Merle ran off to, after everything he's been through. I kept expecting him to show up, but he didn't. Is that the end of his part of our story, or will we see him again...?

Conclusion: Thanks for joining me, Scott! Stay tuned for our discussion of episode 5 of The Walking Dead!

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