Episode Title: Vatos
Original Airdate: 11-21-10
The episode opens with sisters Andrea and Amy fishing near the survivors’ camp, discussing different techniques their father taught them, then bringing a massive pile of fish back for everyone to eat. Meanwhile Dale spots Jim, who’s barely been present in the previous episodes, obsessively digging holes. Shane confronts Jim, restraining him, as Jim tells the terrible tale of how he lost his family to the Walkers. After being tied to a tree for the afternoon, Jim starts to feel better, his sunstroke having passed.
In Atlanta, Rick, Glenn, Daryl and T-Dog continue to search for the now one-handed Merle. While retrieving the guns Rick dropped before becoming trapped in the tank, the group is attacked by other survivors. Glenn is taken hostage, while one of the attackers is left behind. He leads Rick to his group and Rick suggests an equal trade, but the attackers want all the guns or they’ll kill Glenn. Returning later, Rick is determined to get Glenn back without giving up the guns or go down in a blaze of glory…when a little old lady breaks up the fight and we find out the other group of attackers is actually helping elderly nursing home patients survive their last days comfortably in an apocalypse. Rick gives them some guns and Glenn is free to go, but they soon find out their ride to the city has been stolen, so they run back to camp. They arrive during a massive Walker attack which claims the lives of several unnamed background characters, Carol’s abusive husband, Ed, and Amy. The remaining survivors watch as Andrea cries over her dead sister’s body.
At the time I felt this was a very subpar episode. My feelings really haven’t changed. Firstly, Jim is barely a character. He’s in the comics and has the same story line, but it still feels weird to put so much focus on a guy who’s had maybe two lines so far. And he won’t be lasting much longer. So I don’t understand why they bothered, other than trying to have something close to the source material, because the other focus of the episode certainly isn’t, since Daryl and Merle were created for the show.
Speaking of the Dixon Brothers, the rescue mission to Atlanta is intriguing at first, as Daryl tracks Merle through the department store, seeing that he was still able to take out Walkers one-handed and that he found a way to cauterize his wound. But then they decide to go after the guns and everything goes to hell with the rival group. The writers may have a had good intentions, trying to show that appearances can still be deceiving in this new world, but truthfully, the plot feels like aimless filler. Granted they had to fill some space, because the comic is much less dramatic, with just Rick and Glenn going back to the city to stock up on guns, and not coming back to a Walker buffet. It was still a misstep, since what the drama they did add to the story was overreaching.
Other than the last five minutes, this is one TWD episode that is perfectly fine to skip.