The Walking Dead – “Vatos”Posted: September 28, 2011
I think most will agree that it’s a good thing The Walking Dead is taking departures from the comic. It keeps things fresh, keeps the fans guessing what’s coming next. So let’s see those new characters. And let’s see that horde of zombies bring God’s swift judgment upon their heads, because man, were they annoying. I mean, I can’t be the only one who thought the episode’s last ten minutes were the best part, can I? Four episodes in, and I’m still waiting for the show to click. It’s doing so many things well that it hurts that much more when it does things wrong. “Vatos” touched on several ideas that probably sounded great in the writers room, but came off half-baked. Let’s take a look, shall we?
ISSUE THE FIRST: The Mexican gang. These guys would have worked so much better had they been either a straight up gang or just a group of nurses, doing good, helping the sick and afflicted. There’s a really interesting idea that was touched on in “Dirty Hands,” an episode of Battlestar Galactica’s third season. And that was, in a post-apocalyptic society, when the job you’re given is usually where your skills are strongest and where you’re needed the most, do you really have any freedom to move around, to eventually do something different? On BSG, you could see these people year after year, becoming more entrenched in their jobs, and you got the sense that their descendants, years later, would be doing the exact same thing. On The Walking Dead, I thought it would have been much more interesting to see the foundation being laid down for some sort of Canticle-of-Leibowitz-esque guild of healers. All the guns and faux tough talk kind of ruined that.
If, on the other hand, they hadn’t been nurses, but just a group of Crips, it would have brought up questions of how different groups of survivors are beginning to govern themselves. Questions that the comic has raised already, and I imagine the show will eventually. Speaking of the gang, how much cooler would things have been if the leader had been played by Ludacris? I imagine it would have gone something like this…
Rick: We came to get our man back.
Luda: I be that ni**a named Luda, A.K.A. L-O-V-A L-O-V-A, f**k that s**t, ni**a what you wan say one time, Southside let’s ride. And if you love what you do, do what you feel. Then I know you gonna mark my words. Y’all drop s**t like birds. Then it’s about the time for yo ass to get served. Just lay it on down. Just lay it on down, while we re-LAX to the tight RAPS and the phat TRACKS that that ni**a Timbaland put down.
He was great in Crash. No reason he couldn’t work the same magic here. Anyway.
ISSUE THE SECOND: I understand Rick is a tough guy who needs to show his mettle in front of the gang, but can we please stay away from these gruff platitudes about having blood on your hands? Who talks like that? I guess it should also be noted that “Vatos” was written by Robert Kirkman, the comic’s creator. Taking that into account, I feel like the episode would have worked much better in that format. At least it would have given Kirkman a reason to parse down some of the dialogue. It would have made things a lot tighter.
ISSUE THE THIRD: Jim’s “Aha!” moment at the end of the episode. That’s why he was digging those holes; to bury all the dead people! This one is kind of a cop-out on my part, because I don’t have a really good excuse for why I took issue with it. It just seemed like the show was trying to be a little edgy and ended up falling flat. It’s like, Boardwalk Empire, where every character has found an excuse to flip through a popular book that’s somehow thematically tied to the episode. After the fifth or sixth time, it was just like, alright already, we get it. So anyway, there’s that.
It wasn’t all bad, though. One thing the episode did unquestionably well: Killing off half of the survivors. It was necessary. Eventually the group is going to have to move on, and I don’t think it would have served the show very well to keep such a large group around. Although, on the other hand, there was always a pretty big group in Lost. You just had a lot of background players who never had any lines. They just hung out, surfed and cooked ribs while Jack, Kate and Sawyer ran around the island, carrying out all their clandestine s**t. Although here it seems that everyone is getting their own time to shine. The downside to that being, when a character doesn’t click it’s that much more noticeable when stacked up against the other characters. Case in point, the Mexican guy and his family. After he compared Dale to a village priest, I knew it was time for him to go.
I really feel like the show is almost there. And I’m wondering if, with only a 6-episode first season, it’ll pull a Parks & Recreation and really come together in its second. We’ll have to see. Reviews of the first few episodes of season two are beginning to hit, and so far they seem to be pretty good. We’ll be waiting with baited breath, I’m sure. That, or Person of Interest will get really good and we’ll all start watching that instead.