Last week on “The Walking Dead” Rick reunited with his family and met some of the other survivors, including Daryl, who was mildly unhappy that his brother had been handcuffed to a pipe on a roof and left to die. So Rick, being the decent guy that he is, led a team to go back and save Merle’s miserable racist coke-snorting butt. Here’s what happened…

The Players:

  • Director: Johan Renck
  • Writer: Robert Kirkman
  • Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Emma Bell, Frances Cobb, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Keith Allen Hayes, Lennie James

Episode Title: “Vatos”

Some survivors pay a visit to Atlanta. Merle does a disappearing act. The survivors learn they’re not the only new meat in the ATL. The rescue team returns just as the camp has some unwelcome guests.

The Good

  • Knotty Problems: Andrea and Amy’s argument turned reminiscent turned mourning was a great emotional moment in a show that’s not shy about having them. It was a great little moment for both actresses.
  • It’s All About the Hat: Rick grabbing his sheriff’s hat before running away? Shades of Indiana Jones anyone?
  • Whistling Dixons: OK, being a jerk must be in the family DNA, but we’ll give the Dixons this; they are pretty darn tough. Daryl in particular is turning out to be less of a jerk than his brother, and despite being obnoxious, has some real value to the group.
  • Mexican Standoff: Guillermo, for those wondering, doesn’t feature in the comic, so his part, and how he drove the plot, was a nice surprise. Although we’ve got some reservations we’ll express below…
  • The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia: The finale of the episode shows how “The Walking Dead” is, pardon the pun, hitting its stride. The balance of sincere emotional moments and zombie murdering action is starting to be a hit, and we’re glad the show has a second season to play with.

The Weird:

  • Speed Kills: Is it us, or does a lot of this seem rushed? First, we discover Ed’s a weirdo, then we learn something unsavory about him, then he’s dead. That took two episodes. We know they were worried about only having six episodes, but geez, guys! Take it slower next season! At least the pacing problems seem largely ironed out. Beyond that though…

The Bad:

  • Out of Whack: This might be a bit of an extended rant so bear with us. One thing that’s starting to get on our nerves about this show is the dialogue and characterization swinging wildly between naturalistic and clever and clumsy as Barney Fife in a grease factory. Compare Merle in the entire second episode, who might as well have had a sign saying “REDNECK JERK” hanging around his neck, with Merle in, of all places, the opening of the third episode, remembering his military years.  It’s like somebody reached down his throat and flipped a switch. And it’s consistently a problem.
  • It Keeps Going: Guillermo’s plotline is a great idea, and an excellent departure from the comics, but it comes off like an after-school special when we learn what his motivation really is. Somehow, we don’t think the audience for “The Walking Dead” needs a lesson in social tolerance. We haven’t seen any comments along the lines of “Boy, this has nothing to do with the show, but I sure do hate me some Hispanics!” Unless you count YouTube comments, and YouTube comments don’t count. For anything.
  • Kirkman’s The Weak Link: This episode is probably the weakest of the series so far and it was written by the comics’ original writer, Robert Kirkman. Kirkman. He tends to phone it in as if he doesn’t care, and unfortunately, this feels a lot like his work-for-hire on the page. Part of this is just the rushed problem we mentioned in “The Weird”; they only had a six episode order, so it’s going to be a little overstuffed and we can forgive them for being worried. And as we mentioned, the show is hitting its stride in a lot of respects. Still, we really hope that the last two episodes are better. This show is pretty good, but it has the potential to be just as good as “Mad Men.” Except with zombies.


A solid episode, but somewhat disappointing compared to the first three. Still better than anything else on a Sunday night, however.

Rating: 7.75/10

“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC at 10pm ET.

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Agree? Disagree? Think Daryl shouldn’t have a crossbow? Let us know in the comments!