Warning to fans of "The Walking Dead" - Major Spoilers Ahead!
So, the fourth episode of "The Walking Dead" has aired and the inevitable finally happened; the death of humans at the hands of the walkers. But more on that in a moment.
When we last saw Rick, he; Glenn; TDog and Daryl had gone back to Atlanta to rescue Merle and retrieve the bag of guns Rick lost at the end of episode one, only to find that Merle had escaped his handcuffs by sawing his hand off and Shane had beaten the crap out of Ed the wife beater.
"Vatos" opened with sisters Andrea and Amy (Frozen's Emma Bell) fishing in the quarry, reminiscing about their father and the different fishing techniques he had taught them. The scene served to emphasize that despite their age difference, the sisters were still close. It also brought up feelings about loved ones lost to whatever it was that caused the dead to walk, as Amy expressed hope that whatever had happened might not have been as bad in Florida, where their parents presumably lived. In Alanta, Glenn hatches a plan wherein he and Daryl attempt to rescue the guns, only to be foiled when Daryl is set upon by a young punk., who calls out for hlep in Spanish. A car quickly pulls up and a gang of Latinos nab Glenn and take off, but not before Daryl gets to shoot an arrow in one of their asses.
Back at camp, Dale becomes worried when he finds Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) furiously digging holes in the 100 degree heat. Shane eventually overpowers Jim, who admits he may have suffered heatstroke, but is digging the holes because of a half-remembered dream. Andrea and Amy return with loads of fish and the group plans an old-fashioned fish-fry for dinner. In the city, Rick and company have forced the punk to take them to the gang's headquarters, where they soon discover the gang is simply a group of people caring for folks who were left trapped in a nursing home, afraid that Rick and his band were there to take food and medicine away from them. Rick leaves them weapons and ammo, and as the four return to camp, they discover that Merle has stolen their van.
At dinner, Andrea is concerned because she can't find wrapping paper for the necklace she took from the department store for Amy's birthday, while a bruised and pained Ed refuses to join in for dinner, choosing instead to wallow in his own misery in his tent. As dinner is ending, Amy gets up to pee. Ed finds himself annoyed that someone is still bothering him, only to discover that the figure lurking outside his tent is one of about two dozen walkers who have made their way to the camp. The walker attacks, taking Ed down without time for him to scream in warning. As Amy exits the camper, complaining about the lack of toilet paper, she is grabbed and bitten, much to Andrea's horror. Rick and the others arrive on foot, just in time to take out the walkers, rescuing everyone who hasn't already been bitten (which, by my count was three).
As Amy dies in her sobbing sister's arms, we slowly come to realize that Amy will soon rise, and we are left to wonder how the group will deal with her and the other victims, just as Jim remembers why he was digging the holes.
"Vatos" was the series' most intense episode since the pilot, and served as a stark reminder of just what is at stake in a world where the dead eat the living. The tragedy of Amy's death and the sad nursing home survivors only made it more excruciating for the the survivors (though I can't say I was exactly sad to see Ed go). As gang leader Guillermo (Neil Brown, Jr.) says, nothing has really changed... "The weak get taken."
So what is next for the survivors? They know now that they are no longer safe in the mountains as the food supply in the city dwindles and the walkers set out in search of sustenance. Do they go back into town to the relative safety of the fortified nursing home, or head out in search of even more isolated areas where they are less likely to encounter the walkers? Uncle P, for one, is frustrated that only 2 episodes remain and I will chomping at the bit by the time the new season rolls around next fall. AMC has done what every other network has been looking to do - they've found the next "Lost," damn them!
Oh, and the lovely young lady pictured at the top of this post? She's a walker found wandering the department store upon whose roof Merle had been chained. I laughed, because she isn't really all that dangerous, considering she has no lower jaw... but I still would have taken her out. I'm guessing you would have, as well.