Saturday 27 November 2010

THE WALKING DEAD episode four

Zombie time again folks. Here's my review of episode four of the FX series.

This episode opens on a gentle fishing scene between Amy and Andrea (Emma Bell and Laurie Holden), showing the close bond the sisters have. They're trying to readdress the balance of the labour divide, established last week as being quiet gender specific. The men do the hunting, the women do the cleaning. There may be a slower pace of life down at the camp, but this really is the calm before the storm. Up on the ridge we see the increasingly disturbed Jim (Andrew Rothenberg), the up to now quiet camp member who's suddenly grown a penchant for digging mass graves. He's clearly been affected by the zombie onslaught and the loss of his wife and children, and although he's not especially dangerous, he can't offer any explanation for his actions, leading to Shane stepping in and shutting him down.

As for the group in Atlanta, their search for Merle gets sidetracked when Glenn gets kidnapped by a gang of Latino hoodlums. They want to exchange Glenn for the bag of guns that Rick and co. have just retrieved, but Rick has the added bargaining chip of having one of the younger members of their gang in his possession. Rick continues his habit of putting valour and duty before his family, facing off against the 'dangerous' gang to save Glenn, feeling he's still in debt for being saved from the tank by him in the second episode.

This latino gang may appear tough, but they're pussycats really. Finding themselves in a deadlocked face off, all it takes is a wandering old grandma to reveal the truth. Just as honourable and brave as Rick, the gang are holed up in an old folks home, caring for their elderly relatives. They were willing to fight to the death to protect the supply of medicine and their families, something Rick could relate to. Once a mutual understanding is reached and a compromise is met, Rick, Duane, T-Dog and the recently released Glenn decide its probably best to get out of Atlanta and continue their search for Merle Dixon.

Despite not featuring in this episode, Merle Dixon proves himself to be one tough sonofabitch from the blood dripped trail he's left behind. Not only has he sawn his own hand off and then cauterised the wound, he's managed to kill a few zombies during his escape from the building. Single handedly, you might say. Merle may be down but he's certainly not out, taking the van Rick, Glenn, T-Dog and Duane used to travel back into Atlanta. The assumption is that he's headed back to the camp like a bear with a sore head and a sore hand, so a hasty trek back is the only option for the group.

In this episode we also see the aftermath of Ed's run in with Shane last week, bruised both in face and ego. Ed's sequestered himself in his tent, unwilling to take part in any group activities; not that he's particularly welcome. Anyways, his wife Carol and daughter Sophia are becoming integral members of the group without him.

And then in the boldest scene this series has offered yet, before Rick, Glenn, etc can get back to camp, all hell breaks loose. I always knew this show had the capacity to completely pull the rug out from underneath us, but the intensity and complete destruction from the mass zombie attack on the camp was so unexpected it sent chills down my spine. Ed might have got his just deserts, but it's the death of Andrea's sister Amy that's going to really affect the group.

This was the best action scene of the series so far, waiting just long enough to let us get to know the folks at the camp, and then wiping half of them out in one brutal swoop. The attack came unnoticed, and offered a stark reminder to the group that you can never let your guard down. I suppose, neither can we as an audience. As for the kills on both sides, it more than made up for last week's low body count.

The zombie make-up was of an extremely high quality, and looked especially ghoulish against the moonlight. The defense from the feeding frenzy showed some skull cracking delights, and momentarily placed Shane into his own arcade shoot out. Most of them may have survived this battle, but there's going to be questions raised about the Rick's decision to leave the camp and return to Atlanta. We've seen some major casualties from this episode, and that's going to reverberate for the rest of the series.


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