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Recap / The Walking Dead S 01 E 04 Vatos

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Season 1, Episode 04

Vatos

Rick's team encounters a hostile gang of survivors in Atlanta, while back at the camp, Jim has a horrifying premonition that comes all too true.

In Atlanta, Rick, Daryl, Glenn and T-Dog have found Merle's severed hand. A standoff ensues when an angered Daryl threatens T-Dog with his crossbow and Rick points his revolver at Daryl, warning that he won't hesitate to pull the trigger. Daryl stands down and retrieves his brother's hand, and the two head follows a trail of blood into the building.

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They find two walkers on the way and a gas stove covered in burnt flesh. Daryl theorizes that Merle must have cauterized the wound before leaving. Rick says that they will continue to look for Merle, but that they should first retrieve the bag of guns that Rick dropped, as he knows where to find it.

At the camp, a survivor named Jim is exhibiting troubling behavior, and begins digging holes without explanation and despite the extreme heat. When the rest of the group confronts him, both out of concern for his mental wellbeing and fear that his behavior will attract attention, he becomes violent and attempts to attack them. Shane restrains Jim, who tells the group in his delirium that he feels guilty for escaping his home while his wife and daughter were being consumed by walkers.

Glenn devises a plan to retrieve the guns, and goes to pick up the bag while Rick, Daryl and T-Dog cover him. However, the plan goes south when a young Latino approaches Daryl and screams for help. Two other men arrive and kidnap Glenn in a car just before Rick and T-Dog arrive and retrieve the guns. The three men take the boy, Miguel, hostage and head back to the department store.

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Once there, they force Miguel to tell them that Glenn is being held by a group called the Vatos, who were looking for the same bag of guns. Miguel gives them the Vatos' location, and the three men head to the ruins of a nearby building.

They find the Vatos and their leader, Guillermo. Rick proposes trading Miguel for Glenn, but Guillermo is unwilling to listen and orders them to bring the guns or be prepared for a fight.

Back at camp, Jim wakes up and regains his senses. Shane tells him that they tied him to a tree for his own protection, and that he was likely suffering from sunstroke. Jim says that he doesn't remember why he was digging, but felt compelled to do so because of a vague dream he had.

Rick, Daryl and T-Dog go back and figure out how to rescue Glenn. Rick realizes that the guns are very valuable, but he is not willing to risk Glenn's life. He decides to go back and confront them again, and Daryl and T-Dog come with him.

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At the Vatos' camp, Rick, Daryl and T-Dog once again confront Guillermo. Rick offers to give him half of the guns and Guillermo once again refuses. When it looks like the situation will spiral out of control, an elderly Latino woman arrives and chews out her grandson, who is one of the gang's members. She brings Rick and the others to Glenn, and it is revealed that the Vatos were protecting the residents of a retirement home. Glenn is there, and says to Rick and the others that he was never in any danger. Rick chastizes Guillermo for nearly causing bloodshed, but keeps his promise and hands over half the weapons to him.

As Rick and the others head back to their vehicle, they discover that it's gone and Merle may have taken it. Fearing that he will try to get revenge against the camp, they head back quickly on foot.

At the camp, the group is having a fish fry to celebrate the haul caught by Andrea and Amy earlier in the day. Ed goes off to sulk alone after his beating by Shane, but is surprised by a walker, who enters the tent he's in and eats him. Amy is exiting Dale's RV after a washroom break when she is bit on the arm by a walker, and chaos ensues.

Shane and Morales valiantly fight off several attacking walkers, and Jim beats down the walker that was eating Amy and Andrea rushes to her. Several more survivors are eaten, while Lori, Carl, Jacqui, Carol, Sophia, Morales and his family take cover behind Shane and Dale as they attempt to hold off the herd with limited ammunition. Just when it looks like they'll be overrun, Rick and the others arrive back at camp and shoot down the horde.

Rick tearfully hugs his family, while the survivors look on in shock. Amy passes away while Andrea breaks down, and Jim claims that he remembers his dream and why he dug the holes...

Tropes:

  • Almighty Janitor: Guillermo, the leader of the Vatos, was the nursing home's custodian before the zombie apocalypse. Also Glenn; Daryl is impressed by his aptitude for strategic planning and the following exchange occurs:
    Daryl: Hey, kid, what'd you do before all this?
    Glenn: Delivered pizzas.
  • Asshole Victim: Ed.
  • Bait the Dog: Inverted with the Vados survivors, who aren't as bad as they seem.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rick, Glenn, Daryl and T-Dog arrive back at camp with the weapons to take out the remaining walkers. However, it could be argued that much of the bloodshed could have been averted had they never left in the first place, leaving Shane, Morales, Dale and Jim as the only competent fighters present to defend the group when the attack began. This point becomes a major source of conflict between Rick and Shane in future episodes.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: The Vatos gang portray themselves as a tough, no-nonsense street gang but in reality the gang is more of a group of carers who were actually helping and protecting and the elderly and ill residents from the walkers and psychotic survivors. They needed this image so that they can intimidate any oncoming threats but as Rick points out, the standoff nearly lead to a bloody gunfight.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Merle's severed hand, which Daryl takes from the roof at the beginning of the episode, becomes important later on when he uses it to intimidate Miguel, by claiming to have taken it from the last guy who crossed him.
  • Cool Hat: Lampshaded by Glenn, who jokes that the real reason Rick wanted to go back to Atlanta was not to retrieve the weapons, but rather to get his sheriff's hat.
  • Darkness = Death: Once the sun goes down, things start to go wrong for the survivors back at the camp.
  • Deadpan Snarker: T-Dog has his moments, especially when it emerges that Glenn was never in any real danger.
    T-Dog: We thought you were being eaten by dogs, man. (Beat as the camera pans to three tiny Chihuahuas)
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Amy in Andrea's arms.
  • Distressed Dude: Subverted; Glenn appears to be this when he is captured by the Vatos, but then we discover that he was being kept in a nursing home with sick and elderly patients and was never in much danger to begin with.
  • Downer Ending: The episode ends with half the camp destroyed and Andrea crying hysterically as Amy bleeds out after what is the survivors' first major loss.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Jim claims to have had a dream foreseeing the tragic events of the fish fry, although given his Sanity Slippage this should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Jim's strange precognition of the graves and his warning to Lori to protect her son is never remarked upon afterwards in any episode.
  • Eaten Alive: Ed. Some of him, anyway.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Invoked when the standoff between Rick's group and the Vatos is diffused by an elderly woman wandering into their midst, although Guillermo and his crew are not really 'bad'.
  • Four Is Death: This is the fourth episode overall and it featured the first two casualty of the entire series.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Rick and Daryl take up these roles respectively when interrogating Miguel.
  • Guilt Complex: Jim seems to hold himself responsible for the deaths of his family, claiming the only reason he is still alive is because he got away while the walkers were busy eating his wife and children.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: According to Daryl they are, much to Glenn's annoyance.
    Daryl: You got some balls for a Chinaman.
    Glenn: I'm Korean.
    Daryl: Whatever.
  • Jerkass Façade: The 'Vatos' deliberately invoke the stereotype of young Latino men in gangs to scare away potential threats from the nursing home they are protecting.
  • Karmic Death: Ed gets eaten just one episode after he hits his wife. He also dies because he is sulking alone in his tent, since he refuses to socialize with the others after being beaten by Shane and his wife and daughter don't want to spend time with him.
  • Kill the Cutie: Amy is one of the nicest and most innocent among the survivors, and also one of the first to die.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ed and Amy become the first casualties of the series.
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: The elderly woman believed that Rick was going to arrest her grandson and begged Rick not to arrest him, Since this was only a week or two since the outbreak began. She may not have acknowledged the existence of the walkers as well as the apocalypse or she could of had a disorder or condition that she developed with age since she believed that Rick was still a police officer and that society was still functional.
  • Mauve Shirt: Amy and Ed.
  • Mexican Standoff: Between Rick and Daryl on the roof at the beginning of the episode, and later between Rick's group and Guillermo's crew.
  • Mood Whiplash: One minute everyone is laughing and joking and generally in high spirits around the campfire; the next there are walkers everywhere and people are being bitten left and right.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Morales is seen brutally beating several walkers with a baseball bat in order to protect his family.
  • Red Shirt: Many unnamed survivors are bit and consumed by walkers during the attack on the camp.
  • Rescue Arc: Rick, Daryl and T-Dog rescues Glenn after he's kidnapped by the Vatos. Eventually subverted, as it's revealed that Glenn was never in danger to begin with, and the Vatos were acting tough to protect the residents of the retirement home.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Amy.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jim.
  • The Strategist: Glenn.
  • Shot in the Ass: One of the Vatos members was shot in the ass by Daryl.
  • Wham Episode: The first big one of the series, it set the stage for the tone the show would continue to take.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Vatos' storyline was supposed to have been concluded in season two, but due to Executive Meddling they are never seen or heard from again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rick calls out Guillermo on the tough-guy act, pointing out that the situation very nearly ended in bloodshed. Guillermo defends his actions, however, pointing out that he had no way of knowing if Rick and the others could have been trusted and that they would have been more than willing to use violence to defend the patients if necessary.

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