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Janitors, male nurses, and old people are the most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse, and other revelations in last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Vatos”

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On last night’s The Walking Dead, the show took a sharp turn from the mediocrity of the past two episodes, ending with a bloody human zombie massacre that brought the series back to the excitement of the premier.

We dissect the positives and negatives below, where once again we tabulate the series’ progress with Romero Points (see explanation below).

Here goes. Hold on to your zombie-gut shirts:

+100 The episode begins with Amy and Andrea on a boat, fishing. We’re treated to a nice story about when they were kids, about how their father taught them two ways to tie a fishing knot, based on Andrea’s need to catch the fish, and Amy’s need to throw them back. It’s a slow beginning, but ultimately quite important as the episode progresses.

+150 When Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and Glenn find Merle’s severed hand on the roof of the department store in Atlanta, Daryl flips out briefly, and almost impales some human brains with his crossbow. But he doesn’t, and quickly gets back to being reasonable. That’s good, because complicated bad guys are much better than one-sided racist bad guys. In fact, it’s unclear if Daryl is really all that bad at this point.

+100 Let’s just be clear: Every crossbow bolt through a zombie head is an automatic 100. Other than grenade-caused beheadings, there is really no more satisfying way to kill a zombie. Or to a see a zombie killed, I guess I should say.

+100 As the group looks for Merlse, they find zombie bodies here and there. That means Merle killed them one handed. One-handed zombie kills are also an automatic 100 points.

+150 For Merle cauterizing his own wound. “Nobody can kill Merle but Merle,” Daryl says. I really hope that Merle becomes a far more complicated character as the sereis goes on. They’ve made him entertainingly bad ass enough. All we need now is some personality.

+200 For mysteries and clever foreshadowing. The episode begins with Jim (Who’s Jim? I don’t know — the people at the camp seem nebulous at times. All the better for zombie snacks later on) — anyway, the episode begins with Jim digging holes, and no one really understanding why, and everyone trying to get him to stop. One thing everyone seems sure of: Jim’s damn crazy, which was probably caused by the zombies eating his family. As the mad digger himself observes, “The only reason I got away was because the dead were eating my family,” which I guess might leave you a little messed up. The holes are not so much a device that moves the plot forward as they are a clever bit of foreshadowing. And now that I’ve told you it’s foreshadowing, you can probably guess what the holes are for (hint: not potted plants).

-500 Back in Atlanta, the Suspension of Disbelief Factor rises to unberable heights. When Glenn goes out to grab Rick’s guns (which he left on the street way back in episode one) some (apparent) latin gang members come out of nowhere. Daryl shoots one of them in the ass, and kidnaps another, but two of them manage to drag Glenn away. A long and largely unnecessary sub-plot advances — after a great deal of huffing and puffing, and gun brandishing, and implied competitive penis-measuring, the two groups make-up and become good pals. Grimes and his bunch discover that the latin gang members are not latin gang members, but dudes who apparently want to emulate every bad stereotype of their minority group after the zombie apocalypse as a front to protect a bunch of old people. What? I know. Exactly — what? Don’t ask me. Somehow police stations get overrun, army posts get overrun, and the whole world collapses, but a janitor and a male nurse manage to hold off the zombie hordes in the middle of Atlanta and all the while protect an entire hospital full of old people? Couldn’t it just have been like, one dude protecting his grandma, or something?

-1,000 ARE GUNS REALLY THAT FREAKIN HARD TO FIND IN ATLANTA? Apparently the one problem that gangs don’t have pre-zombie apocalypse — finding guns — has become THE MAIN ISSUE post zombie-apocalypse. What is the show’s (and comic’s) internal logic for how hard it is for these people to obtain guns? This is the American south, damn it! And, yes, that’s an entire question in caps lock. Feel my rage.

+100 After the bizarro-world meeting with the latin gang, the group finds their van missing. Merle must have taken it. Where he’s off to who knows, but their initial guess – that he’s gone to raise hell at camp — proves wrong. They huff it back to the camp, on foot.

+2,000 While everyone is having a happy dinner of fresh-caught fish, zombies sneak into the camp. The first to go is Earl — probably cause he’s sexist — but then after that Amy gets a bite from a walker. Andrea rushes off to her, screaming. Meanwhile, Rick’s crew gets back to camp just in time and engages in a wholesale slaughter of the zombies at camp. But Amy and Earl are dead, as is some other guy I don’t remember seeing before. There is a gut-wrenching scene as Andrea leans over Amy’s body. “I don’t know what to do,” she says again and again before Amy finally dies. The scene ends with a shot of Jim. “I remember my dream now,” he says. “Why I dug the holes.”

**

Episode point total: +1,100
Running point total: -410

This series needed a lot to overcome the awfulness of the last episode, and didn’t quite make it — but it did come close. Plot progression moved from the lurchingly clichéd — the bigoted bad guys — to the subtle and then surprisingly sudden — Amy and Andrea’s relationship was expanded and ended elegantly in the span of a single episode, with the simple foreshadowing of Jim’s digging to tie it all together. Thank god the Atlanta subplot is over and let’s hope that if the character ever return to the city, we won’t need to suspend our disbelief to unbearable levels once again — and we certainly won’t see any wannabe gang memebrs again.

Full highlights below:

About the point system:

“Romero Points” is a system that awards or takes away points for certain scenes in a The Walking Dead episode. A positive score is the degree to which George Romero would approve, and a negative score indicates the number of times he would roll over in his grave — that is, if he had one, because he’s very much alive, and also who knows whether or not he even plans to be buried, as he might want to be cremated, or if there would be room in his grave to roll, or even if he will ever die.

The points may seem arbitrary, because they are, and if you complain about the point system then you automatically lose 5,000 points. Also, I cannot be held accountable for incorrect math, because I am not good at math, but I am very good at awarding points.

Finally, please note: these points are not the real George Romero’s opinion, because I have no idea what he thinks. Rather, it is the one who lives in my head and tells me every night that I’m the “best little zombie fan ever.”

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4 Responses to “Janitors, male nurses, and old people are the most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse, and other revelations in last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Vatos””

  1. avatar Rhe Hill says:

    Crossbow kills over axe hacking?!

    Anyways, I sort of liked the twist with the vatos, well, cholos really, solely because it did address something most zombie movies don’t touch on: old people. The fact that they were left behind by their families really shows that true end-of-the-world mentality that I think this series is trying to portray. Luckily, their gangster grandchildren/nephews/etc., stayed to save them. (Where were the girls?) I agree with giving that ending 2,000 points. Blood, death, and screaming ftw.

    Oh, what happened to that guy and his son in the first episode?

  2. avatar Kevin Morris says:

    The guy and the kid are supposedly headed to Atlanta as well, which is one reason why Grimes wanted to pick up the gun bag–it also had the CB for communicating with them. My guess is they come back next season.

    So I’ll agree that I like what the Vatos subplot addressed, but I still dislike how it played out. There are a few things in the series that are so improbable that they’re distracting, and this was one of them.

  3. avatar Kevin Morris says:

    Oh, and I prefer crossbows just because it’s an almost delicate way to kill the zombies. Every other way is gruesomely brutal.

  4. avatar Rhe Hill says:

    That is true. There are a lot of improbable moments in this series. Hopefully they’ll get their stuff together next season.

    Hmm. I guess an axe does require being close to the geeks. That’s what they’re calling them right? Did they ever address why?