Now, some folks have been complaining that TWD has slipped from its extremely strong pilot episode, slowing down, focusing on the human relationships and less on the [expensive, more difficult, etc.] zombie action. As E4 started, with the two sisters in the canoe, fishing in the quarry (are there even fish in quarries?) and tearfully waxing nostalgic about learning to fish with their dad, I was all, maybe the naysayers are right: this is frickin' boring. Then I kept watching the rest of the episode.
It's two-pronged, with the survivors at the campsite and the rescue-Merle-and-the-bag-of-guns crew. Out at the campsite, one of the guys, Jim, whom he haven't heard from much thus far, is acting really weird. He's out in the sun, frantically digging holes in the dirt. The crew tries to get him to stop and when he won't, Shane tries to get him to hand over the shovel. Jim takes a swing at Shane, who quickly drops him and handcuffs him and ties him to a tree in the shade. Some time later, Jim has drunk some water and cooled off. Shane asks him WTF was with the digging. Jim says he had a reason - some after effect of a dream he had - but doesn't remember what it was now. That evening, the gang enjoys some fresh fish and storytelling around the campfire. Enjoys, that is, until a whole herd of ravenous, slavering zombies falls upon them.
Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Rick, Glenn, Darryl and T-Dog try to track Merle, following the blood spatter from his self-amputated hand. They follow the trail to a kitchen, where it becomes evident that Merle cauterized his wound with a hot iron and then scarpered out the window. He could be anywhere, and likely really pissed off. They decide to go after Rick's bag of guns instead: Glenn sets up a plan where he runs out to grab the guns while Darryl covers him from one alley and the other two men from another. Darryl is grudgingly impressed (and thus begins Darryl's rehabilitation from loose-cannon asshole redneck to slightly less loose-cannon asshole redneck). The plan goes pretty well until Glenn makes it back to Darryl's alley with the guns and a bunch of vatos jump them, trying to steal the guns. Our guys fight them off and the vatos drive away, leaving one of their own behind but taking a shrieking Glenn with them.
Rick, Darryl and T-Dog arrange a trade with Guillermo, leader of this apparent gang but all is not quite as it seems. Guillermo is tough, but not the bad ass he purports to be: he and his crew have holed up at an old folks' home, taking care of the elderly patients who were abandoned when the zombie apocalypse hit. One of the gang members is actually a nurse; Guillermo used to be the janitor. Touched by Guillermo's loyalty to these helpless old folks, Rick leaves a bunch of guns and ammunition with the vatos. However, when Rick et als. return to where they left their van, it's missing. Who could have taken it? Why, Merle, of course, and he could wreak all kinds of hellfire down on the campsite. The guys shoulder their guns and hoof it for the hills.
Rick's party gets back to camp just in time to help demolish the marauding zombies, but not before heavy casualties are taken. The battle is quite amazing for cable television: there are full-splatter head shots galore plus many, many instances of zombies taking large and bloody mouthfuls out of their prey. It's awesome. And in the end, it leaves the much-diminished band of survivors reeling.
Afterwards Jim stands there, axe handle dripping grue on the ground, and says to no one in particular: "Oh. Now I remember my dream."
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
3 hours ago