S1:E4 For the past three episodes, The Walking Dead has been fairly easy on us. The group of survivors we've come to know have acted as an isolated group. It's been a fairly easy war to understand: the living versus the living dead. Now, it's time for Rick and company to realize they aren't the only ones. The show also spared us the anxiety of full-on zombie attacks and bouts of ravenous, flesh-snacking (at least in a brutal, up close and personal sort of way), but those times are over, as are the times when characters with actual names and plot lines are safe. Up until this episode, we’ve kind of assumed that everyone we’ve come to have an opinion about would escape in the end (even Merle) but in episode 4, it gets real. Zombies don’t care if you have a storyline, dudes; all they care about is your tasty, tasty flesh.
The episode opens on Amy and Andrea fishing on the lake, reminiscing over how their father taught them to fish. When Andrea was a kid, they were fishing for dinner but when Amy was a kid, her father taught them to throw the fish they caught back. When they realize that their father catered his lessons to his daughters’ distinct personalities, they weep together and Amy asks about Florida and if it’s a better place. It’s almost like she’s talking about heaven instead of another state. Then the camera pans up to the camp, where a few survivors are keeping watch and another digs a slew of unmarked graves. Foreshadowing, anyone?
In Atlanta, Rick and crew are still on the roof. Merle’s brother threatens T-Dog with a crossbow in anger over Merle’s disappearance and Rick aims his silver pistol at Daryl, threatening to end him if he pulls the trigger. Daryl puts it down, wraps Merle’s hand in a handkerchief, and seems to regain his ability to think rationally. They follow the trail of blood spackles that dripped from Merle’s severed wrist in an attempt to find him, screaming his name as they walk down the stair well. Have they learned nothing? You don’t walk into a blind situation and make a ton of noise, that’s a death sentence in city overrun by walkers. Luckily for them, Merle managed to mow down most of the walkers lurking in the building (not that much of a surprise; the man cut off his own hand, I think he can handle a few groaning green guys), save for one undead girl whose entrails are drooping out of her mouth as she groans towards them before taking an arrow between the eyes. The trail leads into a kitchen where they find evidence of homemade wound cauterizing – the guy may have rage and tolerance issues, but he knows what he’s doing. They realize that Merle probably left the building, this of course starts another fight between Daryl and Rick over how to proceed. Daryl’s clouded by his anger bur Rick assures him the only way to success is if they calm down and work together.
Andrea and Amy bring back quite a catch; enough fish for the entire camp. Dale comes back to camp and tells everyone about the gravedigger, Jim. He sees no problem with his chosen activity, but Lori points out that it’s scaring the kids. Is he digging graves in anticipation of more walkers reaching the camp? Shane tells him to stop but Jim throws Shane’s violent incident from the last episode (beating Ed to a pulp) in his face. Shane subdues him and forces Jim to take a break from his disturbing activity.