Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: The Walking Dead "Cherokee Rose"

Non Spoiler Review:
As the search for Sophia continues, the survivors are reunited at Hershel's farm to begin a concentrated effort to find her. Hershel and Rick begin to discuss the future, while the others deal with a water problem, and Glen and Maggie head into town to restock on supplies, with Lori asking Glen to perform a secret task.

There was a lot of dramatic tension again this week, with Shane kind of stewing in the background while Rick engaged Hershel on a number of matters. The well problem wasn't essential for the plot, but provided this week's gore factor. Daryl continues to develop as the number one hero—he might as well just wear a cape. I have no idea where his arc is going. There was a very nice scene with him and Carol, and I'm really hoping this isn't all a set up for something nasty with him.

For fans of the comic, several plot points were reached, including a very nice scene dealing with a hat. Finally, the show delivers in revealing the secret of Jenner's whisper to Rick, and the burden he's been grappling with since they left the CDC.

Spoilers Now!
Hershel's family, along with Glen and a bald Shane are gathering stones as the RV convoy pulls up at the farm. Inside, Carl wakes, asking of Sophia, so Rick lies, of course. T-Dog announces the arrival and everyone is finally reunited with everyone.

Rick lauds Shane's bravery as he brings Dale up to speed on the hunting accident and the events following. Then they gather for the memorial for Otis, which amounts to Hershel's sermon and piling stones into a marker. He asks Shane to speak for Otis, and Patricia pleads with him to share his final moments. Shane makes an effort to create a sufficiently brave demise for Otis without completely losing it. As if he doesn't look crazy enough in his shaved head and overalls (which are very likely Otis').

A more organized search for Sophia is planned, with Daryl opting to go off on his own to search. Rick pulls him aside telling him he owes them nothing, but Daryl quips he's got nothing better to do. Hershel tells Rick he's in no condition to help, nor Shane and his buggered ankle. Hershel also doesn't want weapons carried around on his property while they're camped there, so Rick complies.

Shane wonders what they do if they find Sophia and she's bit. Rick tells him to deal with it as he sees fit (and makes a little gun with his thumb and fingers. Well, not really). That's when Maggie and her father share a look that should start to make everyone suspicious, should they notice. That, and the barn that's suddenly in every other scene in the background. Anyway, Hershel tells Rick they don't normally take in strangers, and they can't think this arrangement is permanent. Once they find the girl, he has to be clear they'll move on.

Meanwhile, Maggie plans to make a run to a nearby pharmacy down the road to restock their medical supplies, so Rick suggests Glen accompany her. That suits Glen, as he's starting to take a shine to her. Lori gives Glen the list of supplies they need, as well as one very personal item that she insists they be discreet the feminine hygiene section.

She then has a private moment with Shane to thank him, and he wants to know if she meant it when she told him to stay. She tells him yes. But Andrea's not happy having to give up their guns, so consults with Shane, who tells her that's just the way it is. They share more bonding time while he teaches her how to unload her weapon.

The farm has five wells, so Dale and T-Dog go off to replenish their stocks. T-Dog is feeling better and takes the opportunity to apologize for all his remarks back on the highway. Dale suddenly hears things coming from down the well and stops T-Dog from drinking. They summon everyone else to have a look and find a walker (now a swimmer) down there. 

It has to be removed, as they have no idea what it's doing to the water, but Maggie quickly tells them not to shoot it. Andrea agrees though, given the possibility of further contamination. They lower down a canned ham to see if it goes for it, but no luck. They need live bait, so lower down Glen (!) to have a look and slip a rope around it. They drop him and he nearly falls in, but they get him out, thoroughly traumatized. But (surprise!), Glen managed to slip the rope around its neck. The walker is pulled out but they rip it in half at the top with the bottom portion sliding back in. Dale suggests they seal off the well. T-Dog bashes in the walker's head, which horrifies Maggie.

Hershel and Rick consult on possible routes Sophia may have took and he asks Rick to pause and take a moment to reflect on the view. Rick can't waste time thinking of God anymore, but Hershel disagrees given his story of surviving his coma and Carl's recovery. God has quite the sense of humour, then, Rick muses.

Carol, Andrea and Shane go to the highway where they left Sophia a message and food, but there's no sign she was there. Carol's losing hope. They set off back, and Andrea asks Shane how long before she can carry her gun. He offers some advice, that taking down an assailant trying to kill her is different than hitting a stationary target. She has to use her instinct. That means turning off a switch—that makes her sympathetic or scared—just act and think of the one who's counting on her. And when it's done, she has to forget it. Shane admits he hasn't gotten the last part down yet (Golly, Shane, I'm sure that would make Otis happy to hear, and he'd likely roll over in his grave if he wasn't one of the walking dead—but then he can't even do that since he was ripped in half! Sigh). 

Glen and Maggie finally make their ride down to the pharmacy. She's not in a talkie mood though, given what she saw at the well. He admits they've grown numb to killing the walkers. The pharmacy is nearly picked clean, but Glen goes off to get Lori's special item. Maggie sees him grabbing condoms, too, and takes pleasure in embarrassing him. She tells him she'll have sex with him. Their options aren't vast these days, and he's not the only one who's lonely. Glen's dumbfounded, but indulges her. 

As he watches the people around the RV, Rick tells Hershel he needs to reconsider. He has no idea how it is out there, and given his belief in God, he needs to think what he's asking of them. Rick pleads with him to give it some thought. If not for him, then Carl. Hershel confesses that his own father was a monster and he does not regret ever seeing him again, but Rick is not such a person. Hershel can't and won't discuss some things, but if his people respect his rules, he will consider it. They shake on it.

Glen and Maggie return. She assures him it was a one time thing. Lori goes right to Glen and gets her item. He doesn't stay around, given she's giving him her usual crazy eyes.

Daryl investigates an abandoned house and finds recently opened sardines, as well a little bed in a closet. Outside, he finds some white roses blooming.

Daryl returns to the RV which Carol has cleaned up. He brought back a flower, a Cherokee Rose for her—the story goes when American soldiers removed Indians from their land, the mothers were losing children along the way to disease and starvation, so the elders prayed for a sign to uplift the mothers' spirits and the roses grew the next day where their tears flowed. He believes that one bloomed for Sophia. He adds that she's really going to like the RV when she gets back.

Carl wakes up with Rick at his bedside. His father admits his lie about Sophia, but Lori already told him. His son tells him it's okay. Carl thinks it's great that they've both been shot. Rick gives him his hat to wear, because he's earned it. 

From the doorway, Lori watches Rick taking off his badges and put them in the drawer (not sure how Hershel will feel about that). He sees her and they embrace. She tells him she's going to sit with Carl for awhile, but instead goes out passed the RV to the meadow and takes her pregnancy test. She's pregnant.

The Verdict:
Cherokee Rose brought a very good balance of character moments with some chills and thrills (ripping zombie, Glen falling down the wall, etc). I quite enjoyed it, especially seeing certain aspects of the graphic novel fulfilled, and the anticipation of Lori's special request adding an ominous touch.

Rick's inner turmoil continues to consume him (responsibility for Carl, for Sophia and for his group of survivors as a whole), and now that the cat is out of the bag regarding Lori's pregnancy, will he give voice to what he's thinking (regarding Shane?). Who must he think is the father, or would he even suspect that it's his best friend? Glen's brief but accusing look at Lori shows the rest of the group must know they had a fling, so any one of them might reveal it, as well.

Shane's simmering torture over Otis was fun to watch. As much as he sometimes exacts some sympathy, he's really pushed himself over into villain territory (despite being more likable than his graphic novel counterpart). Contrast him with Daryl's rising star and I wonder if our favorite hillbilly is actually being groomed as a replacement Shane at some point.

Andrea's development is slowly coming along, and I see from next week's preview she looks to be stepping more into the role fans of the comics have grown to love. Sophia's arc must resolve with quite a bang, given how long it's stretched out. I have no idea if someone might have her, or if she might show up with a new character in tow (Gosh, I want it to be Michonne but I know that's pretty much impossible at this early juncture). 

Rick and Hershel create an interesting moral debate, given Rick's crew are basically taking over the farm whether the old man likes it or not. They're a chaotic element that until now he and has family haven't had to deal with. Is it fair for them to impose themselves on their tranquility? And what do we make of Rick putting away his clothes in the drawer, as if he's already decided they're staying there? That opens up such a dark side to the survivors (and to Rick), leading to how far they're willing to go to protect their own (versus Hershel's family). Will it come to that? It's not an easy choice given how amiable Hershel has been so far (despite his cryptic remarks about his rules).

And, golly, what could be in that big barn we see in the distance in so many scenes?

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