We’ve all been there. You kill a man in cold blood, pop a bullet in his leg so he becomes zombie chow and you get away. After the obligatory ‘crazy eyes in the mirror head shaving’ you find yourself wearing his fat clothes and looking like you are one banjo away from a Deliverance reboot. Then you end up having to eulogize him (and set up your half assed alibi) in front of his girlfriend? Mondays, am I right? That’s where we find Shane in this weeks cold opening. Now I thought this was setting up an episode dealing with Shane’s obvious near breaking point and eventual departure from the group with Andrea in tow, but what we get is possibly the seasons strongest episode to date.
‘Cherokee Rose’ is light on the philisophical debate (it’s there, but kept to a minute or two thankfully) but heavy on everything else we’ve been missing. So far season 2 seems to be taking a cue from the comic book, that is moving insanely and inanely slow. While the pace is still creeping along (little Sophia is still missing, I believe she’s in her mid 30’s by now) we are finally treated to more of the post-zombie lives of the other characters. Yes, we finally get to see Glen in action, in more ways the one.
Let’s chow down on this one, shall we?
The rest of our band of survivors finally arrive at Hershel’s farm right in the middle of dear sweet buttery Otis’ funeral. The formerly hospitable small town vet, Mr. Greene is starting to show his reservations about Grimes and crew setting up on his land. Hershel outlaws guns (other than Dale as a look out), and you see the wall slowly start to rise. Later he will tell Rick their time on the farm is limited. Lori and Shane exchange a terse little exchange and Andrea and Shane continue to bond over being the outsiders in this group of outcasts. A collection of dialogues that continue threads we’ve seen in the previous 3 episodes but they seem more solid now. The ever evolving dynamic between the characters continues. Daryl walks off to search for Sophia, T-Dog and Dale fetch a pail of water and, Glen gets sent on a pharmacy run with the increasingly attractive Maggie.
Let’s deal with Dale and T-Dog first. From last weeks teaser we know what they find, a very Sam Rami-esque deadite looking zombie at the bottom of the well. I am sure many of you were like me, giddy at some good old fashioned of the wall zombie action, zombie action with a lesson. See, if you ever have a plagued flesheater doing the doggie paddle in your water supply, obviously you have to get him out mostly intact, no need to let any more zombiism ooze into a much needed resource. Old water guts didn’t go for the canned ham as bait, so they send down the Asian. It was nice to see Glen in all his hapless hero glory. The rope breaks, tension is had by all, and in a classic Glen way, he still manages to get the job done. The writers really need to start using him more, he has the potential to be a great counter balance to Daryl. While the lovable hick gets s#!t done cause he’s a bad ass, Glen pulls of the whole underdog deal and your want to cheer when he succeeds. Speaking of success, I also want to thank the writers for having the whole de-zombieing of the water supply go bad. We all knew the waterlogged brain gobbler was going to come apart, spilling guts and go back into the well, and it was gratifying when it happened. Even the zombie looked happy with the outcome.
With the Greene’s survey map of the county, a plan has been set to systematically search and find Sophia. Rick and Hershel are out near the river, out in nature discussing things when you see the philosophical debate set in. I won’t fault the writers on this one. It was far less ham handed than last week. It’s faith verses reason round two has the two of them joust in the existential. Rick, with the weight of all that has happen and Hershel with long standing values and beliefs. They seem to end on common ground (again) and a chance for Rick and the rest to stay on the farm comes up. How many times do we need to see this? On the other side, Andrea and Shane continue to shoot things and bond. Shane, while talking about the difficulty in taking down perps and being a cop, cracks a little and ice queen Andrea actually shows a little empathy. Two very different scenes that, while good, didn’t bring much more for any of the characters concerned. I know he sort of hinted at it, but I wanted to see Shane snap and let the cat out of the bag a little more about Otis.
Now, more Glen. On the trail to the pharmacy, Glen get’s all glenny on Maggie and awkwardly talks himself up. It was amusing and endearing, again how can you not love Glen. When they get inside a very empty small town pharmacy with its quaint sign about taking ‘what you need’ (looting, small town style), Glen breaks off on his super secret what could it be mission to find Lori something to pee on. He fumbles, he stumbles, he gets the girl. Classic Glen, classic. Chalk another up to the underdog. It’s testament to the treatment of the A list characters (the Rick Shane Lori triangle), I get excited about seeing more of the others because at least they are still interesting, they are stuck on the same plots with the same crutches. We need more Glen being Glen, damn it.
Meanwhile, Daryl is up crossbowing his badassed self through the woodlands. In a small way I hope Merle never shows up again. The absence of his ‘Son’s of Anarchy‘ bad guy ways with his ‘Breaking Bad‘ meth addictions (damn you AMC and your cross promotion) let’s Daryl grow. Sure, he’s a hick, but a hick that kicks ass and still has a heart. His search takes him to an abandoned farm house, one that correct me if I am wrong we are led to believe Sophia might actually have stayed at? Regardless, when Daryl returns to the RV, he gives Carol a Cherokee rose and tells her the significance of the flower. It is a symbol meant to give strength to grieving mothers and then closes with giving Carol more hope and support in the search for the missing Sophia. Bam, waterworks. Sure there was other heartfelt moments, Rick and Lori seem to slowly be moving back into a unhealthy disfunctional functional couple, Rick and Carl share a touching father/son heart to heart, but once again the secondary characters shine through. To me, the talk of Kirkman’s divergence from the source material is moot. He’s exploring a similar character set in a similar setting in a whole new way. I enjoy it, and hell if he wants to drop Lori and Rick and Shane and make this just about Daryl and Glen? Hell, I’d love that. Have them drive a classic muscle car, give the show a guitar heavy theme song and a wise talking urban guy like T-Dog. It’d be sweet ass spin off, at least.
The episode wraps on Lori heading off to the woods armed with a pocket knife. Now, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but that secret thing that she got Glen to get so she could pee on it? It was a pregnancy test. Shocker, it’s positive! Buckle in folks, I sense another long drawn out thread coming. Is it Rick’s? Is it Shane’s? Is it right to raise a baby in the post-zombie apocalypse? I don’t care about or for Lori and I fear a lot of screen time is going to be chewed up with this melodrama.
As we continue to look forward, they need to resolve the missing Sophia thing pronto. At first it looked like a cheap emotional ploy played on the audience, then like a plot diversion and, now? It doesn’t even really matter. They could find her off camera and cheaply write her back in at this point and I’d barely notice. The sense of direction needs to return to the show too, sitting on Hershel’s farm just makes it feel stalled out. They aren’t trying to rebuild, they’re not trying to make it to some other location, they are just comfortably resting at a farm dealing with plot lines that we’ve had since the start of the season. It’s starting to feel a little stale. I worry that we are going to be stuck on that farm for the lion share of this second season, even though it is clearly within a church that has a small herd of zombies surrounding it that is a fat man’s jog away, RIP dear sweet buttery Otis.
Next Week: Chupacabra
…. MERLE! Ok, maybe things are about to get a lot more interesting.