Directed by Bill Gierhart
Written by Evan Reilly
Reviewed by Brad Jones
After the explosive excellence of last week’s “Save the Last One,” I had a sinking feeling that “Cherokee Rose” would be somewhat of a let-down. Unfortunately, my dread was justified, as Episode 2.4 flounders a bit and doesn’t really push our heroes forward much, if at all. Barring a few great moments – provided (again!) by Norman Reedus’ Daryl – this episode was my least favorite of the season.
At the center of this meandering episode, the remainder of the caravan arrives at the farm where Rick and Lori’s son, Carl is recovering from his gunshot wound. Hershel makes it clear that the groups is not permanently welcomed there, and as soon as they can find Sofia (remember her?), they’ll have to leave. Finally! – I thought – we’re gonna find Sofia. But no, kids, we’re only plotting the search for her, waiting yet another episode’s hour (and, what, three days since she’s gone missing?) before our heroes even go out again to find her.
There is a very scary sequence involving a zombie at the bottom of one of Hershel’s wells, but even that felt episodic and a little strange in the context of the narrative. In fact, Glenn is set up to go into town, Lori is on an emotional rollercoaster with Carl’s recovery and Shane’s reappearance, and PTSD Shane looks to be playing the part of normal person; yet all of them jump in to lend a hand to hoist this water-logged undead from this hole. Tonally, this sequence – while visually arresting and tense in nature – unfortunately doesn’t work in the context of the entire arch and seems like a webisode of yet another adventure these folks endured together.
We also get the longest female-urination scene in television history, watching Lori take a pregnancy test. I’m no prude, but the 12-year-old in me thought this was slightly hilarious, even with intense implications for its outcome and was another example of how the episode falters at pushing things forward. I understand that this is a set-up installment for what’s to come, but rather than form an interesting entr’acte and set the mood for future episodes, this installment felt more like dissonant, scene-change music, thrown together haphazardly with occasional notes feeling very, very out of place.
There is a silver lining in this episode is Daryl. The scene where he brings Carol a Cherokee Rose was the most engaged I was in the whole hour. Reedus has stolen my heart through this season and I’m so excited to see what else is in store for his character.
Unfortunately, this episode spins its wheels more than moves forward. How many times do we need to hear Hershel tell Rick that our group isn’t welcome at the farm? In a season of only 13 episodes (and a year to produce them!), I expect more from this show – particularly after such a strong showing last week. Here’s hoping episode 2.5 takes us somewhere new.
Clearly, if you’re reading this, you’re watching the show and this one misstep isn’t going to cause anyone to give up on The Walking Dead altogether – had it been Episode 1.2, though, it could have been an end-all. I have faith based on what else we’ve seen this season that this series can be more like that far superior “Save the Last One” than this borderline abysmal “Cherokee Rose.” At least Glenn got some this week…