Last week included one of The Walking Dead’s best endings with a twist that will define Shane forever; it was arguably the most heart-pounding episode the series has aired to date. Following such a dramatic shock -like the death of Otis and the secret behind it- wasn’t going to be an easy experience to top. “Cherokee Rose” suffers when it comes to keeping up the momentum from its previous episode and loses direction overall, although a major hookup bred from the books comes to its aid along with a few subtle scenes of delicate conversations between certain characters.
Now that Shane has shown his true dedication for surviving a mob of zombies -as well as the sacrifices it takes to come out of it without a single bite- he sure does get limited time to dwell over it. After delivering a eulogy filled with fabrications about Otis and his ‘noble’ sacrifice, Shane battles confessing what really happened when flashbacks pop up depicting his act of betrayal.
As a heartbroken Patricia and the somber funeral attendants pay their respects, the camera pulls in on Shane’s guilt-ridden face of deceit…and that’s about all the remorse he cares to display this episode. He has a quiet moment of acceptance with Lori at the RV and another brief exchange about guns with Andrea, but after the funeral, the subject of Otis is never brought up again.
Maybe what Shane did was just insight on who he really is deep down, showing a hidden quality only the viewer is aware exists. Even if this is the show’s true intentions, the feeling of abandoned progression for the character of Shane is extremely evident. There’s no doubt that he will have to pay for his sin eventually and Otis’ death will end up affecting Shane in the near future, but this episode was a failed attempt at furthering development on the matter.
The other survivors get the same misguided treatment too. Dale and T-Dog come to an understanding regarding the conversation that took place back on the highway, although it bears little significance since nothing severe resulted from it. Then there’s the zombie in the well. This whole side plot was almost a quarter of the episode’s length, and the ending of it proved completely unredeemable.
It was more of an excuse to show how effectively Glenn can be used as human bait, and to admire the makeup effects on a particularly disgusting zombie. For fans of the Left 4 Dead games, this undead mass of fat looks eerily similar to that of the Boomer enemy type, including it’s satisfying gut-rupturing dismemberment.
The best continuing arc in “Cherokee Rose” was the one including Maggie and Glenn when they go to a nearby town in search of extra supplies (and a pharmacy product for Lori). Hints of a romance blossoming between the bumbling Glenn and the steadfast Maggie were lightly exposed in previous episodes, but here they finally skip the small talk and ‘connect’ rather abruptly. The sequence leading up to their moment of close contact was superb and mirrored that of the pages from the books.
Glenn and Maggie don’t seem like the most compatible match (just yet), but like Maggie remarks, in this world loneliness is a very common feeling among living people. Thank God the show decided to include the Maggie and Glenn’s unlikely relationship, and it did it quite faithfully too. Their bond is one that’s full of potential for evolving the individual characters in a totally new direction as a couple. There’s also a moment of humor, which is always welcome, upon their return to the farm with the two bickering on the topic of satisfaction. Although Hershel seems to be wary of Maggie’s upbeat attitude and her insistence of nothing happening on their short trip away.
Speaking of Hershel being suspicious, his conversations with Rick about allowing the group to stay at his farm was full of interesting forewarnings. His caution of keeping certain things separate from Rick’s group raises some concerns. Is what Hershel alluding to the same secret he kept from Rick in the books, or is it a completely different one? This is the episode’s big question mark that leaves Hershel’s Farm in a state of undiscovered settlement.
Even if this episode of The Walking Dead wasn’t another home run, it had surprises. Darryl continues to be the growing presence of goodwill among the group, as he searches for Sophia alone out in the woods. His journey leads him to an empty house where traces of the little girl are found. Darryl’s moving speech to Carol about her missing daughter is delivered poignantly, and yet again, his character emerges from another episode as the most fleshed out survivor of the group.
As for the Grimes, Rick and Carl both have a loving father-son moment where the recovering youngster wears the Sheriff hat for once. This is a direct nod to the books that is greatly appreciated fan service. Lori’s surprising revelation is not really that revolutionary since it was something the show hinted at often. But it does present her with a boatload of problems that come with the whole ‘who’s the real baby daddy’ territory.
Not every episode of The Walking Dead can be memorable due to unforeseen twists and turns that astonish upon initial viewing. “Cherokee Rose” falters by wasting too much time on pointless antics and letting Shane off the hook to easily. But it does set some seeds for upcoming episodes and includes a handful of scenes with attentive care. Hopefully next week just consists of more action aside from what Glenn got.