The Walking Dead: “Cherokee Rose”

Posted on November 07, 2011

We’ve been bitching and moaning all season about the lack of movement in the story, but, at the risk of sounding trite, there’s movement and then there’s movement. Some people took our yearning for movement as literal, which isn’t too surprising in a story this nomadic in nature. That is, when we whine about the lack of movement, what we’re asking for is that the characters literally move from one place to the next. That’s not it. We could spend an entire season with Dale’s RV parked in that traffic jam, so long as the characters are given arcs where things actually happen; where decisions are made, and where action is taken. Granted, we wouldn’t have LOVED an entire season spent in a traffic jam, but our point is, when we complain about the lack of movement in the story, what we’re really complaining about is the lack of story.

There’s just been way too much standing around and talking this season. We don’t expect the show to be an action romp, but surely there’s some happy halfway point between shoot ‘em up action and sitting around and discussing your options ad nauseam. This has always been a problem with shows that go for seriously decompressed storytelling. People forget, but there was a time when it was common to complain about how little time was passing on Lost. The writers can decompress the action until several days take several seasons to recount, but in the end, that’s asking an awful lot of an audience, who has to go and live their lives in the weeks in between story installments, and when a month has passed in real time and we’re still expected to care about Sophia wandering off in the woods, the patience isn’t always there.

However, what Lost did to mostly counter the complaints about the slow passage of time is what this episode did: it moved the characters around within that narrow window of time and gave all of them interesting back stories and side stories to keep the viewer engaged. This has not been the case enough with this show. Traditionally, it’s been the Shane, Rick and Lori show and we think that’s a big reason why so many people are frustrated with the slow pace. That little love triangle is part of a much larger story and it’s too much to ask of the viewer to simply be patient when it comes to learning more about everybody else in the cast and how they’re dealing with the big picture. Last episode gave us a little of that with T-Dog and Dale, but this episode kicked things into … well, “high gear” would be overstating it. Let’s just say the story went from a shuffling zombie walk to a light sprint.

“Movement” doesn’t mean the characters or the story literally have to move. It means that things need to move around within the confines of the story. We can spend the rest of the season on Hershel’s farm, so long as Glen gets a little character-building, or new characters like Maggie get a little more defined and a little more information is given as to how they’re going to fit in the group. We can deal with the lack of literal movement, so long as we’re given dangling narrative carrots like Shane’s apparent crack-up and how the people who know him best were slightly disturbed by his eulogy – a nice character moment with real subtlety: Shane’s increasingly melodramatic recounting of Otis’ death being met by slightly furrowed brows or worried looks from everyone in the group who knows Shane doesn’t normally talk like this. This Otis thing isn’t going away and we’re wondering if someday he’s going to shamble up to the farm with a herd of zombies and an inexplicable bullet wound in his leg.

In addition, we got the narrative bomb-drop of Lori’s pregnancy, which wasn’t exactly handled with subtlety or in any way to make it interesting, unfortunately. The very second she asked Glen to get her something at the drugstore, we all knew what that meant because a yeast infection wasn’t going to be all that dramatic or interesting. A woman pregnant in a world with no access to any medical assistance is a woman in potential mortal danger. Not to mention, trying to take care of a baby in a world where you can’t ever let your guard down for fear of being torn apart by drooling maniacs is no way to live a life. These are important discussions to have and we have no doubt there will be long scenes of dialogue, but Lori’s look of hopelessness after peeing in a field at night was just enough to sell the despair. We hope they don’t talk this one to death. She’s pregnant; she doesn’t know who the father is (most likely) and being pregnant and on the run in a dirty world full of dead bodies is not a great place to be. Please don’t over-write this one, writers.

In other news, Darryl has become so saintly that we fear a massive turnaround is coming down the line, whether because he gets reunited with Merle or for some other reason, we’re still detecting quite a bit of danger underneath the flower-offering sweetness. We suppose the blanket in the closet in the abandoned house is meant to imply that Sophia might still be alive, but we admit, we’re finding it hard to care about her.

But the writers are giving us some setups for conflicts down the road, which is good to see. Hershel and his family seem pretty naive about what the world is like past the borders of his farm. He’s quite content to send the group back out in the wilderness and quite comfortable demanding that they all surrender their guns to him during their stay. We find it just a little hard to believe everyone would agree to that so quickly, but we suppose relative peace and quiet with clean running water and access to electricity (the latter of which still is unexplained) was enough.

And speaking of clean water, let’s hear it for the Scooby Gang, the stupidest bunch of zombie apocalypse survivors you ever did see. We’re all for one good grossout zombie moment per episode and we certainly got that with waterbloated zombie literally ripping in two, but why on earth was the entire group spending time on this at all? The only result of that scene (aside from some nice tension) was to show that these people really don’t know what the hell they’re doing. T-Dog’s disgust with the group made for a nice coda to the scene and reflects back on his now-denied urge to get the hell away from them all.

What we’re saying here is, despite the Scooby Gang being dumb and despite the trite manner in which Lori’s pregnancy fears were revealed to us, and despite the fact that we’re STILL LOOKING FOR SOPHIA, the story finally felt like it was moving again and that things are being set in motion – Glen & Maggie, Lori’s pregnancy, Shane’s crackup, Hershel vs. Rick – that could take us through the end of the season in a satisfying manner. We still think this season is moving too slowly, but for the first time since the show returned, we’re satisfied with an episode and optimistic about the story to come.

 

 

[Photo Credit: AMC]

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  • Anonymous

    I’m borderline bored with the show by now, something big needs to happen and Lori being pregnant isn’t enough.  The “zombie in the well” stuff was just stupid.  Unless we can get to a darker place, like Maggie specifically sent them to that well as a way to kill a few of them off.  Maybe there is a deeper, darker reason Hershel et al want them unarmed, vulnerable, ect.  Shanes secret is certainly going to come out and be problematic, we saw obvious hints to that.  But for God’s sake, either find Sophia or kill her off, it’s just an unblelievable storyline at this point.

    • jeneria

      I know!  I so don’t care if they find her or not.  Her absence isn’t moving the plot forward, it’s stagnating it.  That’s what I mean about a lack of common sense.  In a real survival situation, how long are you really going to waste time looking for someone that wandered off?  Probably not this long.

    • Mariah J

      The fact that Sophia hasn’t been found, found dead or abandoned at this point is infuriating.

    • http://profiles.google.com/paperpunchaddiction Kim Score

      you made a good point here.  I was thinking the same thing about the well.  Obviously that zombie was in the well for some time.  They would have seen the big hole and heard the zombie before then.  It also makes me wonder if she sent them to that well on purpose in an attempt to make them sick…..

  • Michael Colvin

    I have to admit that the zombie well scene had me cracking up with how stupid the folks are. Just priceless. But from a story telling perspective, it went from a team building exercise to a let’s integrate the new farm folks with our group to a just gross out. Nice hair pi turn actually. It just didn’t’ pay off as much as I would have liked… 

  • Terence Ng

    It’s like waiting for Goku to charge the frickin’ Spirit Bomb.

  • jeneria

    I’m so tired of them having the same conversations but with different people and at different times.  I’m tired of Rick being an archetype for good and clearly lacking any common sense while Shane is treated like a monster for actually having common sense.  I hate Rick’s wife and wish she’d just come clean.  The whole plot with Carl is stupid.  Who lets their kid walk up to a wild deer in a zombie infested wilderness?  I’m tired of all the women (except Maggie) being utterly useless. They’re either crying, suicidal, or so full of lies they can barely function.  I’ve read the comics and this type of story telling works well in books, but it’s just too slow and annoying on tv.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone else think that Shane has been channeling bearded “We have to go back!!!” Jack’s twitchy mannerisms and crazy eyes?

  • MilaXX

    On another message board someone called this The Walking Bleh & I’m starting to feel like that as well. First of all why St Rick & co’s spidey senses are tingling over this whole farm set up is beyond me. Also Hershel seems a little too Jesus-y for me. Surrendering weapons? Don’t go in the barn? Maybe it’s the cynical viewer in me, but I find something really fishy about the situation. even Maggie’s random sleeping with Glenn feels suspicious to me. I still don’t understand how they don’t have to deal with zombie attacks on a regular basis. It just seems like at some point the zombies would have stumbled onto the farm. Whether or not they find Sophia and more of the Lori/Rick/Shane love triangle are things I no longer care about. Oh and that ever so brilliant decision to get the zombie out of the well? WHY? Is anyone going to drink water that a zombie has been decaying in for who knows how long? Why not shoot the thing in the head and close that well up? Instead you want to risk one of the most resourceful and nimble members of your team? Come on! Shane’s not too subtle crack up is also annoying as well. The whole head shaving speaking cryptically in raspy whispers is eye rolling bad acting.

    • Anonymous

      Hilarious that they just escaped from the crazy man in the CDC bunker and land in the bucolic farm of the country vet and when presented with the merest whiff of staying at said farm but only according to “The Rules”, no one actually asks what the damn rules are.  Seems like to me somebody’s gonna find themselves locked in the barn and that ain’t good.  I agree that the odor of fish is strong in this one. Too many furtive looks between kindly vet and Maggie especially at the comment of possibility of offing Sophia if it turns out they find her and she’s been bitten.
      Shane – too funny in Otis’s old clothes.

      Why do Walkers congregate in one place but not others?  Why the high school but not in town near the pharmacy?

      • MilaXX

        I was beginning to think I imaged those looks between Maggie and Hershel. Also Shane wearing Otis’s clothes looked like Ben Stiller re-enacting Simple Jack after he became a bit shell shocked.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Krumel/774655640 Jennifer Krumel

      They should have sent Lori down there. Girl can’t weight more than maybe 100 lbs soaking wet. She’s so skinny (and therefore, light), there wouldn’t have been any strain on the pipe/rope.

      • MilaXX

        I think it’s plain old stupid to risk wasting anyone trying to get the zombie out of the well since it’s likely an already polluted water supply.

        • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

          And how would you tell?!?  Would you want to risk the water to find out?  Even if you can test it and it comes up clean, that doesn’t really guarantee safety.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Krumel/774655640 Jennifer Krumel

          Oh, agreed – especially since there were FIVE other wells!

  • Anonymous

    At some point, in the real world, a search party becomes a recovery party when you’re talking about lost children. I’d rather see the emotional mess that becomes when everyone stops looking for Sophia. 

  • Anonymous

    I really liked the episode, but I was sure most of the people (as you can see for example in Alan Sepinwall’s comments section) would complain because there were no enough zombies… Since the zombies is not the reason I particularly enjoy the show, it is not a problem for me… I think the mistake is to think it is a “zombies” show… I think the writers are trying to tell us that no, it is not, it is about what regular humans would do if they are surrounded by zombies…. This is just to say that I don’t feel the show is too slow, and even when there were almost no zombies showing up, most of the scenes felt pretty tense, as you always expect some random walker to show up (like for example during Daryl’s hunting trip)…. But well… I guess it is very rare that a show can please everybody….  anyways, next week’s seems interesting, since I saw a glimpse of Merle, finally showing up… that will make things pretty interesting, how will Daryl react?

    • Anonymous

      i really liked this episode too. the farm setting is creepy to me & it so tense even though its so beautiful.  there is more to the story & i look forward it. 

  • Anonymous

    I speculate that this slow pace is a result of extending the number of episodes. They initially just wanted to make 6 episodes or something like that, no?

  • Anonymous

    This is becoming one of those shows that I have to skip every week and then watch one after the other in an afternoon/evening on a crappy winter day.  It is just not holding my interest week to week.  I would consider that might make me flighty and a bit ADD if Mad Men didn’t have the entire opposite effect.  I hope the writers leap out of the rut.  

  • http://twitter.com/otterbird otterbird

    I think the show is really feeling the effects of the budget being cut.  There was a scene last night where Andrea and Shane and Carol were walking through a field, and Carol walks a bit away from them.  Of course, I thought, “Agh!  Zombie coming!” and watched the rest of the scene through my fingers.  And nothing happened.  Other than I have no idea what was discussed in the scene because I was convinced something was about to happen to Carol.  My husband thinks that when shooting the scene, they blew the master shot and then used footage of Carol walking away to cover it up because they don’t have the budget to go back and reshoot what they needed.  With the result that the scene ended up being, for the viewer, about Carol being separated from the others, not about whatever Shane and Andrea were talking about.  Which I don’t think was the intent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Catherine-Rhodes/602850414 Catherine Rhodes

    I’m done with following the “Scooby Doo gang” — brilliant, guys, brilliant. But I will be reading your blogs. If those showrunners were smart, they’d have Tom & Lorenzo writing the scripts.

  • Anonymous

    Maggie said there was a generator out back.  (an awfully quiet generator)

    • Anonymous

      Just saw this after I posted about it too. She mentioned generators so that is the electrical source. Growing up in the country, I had just assumed they were using generators. 

  • Anonymous

    I keep trying to maintain some kind of interest in this show, but attempts so far are unsuccessful.  Perhaps the zombie apocalypse  is not my genre. 

    WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE FIND THE LITTLE GIRL! 

  • Anonymous

    I got so pissed at the Glen & Maggie scene I thought I was gonna throw something through the TV. You left the horses outside unprotected while you get naked and have sex in a drug store where no one is standing guard? You deserve to be zombified.

    • Anonymous

      Okay then, now I know I wasn’t the only one who spent that whole scene worried about the horses.  

    • Anonymous

      HAHAHAHA! I was so worried about the horses too. LOLOL

    • Anonymous

      My thoughts EXACTLY. Idiots. And what about the horses? :)

  • Anonymous

    Is it so much to ask in a post-apocolyptic overrun with zombies that there will be a little action in each episode? Out of the 4 or 5 episodes this season, there has only been two stressful scenarios worth noting. I would watch some other show, maybe some soap opera if I cared THIS much about family values, loyalty, and pregnancy. There are ways that the writers can tastefully apply these motifs in a show about zombies, but they are way overemphasizing them. They shouldn’t make up the entirety of each episode, week after week.

  • Anonymous

    The show really has slowed down to a crawl.  Say what you will about the abruptness of the resolution to the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle in the books, at least that subplot didn’t overstay its welcome.  I also have absolutely no idea why they have turned this into the “Where’s Sophia?” season.  Find her already!

    I well remember the criticism of Lost.  This season is really starting to remind me of that show’s Season Three; you know, the “They’re STILL in cages??” story arc.  We have probably run into the production period during which Darabont was ousted and things got shuffled around.  I have hope that things will pick up again.  We’ll see.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s only been about three days, maybe four, since Sophia was lost.  I don’t think it’s the least bit unreasonable that they would still be looking.  Especially now that they have a place that they perceive as a safe haven to stay at while sending out search parties.  Especially since we’re talking about a child here which are always going to keep people looking longer than if it was an adult.  Add to that, it’s not like they have a lot of others things to do at this point.  Heck, they went back to a far more dangerous place last season to rescue Merle who had no social-redeeming value to the group so why be surprised they’re looking for a child?   I hope I’m not lost with most of you to be the ones to make the decision to look for me or not.  

    I think the fact that a zombie obviously did shuffle onto the farm is a prelude to the fact that the farm will not be a safe haven for long.

    I also wonder if some family member of Herschel’s is a zombie tied up in the barn.

    • Anonymous

      “I also wonder if some family member of Herschel’s is a zombie tied up in the barn.”

      I wondered this too. And also wondered if the well-dwelling zombie hadn’t been there for a while and wasn’t also a former family member. Did you see Maggie look away when T-Dog bludgeoned his head? She’s been shown as a badass on horseback and totally capable of bludgeoning a zombie to death, so why was this a problem for her? Perhaps non-conforming visitors who don’t play by Herschel’s rules get tossed into the barn or the well.

      • Anonymous

        Good point.  Although, if the zombie had been there for awhile, why would she tell them they could drink from it?  Lots of potential plot twists!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5LU5C262WB3Z5F4WZ6QGKXLNLE JaneM

    Everyone complaining about the pace of the show should go read what the author of the comic novels has to say about what his point is in writing the books.  He specifically states that it’s about the internal turmoil of human beings facing this life.  I think they’re doing a very good job with that, it’s balanced just the way the novels are balanced.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBZQXGWCTBDTAZMEM4S2EJUNUQ Katie

      I think a lot of people complaining are well aware of this fact. The problem is that it’s not being handled well by the tv show. It is supposed to be a story about the characters, but the characters are not written well. The character development is clumsy and inconsistent and for a show that is supposed to be all about their inner turmoil, they are still little more than caricatures. Plus, while the story is supposed to mainly be about the characters, any fantasy-based story has to do world-building to be engaging, even if the world is mostly our own. It is hard to care about the story of the characters, when we are distracted with so many questions about the “rules” of this version of reality – how the zombies work, how this little farm seems completely safe (and has power), etc. You can’t just ignore all other aspects of story because the focus of your story is the characters and their inner lives.

  • Anonymous

    What was the deal with the barn?  I find that I’m only half paying attention when this thing is on and I must have missed the barn comment.

  • Pennymac

    I liked this episode, if only for the absurd laugh that came from T Dog’s line of “wouldn’t want to be stupid by shooting him” in reference to the half zombie in/half zombie out of the well thing. I think the show is simply an apocalyptic soap opera that happens to involve zombies instead of radiation, or say, terminators. It’s pretty sad, though when your audience doesn’t care that one of the original cast members is missing,as a lot of the comments I read would indicate. Not ready to give up on this one just yet……

  • Anonymous

    Frankly I’m so sick of the Sophie storyline that I’m ready to feed her and her mother to the zombies and be done with it. Also, Lori, because I can’t stand her HORRIBLE acting. Truly dreadful. As for the rest of the characters: what happened to the edge that they had last season? The real problem is that the actors seem bored with this and they’re just trying to get’er done. C’mon writers. you can do better than this crap!

    • Anonymous

      The actor playing Lori is truly horrible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Krumel/774655640 Jennifer Krumel

    I’ll say this: When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want Sophia and Darryl on my side. Hear me out: This girl has survived on her own for days in an unknown woods somehow procuring her own food and water – and if the blanket was hers – it means that she slept in a closet with the door shut and her food supply at hand. Girl’s more capable than most of the adults with her. Team Sophia! (And Darryl.)

    • Anonymous

      I’m not so sure Sophia’s disappearance isn’t somehow connected to Merle. 

      • Kelsey Wooster

        I thought it was fairly obvious that when they didn’t immediately find Sophia and continued to mention Merle (this last episode it was Darryl, before that was T Dog) that she had been kidnapped. The fact that her trail stopped cold when they were initially tracking her supports this too!

        • Anonymous

          I totally agree with you, her trail went suspiciously cold too quickly but by the many comments concerning why they haven’t “found” Sophia, maybe not so obvious.

  • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

    Regarding Lori’s pregnancy, not only is there the traditional complications of pregnancy and caring for an infant, but there’s also the problem of delivering and recovering.  Labor and delivery can take A LOT of time, and it’s time during which she can’t really move.  My guess is there will be some sort of zombie attack while she’s delivering.  Even with a totally normal delivery, there can be tearing afterward which makes moving quickly or for very long practically impossible, and a lot of women go into shock immediately following labor from blood loss. 

  • Anonymous

    Generators were mentioned in this episode by Maggie so I assumed that was the source of their electricity (I think it was when she was explaining where something was…..maybe the well…..can’t remember). They all seem to have gas for vehicles so I assume the same gas source is powering the generators on the farm. 

    Edit—-Just saw a previous response about Maggie mentioning the generators. But yeah….. : )

    • Anonymous

      This is the thing that really annoys me — if they do have generators for electricity, why are there no zombies and no noise? Generators are insanely noisy. If there are really walkers out in the woods, they’d have been attracted to that noise by now. 

      I’m not even half as frustrated by the characters and the action as I am by the WHY issues I have with everyone — I constantly mutter darkly at the TV all these why questions, over and over. And I never get any good answers. Stupid TV.

      I think the series is really showing the Darabont was let go, and they increased the number of eps while decreasing the budget.

  • Anonymous

    And as someone who seems to have a baby on every overnight flight I have ever been on…..CRYING baby and zombies……If she and the baby survive, it is a huge liability. 

    Of course it will give Rick the opportunity to be heroic and selfless when he accepts Shane’s screaming zombie attractor as his own. 

  • Anonymous

    They showed Merle in the previews for next week. He is bound to pop up soon.

  • Anonymous

    Re: The pharmacy sexcapade.  Wouldn’t you just drop your pants and get’r done?  There is a time and place for slow kisses and taking turns stripping.  That wasn’t it.  And both of you would be facing the front windows.

    • Anonymous

      This was my thought. They’re in an unprotected place with no lookout. Go back to the farm and find a hayloft to cavort in. As it is, you’re leaving yourselves and the horses (your means of escape) vulnerable.

  • http://twitter.com/sockandaphone Gaby

    needs more zombies!!! but in all seriousness, im getting sick of the prolongued talking scenes. In a way im happy my mom now watches the show, and since she doesnt understand english so well, at least i get to pay attention and explain everything to her, so Im a bit more engaged. I honestly hope something forces them to leave or something cus I feel like theyre getting too complacent at the farm. I like this season so far, and I love this show despite its writing problems, but please DROP THE SOPHIA STORY. In a world like that, there is absolutely no way shes alive by now. And trying to find her in such a vast area with such limited resources makes no sense. Although i do understand her mother’s sorrow, I was hoping for some reality check this episode about the situation.

  • Kelsey Wooster

    Anyone think Hershel & the gang are cannibals?

    • Anonymous

      Not really. They obviously have livestock so I don’t really see them choosing to eat humans in the short time that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamia-Sixtyeight/100001315305964 Lamia Sixtyeight

    well this pregnancy isn’t really news..I always thought that’s what the guy at the CDC meant when he spoke about the test results on one of the members of the gang.  something from last season that was left hanging and that has not been addressed this season yet unless I am missing something else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamia-Sixtyeight/100001315305964 Lamia Sixtyeight

    It also bothers me that this farm is so unprotected and the people so careless. The vet is not fond of strangers joining his farm, yet there is no fence or ditch around the farm to keep people and zombies out…and no means for detecting approaching zombies like the noise makers around the camp in season one…or anyone standing guard at night that I have seen…just lazily shooting the breeze on the porch…hell the windows aren’t even boarded up should they get a sudden herd attack.  You would think the vet and his crew would have wised up and be more prepared by now since they’ve managed to survive this long…This season showed great promise in the first episode and now is quickly sinking me into boredom these days.  This seems to be the pattern in Hollywood these days, a great first season to get renewed and then everything goes to hell.

  • Scott Hester-Johnson

    Can anyone please explain why this farm is somehow miraculously zombie-free? Anyone?

  • http://twitter.com/hpenfield Hannah Penfield

    Am I horrible for wanting them to find little Sophia as a zombie and she attacks someone and they have to violently kill her with a hacksaw or something? I mean, she’s been such a pain in rear at this point by wandering 50,000 miles away and not coming back that I feel whoever had to do that might get a little satisfaction out of it. I reallllly want them to find her as a zombie.

  • http://blue-again.myopenid.com/ blue

    I thought Herschel’s behavior about the barn and the bit about “there are aspects of this I can’t talk about” were nicely mysterious. My guess is that barn has some zombified relatives of theirs in it who they can’t bear to off. 

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t understand why they devoted so much time to the zombie well when she just said there were SEVEN WELLS on the property. PICK ANOTHER ONE.