Andrew Lincoln’s Rick seems to move into the background slightly in this episode which isn’t particularly a problem as we get some time with other characters that need the development. However, he still manages to be a massive presence. His moments with Hershel are not only well written but also hint on future conflicts and story progression. Hershel has allowed them to stay but given Rick an ultimatum. They must leave once Carl has fully recovered and they discover Sophia’s fate. It’s a totally reasonable request and after all he’s done to help Rick it’s fair that he expects something in return. Scott Wilson brings a serious side to Hershel this week as he states his intentions and he may be a formidable opponent for Rick if it comes down to a confrontation between the two.
Norman Reedus is quickly becoming one of the standout actors in the series. His Daryl continues his evolution and his determination to find Sophia keeps the audience behind him. Although his character is a success the whole storyline of the Cherokee Rose (the title of the episode) doesn’t work. It isn’t the concept but the execution; it is a little too sentimental and whimsical. Perhaps it’s due to Melissa McBride’s Carol who isn’t quite working. Her daughter is missing and she should be upset, but her pensive looks are becoming irritating and frankly, if she did perish she wouldn’t be missed.
Another character I’d be happy to throw to the zombies is T-Dog. He gets some screen time here but there is something missing and he continues to fulfil a stereotype that the show could do without. Jeffrey DeMunn and Steve Yeun manage to get some much-needed exposure. DeMunn’s Dale is always a delight to watch, but it is Yeun Glenn that steals the show. His little adventure into town with one of the new girls leads to some interesting developments, bringing a welcome humorous tone to the proceedings.
There is still some gore for the Zombie fans in the form of a grotesquely bloated walker trapped in a well. It is a different type of danger and is dealt with humour and suspense. Although you know there isn’t any real threat it’s a great scene. The conclusion of the situation is like some sort of punch line as after all their effort the outcome is exactly what they where trying to prevent.
The only real annoyance is the guessable cliffhanger that involves Lori. Sarah Callies has been allowed to expand her character a lot this season and this new turn of events sends her character back down the adulteress material from last season. It’s too much like a soap opera storyline and the show has demonstrated that it is better than that sort of thing.
But on the whole it’s business as usual as the episode continues to keep the quality high. The script, direction and actors come together to deliver a fun interlude for a series that has had a very bleak beginning. It echoes real life in that even though these people are in a terrible situation they can find time to rest and enjoy the life they do have. But tension is in the air and there are hints of future traumas as we witness a calm before the storm.