Zombie movies are one thing, but a zombie TV show is a different beast entirely. With so much time to kill, ensuring that you find the right balance of plot development and over-the-top blood-spurting gore is essential. Over indulge in one of these two areas and chances are you’ll bore the viewer. Luckily, as this week’s show proves, The Walking Dead walks this tightrope with ease.
We’re four episodes into season two and it’s finally time for our downtrodden survivors to relax somewhat. Rick’s son Carl is slowly recovering from the gunshot wound that almost took his life. Daryl uses his expert tracking skills to locate a promising lead regarding Carol’s lost daughter. Shane is learning to cope with the dark decision he was forced to make last week and risk-taker Glenn finds love during a supply run with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), daughter of Hershel (Scott Wilson) the kindly vet who saved Carl’s life.
What’s more, Rick has managed to get Hershel to consider letting the group stay at his secure farmhouse retreat. There’s no doubt about it, this has been the most positive episode so far. But don’t get too comfortable. Let’s not forget that when society breaks down, trouble is never far away. For starters, the farm’s water supply has an unwanted guest. Whilst pumping fresh water Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) discover a water-bloated walker lurking at the bottom of the well. Cue this week’s shot of grin-educing zombie gore and like most of The Walking Dead’s undead death scenes, it’s pretty inventive.
They can’t shoot the walker for fear of contaminating the well; nor can they hook it with dangling chunks of meat, what they need is live bait. That’s where Glenn, the show’s go-to escape artist and Short Round look-alike comes in to save the day. After a predictable but still nail-biting sequence where he almost gets stranded down the well and pulled to pieces, the group manage to yank the successfully hooked aqua-zombie to the surface. Pulling and tugging, they try their best to save their precious water only for the chubby flesh-chewer to get caught on the well’s cover and split in half. Rancid guts and infected blood spew back down the well, plopping into the water while the walker’s torso grabs for fresh meat undeterred. A miffed T-Dog quickly puts him out of his misery.
This episode’s title, ‘Cherokee Rose’, signals the return of hope, epitomised in the floral gift Daryl gives to Carol, boosting her faith that she’ll find her daughter alive and well. Yet ominous undertones lurk. Why does the seemingly good-natured Hershel refuse to discuss why Rick and his group can’t stay? Is he hiding a dark secret? Rick’s shelved his sheriff uniform, has he turned his back on his leader duties? Lori’s discovered she’s pregnant, but who exactly is the father? Have we mistaken smooth waters for the quiet before the storm? Only time will tell.