Well, it certainly seems as though the writers are paying attention to viewer cries of boredom. “Cherokee Rose” featured the single grossest thing I have ever seen on this show or any other, plus some side boob. In between those two scenes was a bunch of boring stuff, of course, but I suppose it can’t all be exploding guts and side boobs. (Why not? WHY NOT?!)
First: the well walker. He was horrifying. I said once last season that Glenn is so likable that the writers will turn him into the Willow of the series, placing him in danger any time they want to terrify the viewers. Right after I said that, the writers forgot Glenn was a character for eight episodes or so, but in the past couple of weeks, I became fully invested in him again. So I was absolutely riveted as he dangled just above the starving, bloated walker’s hungry hands. The stakes were there, and the visual effects transformed an already scary scene into something else entirely.
Once Glenn was safely above ground and the others began pulling the walker out of the well, the tension escalated even more. The actor playing the walker (as you’ll see below, he was played by Brian Hillard, who actually works for KNB EFX) writhed, snarled and pulsated very effectively, and then when he disintegrated into a steaming puddle of guts and gunk–you guys, I gagged. Twice. I can’t remember ever having gagged at gross visual effects before. IT WAS AMAZING. I watched it four or five times. What a perfectly crafted sequence! Watch the video of how they did it:
So we had abominable gore this week, and we had sex. Glenn and Maggie make a pharmacy run, and Glenn uses this opportunity to charm this episode every which way. From his gulping of “horse?!” to his chivalrous stammering when Lori uses the phrase “feminine hygiene,” he’s absolutely darling this week. So when Maggie catches him with a box of condoms and calmly tells him that her loneliness and limited options mean she’ll sleep with him, you know she’s really doing it because he’s so adorable. Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan have real chemistry, and I care if they live or die or get together. Their connection is a bright spot in an almost unceasingly gloomy atmosphere, and I love it. The audience is led to feel the way the characters would if they discovered a mutual attraction at the end of the world: the levity is undeniable, possibly because of how incongruous it is.
So those things were great, and everything else was fine. Shane is still guilt-ridden and conflicted and lovely; Rick is still boring and boring and boring; T-Dog is still unknowable; Dale is still smugly wise; Lori is still jerking Shane around–but now she’s pregnant, which will almost definitely elevate her self-obsession to unparalleled heights. Carol does nothing but cry and knit and wait for everyone else to bring her kid home and Daryl is simply wonderful. The search for Sophia is endless; Herschel wants the crew to hit the road (and so do I); everybody talks about God every five seconds. Most of the characters profess not to believe in God, but they all talk about it constantly. And have you noticed that every conversation on this show occurs at least twice? The characters repeat their little speeches to each other, switching up who says what but still making it so that the writers don’t have to come up with new speeches (or, lord forbid, normal dialogue) every episode.
“Cherokee Rose” was in turns great and boring, and that’s pretty much how I feel about the show as a whole. Usually boring, but sometimes great enough that we let our guard down and begin to hope that things could improve. That well walker scene–that was great television. More of that, please, and of the actual, legit connection between Maggie and Glenn. And please, give up the Sophia search and move on to new territory. The Walking Dead needs constant forward progress to keep things interesting. New settings, new characters, new missions. Make it so.
Devin, Henri–take it away!