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Hey, Walking Dead fans! Here’s your full recap for episode 204, “Cherokee Rose”. Are you ready for some secrets? Because that’s the soup of the day.
Being that The Walking Dead is mainly about a small group of people and their dynamics, one of the major plot engines for the series has always been the secrets the characters keep from each other. Right off the bat, episode 102, we had Shane and Lori quickly ending their romance and trying to hide it from Rick. I’m calling that one the Original Secret.
But after ten episodes spread out over two seasons, the Original Secret is running out of steam. Rick doesn’t seem to suspect anything, and Lori and Shane have pretty much figure out how to move on. So the show needs to make some FRESH secrets. And 204 is where that happens.
By the end of this episode, our characters will have a whole new batch of secrets to keep from each other. Some secrets are bigger than others, but I’m going to assign each new one a number to keep track of them all.
Let’s get to it!
THE GREENE FAMILY FARM
Episode 204 begins on the farm the morning after Dr. Greene’s surgery on Carl’s was deemed a success. But nobody is too joyful, because the mission to get supplies FOR the surgery resulted in Otis’s death. Now, all the able-bodied members of the Team Greene and of Team Rick are gathering large stones so they can build a makeshift burial site for Otis. (I agree with reader cattyfan, who wrote on the minicap that it’s probably just a memorial marker and not an actual grave, being that there’s no suggestion anyone went back and retrieved Otis’s body).
Everybody thinks Otis sacrificed himself so Carl could live. They don’t know that Shane threw Otis to the zombies so he could save himself. And here is Shane gathering rocks with everybody, acting like he’s mourning the guy he actually killed. There’s secret #1.
If the zombies don’t kill Shane, the stress from keeping all these secrets will
Off in the distance they hear some vehicles approaching. But not to worry, it’s only the remaining members of Team Rick—Dale, Andrea, Daryl, and Carol. They were all back at the highway looking for Sophia. More on Sophia shortly.
THE GREENE’S HOUSE
Inside, Rick and Lori are by Carl’s bedside. The boy has come out of his fever and looks like he’s recovering well, and now he actually wakes up. The first thing he asks about is Sophia. Is she OK? (Carl, Rick, and Shane were looking for Sophia when Carl got shot).
Now, that’s obviously a terrible lie. All Carl has to do is get out of bed and see Sophia isn’t there for the lie to fall apart. But Rick never exactly had a gift for deception. I’m calling that Secret #2.
Rick goes outside to greet the remaining members of his party. Dale wants to know how Carl is faring, and when Rick tells him the good news he’s relieved. They hug.
A nice little moment, but the flipside is never very far away. Telling Dale about their ordeal, Rick singles out Shane for as much credit as Dr. Greene gets for saving Carl. Once again Shane looks uncomfortable.
But he’s not off the hook just yet. Later, when everyone’s finished building Otis’s burial marker, they all gather so Dr. Greene can officiate a simple religious service for him. Shane has to stand there and listen to Dr. Greene eulogize Otis—we learn that they were actually brothers, and Dr. Greene goes on and on about how Otis was a really good person. While this is going on Shane starts having flashbacks to last night.
And he’s STILL Not off the hook. Dr. Greene finishes his eulogy and asks Shane to say a few words. Shane tries to back out of it, but Otis’s girlfriend insists. And so, he takes the floor.
So Shane launches into a rambling retelling of the story he gave everyone last night, the positive version of what really happened—Otis sacrificed himself to save Carl.
“It’s really hard to sacrifice your life to save someone else. It’s almost as hard to sacrifice someone else’s life to save someone else. So I should get still SOME credit.”
Shane sums up by thanking Otis for saving Carl, and for saving him, too. Which, actually, is true…Otis DID save Shane’s life, technically. But a jury wouldn’t see it that way.
Shane places a final rock on the burial marker. I bet he can’t wait to get the hell out of this place.
THE GREENE’S FARM
Now that Otis has been laid to rest, Team Greene and Team Rick can turn their attention to the most pressing item on the agenda, which is finding Sophia. Dr. Greene has volunteered to let Rick’s group use the farm as a staging area. Maggie spreads a big topographic map of the county out on the hood of a truck so they can coordinate the search. Even though it’s been three days since Sophia went missing, everyone is still optimistic and itching to get started.
Not so fast. Dr. Greene forbids Rick from leaving the farm. Rick’s given up three units of blood and wouldn’t last under the hot sun. Shane is also barred from looking, because if he walked around on his bum ankle all day he’d make the injury way worse.
This is pretty much a big plot scene where all the characters gather to get their assignments for the episode, so I’ll just lay the rest out like that…
Daryl, being their best tracker, will search the woods alone.
Since he can’t search, Shane offers to at least drive Andrea and Carol up to the highway so they can check the spot where they left a sign for Sophia in case she came back. Shane also wants to hold a firearm training session for everyone, but Dr. Greene forbids them from doing that on his property, and Rick backs the doctor up. (Dr. Greene’s rationale is that he wants his farm to remain an unarmed camp). Shane does insist on having Dale resume his normal lookout spot atop the RV with his rifle, and Dr. Greene lets him.
Dale and T-Dog will begin setting up a campsite for Team Rick on the Greene’s property. To start, they’ll be gathering water.
They’re run out of Merle’s antibiotics, so Maggie decides to ride into town to raid an abandoned pharmacy. Rick volunteers Glenn’s services, since Glenn has the best “going to town” skills. (Rick and Glenn first met when Glenn was scavenging downtown Atlanta).
And finally, Rick and Dr. Greene will drive around the neighborhood to survey possible routes for when the main search is ready to begin. When Rick isn’t doing that, he and Lori will stay with Carl as the boy recovers.
Now everyone has their assignments. Before they disperse, Shane brings up an uncomfortable subject…if Daryl does find Sophia, and she’s been bitten, is everyone in agreement that he should put Zombie Sophia out of her/it’s misery? Everyone in Team Rick assents, but Dr. Greene and Maggie seem uncomfortable with the idea.
“All people are children of God, even the zombiefied ones. Myeah.”
While everyone prepares to leave for their assignments, Shane takes Lori aside for a moment. He had been contemplating leaving Team Rick, but last week, after he returned with the necessary surgical supplies, Lori asked him to stay. Now, he just wants her to confirm if that’s what she really wants. And she still does, without hesitation.
NEAR WHERE THAT JUST WAS
After that, Shane approaches Andrea to revisit everyone’s favorite subject matter: her right to carry her own gun.
Seriously. Everyone loves the fights over your gun-penis, Andrea
Shane’s making good on Dr. Greene’s order that no guns be carried on the farm, and he’s confiscating her weapon. Unsurprisingly she isn’t happy about it, but Shane manages to get her to chill out. He reminds her that she barely knows how to use it and promises that today he’ll give her a lesson. To start, he shows her how to disassemble and clean it on a picnic table.
OUTSIDE THE GREENE’S HOUSE
Then it’s over to Rick, who’s sitting on the front steps. For a guy who’s physically incapable of exertion AND who just nearly lost his son, he still looks a little bummed out that he’s not doing more. He spots Daryl as Daryl walks towards the woods to begin his search, and he tries to give Daryl the option to stay at the farm until everyone else can join him on the search, but Daryl brushes him off and continues on his way. Without anyone to lead, Rick looks a little out of place.
Then Dr. Greene joins him to begin their surveying. But before they leave, Dr. Greene needs to tell Rick something…he likes Team Rick and is happy to help them survive, but this isn’t a permanent situation. Team Rick can stick around until Carl is healthy and Sophia is found, but after that they need to leave.
Rick says he agrees, but he looks less than thrilled.
Maggie approaches Team Rick’s camp with horses for the trip to town. Glenn watches her through binoculars. It would be lecherous if he weren’t a dork.
Then Lori pops into his field of vision. She’s brought a list of items they need from the pharmacy. But there’s one item she needs that she’s left off the list. She shows him a separate piece of paper. He has no idea what it is, and we can’t see what it says, but all she tells him is that it can be found in the feminine hygiene section. And he must not tell anyone else what he’s doing.
Another secret! This one’s still part of the Original Secret, so it doesn’t get a number.
Over at one of the Greene’s wells, Dale and T-Dog are beginning to fill up their buckets with water. After the antibiotics and the stitches, T-Dog looks much healthier than last week. No more stark raving madness.
But T-Dog hasn’t forgotten about the madness of last week, when he begged Dale to just load him into the RV and drive off together. That wasn’t the real T-Dog, and he’s pretty embarrassed. In fact, he would prefer if Dale kept their conversation…you guessed it…a secret. Dale agrees. That’s #3.
With that past them, both guys admit to being optimistic about finding Sophia. T-Dog begins pumping water, and Dale wanders over to the well. He hears a sound down below.
Finally, more horror movie shit. I’m sick of all this character shit
T-Dog grabs the ladle to take a sip, but Dale rushes back over and knocks it out of his hand. The water is contaminated. Why? Well…
I bet this would be even scarier if AMC hadn’t already shown us this monstrosity in the fucking commercials for this week’s episode.
[insert: Rosie O’Donnell joke that’s really funny. Can also be Kirstie Alley]
Water-born, mutated zombie. God knows what kinds of scary stuff it can do. What’s the gang going to do about it?
T-Dog and Glenn want to just shoot the damned thing, but Shane, Andrea, and Maggie worry that the zombie’s brains being splattered all over the well would contaminate the water. You know, because the zombie sitting in the water for days hasn’t contaminated it already.
Pour me a glass!
The point is, they have to figure out a way to raise the water zombie out of the well before killing it.
THE GEORGIA COUNTRYSIDE
But that gets put on hold while the show jumps over to Rick and Dr. Greene. The doctor has driven Rick to an overlook where they can survey the surrounding countryside to plan their search for Sophia. On a map, Dr. Greene points out the interstate, his farm, and the creek where Rick last saw Sophia, and Rick notices another branch of the creek that they missed in their search. The branch goes off in a completely different direction, so if Sophia had follow it she could easily be miles away from where Rick and company were looking. It’s a lead.
But Dr. Greene has a far-off look in his eye and calls Rick’s attention away from the map. He just wants to show Rick the landscape and how beautiful it is and reminds him of Jesus and stuff.
Dr. Greene thinks it’s important to stop and admire nature once in a while, but Rick tensely reminds Dr. Greene that the last time he did that, Carl got shot. Not feeling too appreciative these days, or too pious.
But Dr. Greene pushes him back…after all that’s happened, (Rick surviving the shootout with the meth addicts, coming out of the coma, finding Lori and Carl amid the zombiepocalypse, and Carl surviving a gunshot himself), doesn’t Rick see the Hand of God guiding him?
Rick points out that really only half those events are miracles. The rest are fucking horrible ordeals. So if God is guiding him, God must have a sick sense of humor.
Whatever, back to the cool shit.
The gang’s first idea to bring the water zombie up alive is to bait it with a canned ham, which they are lowering down to him now.
Are we sure this thing is a zombie? Maybe there’s a power plant nearby and this is a guy who drank too much well water
But the water zombie isn’t interested in the ham. Makes sense, right? Andrea points out how other zombies do not raid people’s cupboards. They like LIVE bait.
And what can they use for live bait? Asian guy!
No really, except for the words “Asian guy” that’s exactly how this scene plays out.
THE WELL, A SHORT WHILE LATER
So now, Glenn is tied to a rope, and everyone else has begun lowering him down into the well. The rope is wrapped around…
A rusty fucking Civil War-era pump
The plan, I guess, is to lower Glenn so he can slip a second rope around the water zombie. And not get bitten somehow.
But like I said, the pump is rusty and fucking Civil War-era, and almost immediately it pops out of the ground. Glenn starts to plummet, and only when T-Dog braces himself against the lip of the well can the others stop his descent…just out of the water zombie’s reach.
Slowly, they pull Glenn back up. Time for Plan C.
Or maybe not! Turns out that during the chaos Glenn managed to slip the rope around the zombie after all.
A HOUSE SOMEWHERE
Then it’s over to Daryl, who’s in the middle of his search. He finds a house in the middle of the woods.
It used to be a haunted house but the zombies ate all the ghosts
He loads an arrow and creeps inside to look around. This is the perfect moment for another zombie freak out, isn’t it?
Daryl goes from room to room on the first floor and doesn’t find anything. He hears a creak coming from upstairs, but decides it’s just the house settling.
Then he enters the kitchen. He notices a recently opened tuna can in the trash can. It came from the pantry, and the pantry door is currently shut…is someone inside? He aims his crossbow at the pantry and throws it open. Still nothing. But, he does notice pillows and blankets on the floor of the pantry, like someone had been hiding out there. Was it Sophia?
OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
Finished with the house, Daryl checks the back yard, calling out Sophia’s name. Nothing. But he finds a white flower in a bush, and for some reason it piques his interest:
And now the gang can lift the water zombie out of the well. This time they’re using a horse for support:
“Oh yeah. A 1-ton horse is probably sturdier than that pipe that disintegrates when you touch it”
The zombie comes to the surface. It does not look pleased. It gets caught on the lip of the well, and the gang pulls with all their might…and the fucking zombie rips in half.
This is the picture I wanted to use for the front page, if our fainter-hearted readers had not asked me to stop doing that last season
(And if you get a chance, go back and watch the zombie rip in slow motion…the level of detail in the guts and the juices and such is hilarious).
And the bottom half of the water zombie, covered in entrails, falls back down into the well. Looks like they won’t be drinking from it any time soon.
The top half of the zombie is still alive, though, and for some reason the group hesitates on what to do with it. T-Dog finally just grabs a pipe and beats its brains in, sarcastically congratulating everyone for having the restraint not to shoot it in the first place.
Fuckin’ A, that was awesome.
Shane, Carol, and Andrea return to the spot where they left a message and some food in case Sophia found her way back here. The food is untouched and there’s no other sign of the kid.
Andrea tries to buck up Carol’s spirits, but Carol’s sick of everyone’s empty reassurances, so Andrea backs off. Shane tries to reassure her after Andrea and Carol just waves him off.
After the road, the three of them find a nearby field to use for Andrea’s shooting lesson. She’s impatient to get her gun back, (surprise!), but Shane wants to take this slow. He begins the lesson…
The first thing Andrea needs to realize is that shooting a target is one thing, but shooting a person is something else. The cliché that time slows down in a crisis isn’t true; in fact, things speed up. And if you fuck up, you’re dead.
The trick to surviving that kind of situation is to shut off your brain and just react. No hesitating. Killing someone else isn’t to be taken lightly, but you still have to forget it after you’ve done it.
Obviously there’s subtext in all this, and that is, Shane is still tormented by the decision he made the night before to throw Otis to the zombies. It’d be nice if he could follow that advice himself. (I doubt anyone but a psychopath could).
A BACK ROAD
Then it’s over to Glenn and Maggie. They are on horseback riding into town.
Back at the well Glenn noticed Maggie’s revulsion at the sight of the water zombie being torn apart, and now he’s awkwardly trying to act tough about it. It’s the kind of thing a hardened road warrior like himself sees all the time. Maggie isn’t terribly impressed, but does try to take his main message to heart, which is that you get numb to the carnage eventually.
Soon they’re reached the town, which is a tiny, one stoplight kind of place. It doesn’t look zombie-infested, nor does it look like much rioting has taken place here. The pharmacy has a sign in the window that reads “Take what you need, God bless.”
Inside they find the shop to be mostly picked over. Maggie takes the shopping list and disappears to find whatever antibiotics are left, leaving Glenn time to find Lori’s mystery item.
He finds the feminine hygiene section. It’s nearly empty. But among the debris he finds it…drum roll…a pregnancy test. Was anyone that surprised?
But then Maggie appears over Glenn’s shoulder and he scrambles to hide the pregnancy test in his knapsack. To cover, he grabs a bunch of other items off the floor, trying to make it look like he was gathering whatever was available…and he finds himself holding a box of condoms.
Embarrassing! Right? Except Maggie interprets this as a hint. Which it was not. But it’ll work.
So what if he’s the last man on Earth? Still counts.
THE GREENE’S FARM
Rick and Dr. Greene return from their surveying trip. Rick sees that Dale and T-Dog have gotten their new temporary camp set up, and something clicks. He asks Dr. Greene to reconsider his decision that Team Rick can’t stay permanently.
Rick gives one of the more impassioned speeches he’s capable of giving. Everyone in the group looks to Rick for answers. Dr. Greene needs to reconsider not for the sake of Team Rick or even for Rick himself, but for Carl. Rick is ashamed of how he lied to Carl this morning about Sophia. Even a comforting lie is agony for this guy.
In the end Rick doesn’t have much of a case to make, just a plea: if Dr. Greene sends them back out to the road, there’s a greater likelihood that Rick will fail Carl. That’s the whole case.
In response, Dr. Greene tells Rick the story of his own father, Mr. Dr. Greene. His pappy was a mean drunk who didn’t bother with comforting lies. He was so awful that Dr. Greene didn’t even visit him on his death bed. But Dr. Greene isn’t bitter about it or anything. All it means is that he knows what fatherly love really means.
There are aspects of the decision Dr. Greene won’t discuss with Rick, but in the end he agrees to consider letting them stay. They shake on it.
THE GREENE’S FARM, LATER
Glenn and Maggie ride back. He’s grinning like an idiot, and she tells him not to spoil it, and reminds him their rendezvous was a one-time thing. Dr. Greene greets them and she coolly tells him that nothing happened. Secret #4!
Then Lori corners Glenn and takes the pregnancy test from him. They share an awkward moment but Glenn knows enough to walk away.
Daryl returns from his search for the day. He comes into the RV and notices what good shape it’s in, clean and tidy. He finds Carol sitting in the back, knitting. She’s beyond the point where she wants to ask Daryl if he found anything on his search.
Daryl takes out a bottle, and in it is one of the white flowers he saw at that house earlier. It’s called a Cherokee rose. As the story goes, back when Georgia was driving out the Indians on the Trail of Tears, tons and tons of Cherokee children were dying from starvation or disease, and the mothers were distraught. So, the Cherokees prayed for some kind of divine help to get the mothers through the ordeal, and the next day these white roses appeared where Cherokee mothers had wept before.
In other words, the Cherokee rose is supposed to mean hope and strength. Daryl thinks this rose is for Sophia, and before he leaves, he compliments Carol on the cleaning job.
And now, the wrapup. It’s night and Rick is sitting by Carl’s bed. Both are asleep, but then Carl comes to and wakes Rick. They finally have a moment alone together.
Like we saw earlier, Rick feels guilty for lying to Carl earlier about Sophia, even if it was a comforting lie, (all because he’s paranoid of failing Carl down the line), so he decides to take the opportunity to confess. But it turns out Carl already knew the truth about Sophia because Lori told him earlier today.
Carl forgives his Dad. And Rick totally misses the fact that his wife is directly countermanding him without even talking it over first.
Then Carl makes a funny observation…he and Rick are part of a club, of people who have been shot. Rick cracks a smile, even though it’s a pretty inappropriate thing for the kid to say. To make their club membership official, Rick passes his sheriff’s hat to Carl. They’ll share it now.
They tell each other they love each other, and as Carl drifts off to sleep Lori comes in to find her husband and son having a rare peaceful moment.
So in the end, after most of the characters have been keeping things from each other, Rick makes one small effort to be totally honest with his son. Maybe the show is trying to say that, even with all the deceit we are capable of, in the end we can still connect with each other. Aww.
Lori goes outside. She’s got the pregnancy test and she’s going to find a place to use it. She walks past the RV and out into the field until she’s far enough away. Pulls the test out of her waistband, squats, and sure enough, she’s pregnant.
And we all know how reliable those things are.
All right, then.
-I guess first I should address Lori’s pregnancy first…was anyone surprised? Practically every week someone on the board predicted this would happen. Maybe it was super obvious? Was it to you? And do you think this is the secret that Jenner whispered to Rick on the way out of the CDC?
I actually don’t, because I think Rick would react way differently than he has if he knew his wife was pregnant. But I did accidentally see a hint of what happens on the show in the next few episodes that WOULD explain why Rick has been behaving this way, so maybe that is the case.
-But I dug this episode quite a bit. Fun stuff with group dynamics mixed with a healthy dose of horror movie stuff. The suspense has been lacking lately. I missed it.
But I liked better all the secrets and lies passed around this week. Some were bigger than others, and they won’t all have ramifications down the road. Here’s my final tally:
#1: Rick lying to Carl about Sophia
#2: Shane lying to everyone about Otis
#3: Dale keeping T-Dog’s disloyal ravings secret
#4: Glenn and Maggie’s private tryst
#5: Lori getting Glenn to slyly score a pregnancy test for her. But it’s really just a new iteration of the same old secret between her and Shane.
Possibly #6: When Dr. Greene and Rick were discussing whether Team Rick could stay, Dr. Greene said there were “factors he wouldn’t discuss with Rick” (paraphrasing). What does that mean? Could Dr. Greene be hiding something?
And #7: From the second-to-last scene, when Rick and Carl took turns wearing the sheriff’s hat…after Carl pointed out how they’re both in the “people who have been shot” club, Rick chuckles and asks Carl to keep that observation between them. Even though the scene’s ultimately about coming clean, hints of comforting lies are present as well.
One thing I’m wondering is, even though all of these secrets could be called “lies”, I wouldn’t say all of them are bad. You can make a case for each one that lying is the best possible option for the sake of preserving the group relationship. What do you think?
Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!