Broadcast Date: 13 November 2011
Director: Guy Ferland
Writer: David Johnson
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, and Steven Yeun
Last time, I reproached “Cherokee Rose” for being directionless, which many took to mean filler. For me, though, everything that happens to our heroes plays a part in their journey, so my criticism pertained more to a lack of cohesion. Whether in a book or on the tube, every chapter of a series should have a through line. Consider this week’s instalment of The Walking Dead, “Chupacabra”, the way it focuses on a single character and lets the others set up their threads in the background. Nothing of consequence happens until the last five minutes or so, yet the episode proves one of the season’s best so far.
It helps that Daryl’s got the spotlight, what with his having won the hearts of TV fans everywhere. Some have suggested that the character was created to emulate Sawyer from Lost. Carol’s speech about his being as worthy as the tribe’s leaders supports the theory, as does his vision of Merle, embodiment of the deep-seeded insecurities that drive him. Nevertheless, I find the tracker utterly fascinating and spent most of the episode terrified I might indeed have jinxed him last week. Thankfully, it takes more than an arrow in the ribs, a ghoul nibbling at his boots, two falls down a rocky cliff, and a trigger-happy Andrea shooting him in the face to take the old boy down.
If his delusions are anything to go by, Daryl’s unwavering resolve stems largely from an inferiority complex, which makes his aforementioned exchange with Carol doubly affecting. Another thought occurs to me: what if his hallucinations turn out more than a fancy metaphor? What if they hint at serious mental illness? After all, just because civilization has come to an end doesn’t mean chemical imbalances have ceased to exist. To shoehorn another Lost analogy, the same way Shannon could’ve used an inhaler on the island to overcome her asthma, perhaps Daryl needs neuroleptics to refrain from cutting zombie ears and wearing them as a necklace.
Of course, Daryl isn’t the only one acting crazy. Dale rightfully dismisses Glenn’s comment about converging menstrual cycles, but it’s worth noting The Walking Dead has a spotty track record with its portrayal of the fairer sex. Women in the cast range from flip-flopping shrews to weak-willed nincompoops. Take, for example, Carol, who shows her gratitude to the Greenes by inviting herself to their food, or Maggie, who’s hot, then she’s cold, who’s yes, then she’s no, who’s in, then she’s out, she doesn’t really want to stay, no.
Even Andrea, responsible for my favourite moments last season, has been behaving like a petulant child, whining incessantly and firing a riffle after receiving explicit orders to stand down. Forget that the “walker” turns out to be Daryl. Forget that she’s wasting a bullet and risking her group’s fragile relationship with the Greenes. With her relative inexperience and the sun in her face, the woman could easily have shot one of her comrades rushing toward the intruder. I think someone deserves a timeout in Hershel’s farm.
Mind you, I haven’t even got to Lori, who scolds Shane for looking out for her family mere days after he risked his life to save Carl. The Grimes aren’t endearing themselves to me this year. Once the bearer of all the good remaining in humankind, Rick has become the sort of self-righteous twerp who insists for his best friend’s opinion and then cusses him out because it doesn’t match his. We’ve all known people like that, and we’ve all wanted to shove their heads in a wood chipper.
This is not to say I agree with Shane, whose philosophy strikes me as short-sighted at best. Abandoning the weak removes any incentive to join a larger group because it means giving to the collective without getting anything back when the chips are down. Of course, Rick’s habit of sacrificing the strong to clear his conscience doesn’t have much appeal either. It’d only be a matter of time before everyone got dragged into oblivion. Such are the factors the European Union must consider in light of Greece’s dwindling economy… Wait. What were we discussing?