Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

The Walking Dead: Judge, Jury, Executioner

Dale: “But don’t you see that if we do this, the people that we were, the world that we knew, is dead. And this new world is ugly. It’s harsh. It’s survival of the fittest and that’s a world I don’t want to live in.”

My heart is broken. That’s a bit melodramatic for a television show but I’ve watched this episode three times and I’m still crying at the end of it. The voice of reason, care and civilization just got disemboweled by the new world order. I can’t believe that Shane is still there and Dale is now gone. I can only hope that this will mean that Dale’s voice gets taken up by others, or else this group is in big trouble.

A theme of the show has been the balance between survival and having a life that is worth surviving for. The life or death of Randall is one of those lynchpins that could push the group one way or the other. Dale’s point about survival of the fittest being the end of human civilization is correct. It is only when we work together that we create the things that make us human: art, literature, music, community. Will they try to remember who they were or will they just devolve into a tight xenophobic band that grows smaller and smaller as they inevitably lose people?

I’m not sure if Randall is a threat or not. Some of the men in his group are obviously not so nice, but he is just a kid. Why would he tell the story of the rape of the young women if he didn’t want them to know that he was different? On the other hand, he doesn’t freely share information until he is tortured--but would any of them talk about their group if they were captured? He does try to entice Carl with going back to his old group -- but is he just trying to save his life? If they wanted to make Randall part of their group, it certainly isn’t helpful to torture him and threaten to kill him on a regular basis. No easy answers. I guess that is the point.

It is clear, though, that Shane is a threat. Rick’s little “talk” with him obviously had no impact. He is considering a coup. It is clear that he thinks he is right and is the only one who can keep the group safe. Some people might define that as megalomania. He is squarely on the side of survival at all costs. I wonder if that is because he is young, male and a powder keg? He wasn’t all that tied to civilization before the apocalypse. He has the kind of tunnel vision that only a lack of experience can support. Dale had seen a lot of life and it sounded like some of it was pretty tough. He knows that there is more to life than just surviving. Shane is probably more likely to destroy the group than Randall.

One of the reasons to do more than survive is children, the continuance of the human race. Carl is central in the episode. I really wonder what is up with the adults in this group if a kid can wander off and play chicken with a zombie. Carl is obviously trying to figure out what the world has become. Like any child he is exploring, testing and trying out ways to be. What kind of world does his father want him to see and learn about? Rick certainly doesn’t want Carl to see him kill a man in cold blood, although Shane seems perfectly willing to kill Randall in front of him (and in a very ugly way). It chilled me when Carl told his dad to shoot. Is this what Rick wants for his son? As I’ve said before, I don’t think they should coddle Carl, but a basic sense of right and wrong might be useful.

“This group is broken.” Daryl to Dale and Dale back to Daryl after the decision to execute Randall is made. The group is a mess and winter is coming, not to mention the possibility of a raid by another group that is armed to the teeth. Discord in the group is more dangerous than anything else. They need to pull together and get their heads on straight. (And I don’t mean in the Shane way.) There is a way to protect yourself without losing your humanity. They need to plan together for their survival, organize themselves and think past the crises that keep hitting them. Rick has to stop agonizing over his capacity to lead and just lead. Securing the house and the supplies they need might bring the group back together. However, it might not make for such interesting television.

Bits and Pieces

Not quite sure what to make of Daryl in this episode. He seemed to be pretty good at torture but it was him, at the end, who helped Dale and spared Rick from shooting a group member.

Andrea was a civil rights lawyer.

I was so glad that Andrea stood with Dale. I was so hoping someone else would pipe up.

Hershel still doesn’t want to know. I like Hershel but that just seemed so cowardly.

Bit I loved -- Hershel giving Glenn his grandfather’s watch. It hurt my heart but in a good way.

Gooey bits I could have lived without -- the disemboweled cow and then the same fate for poor Dale. Would it really be that easy to rip someone open?


Daryl: “That boy there’s got a gang. Thirty men, they’ve got heavy artillery and they ain't looking to make friends. They roll through here, our boys are dead. And our women are going to wish they were.” Just to point out one more time that the women need to learn to defend themselves!

Andrea: “Who says we’re civilized anymore?”
Dale: “The world we know is gone. But keeping our humanity? That’s a choice.”

Shane: “You let your guard down out here, people die.”

Daryl: “The whole point of me coming up here is to get away from you people.”

Carol: “I lost my daughter. I didn’t lose my mind.”

Rick: “Don’t talk, think. It’s a good rule of thumb for life.”

Dale: “So the answer is to kill him to prevent a crime that he may never even attempt. If we do this, we’re saying there is no hope. Rule of law is dead. There is no civilization.”

Daryl: “Sorry, Brother.”


  1. I just this second finished watching this eppy - so glad you posted while I was watching it - great review, as always.

    I didn't cry at the end, but was totally shocked.

    The kid's face when he realised that the zombie was the one he freed when playing chicken? That is seriously going to mess with his head!

  2. There had been rumours for a while that one of the cast wanting to leave the series over Frank Darabont sacking. I figured it would be Jeffrey DeMunn since he'd worked with Darabont several times. This is probably why Dale's death felt so sudden. I'm sad to see him go. He was the group's moral compass. The one who fought hardest to keep everyone human in this inhuman world.

  3. I do not get how ONE barely walking walker can do that to a healthy cow that can somewhat gallop.
    And if a walker can rip someone open so easily how did the boy even get away with his legs attached when the walker grabbed him? Does not add up... but are we supposed to ask such questions? Everybody should get torn up and not scratched if they are grabbed by a walker based on this display.

    I still would like to know if the new guy is a psycho. I can't tell whether he is desperate (which he is) or cunning. Right now he does not look trustworthy to me... but I guess the show will tell.

  4. I did cry. Their conscience died. I hope someone in the group will take his place.

    I cried earlier, too, when Hershel gave Glenn the watch and told him that he was worthy of Maggie. I thought that was a signal that Hershel was going to die. I was *not* expecting it to be Dale. Wow. Poor Carl. He's having a tough season.

    Terrific review, Doc.

  5. What am I missing here? This was another awful episode.

    Dale's death was a shock, but it didn't move me other than being surprising. Dale was a whiny, wimpy curmudgeon. Dale was a serious Statler to Herschel's Waldorf (they look exactly like them too).

    Carl's "walker" being the one to kill Dale is way Way WAY too much of a Peter Parker rip-off.

    There are MANY problems with this show.

    Killing Dale is a step in the right direction to move the series where it should be, but I don't think the producers have the guts to do what needs to be done to push THE WALKING DEAD past 11.

    The Governor rolling in will make or break this show.

  6. Wow, HBR. I couldn't disagree more. Maybe their "slow burn" method of storytelling just isn't for you. It's certainly for me. Tastes vary.

  7. I like slow burns. I watch soaps!!! Soaps move (there are only two left that I watch since my beloved OLTL and ATWT were cancelled) glacially. I can handle slow plots if there are interesting characters to fill the show out.

    Andrea and Daryl are the two most interesting characters on the show and they don't do much.

    The writers can (and should) do so much more with the characters. There is SO MUCH potential.

    For example: Lori (at the end of TRIGGERFINGER) was very Lady MacBeth-ish. I had hopes that they were going to take her to a dark place, but I don't think the writers are that daring.

    Maybe my view of the TV series is tainted by the comic, even though the TV show has deviated quite drastically in some aspects from the books.

    I've had a love/hate relationship with the book. I collected the book for its first five years, then dropped it, having only read the first 24 issues, because Kirkman lost me for reasons I can no longer remember.

    Over the weekend up through this evening, I read up to issue 60 (via the trade paperbacks) and now I think the book is awesome. I have to pick up the next five TPBs this week and get caught up for when #100 comes out later this year.

    But I digress....

    I want to love this show. The first season (with the exception of the final few minutes of the season finale) rocked.

    The season two premier – with the walker "parade" – was one of the most harrowing sequences I have ever watched on TV.

    The story in the 13 episodes of this season should have been compressed into 6. It would have packed more punch.

    I rambled a bit too much....I apologize.

  8. Sorry about that, HBR. The biggest complaint I keep hearing about TWD is that there aren't enough zombies, but I shouldn't have assigned that complaint to you. Frankly, if there were more zombies, I'd probably stop watching. It's the story and the characters I care about.

  9. I thought this episode was rather poor.

    It's right that the whole group should have a say in how to deal with the Randall situation, but having Dale walking around preaching *at* everyone was the wrong way to go about it. He might have been the voice of reason, but for his final episode they done a very poor job of making me want him to succeed.

    Also, Andrea's U-turn was very bad writing. Their relationship hasn't been handled very well this season which made their interactions this week seem like nothing more than a desperate attempt to rekindle their friendship before killing Dale. Unfortunately, this now leaves Andrea with another reason to walk around being arrogant and obnoxious. Fortunately, the only person who takes her shit is now dead, so maybe it won't last so long this time?

    I hope they surprise me and go the other way with her - this show could definitely use a likeable woman who can take care of herself (and others.)

    I'm oddly amused at the idea of a shuffling, moaning, rotting corpse sneaking up on a cow :)

  10. "I'm oddly amused at the idea of a shuffling, moaning, rotting corpse sneaking up on a cow :)" ROTFL!

    "Dale's death was a shock, but it didn't move me other than being surprising. Dale was a whiny, wimpy curmudgeon <This

  11. I loved Dale. I don't think he was whiny or wimpy. Why does a guy have to beat his chest and shoot things to be a "real man" or a "real woman" for that matter? As I've said all along the cowboy crap is what gets everyone killed-unfortunately it makes for watchable TV. In a zombie apocalypse I would want people who can shoot and fight but I also want them to have some compassion and a brain. Otherwise you end up just running from zombies for the rest of your very short life, that is when you are not running from other humans, including those in your own group who have decided you are expendable. Long term survival is going to take some wisdom and holding on to your humanity with all you've got. That's what Dale represented to me. I agree with Mischievous Ninja about the "preaching at" though. I would have liked to see more of the group stand up for a more humane approach to Randall. I think Andrea's about turn was more about remembering who she really was as opposed to whom she would like to sleep with :). I'm with Billie on the zombies. I also watch the show for the character development and what it means to be human when under threat. @hellblazerraiser - the books are on my list!

  12. I certainly wasn't expecting this to happen so suddenly. It was more of a shock for me than it was sadness. Maybe that will hit me next week. I'm glad Dale went without having to compromise his morals in any way. This truly is a turning point.

  13. @hellblazerraiser - the books are on my list!

    I wish I could remember exactly what it was that made me stop reading the comic with #24.

    Sorry about that, HBR. The biggest complaint I keep hearing about TWD is that there aren't enough zombies, but I shouldn't have assigned that complaint to you.

    There are enough zombies!!! I don't think I could handle all zombie, all the time!!!

    I'm a horror fan and the only horror "trope" left that really creeps me out – really scares me and keeps me up at night – are zombies.

    The zombie herd from the opening episode of this season – I had palpitations. I'm not exaggerating. I got dizzy and had to stop watching. I finished the episode the next evening, right before sunset.

  14. I always try to watch the show during the day or early evening - never just before bed. This show and Supernatural always give me nightmares!

  15. I thought this was one of the best episodes this season. Enough has been said about Dale's passing, I was surprised and saddened, too, by the lost of the group's conscience. And Herschel's approval of Glenn was interesting and touching, but the cynic in me tells me that he may be defeated and accepting the loss of the world (and his wife) by giving his daughter, Maggie, away to someone he would not ordinarily approve of. Remember that it was only last week that Glenn froze while in a gunfight next to Herschel. He really does seem to have given himself up to fate.

    But the biggest surprise to me is that no one has mentioned how Rick choked twice in this episode. The first was at the execution - before Carl had shown up. You could see that he was still conflicted and not sure if he could go through with it. You could also see Shane getting impatient and suspicious of Rick's hesitation. Then, Carl stepped into the frame.

    The second choke point was when Rick went to (and I apologize for the lack of a more tactful expression) put Dale down. It was a gesture of empathy on Daryl to step in, and I think that Daryl did that out of respect for Dale, but you could again see Shane's disapproval.

    Shane has made his intentions clear to Andrea and Rick's failures through his hesitation (and compassion) in this episode is going to serve to fan his flames of discontent and malice higher.

    In the end, though, what is Rick to do? Carl is in danger of losing his humanity, a symbol of the innocence already lost by the rest of the group. Executing two people in front of his son would very possibly push him past the point of no return.

    RIP Dale. Sorry, brother.

  16. Henrik Bennetter, I absolutely loved your comment. But you included a big spoiler about the comic books and unfortunately, I have to delete it.

    Here's your comment, with the spoiler removed. If you'd like to repost, please do and I'll remove my comment.


    Henrik wrote:

    Because I saw the latest two episodes back to back, I'll share my thoughts on both in this comment.

    First off, I'm really - REALLY - annoyed by the gender stereotypes. This whole "A mans gotta do and the women should do laundry and stay in the kitchen" is just too old.
    I cannot for the life of me figure out why they're doing it this way but it bugs me every single episode.
    Although, Rick and Shane duking it out was semi-okay - cause it felt like it's been a long time coming.

    Anyhoo, I was also annoyed by the sheer dumbness of two of the characters in this latest episode. Yes, Carl and Dale.

    Especially Dale actually. He should know not to wander off alone. They all should. So Dale's death was, by effect, also annoying but also very powerful since Dale so boldly lifted his head up towards the muzzle, begging to be put out of his misery - in the same way he begged the others to NOT point a gun at Russels forehead.

    Overall though, Dales death is very telling for what I really like about this show. No-one is safe. Ever. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the underlying threat of a zombie or horde of zombies popping out at any given moment is incredibly eerie and has me on pins and needles in every episode.

    [spoiler deleted]

    I think it's safe (pun intended) to say we can expect the show and comic to play out entirely differently - and that's a very good thing. You just don't know what to expect in this series and that keeps me coming back for more.

    That, and that it doesn't have a traditional narrative. It's the shows biggest strength and weakness.
    People who are used to traditional shows and how they are built will find this series to be off - I do to, but believe I can regocnize that as a good thing, as if events are happening the way they would happen.

    Finally, the stomach-ripping-death of Dale is classic Zombie, it's been in at least two Romero-movies and Shaun of the dead.
    Probably not possible in real life to simply rip someones guts out but on the other hand it does show the harrowing scariness of a zombie and how powerful it's bloodlust is.

    On a (not so) entirely different note: Has anyone seen the british series Dead Set? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285482/
    Is it worth watching?

    Thanks for such awesome reviews!

  17. I half expected Carl to steal a gun and go shoot Randall. Him not killing that walker resulted in Dale’s death. I suspected he’d fear Rick’s inability to shoot Randall might result in similar casualties for the group, and take matters into his own hands.

    Also, I half expected Dale to take Randall and leave the farm. I thought that would be the get out. To take him far away and never come back. I was saddened to see Dale go. He’s not had much to do since coming back from the break, but I’ll miss him. I think the show will be poorer without him.

    And I really must stop half expecting things; although, I half expect that’ll never happen.

  18. But you included a big spoiler about the comic books and unfortunately, I have to delete it.

    Billie: Are you reading (or have you read) the comics?

  19. Billie: VERY sorry about the spoiler-issue - I myself hate that when it happens. I just wrongfully assumed that people wouldn't mind being spoiled about the comic. My bad. It won't happen again.

    In any case - I don't even remember what the spoiler was, so it probably wasn't pivotal to my comment.

    Now, on to the final episodes!


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.