The Walking Dead: Judge, Jury, and Executioner

Previously on The Walking Dead...Randall is still alive. Rick is still the leader. Shane is still pissed (kind of)...which leads us to...

Randall getting worked over by Daryl in the barn. He's pretty brutal, but Randall isn't exactly forthcoming with info and the info he is forthcoming with, that a few of his friends raped some girls they found int he woods, isn't exactly the type of info that Daryl is looking for. This scene was very reminiscent of Lucky McKees "The Woman" in it's brutality. So reminiscent, it would be surprising in the shows producers had not checked out a clip from McKees film, or its source material, Jack Ketchums novel of the same name, before delivering this episode.

After Daryl's exercise in brutality, he brings Rick and the rest of the group up to speed on what Randall has divulged. Rick decides, much to Shane's liking that the kid has to be killed. Everyone hesitantly goes along with the decision, whether they believe it's right, or because they trust Rick as the leader. Everyone that is, except Dale, who can't fathom taking a human lifted spite the amount of danger letting Randall live might pose. Rick and Dale strike a deal - if Dale can convince enough people not to kill Randall, then Rick will reconsider.

What follows is Dale, one by one approaching most of the main cast and questioning their morality in the face of the situation. People may feel this was a bit annoying or repetitive, but the responses he gets, even from someone like Shane show just how far the moral compass of the group has been skewed. Daryl has the most profetic line when he declares that the group is broken and cannot be saved, humanity or not.

Carl, who seems to have grown a foot this season also seems to have grown some balls in this episode. Again, very similar to "The Woman", Carl develops a fascination with the prisoner locked in the barn. He sneaks in to visit it. He wants to be part of every interaction with it. Carol tries to make him feel a little better about death until Carl declares there is no god and storms off. He steals a gun from Daryl's saddle bag and wanders into the woods. Coming down a hill he encounters a walker stuck in the mud. Despite being scared at first, he quickly realizes he has the upper hand. He throws a couple of rock at the walker (terrible throws by the way). Not happy with that level of torture, he pulls out the gun and points it at the now crazed walker. Feeling sure of himself he moves a bit closer, but he severely underestimates the walkers drive. It breaks free and grabs Carlby the ankle. He manages to escape, but the walker is now free.

Hershel returns from rounding up escaped cattle. He and Glenn have an awkward scene where Hershel talks about his pocket watch. The watch is a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation of Greenes. He talks about immigrants and how he is o.k. with them, and o.k. with Glenn because he's Korean by way of Michigan. He gives Glenn the pocket watch symbolizing he's o.k. with Glenn schtuping his daughter.

Rick convenes everyone for the summit. He presents his case, and it's pretty strong. For the good of the group, certain sacrifices must be made. It's a real growth, or regress, of Ricks character from the idealistic heights of the first season. Still idealistic, Dale appeals to everyone's humanity one last time. He clearly moves people with his argument. But it's in vain, even the one ally he thought he had in Glenn abandons him. Its hard to do the scene justice. It's very powerful with Dale on the point of tears at times. Andrea eventually breaks and supports Dale, but it's too late. Despite Dales impassioned plea, Rick decides Randall needs to die. Dale leaves in a huff, only pausing to tell Daryl he's right, the group is broken.

Shane, Rick, and Daryl head to the barn to do the dirty work. Randall knows what's coming and begs for his life. Ricks decides a shot to the back of the head is the most humane way to deal with the interloper. He's just about to pull the trigger when Carl appears at the door to the barn and eggs his father on. Rick can't bring himself to kill Randall in front of Carl and calls the whole thing off, pissing off Shane in the process.

Dale, wanting to separate himself from the whole fucked up situation, take a walk through one of Hershels fields. He stumbles on one of the cows that didn't make it, and by didn't make it I mean, has its guts ripped open and spilling out. The cow is making some god awful noises as Dale approaches. The noises mask to walk approaching Dale from behind. Without warning Dale is beset by the walker, the same walker that until Carl acted like a dick to it was stuck in the mud. Dale screams, the rest of the group locates him, but not before the walker tears his chest open. Hershel cannot save him. Dale looks to Rick to end his pain, but Rick cannot bring himself to do it. Daryl takes over and puts the mercy shot into Dales head.

This is the third week in a row where the show has been clicking on all cylinders. From Dale going out with a bang in the decision scene, to Ricks internal moral struggle, this show just continues to deliver. People will still complain that the show is too much dialogue and not enough action, but the show is a character based drama that just happens to have (awesome) zombies. The unravelling of the groups core, both ethically and physically is making for the best television in recent memory.

Andrew Lincoln is doing a wonderful job of letting us see Ricks struggle. Shane's way is the easy way. It's a lot easier to say fuck it, it's about self preservation now. Rick knows deep down that is not the way to lead the group, but leading the right way puts his family directly in harms way. His struggle between what's right and wrong is what a character driven drama is all about.

Until next week...thanks for reading...

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