Season 2 Episode 11 “Judge, Jury, Executioner”
We have a tough episode this week with some heavy concepts floating around. First, I am so disheartened to see Daryl being used to torture poor Randall. Like I said in previous posts, Randall was going to regret being helped by our group and here we are. He is beaten and tortured for information about his former cohorts. This is a pretty dark moment for Daryl and the group. Have we really sunk this low? When Carol sees Daryl’s bloody hands from beating Randall, disappointment is written all over her face. It’s hard to say but points lost Daryl.
The main story is the decision on what to do with Randall after he gives up that his former group is large, armed and dangerous. Everyone is scared of the possibilities, and even though Randall appears harmless he poses a threat. So, do we kill him, keep him or release him?
Dale is vehemently against it and spends the episode trying to convince everyone not to kill Randall. Through a series of debates/discussions with various members of the group, we get a picture that our group’s humanity is at stake. There’s no court to hear Randall’s case, he has no defense attorney; Randall’s life is in the hands of a few scared people who want to put their lives ahead of his. Hershel is willing to let him die because he wants his daughters to live. Rick and Shane as well are just doing it for their group. There’s no “for the greater good” in decision-making anymore, and Dale seems to be the only one trying to hold on to that. As he points out when talking to Shane, killing Randall won’t change the bad guys from still coming at some point but it will change them. They’ll have taken a life over possibilities that may never come to fruition, which is not how civilized people work. So, do you fight to preserve your humanity and its consequences or do you accept that it takes behaving uncivilized to survive? There’s no guarantee of survival either way so I suppose it comes down to if you’re able to live with yourself for making the decision. I think Dale believes that taking this step means never being able to come back from it. That life will go on with just murder after murder of innocent people. If that’s true, then sure, I get why he is fighting so hard.
In a separate arc, Carl has a hell of a day. He’s curious about Randall and sneaks into the barn he’s tied up in. Carl doesn’t say much while Randall rambles on. It seems like Carl’s trying to figure out what the fuss is about. Carl is also repeatedly shut out or shut down during the day. It’s always a joke that Carl gets told to go in the house and he doesn’t. But from Carl’s perspective that’s gotta be frustrating. How is he supposed to learn or help if he’s always pushed out? Today this seems to really get Carl upset. He is rude to Carol and when Rick tells him to fix it he goes off and steals a gun from Daryl and heads into the woods. During this he finds a walker stuck in the mud and “plays” with it, throwing rocks and taunting it. When it becomes unstuck from the mud it momentarily looks like Carl might be a goner but he manages to get away.
Carl’s not done yet though. After everything that happened during the day, Carl seems to make up his mind that Randall should die, and he sneaks into the barn where his dad is about to execute Randall and tells his dad to do it. Carl wants his dad to murder someone. And that really gets to Rick for good reason. His young son is now alright with murdering another human who seemingly has done nothing except know some bad people. Rick is not too far gone yet to see that this is now a bad idea for the sake of what it would do to his son.
All of this ends up being more unfortunate because in a twist of fate, Carl’s walker is now Dale’s killer. After losing the battle for humanity, Dale goes off in the dark to take a long walk to digest what his friends chose. He doesn’t get to find out that Rick changed his mind at the last minute (completely disregarding the group’s vote btw). At this point, the walker attacks Dale and injures him to the point of no possibility to save him. Our group runs to Dale’s aid only to find nothing they can do. They all stand around sad and bewildered while Dale dies. Carl, once again disobeying orders to go in the house, also comes out to the field and is brought to tears at seeing the walker that did this. The whole bit is one of the saddest moments yet for the show. Their faces express how much they regret everything that happened earlier. They let Dale down and now they have no way to make it up to him. Daryl does the hard part and puts Dale out of his misery. Daryl sums it up before when he says, “I’m sorry brother.” They were all feeling that I’m sure.
If everyone’s actions had to be summed up in one word it would be selfish. Carl was selfish when he kept putting himself in situations that could have killed him all day and it got Dale killed instead. The group voted to take an innocent life because they selfishly put themselves ahead of a stranger and they lost their friend. After all their trouble to avoid an attack that wasn’t coming, it cost them a good man. Every decision matters so much more now. There’s no way to know what may come, but being careless or being selfish now can be deadly. Lesson learned hopefully.
And lastly, I’d like to express my excitement/anxiety regarding the Mid-Season premier tonight. I will have my bottle of wine beside me and a box of tissues. I’m sure it will be enjoyable even if there’s no actual enjoyment had, if you know what I mean.
Best of the Episode
Hershel gives Glenn his pocket watch. Really the first time Hershel and Glenn have shared a moment. Hershel decides to give Glenn his pocket watch as a symbol of his approval with Maggie. “No man is good enough for your daughter, until one is”, Hershel says. As Glenn has been having some conflicted feelings about his relationship, I think this gives him some courage to make a go of it still.
The vote. Always fun to stand around your living room and debate murdering someone. It’s a somber moment with lots of troubled faces and strong emotions.
Dale’s final moments. Those big bushy eyebrows get a workout! But in all seriousness, Dale’s torturous last moments are stressful. So much is conveyed without being able to speak. And when he manages to lift his head ever so slightly to the barrel of Daryl’s gun…good lord.