Triggerfinger and 18 Miles Out showed that whenever The Walking Dead can get the balance between drama and action correct it does make for fantastic viewing. The main problem I’ve had with season two of The Walking Dead is that it has been unable to consistently keep up the quality the fans have come to expect.
The title of this week’s episode, Judge, Jury and Executioner implied heavy drama and luckily that is what we got.
PLOT: Daryl (Norman Reedus) is questioning Randall (Michael Zegen) in the barn with his fists. Daryl's method of questioning works and Randall tells all about the mystery “Others” and shows his sinister undertones when describing the rape of two young teenage girls. Daryl frankly tells the group his thoughts and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) decides to kill Randall. As Dale (Jeffrey de Munn) argues that it isn’t civilised Rick gives him until the end of the day to talk to the group before the final decision is made.
Everyone bar T-Dog (Irone Singleton) voices their opinion and the running joke of not giving the character any lines runs on for another week.
Carl (Chandler Riggs) wanders off on his own and meets a Walker stuck in some mud. Carl’s presence gives the Walker the motivation required to free himself.
Dale’s passionate speech at the group meeting has little impact and he leaves the farmhouse in disgust.
Rick decides to execute Randall in the barn but hesitates for so long Carl offers him words of encouragement. Randall lives for another week.
Dale is out wandering the fields in the dark and stumbles upon a half eaten cow. Dales startled eyebrows are raised for the last time as the mud Walker uses his stealth ability and ninjas up behind Dale and attacks him.
Dale is injured beyond repair and signals that he wants to be put out of his misery. Rick is unable to step up and it is up to Daryl, who is in full Badass Mode, to do the deed. The angel wings on Daryl’s biker jacket were as subtle as Shane’s lone field Walker. END PLOT
The plot recaps of my reviews are never strong but this particular recap really doesn't do the episode justice. Judge, Jury and Executioner has become one of my favourite episodes after only one viewing.
The Walking Dead loves nothing more than to dither around and the debate of what to do with Randall will now run into a third week.
The vast majority of the dithering is due to Rick’s inability to figure out what kind of leader he wishes to be. Rick initially saved Randall from the Walkers in Triggerfinger, spent 18 Miles Out driving Randall around whilst trying to decide whether or not to release him and in Judge, Jury and Execution he contemplates whether or not to kill Randall and how he is going to carry out this task. Rick trying to hang onto his humanity is a running theme and the show has been dealing with this quite well in the last few episodes.
Rick is caught in the difficult position of trying to make the hard decisions whilst being a father and Andrew Lincoln is doing a very solid job in showing Rick’s conflict.
Carl taunting the trapped Walker and edging closer to it is such a childlike thing to do and showed that even though Carl thinks he understands what is going on he doesn’t. Chandler Riggs has been quiet for a few weeks despite featuring heavily in the early episodes of season two and it will be interesting to see if Carl owns up to his part in Dale’s death. Riggs is a great little actor and with a potentially dark season three on the horizon I have high hopes for him.
Like Sophia, Dale’s time on the show has been cut short and he will be missed. Dale’s desperation to keep the group civilised rang out loud and clear with de Munn’s performance. Dale’s “We don’t kill the living” is a great throwback to season one and highlights just how quickly things can change in The Walking Dead world. The voice of reason and hope is now dead and I have no doubt that the group will struggle to deal with this.
Dale’s arc in the show differs quite a significantly from the comics – his relationship with Andrea became nothing more than, at best, a father/daughter bond, he never got to raise the twins as they were omitted from the show entirely and a small part of me feels annoyed that we wont get to see Dale with the cannibals, which would have made for great, although disturbing, drama.
It is impossible to criticise the deviations from the source material too much as one of the strongest characters doesn’t appear in the graphic novels (as yet). Daryl Dixon has always been the wild card and his unpredictable nature and often amusing straight to the point attitude means that he deserves his status as fan favourite.
Dale and Daryl’s conversation brought about the revelation that Daryl already knew that Shane killed Otis due to Shane having Otis’ gun. Daryl has always lurked in the background but is shown listening intently to every word being said. It just shows that despite his social awkwardness within the group he sees and understands everything.
Daryl’s insecurities came to the fore in their conversation and Dale’s words of encouragement are a far cry from his attitude towards Daryl at the camp fire in season one. It was fitting that after this conversation Daryl stood up and took charge of killing Dale - Daryl’s “I’m sorry brother” is one of the top lines of the season so far.
It’ll be interesting to see how this incident affects Daryl and his standing within the group and with the rumours of Merle’s return never going away Daryl’s story arc is developing nicely.
With some heavy Walker action in the past few episodes we were treated to just one solitary loner Walker but it showed that one can be just as dangerous as a hoard. The safety of the farm has now been well and truly called into question and the first steps to moving away from Hershel's have been taken.
We are down to the final two episodes of the season and with de Munn’s unexpected departure proving that no character is safe anticipation for the finale is starting to grow. The battle between Shane and Rick will come to a head and although Shane’s tenure on the show appears to be coming to an end I won’t be surprised if a few others don’t make it to season three.
When it is on form The Walking Dead has had some fantastic character moments and Judge, Jury and Execution is no exception. It was a brilliant episode which finally matches the strong start to the season. It gets an 8.5/10.
Performance of the week:Jeffrey de Munn
Annoying character of the week: Glenn (he just irritates me)
Zombie kill of the week:Daryl (by default)