Written By: John
It’s Horror Monday over here at “Girls of Geek” and for a few more weeks, the focus will continue to be around my favorite monster, the zombie, and more specifically AMC’s The Walking Dead.
I spent last week defending the show’s slow simmer style and am glad that this week helped reinforced my belief that the show is truly about the finer and better points of being human. But be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead.
This week’s episode, “Judge, Jury and Executioner” revolved around the debate of what should be the fate of the group’s prisoner Randall. He reveals, after a lengthy session of torture at the hands of Daryl Dixon that he is the member of a well-armed group that has been apart of questionable decisions.
With a legitimate threat outside of walkers nearby, and a young local man in Randall fully aware of his location, Rick makes the call to execute the prisoner. It’s a decision that settles poorly with Dale, who finds himself concerned that this course of action will take the group down a very dangerous path.
This is where this particular episode moved into familiar zombie territory, social commentary. Now I personally have no problem with social commentary, I find the best science fiction and horror rife with such content. In this case however, the heavy-handed nature and broad scope of it detracted from what could have been an incredible episode.
In fact the only saving grace of said commentary came from the outstanding and final performance of Jeffrey DeMunn, a.k.a. “Dale”. His impassioned plea to the group, tears included, was a fine piece of acting and a fond farewell minutes before what would become the most unexpected fatality of the season.
For shortly after making his case, and losing, came scenes that brought the episode back from the brink of preachy. Seconds before putting an end to Randall’s life, Rick found a change of heart when his son Carl stepped in to watch a man die, and even called for his father to do it.
The scene was terrifying in its own right, and opens questions as to what kind of young man Carl is turning into. Not only has he witnessed his last childhood friend turn into a walker, he is perhaps an abandoned character, with his father and mother now dedicated to survival. In fact Carl’s actions, including an earlier scene where he played around with a temporarily trapped walker by the edge of a creek brought about the shocker of the night.
Vindicated in saving Randall’s life, Dale doesn’t even get the chance to discover the difference he made before running into the walker that Carl had the chance to put down.
Dale is eviscerated before the creature is killed and the group is left with the horrible decision to put him out of his misery. The episode ends there. It left me stunned, and wondering what to expect from this show going forward. For even at its worst, this is a program that remains true to one word, brutal. With only two episodes to go until the season finale, I think we can all expect moments like this.
Moments that show us a world gone mad, where the good and just will fall, the bad will find a way to survive and the rest, will do everything they can to hold onto what’s right.