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Hello TWD fans. This week, The Walking Dead imitates life. The theme of this week’s episode, (s2e11, “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”), which is, “do you have a responsibility to behave morally even when there are no laws?”, could not be more appropriate. As you are no doubt aware, recently our site was hacked. The internet is a lawless place. This hacker has chosen to take advantage of that, and has a small penis. I put it to you: do we let ourselves be governed by those small-dicked? Or do we stand up and FIGHT?
I WILL MAKE FUN OF TV SHOWS UNTIL I DRAW MY LAST BREATH.
When we last left off, Rick and Shane failed to get rid of Randall. Their original plan was to release him, disoriented and in the middle of nowhere, so he wouldn’t be able to link back up with his group of armed buddies and return to the farm guns a-blazin’. Then Rick and Shane learned that Randall knew where the farm is all along because he went to high school with Maggie.
So they can’t let him go. Now, they have to make a decision: do they kill him or keep him prisoner?
First, they want to get more information. Randall is tied to a chair. Daryl is beating the shit out of him. Really Daryl is interrogating him, to see if Randall was telling the truth when he said he knew Maggie from high school and to learn the makeup of the group of guys Randall was traveling with. Are they a group of dangerous marauders like Shane suspects? Or are they just a bigger group of survivors, and ultimately not a threat?
Randall doesn’t cooperate despite having his daylights pretty well punched out by now, so Daryl amps it up. He takes out a knife, yanks the bandage off Randall’s leg (which is from Herschel’s operation to fix the leg that got IMPALED ON A SPIKE), and starts poking at the horrific, definitely infected wound.
That does the trick and Randall starts talking…only, it doesn’t look like he actually knows that much about the group. All he does know is, there were about thirty guys in total and they were armed with automatic weapons. He can’t recall anything about the group’s plans or even give Daryl a single name. (So all we know at this point is: the group is dangerous and sizable, and Randall is either lying out his ass or dumb as dirt). Still, Randall claims there are women and children in the group, which generally indicates SOME amount of benevolence, so maaaaybe things aren’t so black and white.
Or maybe they are. Then he tells Daryl a story about what it was like to be part of a foraging party in the group…one time he and some other guys came upon a man and his two teenage daughters. That went about how you’d think, being that it’s the zombiepocalypse.
All right, all right, I get it, it’s the “whenever society collapses we return to our primitive urges.” But still…when the zombiepocalypse does happen, I’m pretty sure I won’t become a fucking rapist.
But see, Randall himself stayed out of it. HE’S not a bad guy.
Daryl resumes punching.
Also, far be it from me to question the judgment of someone being tortured, since I have never been tortured myself, but…of all the stories you pick, Randall, you go with the rape one? How did you think Daryl was gonna react?
TEAM RICK’S CAMPSITE
Meanwhile, all the other people in the group await word to see what Daryl’s managed to extract from Randall. Lori and Andrea ask Rick and Shane what their plan is, but they won’t comment without all the information.
Daryl returns and tells them about Randall’s large and well-armed group. It’s pretty clear: if this group ever found Herschel’s farm, game over. No question about it. So Randall has to die. This time, even the normally high-minded Rick is on board.
But still, they can’t make a call like this without some kind of debate, so this time Dale objects.
Rick and Dale walk through the field together. Dale tries everything he has to reason with him. His first objection is, Rick (and Shane) shouldn’t unilaterally decide to kill someone on the group’s behalf. There has to be a process for big decisions like this. Rick believes everyone is in agreement, but Dale wants to talk to everyone individually to find out for sure.
He pleads for Rick to give him just one day to find out what the group wants to do. And then he plays his strongest card: does Rick really want to set a “shoot first, ask questions later” precedent for Carl?
Rick gives in. Dale has until sundown.
First up, Andrea. Dale wants her to stand guard over Randall, because he fears the delay in the execution will piss Shane off and cause him to take things into his own hands. But when Andrea hesitates, Dale realizes she’s on board with the killing.
(Also, important side note: Andrea goes through the gun bag and notices they’re running low on ammo. Might be important later…)
Dale reminds her that civilized people don’t kill prisoners without debate. And even though the world they knew is gone, they still have a responsibility to uphold morality.
We also get some backstory here: we learn Andrea used to be a civil rights lawyer before the zombiepocalypse. Dale knows she values morality and he knows the right buttons to push.
She finally agrees to guard Randall. So it looks like Dale’s swayed her.
Randall is chained up in the shed now, struggling against his bonds. Andrea is outside on guard duty. He asks her for water. She seems to suspect he’s plotting an escape, and readies her gun and doesn’t answer. But it looks like having to spend time with him is still making it more difficult to see him as a threat.
Then Randall looks through a slat on the other side of the shed and sees Shane and Carl walking by. Carl wants to know what’s going on with Randall, but Shane tells him it’s off-limits. Grown-ups only. But Carl isn’t the type to just give up.
OUTSIDE THE SHED
Shane approaches Andrea. Last week, he and Andrea agreed that Randall had to be killed for the safety of the group. But now that he sees her guarding Randall, he suspects she might be beginning to waver and he’s come by to do some swaying of his own. His argument is simple: killing Randall=safety. Like a true master manipulator, he focuses mainly on how amazing life will be if they DO kill Randall: peace of mind. He tactfully omits the “committing cold-blooded murder to get there” part.
Then Shane poses a theoretical question: what if Rick wasn’t the one making the decisions any more? Or Herschel or Dale? Yup. Mutiny.
INSIDE THE SHED
So things aren’t looking too good for ol’ Randall. He’s heard all of this conversation. Then, he hears movement in the rafters above. It’s Carl. He’s snuck in after Shane told him not to.
Randall immediately turns on the charm. He compliments Carl on the sheriff’s hat and on how great a guy Rick is. Then he tells Carl about the wonderful, well-provisioned camp he came from, and promises to take Carl, Rick, and Lori there if Carl helps him escape.
It’s a tense moment. Randall is straining against his chains toward Carl, who looks spooked, but also interested.
Just then Shane bursts through the door and puts a stop to it.
He takes Carl outside. Carl is terrified Shane will tell his parents, but Shane’s more interested in getting Carl to understand the gravity of what just happened. Shane tries to explain that people like Randall are dangerous: they manipulate you into letting your guard down, then you get hurt.
Oh, and then Shane asks Carl why he’s apparently so intent on getting himself killed. Which is a valid question, if, you know, Carl weren’t a kid.
DARYL’S CAMP SITE
Daryl’s getting some of his new makeshift arrows ready to go out for a hunt when Dale approaches to try to sway him. This attempt doesn’t go quite so well.
They talk a little about Daryl’s new role as “The Outsider”, which Dale says has everyone worried, himself included. Daryl shrugs it off. He acts like he doesn’t care about the fate of the group. Dale doesn’t buy it. He remembers how relentlessly Daryl searched for Sophia. Dale knows Daryl is a good person.
So Daryl gets to what’s really bothering him: he’s acting stand-offish because he believes the group is broken. Why? Because he knows Shane killed Otis.
How? Because, if Otis really offered to sacrifice himself to save Shane, like Shane says, WHY DID SHANE RETURN TO THE FARM WITH OTIS’S GUN?
Daryl knew the entire time. Everyone did. Rick did. Had to have. And since Shane has gone unpunished, the group is broken.
Dale doesn’t have a comeback for that one.
(More on this at the end, but…shit, I totally missed how Shane had Otis’s gun with him).
On the way to the barn, Lori passes Carl. He’s kicking a spent ammo cartridge around with his foot, thinking.
Then Lori finds Rick in the barn, tying a noose in preparation for Randall. She’s come to talk about Randall, but first they talk a little logistics: what does Rick want to do about the group once the weather gets cold? Rick says he was thinking about moving everyone inside the barn, but Lori would prefer staying in Herschel’s house if he’d let them.
Then they get down to brass tacks. Rick is starting to feel doubtful. He admits he has no idea how to properly execute someone, or if hanging by a noose is the best way to do it. It’s his first time.
(Note: I was in the Boy Scouts and that’s actually true. There’s a secret Boy Scouts court much like JAG that tries you for Scout-related infractions. They execute a lot of people).
He wants her opinion on the rightness of this thing. Lori, as usual, defers. Whatever Rick thinks is best is what she thinks is best. Not what Rick wanted to hear. Does her reticence mean she’s doubting him?
UNDER A TREE
This next scene kinda comes out of left field…Carl is still thinking over big life issues, when Carol comes by and, unprompted, tries to comfort him about Sophia. She tells Carl that Sophia is in a better place.
Which Carl, awesomely, thinks is idiotic. The realities of the zombiepocalypse have made him into an atheist. He tells her she’s a moron and storms off.
Carol is offended. She spots Rick and Lori walking out of the barn and demands they reign in their child. Rick promises to have a talk with Carl.
Rick find Carl not far off. Just like Shane tried to impart his “always be on the lookout” philosophy on Carl earlier, here Rick does some teaching of his own. Carl admits he talked back to Carol, and he maintains his belief that only suckers believe in the afterlife, but Rick isn’t interested in that right now: Carl made a mistake. It was a dick move to insult Carol like that after she lost her daughter. What Rick wants Carl to take from this is, it’s always best to think before you act. Which is also what he’s been trying to explain to Shane and everyone else for the entire series.
That’s where Dale finds Herschel, tending to the cattle I also did not know Herschel had.
He wants to know what Herschel thinks about the Randall situation, and he’s shocked to hear…Herschel really doesn’t give a shit. Crazy, right? Herschel’s always been such a man of convictions, but he wants to sit this one out. Herschel’s pretty broken down. He’s made so many mistakes lately, he doesn’t want to open himself up to another one.
Looks like Carl isn’t in any hurry to apologize to Carol. Instead of finding her, he wanders off to Daryl’s deserted campsite and decides to poke around. There’s Daryl’s motorcycle (formerly Merle’s).
And there’s Daryl’s satchel with all his personal effects…including a gun! Carl takes it out. Even though he’s been trained with firearms, he’s still very much a little boy who finds guns very, very cool. He keeps wandering.
As we all know from growing up in Western Civilization, curious kids wandering off in the woods = BAD FUCKING NEWS. T-minus two minutes until he is eaten by a wolf
Let’s see what shit Carl gets himself into…
He finds himself at the creek. Yep, THAT creek. But not just the creek, the exact spot where Rick left Sophia.
Carl looks up, and, yes, zombie. He backs away and tumbles over. But luckily, this zombie is stuck knee-deep in the mud. It can’t come after him.
Now that Carl knows he’s safe, his curiosity kicks back in. He inches closer to the zombie. It lunges at him, still immobilized. Carl picks up a couple rocks and chucks them at it.
There’s a zombie. Up close and harmless. What is he going to do to it?
Shane is tossing some ammo into the trunk of his car. (Why is he doing that? Does he also know the group is running low and he’s reserving some for himself?) Dale walks up.
Surprisingly, Dale wants to persuade Shane to come around to his point of view. (Or really not that surprisingly, since Dale did say he was going to talk to EVERYONE. Mr. Sanctimonious would definitely include Shane).
Shane is amused but hears Dale out. Dale knows why Shane wants to kill Randall, because it ensures the group’s safety. But Dale argues that actually, it doesn’t. Randall’s just one guy. How could he threaten all of them? (Apparently Dale missed the memo about there being 30 marauders nearby). Execution doesn’t make them safer, but it changes everything: it means the group will officially abandon society.
Shane just sticks to his guns. In his mind this is a rehashing of the problem that’s always plagued the group: the fair-minded ones are blind to danger. And, impasse.
Herschel is tending to Beth, who is still bed-ridden after trying to kill herself last week, when Glen enters. He wants to see if there’s anything he can do to help. There isn’t, but Herschel wanted to see him anyway.
Herschel has been thinking about Glen and Maggie. He tells Glen a story about his own wife, Josephine, and how wonderful she was: when he was young, Herschel pawned off an heirloom pocket watch to pay for a night of drinking. Josephine bought it back from the pawn dealer and saved it to give to Herschel when he was sober. Maggie reminds Herschel a lot of Josephine. Point is, Maggie is awesome…and Glen is worthy. Herschel gives him the pocket watch.
Glen’s response? “Um, thanks”.
The sun is beginning to set. Dale’s time is up. Lori finds Rick on the porch, alone. She thinks he might be agonizing over what he’s about to do, but he still claims to be at peace with it. Rick takes responsibility for bringing Randall to the farm, and he’s taking responsibility for protecting the group. He’s going to be the one to kill Randall.
And NOW Lori decides to play the part of Rick’s conscience. Earlier, when he asked her for her opinion, she merely said she supported whatever Rick wanted to do. He asks her again, and she doesn’t answer.
And back to Carl. The zombie is still straining towards him, still stuck in the mud. He takes out Daryl’s pistol and aims it. He tries to make himself pull the trigger.
But the zombie works one of it’s legs free! It grabs Carl by the ankle and he drops the gun. The zombie has him pinned down, and he barely works himself free long enough to run away.
Carl’s fine, but it’s Decision Time. Lori and Rick forbid Carl from attending the discussion, (I love how they’re unaware he’s pretty nearly killed himself twice today).
Everyone meets in the parlor. Rick decides the best way to go is not to put it to a vote first but to get a general sense of where everyone is before discussing options.
Shane speaks up and says what he’s been saying the whole episode: there’s only one solution, killing Randall. He’s confident most of the group agrees with him.
Then it’s Dale’s turn. He admits he and Glen might be the only ones who feel otherwise…and then even Glen deserts him. With nobody on his side, Dale makes his final impassioned plea: if they kill Randall, they’re basically pre-emptively whacking him for a crime he may never attempt. Which means, barbarism.
Just for shits and giggles, they discuss whether there’s ANY other option. Surprisingly Lori shoots down all alternatives:
Can they just drop Randall off somewhere? No, because Rick and Shane barely made it back the first time they tried that.
Can they keep Randall chained in the shed indefinitely? No, he’s another mouth to feed.
Can they offer Randall membership in their group? No, not safe.
Can they make Randall a prisoner who does hard labor? No, because guarding him is a total pain in the ass.
They move on to logistics: how will they kill him, and what to do with the body. They debate hanging versus shooting.
T-Dog pipes up: “Ooh! Or we could drown him in gasoline! That way in addition to the searing pain caused by oxygen deprivation, his lungs would get warped from toxicity! Why are you all looking at me like that?”
They haven’t given T-Dog anything to do in like three weeks, so I thought I would throw him a bone.
Dale angrily reminds them they’re jumping the gun, because they haven’t made an official decision whether to actually kill Randall or not yet. Rick agrees, partially: he feels they need to discuss EVERY alternative before making the call. He opens the floor for anyone to speak their mind. Opinions, suggestions, anything. Nobody has any.
More Dale. Dale says he can’t live in a world where “survival of the fittest” is the only rule.
Will anyone stand with him? Surprisingly, Andrea speaks up. He’s won her over. She wants to look for alternatives. But other than that, silence.
Dale has lost, but he won’t be part of the execution regardless, and he walks away. Before he leaves, though, he turns to Daryl. Daryl’s right: this group IS broken.
Rick, Shane, and Daryl take Randall out to the barn. Randall still seems pretty oblivious to what’s going on. (Maybe that’s an act, to make them pity him so much they lose their will). Once they blindfold him and Rick takes out his gun, though, Randall starts blubbering.
Daryl pushes Randall to his knees. Rick takes out his gun. He asks Randall if he has any last words. He cocks the hammer…
But Carl shows up in the doorway. Carl even wants Rick to pull the trigger! And when he hears how ruthless his son has become, Rick can’t do it. He tells Daryl to take Randall away.
Rick and Carl walks back to the campsite in silence, where everyone else waits for the news. Rick gives them the update: they’ll be keeping Randall in custody a while longer.
Andrea is relieved, but otherwise the group is silent. Rick explains to Lori why he couldn’t pull the trigger: he couldn’t do it in front of Carl. She is supportive, like always.
Dale walks through the field alone. He passes that charred pile of zombies created a couple weeks ago.
Not sure where he’s going. Maybe to take a piss? Anyway, he hears an animal bellowing and takes his rifle off his shoulder. It turns out to be one of Herschel’s cows. It’s lying on its side, its stomach split open, real gory. Something tells me it didn’t do that to itself.
And sure enough, Dale is ambushed. By the very same Ginger Zombie Carl found earlier.
Everyone hears the screams and takes off running with flashlights and guns.
Dale tries to hold the zombie off. He keeps its teeth away from him, but the zombie begins clawing at his belly and, oh my god, rips his fucking stomach open.
Daryl gets there first and knifes the zombie in its head. The others arrive soon after. They yell for Herschel. When Herschel finally arrives, one look and he knows. Dale’s a goner.
Finally, Carl joins everyone. He sees Dale, then the zombie. He knows what he did.
All they can do for Dale is end his suffering. Rick draws his pistol. He can’t do it. He hands it off to Daryl, and Daryl pulls the trigger.
-I totally teared up for Dale. I admit it. Fuck, man. I really got attached to that guy. If I were in the survivor group I definitely would have wanted Dale to like me. I guess that means I admired him.
-I think I put this in the minicap, but my impression is, Rick never felt totally comfortable killing Randall. He only said he was because last week Shane challenged his ability to protect the group. It felt like he was trying to prove himself, but didn’t really believe in what he was doing.
-I liked this episode, but to me it didn’t seem like the Randall situation was very complicated. I think you have to kill him. I agree with Dale that killing people pre-emptively with no evidence is bad, but that’s not the case here. The marauders have given them more than enough proof that they’re dangerous: Dave and Tony were really interested in the farm and things got violent when Rick wouldn’t divulge any information; Randall and the other marauders DID shoot at Rick, Glen, and Herschel; and, oh yeah, the marauders are rapists. MAYBE if you release Randall, you’ll luck out and the marauders will already be long gone. But honestly…I agree with Shane. If I released Randall, I would always be sleeping with one eye open.
What I would have liked is, what if it was a little more ambiguous? Take Dave and Tony out of the equation, and the rape story, and the marauders just sound like another group of survivors. You don’t know for sure how they’ll behave. You’d still feel inclined to kill Randall just to be on the safe side, but under these circumstances it’s way less justified.
-But still, ignoring the practical concerns, it’s still an awesome dilemma to play with, and very timely.
-Another thing about Randall…I totally don’t buy that he’s just a rube who got suckered into joining the marauders. He was trying to save his skin. To me he was a little too comfortable turning on the charm when Carl entered the shed. It reminded me a little of when Dave and Tony immediately started sizing up Rick, Glen, and Herschel.
-Like I said, I definitely did not realize Shane was carrying Otis’s gun after abandoning him. I agree with Daryl, that Rick couldn’t be as dumb as me and miss a detail like that. Assuming Rick noticed, why did he keep quiet? Did he want to avoid making waves, or was it because Carl benefited from what Shane did? Thoughts?
-Do you guys like Lori’s constant deference to the menfolk? Last week when she told Andrea off for skimping on household chores, she explained that “the men could handle protecting them”. And here she refuses to voice an opinion, even in private with Rick.
-I can’t help but feel that Herschel is dooming Glen by giving him the pocketwatch. I’ve seen too many movies and TV shows not to suspect that when someone finally gets what they want, something will come along and upend it.
That’s all for me this week. Thanks for reading!