'Walking Dead' Recap: 'Judge, Jury, Executioner'

by Ryan Rigley

With the animosity between Rick and Shane being put on the back burner after last week's whole ordeal, "Judge, Jury, Executioner" focuses mainly on resolving the problem that is Randal. Most of the group is adamant about killing the boy, before he has the chance to kill one of them, but Dale feels pretty strongly otherwise. Throughout the episode, Dale makes his rounds going to each and every member of the group, getting their opinions on the matter and trying to persuade them to reconsider. He argues not only for the sake of the boy, but also for the sake of the group's humanity. Yet, all hope seems lost for Randal as it becomes clear that everyone, besides Dale, wants him dead.

Consequently, someone gets offed in a big way. Although we've speculated about the possibility of a major character death for a while now, I think it's safe to say that none of us saw this death coming at all.

Click past the jump for more. But be warned, there are SPOILERS.

After a walker that Carl failed to kill earlier in the episode wanders onto the farm, Dale finds himself on the receiving end of a brutal assault on his guts. The poor old man is eventually put out of his misery with a bullet to the head. That's right: Dale is dead.

Wow. I can't even believe I just wrote that. Dale Horvath, a character that plays a huge role in the comic book, will surely be missed by fans of the TV show and graphic novels alike. I honestly don't even know how to feel about it. In the comics, Dale's death comes at a much later time, even surviving the whole "Governor ordeal." He and Andrea also become romantically involved, eventually taking in two orphaned children as their own. But I guess none of that is happening now, huh?

On the plus side, Dale's death yet again reinforces the fact that the "Walking Dead" television show is vastly different from the comic book. Which means that any major character, that survives in the comics, is a viable candidate for zombie food at any given moment. First Otis, then Sophia, now Dale. Evidently, no one is safe. I really hope Glenn doesn't get killed off too...

While Dale's death was totally unexpected and successfully shocking, I can't help but feel like it was the wrong choice. For starters, we didn't even really get to know Dale as a person. Sure, we knew that he was a nice guy and that he cared about each and every person in the group (besides Shane obviously), but that's all we ever really found out about him. We never truly understood his motives for saving Andrea's life or helping out T-Dog in his time of need, and now we never will.

(Also, Dale's death at the hands of the walker means that fans of the television show will never get to witness his last act of awesomeness from the comics. In the books, after being bitten by a walker, Dale is abducted by a rival group of hunters who proceed to eat him alive, piece by piece. Unbeknownst to the hunters, Dale has already been infected with the zombie virus and after eating him, the hunters may very likely have been infected as well. It's a brilliant end to a brilliant character, unlike the Dale in the television show that we were just getting accustomed to.)

Here are some more highlights from last night's episode:

» After torturing Randal profusely, Daryl Dixon learns that the prisoner's group consists of 30 heavily-armed and dangerous people. He proceeds to tell Daryl of the two teenage girls that the men in his group viciously raped without remorse. Could Randal's group be affiliated with the big bad Governor? They sound like they could be depraved enough and the Governor is certainly one for depravity.

» During a confrontation between Shane and Andrea, Shane reveals his complete lack of remorse for the rest of the group stating that he would "lock them all up in a room and take away their guns" if they didn't agree with him on the matter of Randal. This shows us, and Andrea, that Shane is still highly unstable and cannot be trusted even after supposedly hashing things out with Rick.

» Yet again, T-Dog doesn't say a single thing for the entire episode. Did the writers just forget that he exists or what?

» As winter hastily approaches, Rick is thinking about clearing out the barn and having the group move in there instead of mustering up the courage to ask Hershel's permission to stay in the house. Lori will no doubt push him to do the right thing, whatever that may be. Hopefully, they leave the farm within the next two episodes. I'm so over it.

» "Heaven is just another lie, and if you believe it you're an idiot." Such harsh words from such a young boy. Carl's moral compass has greatly shifted since being shot and seeing the walking corpse of his friend, Sophia. In last night's episode he tells Carol off, steals a gun, carelessly throws rocks at a walker, and shows up uninvited to Randal's execution. Carl has clearly become as cold and bitter as the world he lives in — but now that his actions have led to Dale's death, one wonders if Carl can still turn things around.

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