The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Eleven “Judge, Jury, Executioner”

Andrea: “You really want to debate about saving a guy who will lead his buddies right to our door?”

Dale: “That’s what a civilized society does.”

Andrea: “Who says we’re civilized anymore?”

walker

A Bunch Of Angry Men & Women

As the second season of The Walking Dead finishes up, the pre-credits scene of episode eleven, “Judge, Jury, Executioner” opens in the barn as Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) brutally interrogates Randall (Michael Zegen). The young hostage initially yields little info, but after Daryl’s beatings and not-so-subtle threats, he reveals that his renegade friends numbers thirty men, armed with semi-automatic rifles. He reveals to Daryl that they once kidnapped and gang-raped two farmer’s daughters and forced the farmer to watch. Daryl reacts furiously…

Post-credits, Daryl passes the grisly findings to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the others: if Randall’s friends pass through, the survivors are dead meat. Rick decides that the execution continues as planned; all agree except Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), who argues that they have no right to take a life. Additionally, he puts forth that Randall is “just a kid”, he needs due process, etc. This leaves Rick unmoved. Dale next tries Andrea (Laurie Holden) and plays on her past as a civil rights lawyer, together with a call to maintain their humanity in the face of a changing world. This yields similar results, although Andrea agrees to guard Randall from the others. carlLater, while Andrea is outside the barn guarding the young hostage as promised, Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) reveals to her his disgruntled suspicions that Rick will spare Randall at the last minute. Shane further reveals his thoughts about Rick’s incompetence and bad decisions as leader, coldly hinting about the need for “change”… Randall hears all this through a crack in the barn wall, but spots young Carl (Chandler Riggs) sitting on a loft in the barn watching him out of boredom. Using a slick buddy-buddy tone, he tries to persuade Carl to release him. Shane barges in and shoves a pistol to Randall’s face, but is stopped by Andrea. Shane warns Carl and promises not to tell his parents Rick and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies).

Sentenced

While preparing for the hanging, Rick announces to Lori his intentions of clearing out the barn for the survivors’ new lodging, and strategically placing lookouts in the loft in preparation of the upcoming bleak, cold, and of course, walker-saturated winter. Even better, he suggests that they ask Hershel if they can stay in the house, to which Lori agrees.

stuck walkerAfter an incident in which Carl is rude to Carol (Melissa McBride) – calling her an “idiot” for believing in heaven – the young boy nicks a gun from Daryl and leaves camp, unsupervised. Ambling around the outside, he finds a walker stuck in the mud near a riverbed. He throws rocks at it, but gets too close: the walker frees one leg trying to get the young boy. Carl escapes but loses Daryl’s gun.

bye-dale-gene-page[1]At night, the execution is about to go on, when Carl shows up, and like a spectator at a Roman gladiator match, urges Rick to do the deed. Taken back by his son’s enthusiasm – to say the least – Rick halts the execution and reprimands the boy. Shane, angry, storms out disappointed. Dale, too, walks out and is attacked by a walker – the same walker that Carl encountered earlier. Before the group can save him, the walker rips open Dale’s gut. After Daryl stabs the walker in the head, he shoots Dale to put him out of his misery…

death-of-dale-gene-page[1]From the brutal opening in this episode of The Walking Dead – where we get a hint of Daryl’s latent sadism – “Judge, Jury, Executioner” moves like a speeding train and ends like a train wreck with the untimely demise of Dale Horvath. A wise, 60-something voice of calmness, experience, and reason, let’s face it – he will be sorely missed -and Jeffrey DeMunn gets kudos for playing him with such intelligence and humanity. Major and respected characters have been killed off in the past on TV, but often this is because the actors want to leave the show (case in point, McLean Stevenson in M*A*S*H). But so early in the series and in such a gory fashion – get ready for a reminder – this is The Walking Dead. People will come, people will go, people will die – and when they do, it won’t necessarily be pretty. The show has already featured a few deaths (Sophia, Amy, Jacqui, Jim etc.) but they were supporting characters with little influence on the survivors’ daily affairs and group dynamics. But Dale, in his quiet way, was a major force on the survivors’ consciousness, and without his yin to Shane’s yang, the ominous momentum that has been building ever since the hostage Randall entered the picture (and arguably before) is set to blow. What will happen then?

dying dale

One more development deserves mention. In another time, another place – or even another TV show – Carl would be hanging around the mall with his bros, listening to Metallica, or playing PlayStation or Xbox. Unfortunately, the poor kid has been thrust into a rotting post-apocalyptic nightmare full of death and decay and giving him an education in ways that no school or Boy Scout troop could provide. It’s only natural that the proverbial (and occasionally literal) stench would permeate him, de-sensitize him, and alter his thinking and behavior (I would really be surprised if it didn’t). This episode marks this subtle yet open change, plus a whole new laundry list of infractions, thievery and insolence among them. Rick was shocked at this revelation. Considering that Carl is still at an impressionable age, what will he be like as he matures into manhood? How will Rick be able to guide him? To which role model will he gravitate? Will he be his father’s son or more closely resemble Shane? (Note: shades of the Charlie Sheen/Tom Berenger/Willem Defoe triangle in Platoon.) Like I’ve said before, stay tuned…

Evan Rothfeld

One Response to “The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Eleven “Judge, Jury, Executioner””

  1. […] Please click on the link to Deadloggers to continue reading about Episode Eleven […]

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