Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 11: Judge, Jury, Executioner

"The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 11: Judge, Jury, Executioner" was a combination of "12 Angry Men," "Survival of the Dead," and a "Very Special Episode" for Carl, in which we learn that actions have consequences.

Someone just shoot me already...

After Rick and Shane fight over what to do with Randall (after he reveals that he knew where he was) they dragged him back to the farm and locked him in the barn.

Episode 11 starts with Daryl beating up Randall as he interrogates him about where he came from, and the group of guys that he was with.

Daryl rips off the duct tape Band-aid on Randall's now injured leg and threatens to cut open the scab on his healing wound during the interrogation.

Hey, remember last episode? When Randall's leg was healed enough for him to be able to not only walk on it without limping, but hop on it as well? Now it's back to being a still healing scab covered wound. If he was healed as well as he was last week, those scabs would not be there. Daryl's threat of ripping open his healing leg wound makes absolutely no chronological sense.  We start with a scene in which no one bothered to question whether Randall should still have a healing over leg wound after an episode of running around etc. on it and ends in a whimper and a ridiculous death of a main character. But we'll get to that soon enough. 

Don't worry, this is just the beginning of the ridiculous crap that occurs during this episode. It gets worse. A lot worse.

Randall just wants to live and be accepted into Rick's group. He already proved that he wasn't like the men he was with- he was the only one worried about Sean when he was shot by Hershel, and he was left to die by his buddies. Wouldn't the fact that they saved his life (stopped him from being eaten alive by walkers) be enough to earn his loyalty, or at least gain a bit of his trust?

From Daryl's interrogation we learn that there were 30 men, and that several of them are rapists. Yay....

I really have a hard time with how they treated Randall. I honestly think he was telling the truth. He was in a terrible situation and running with a bad group of men, but the things Rick's group does to him really makes him a sympathetic character. 

The group discusses what to do with Randall at the breakfast camp fire. Daryl tells them that the men Randall was with have heavy artillery. And if they come to the farm, they'll kill the men and attack the women. This causes everyone to be even more afraid of the new guy. This starts Dale's argument with the group as he desperately tries to persuade them not to kill Randall.

"Guilt by association? He's just a kid!"

Dale begs Rick to let him try to talk with everyone before they execute him and Rick agrees to let him talk it out with people.

Unfortunately Rick, upon hearing about how dangerous Shane is from Lori, has decided that he now has to man-up and be a cold blooded killer in order to keep Shane in line and protect everyone. And Shane has everyone so worked up and terrified of what may happen, that they can't see what is happening: that they are torturing a poor young man that just wants to live and help out. The group allows their fears to override their best judgement. And people destroy things that they fear. Thus, why Randall must die.

Dale asks Andrea to guard Randall, and after some debate, he points out that she was a civil rights lawyer and that what Rick is planning to do to Randall is unjust and wrong. She doesn't think that they are civilized anymore, not after the world went to hell and believes that he'll run off to his buddies and bring them back to the farm. (Seriously? Why would Randall run back to his so-called friends after they left him for dead? This is what happens when everyone starts listening to Shane. Utter insanity and paranoia take roost.)

Dale tells her that even though the world they knew is gone, doesn't mean that they have to let go of their humanity. Keeping it, that's a conscious choice. The minute they start forgetting about empathy and forgiveness and start being pragmatic cold blooded killers, is the minute they abandon their humanity and become monsters.

Dale convinces Andrea to guard Randall and she goes and sits by the wooden shack door where Randall is being held. Randall, the poor man, is trying to escape where he has been chained and handcuffed to a shack wall. He begs for water and Andrea ignores him. He asks if they're going to kill him and she looks away, ashamed.

Carl asks Shane if Randall is a kid, and if he can see him. Shane tells him that he's not a kid, it's just a figure of speech, and that he should mind his own business.

Shane confronts Andrea about guarding Randall. She thinks they should kill him. Shane believes that Rick isn't going to go through with it; he'll pussy out and then they'll have a huge mess on their hands. They need to do something. But Andrea points out that Rick's in charge and it's Hershel's farm.

Shane wants to fix that, up to the point of taking away their weapons and locking them in a room. Yikes. Andrea tells him that it would get out of hand if he did that. Shane "doesn't want anyone to get hurt" and lies about him changing his mind about Hershel and Dale (or maybe not, it's hard to tell... Perhaps Rick did beat some sense into him during the last episode). It looks like Shane is planning on taking control of the farm, but it's still up in the air if he'll really manage to do that or not.

While Shane is talking to Andrea about making things safer on the farm, Carl sneaks into the shack and sits on the rafters so that he can stare at Randall. Randall tries to talk with him, but Carl doesn't trust him- mainly because the all of the adults are freaking out about him.

Randall thinks Rick is a good guy and tells Carl that he's lucky he still has his family. He tries to convince Carl that he's innocent. He wants to help, bring them back to his people where they have lots of supplies. (Hmmm....) Either Randall is desperate to get out (and who wouldn't be at this point?) or he honestly wants to pay Rick back for saving his life.

Shane interrupts and tells Carl not to trust him or talk with him again and sends him off to be with his mother.

Dale walks out to speak with Daryl-- who is trying to distance himself from the group. Daryl tells Dale that the group is broken and that he's better off fending for himself. Dale points out that although he acts like he doesn't care, he actually does. He tries to get Daryl to side with him in an effort to save Randall's life and tells him that his opinion makes a difference in the group. Dale believes that Daryl is a decent, good man that went out of his way to look for Sophia even when he didn't have to and that torturing someone isn't like him. Daryl says that they don't need him, and they don't look to him for anything. Rick has Shane's ear. Not his.

Daryl tells Dale that he knew that Shane killed Otis (apparently it's still a secret between Shane, Dale, Rick and Lori). He pegged him for a liar the minute he started telling the story of how Otis covered his back at the high school, but he didn't manage to survive and come back with him. Rick didn't figure out that Shane killed Otis because he didn't want to.

Daryl just might be the smartest one in the whole group. Too bad he's so quiet half the time. I bet he'd save them all from a whole world of hurt if they let him take charge.

Carl kicks around the spent bullet shells near the barn-- bullets that were used to kill the walkers and Sophia-- before picking them up and shoving them in his pocket. Lori approaches and asks Carl where Shane is, then goes into the barn to speak with Rick. Rick is looking for a good rafter to hang Randall from.

Now this is really where character's actions start to turn dark, and to me, a lot of what they say and do seems way out of character. Especially for Rick.

Rick went out of his way to rescue the kid when he was left to die by his buddies, and thanks to paranoia and Lori's manipulation when she says, "You'll kill to protect the ones you love?",  he has determined that Shane is not a threat to be killed but Randall somehow is.

Randall, the kid on the roof that shot at them, but never once hit them. The kid that helped him rescue Shane when he was trapped on the school bus with walkers banging on the door trying to get in. HE somehow is the threat that he needs to worry about. This paranoid thinking is caused by his inability to accept the fact that his best friend, Shane, the man who is like a brother to him, has become unhinged and turn into a cold blooded murderer that when pushed, will kill people in order to survive. Shane hasn't gotten to the point where he'll kill to get what he believes is rightfully his-- but he's quickly getting there.

Rick asks Lori if she supports his decision and she says yes. What she doesn't say is that she thinks it's right. Lori wants to stay in the house over the winter. She asks Rick if they're going to hang him, and Rick has no clue what to do. Rick and Shane agree on killing Randall. (And we all know that when people agree with Shane, bad things happen. This entire situation is going to come back and bite them in the ass.) Lori asks Rick about what happened when they were out with Randall, and Rick tells her that she doesn't have to worry about Shane anymore and that he no longer is a problem.

Carol approaches Carl, who is standing over Sophia's grave. She says that they'll see Sophia again one day, in heaven. Carl tells her that heaven is a load of crap and that she's stupid for believing in such things (very reasonable, considering that the world has been over run with the walking dead- something like that would cause most people to doubt their faith).

Carol was just trying to comfort him as Sophia was his friend. Hurt and angered by his words she approaches Lori and Rick and tells them that they need to get a handle on their boy; he is disrespectful and rude. Lori attempts to calm Carol down so that she can find out what happened but Carol tells her off, saying that she's tired of people avoiding her or treating her like she's crazy. Her daughter died. That doesn't mean that she lost her mind. Here we see that Carol really has started to find her voice and that she is done being a victim. Good for her.

Rick runs after Carl, finds out sort of what he said, and tells him to think about how that made her feel, as she just lost her daughter. Yeah. An 11 year old boy is going to be mature enough to reflect on his own words and actions. Give me a break. In this "Very Special Episode" of The Walking Dead, Carl learns that his actions have consequences and that being mean to people is wrong.

Rick tells Carl to apologize to Carol and fix his mistake. Carl asks Rick if he's going to kill Randall to fix his own mistake. Rick tells him that it's different. So Carl asks about how they are going to kill him as he is curious about it. Rick brushes it off and doesn't take the time to speak with him at length about what he is going to do because he feels uncomfortable with the entire situation. He doesn't really want to kill Randall. That much is clear, but he's going to go through with it anyways. Because Lori told him to man-up. (Seriously, is there anything that woman can get right? Because at this point, I'm seriously beginning to believe that she is utterly incompetent.)

Dale then approaches Hershel and we learn that the cattle broke out and they've been busy wrangling the herd back together and fixing the fence. Here, Hershel acts way out of character and refuses to get involved with Randall's execution-- even after Dale tries to speak with him about it. I think Hershel is tired of living. Or just tired of their constant power struggles. Either way, he is of no help. He wants Randall away from his daughters, and he doesn't care how it happens. Dale finds it hard to believe that a man of faith, of conviction would be able to stand idly by and do nothing while an innocent kid is killed on his land. Hershel tells him that he lost his faith. The barn incident made him see that the walkers are nothing more than animated corpses. That event shattered his entire world view. He's tired of making mistakes and leaves the decisions making up to Rick.

Carl wanders out to Daryl's camp where plays with the motorcycle, then digs through the saddle bags and finds a gun. He looks around, sees that no one has spotted him, and then takes the gun and wanders off.

If they had just let him learn how to use a gun so that he could help protect the camp, if they had just trusted him that much, would it have prevented him from stealing a gun from Daryl? Probably. Carl was shot, and knows how it feels- so its highly unlikely that he would point a gun at a living person just for fun. Rick knows how to speak to kids about guns. He told Duane, Morgan's son that a gun's not a toy and that it should be respected. He also informs him never to point it at someone unless he means to shoot them. However, thanks to Lori being a smothering mother hen, Rick goes from being reasonable and teaching gun responsibility during dangerous times to having an utter lack of faith in his child.

Of course Carl is going to be fixated on having a gun. Mainly it's because he isn't allowed to have one. That's how kids are. And that's why he stole the gun from Daryl.

Carl then walks through the woods, and comes up to the edge of the swamp, where a walker is stuck in the mud. At first, Carl is afraid, then he realizes that it can't reach him. So he throws some rocks at it to see what it will do.

Dale approaches Shane and asks him to side with him. Apparently he's talking with everyone today. He wants to change Shane's mind. They don't get along, but neither of them are going anywhere and Dale asks him to talk to him like a man about the situation with Randall.

Shane, his ego placated for the moment, agrees to speak with him. Dale tells him that they out number Randall, and even though Randall says that there is 30 men out there that he was with, it wouldn't change anything if they killed him. To which Shane agrees.

Dale points out that if they execute Randall, it changes the group. Shane is amused by Dale's tenacity and tells him that if he can convince the rest of the group to keep Randall alive, that he'll drop it and let the kid live.

But Shane knows that he is wrong about Randall, and that sooner or later he'll kill someone. So if they keep him alive, it'll be Dale's fault that one of their own was murdered. I personally think it's how they treat Randall that will drive him to attack them and run away to get help. He wasn't a threat until he was treated like one. 

Hershel is tending to Beth, who is still bed ridden after trying to kill herself. Glenn stands in the doorway, and asks if there is anything that he can do to help with Beth. He feels terrible about what Andrea did (she left Beth alone and let her try to kill herself. What a freaking idiot. How irresponsible can you get?)

Hershel asks Glenn about his family roots, and then talks about his own family's country of origin before giving Glenn his grandfather's pocket watch. He tells him the story of how he lost it-- he sold it when he was a drunk and desperate for money-- and how his wife found it at the pawn shop and bought it back. She kept it hidden until he sobered up for good, and then gave it back to him.

Hershel gives Glenn the pocket watch that's been handed down for generations from one father to the next. Since he has no boys, it makes sense to him to give it to Maggie's man. In a gesture of acceptance and good faith, Hershel hands over the symbol of the head of the family to the next person in line. Glenn is surprised, and grateful that Hershel has finally seen that he is a good man that can take care of Maggie. (This action tells me that Hershel is getting ready to step down as the head of the household, and may be getting mentally prepared for his own demise).

Rick is on the porch, peeling chipped paint off of it. Lori speaks with him about the decision of killing Randall, tries to tell him to let someone else kill him. Rick decides that it has to be him and points out that Lori didn't say that he made the right decision. He firmly believes it is.

Curiosity gets the better of Carl and he plays "Ring around the Walker." During the process of running circles around it, he helps it escape from its muddy shackles. When he stops to point his gun at it, it reaches out for him and manages to rips its stuck feet free from the mud. Carl runs away, leaving the gun and a freed walker behind in the woods. This action has serious consequences later on in the episode.

They call a group meeting in the farm house, and refuse to allow Carl to attend. Which I think is just stupid. He should have a say as well. Refusing to allow a child to participate in a serious discussion that affects the lives of everyone, even if it's just to let him hear what they are saying, pushes them aside and tells them that their thoughts and opinions don't matter. Carl has lost the only friend his age that he had. And now he's being cut off from the world of the adults as well. No wonder he's so testy in this episode. He feels totally left out of everything.

At the farmhouse they discuss what everyone thinks. Shane says to kill him. Dale speaks up and asks why they would even bother to take a vote? They've already made up their mind. They've got everyone scared. Glenn thinks they've lost too many people, and because Randall is not one of the group, he should be taken out.

Dale argues to keep Randall alive. Shane thinks if they let their guard down and they keep him prisoner that he'll run off to get his men and they'll come back and kill them all.

Here Dale makes a great speech about how wrong it is to kill someone just because they are afraid of what he might do, not of what he has done. If they kill Randall for guilt by association, or out of their fear of what violence he may do, they will change who they are, and give a message that there is no hope, that the rule of law is dead, that there is no civilization left at all.

Hershel asks why they can't just drive his further away from the farm before dropping him off. Lori points out that they came back injured the last time they went out, and voices her fears of losing them the next time they venture out away from the farm. Daryl agrees-- and says that they could even get ambushed if they go back out again. They don't want to put anyone else at risk.

Otis's wife Patricia asks how they would kill him and if he would he suffer. Shane says that they could hang him. Rick thinks shooting him is more humane. Then they start to discuss how to go about disposing of his body.

Dale interrupts, and argues about the worth of one man's life. He doesn't understand why they would save his life, only to then go on to torture and kill him. (Really, what they do to Randall is just sadistic and cruel.) He asks how that would make them any better than the people he was originally with, if they'd kill someone just because they're afraid of what he might do.

Shane tells him that they all know what needs to be done. They argue some more, and Carol tells them to just stop. She's tired of the in-fighting and doesn't want to have the burden of the decision put on her shoulders. She doesn't want to be responsible for Randall's death.

Dale tells her that there is no difference between not speaking up to stop them or killing him yourself. And he's right. Rick breaks it up and announces that they are going to make a final decision. There is a moment of uncomfortable silence before Dale steps up, desperate and says to Rick that he told them that they don't kill the living. But that was before the living tried to kill them.

Then Dale says, "If we do this, the people that we were, the world that we knew is dead. And the new world is ugly, its harsh, its survival of the fittest, and that's a world that I don't want to live in. I don't believe that any of you do. I can't. Please. Let's just do what's right."

No one speaks up and he asks if there isn't anyone else that would stand with him. And surprise of all surprises, Andrea speaks up and says that Dale is right. That they should try to find another way. But no one has a good solution.

Bitter with defeat, and upset that they are actually going to execute someone, he asks if they are going to watch Rick kill him. "No, you'll go hide your heads in your tents and try to forget that we're slaughtering a human being. I won't be party to it," he says and walks out of the room. He pauses, touches Daryl's shoulder and tells him "You're right. This group is broken." just before leaving the farm house.

After sundown, Rick, Shane and Daryl take Randall to the barn to kill him. Shane blindfolds him, and forces him to kneel. Randall starts to cry and begs for his life. He is terrified. Rick aims the gun at his head, totally unsympathetic towards his plight.

Randall begs him not to kill him and then Carl walks up to the barn, and says "Do it dad. Do it."
Shane runs Carl off. But it's too late. Hearing his son's cold words causes Rick to change his mind about killing Randall. Daryl takes a relieved Randall back to be a prisoner in the shack once more.

Now, after saving a man's life, they blindfold, gag him, tie him up and toss him in the back of a car and drop him off at a municipal building, and go to leave without even cutting him loose from his bonds. Then, when he reveals that he knows Hershel and Maggie, Shane tries to kill him. Rick fights him over this, which results in a torrent of walkers coming out of a broken window.

Rick takes Randall, gets him to drive the escape vehicle and they rush to rescue Shane. Even after all that, after begging Rick to let him help save his friend's life, he gets tied back up and thrown back into the car, only be to handcuffed and chained while they decide if they're going to kill him or not. 

Whatever loyalty they earned by saving Randall's life was utterly demolished as soon as they started down that path. He was tortured, first physically by Daryl, then psychologically when the took him to be executed, only to have Rick change his mind at the last second and give him reprieve and decide to keep him prisoner.

What little chance they may have had of getting Randall to join their group and contribute to help keep everyone alive was ruined- all because Lori convinced Rick to kill to protect the ones he loved. If she hadn't said that, and if Rick could accept that Shane is not a good man, all of this would never have happened. But it did. And now, Randall's loyalty has been swayed. He isn't safe anywhere. Not with those men he was with, and certainly not on the farm. But, there's a difference between being left to die and being physically and emotionally tortured by sadistic jerks that can't make up their minds about what they're going to do with you. There is no doubt that Randall would return to his former group now, if only to rally the men and get revenge for how they treated him.

What a bunch of idiots.

Rick returns to the camp fire with Carl and tells them that they won't kill him and will keep him in custody. Andrea goes to find Dale.  Lori sends Carl into their tent and Rick tells her that he followed them. He wanted to watch and that he couldn't do it. Lori tells him that it's fine. She's scared but, not angry with him for keeping Randall alive.

Then, the worst part of the episode occurs. I'm not sure if it was the main director of the episode, Greg Nicotero, that decided how to go about this, or if it was a collaboration between the writers and the directors. Either way, it was the most anti-climactic and meaningless death to occur in the series thus far. 

Dale, not wanting to be anywhere near the group when they execute Randall, wanders out into the pasture where he comes across a wounded cow. As soon as he sees that it has had it's guts ripped open, and spots the bites on its neck, he realizes that there is a walker on the property.

Unfortunately for Dale, it's right behind him.

Yes. Dale is attacked and almost killed by a stealth walker. The worst of the zombie cliches. Because having it happen in the train wreck that is Romero's "Survival of the Dead" wasn't bad enough.

This "Survival of the Dead" stealth zombie walked up on armed soldiers at their fully staffed army base and ate them.
Dale, the one that sees and hears all on the show from the top of his RV, doesn't notice the zombie shambling up behind him. As if anyone wouldn't hear/smell a walker as it came up on them. They have to reek. I mean come on! They're rotting corpses for crying out loud. But, no, it gets worse. Not only does he not hear it shambling through the dry, uncut grass, which does rustle and make noise when you walk through it, poor Dale can't even manage the strength to hold it off of him. Talk about an unrealistic, utterly lame death.

Why did they decide that he couldn't react at the sight of the walker and back up and shoot the damn thing? He knows how to use a rifle. It was on his shoulder for crying out loud. For such an important character to die in such a stupid way is just... well, for lack of a better term, retarded.

Dale's screams as the walker tears his guts open brings the group running. Daryl gets to him first and takes out the walker, and they yell for Hershel to come help.

Andrea kneels by Dale and takes his hand. Carl, realizing that its the walker he let loose in the swamp that attacked Dale, cries and clings to his mother. Thus he realizes that his actions caused Dale's death. (Way to go Carl.)

Hershel says that Dale's not going to make it and Rick walks up and tries to kill him to put him out of his misery. But he can't do it. So Daryl does it instead, and says "Sorry brother," before shooting him in the head.

Survival of the fittest. 
Dale's words are apparently his undoing, as he was too weak to hold off the walker and it ripped his guts wide open. Before, it took a group of at least four walkers to rip apart someone's stomach. Now, it just takes one weak, frail walker to do Dale in.

Watch the lamest death in The Walking Dead series thus far.

For all of it's great dialogue, Episode 11 was the weakest episode of Season 2 of "The Walking Dead." After weeks of treading water, during which nothing happened to move the story forward as they searched in utter vain for Sophia (who apparently had been hiding in the barn from the moment she disappeared) we now have the worst death scene to ever happen on the show.

And now we have two senseless, very lame main character deaths in one season. Whoever was responsible for that crap should be ashamed of themselves. Talk about an Epic Fail.

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