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Walking Dead

by • March 4, 2012 • News, Review, TVComments (10)25

REVIEW: THE WALKING DEAD – Judge, Jury, and Executioner

Alert! Spoilers Ahead! Seriously, you would be insane to read this if you haven’t seen the latest episode of THE WALKING DEAD.

It’s said that, under the right conditions, we can all evolve into monsters. Aided by fear, aided by a narrowing of options — the white light that can guide us home can also tear us past our better judgement and bust through the carefully constructed walls of morality that we’ve always leaned on.

This is the message of season 2 of THE WALKING DEAD: a broken evolution and the increasingly ripe conditions that make it so. Tonight’s episode, “Judge, Jury, and Executioner” was about that and that last stubborn nub that refuses to be pressed down. Think of this show and their world as a pane of glass, a window, first cracked, then shattered, with piece after piece of broken glass falling to the floor. Shane was the first, then Andrea, then Hershel, Daryl, Carol, Lori, and eventually Rick — all that remains is Dale, the last one struggling to keep sacred what was, that stubborn nub.

Dale is a favorite of mine. In the comics he was paternal, raw, and tough, suffering through setbacks and heartbreak with an uncommon resiliency. The show has, for the great part of this season, failed to draw as strong a character and in that they have wasted Jeffrey DeMunn, an actor who deserved better playing a character that deserved more for an audience that could have used a stronger, more confident “Dale” instead of the whiny, meddlesome mess that he was shaped into.

DeMunn is electric tonight in what is his apparent last stand, a drowning Jiminy Cricket fighting like mad for Randal until the very last. The power of his argument and his performance, blowing on the remaining embers of a tired and beaten group to rise like a flame against the dark and monstrous, the inevitable and probably correct action that they are heading towards (executing Randal) makes for some of the best television I’ve seen recently. The scene in the farm house in particular, with Carl eager to launch into adulthood without a mind for the unanticipated consequences of eschewed youth, and the diverse flavor and level of everyone’s response is pitch perfect. Dale’s appeal to those too afraid to hear him and too tired to stand with him, and then the equal condemnation that he unleashes toward both sides rises above perfect though, it is his signature moment on the series, the apex of his frustration and his fear. Dale isn’t meant for this world, and we see his heart break through his eyes when he realizes it.

In the end, the end is the thing we’ll remember most, the shock, the anger we (and I) felt when we saw the writers throw away one of the better characters in the comic (and one of the most beloved on the show), and the changes set in motion by Dale’s death. Andrea, Carl, and Shane are sure to be the most affected by this in ways that will shape the rest of this season and the future of the show. Here are a few theories on that.

Andrea

Andrea is the key here and she is also the hardest one to judge. Dale always looked out for her, something that spurred rebellion in her when he got too overbearing. Eventually she found Shane’s tilted view appealing and stood by him until last night. Andrea was a surprise defection to Dale’s side in the fight for Randal’s life, and while she was visibly shaken by his death, I don’t know what it does to her. If Dale had died because of Randal, or in a way that cast suspicions on Shane, her compass would be an easy read, without that she is still a mystery.

Carl

Carl is a broken kid in an adult world at this point and I’m curious to see where the guilt of Dale’s death takes him, curious to see where he stands at the end of this season and at the end of next. If you read the comics, you know that Carl becomes a frighteningly distant and tough kid along the way. His actions, which unintentionally cost Dale his life, will likely be the spark that sets those changes in motion.

Shane

With Rick’s head bowed yet again thanks to Carl’s eagerness to see his father kill Randal and Hershel clearly too wounded to stand up to anyone or for anything, the moment may be right for Shane to try and seize control. Who will stand against Shane? I think it could be Andrea, but eventually it is going to have to be Rick. One thing is crystal clear though, with Dale gone the last shard has been knocked loose, and anything can come in through that window now.

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  • Kris10

    Nice review.

  • http://yahoo.com ken nicholas

    the series is much better but to many advertisements, we turn off the sound during the advertisements,

  • Mark M

    The publicity photos showing Dale on the ground after being attacked all make it look like the attack happened in daylight, when it was obviously evening or night. And I think you’ve overlooking Dale’s discovery: animals that die come back as walking animals…and therefore a vicious threat to the group. But with his guts hanging out, he couldn’t very well get that message out before he was put down.

    • Mrcaliche

      Actually, Mark, that’s not correct. That cow was not reanimated, it was dying from the massive wounds. We had already seen animals bitten by walkers and they didn’t come back. Kirkman also very specifically said there will never, ever be any zombie animals, it only affects people.

  • poopsie

    Good review. Personally, I was sick of Dale`s incessant bleating that not everyone held his whiny, world view. Thank you zombie!

    I think Shane will step up now Rick has shown again his lack of steel and lack of leadership.

    Very compelling.

  • joeyjoejoe

    “one of the most beloved characters on the show”????????? beloved? really? dale? with all the review-chaff out there, it would be nice if someone (YOU, jason) would actually THINK about what it is they are writing as opposed to just putting down words to fill up space.

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  • Jethro

    Rick is the only character on the show who is even semi-likeable. Shane is obviously a creep, I question the intelligence of anyone who would get behind him. Andrea is probably the most annoying character on the show. Leaving a possibly suicidal teenager (one who had just witnessed her zombie-fied mother gunned down) alone like that was unforgivable. Lori is a bore. Carl? He’s generic. I feel sympathy for Carol, but she barely has a role. I don’t know why T-dog is even on the show. Daryl’s daydream about his brother Merle led nowhere. Herschel is a bore. Glen is a likeable character. I stand corrected. There is 1.5 likeable characters on the show, and one is kind of a part-timer in terms of screen time.

  • http://basementrejects.com derrick Bailey

    I talk about T-Dog Like a dog in my reviews..lol. I’m black and I really hate his weak character.

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