I have conflicting feelings about this latest episode of The Walking Dead, which I like to call "Judge Judy, Executioner," because how amazing would it have been if Judge Judy just showed up, grabbed the gun from Rick, and popped Randall right in the head?
Anyway, putting aside the version of Walking Dead that lives in my head for a moment, this was pretty much a set-up episode. And what did it set up? Well, it made a thing of things that should never have been things in the first place.
Imagine, if you will, where we'd be right now if Rick had just left Randall impaled on the fence. Imagine if Rick had just left Randall for the zombies at the prison. Our zeroes have enough problems what with zombies and pregnancies and suicidal farm girls and Andrea. Do they really need to take a hostage?
And the whole hostage thing has become really unsavory. What should've been a simple mercy killing at the bar, has turned into straight up torture (for both Randall and the viewers - ba-dum-bum). I get that the writers are trying to make a point -- a very heavy, Dale-handed point -- about holding onto one's humanity in really desperate times.
The whole situation has become almost too democratic, too tame. People are talking instead of acting, which makes for a TV show set in the subjunctive. Maybe our zeroes can't learn the lessons Dale wants them to learn without actually descending to some very dark places. Maybe Randall needs to die in order for everyone to fully understand how they feel about the situation.
I thought they were headed into very dark places. Carl, who has been wearing the sheriff's hat for weeks, has really started to idolize the badass side of his dad's job. And when Carl showed up in the barn with Randall, I thought he was going to take matters into his own hands. But he was pulled away before he could act.
And then he found a gun, and I thought for sure he was going to off Randall (or at least Beth). But then he found a zombie stuck in the mud and threw rocks at it instead of just offing it. And then he dropped the gun and I thought, "Wow. That zombie is going to pick up the gun and use it on our people. We're headed into Day of the Dead territory."
I was wrong, but what did happen should have some interesting repercussions. You'd think. But this is The Walking Dead. Dale, disgusted with the blood lust of his comrades, takes off on his own in the dark and meets the zombie who has become unstuck from the mud. The zombie quite literally rips Dale's guts out, and we know he's a goner. But still, Rick yells at magic Hershel, who can heal a gunshot wound in a single bound, to operate on Dale right there in the field. But Dale is too far gone. The only recourse is to put him out of his misery. Which Daryl does with the gun Rick was going to use to execute Randall.
It's a story about mercy killing vs. the death penalty, what's right against what's easy. There are a lot of interesting, deep themes being explored here. I just wish they would've been handed with more finesse.
That said, the possible repercussions from last night's episode:
- No more Dale = no more dissenting voice. Unless Andrea, the former civil rights attorney, is ready to step up to the plate. Who knew Andrea had a law degree?
- Carl, who had a chance to kill the zombie who mauled Dale, is going to want to kill every zombie he sees from now on. The fact that Dale died because of Carl's inaction should have a lasting effect. But, again. This is The Walking Dead.
- They're probably going to let Randall, AKA this show's Henry Gale AKA Ben Linus, go and the Others are gonna come back and make our zeroes' lives hell.
- Daryl is no longer the Sawyer of the group. He's the Sayid. Which maybe makes Low Rent JLC the Shannon. So maybe she'll be off the show soon?
- Oh, hi there, T-Dog in the voting scene. Poor T-Dog. He's living in a Where's Waldo picture and he's Waldo.
- Hershel gave Glenn his pocket watch, which in Zombpocalypse speak means Glenn and Maggie are now engaged.
- If the zeroes keep Randall around as their hostage but take them into their home as a ward, he'll probably end up like Theon Greyjoy and we ALL know what happened with Theon Greyjoy. (Oh, you don't? Watch Season 2 of Game of Thrones this April on HBO.)
- I'm rereading The Hunger Games in preparation for the movie and Dale wanting to keep his humanity reminded me a little of Peeta, which is such a lady boner killer because Dale is, just, no.
- Can we all agree Lori is the official worst, especially now that Dale's dead? What is with her whole "Stand by your man. Let the mens handle the killin', Andrea. We ladies have laundry to do" stance? Can we trade her to the Others for a better female lead?
What did you think?