I’m just going to say it: this episode sucked.
Rick—after attempting to turn Randall loose in the last episode, only to bring him back in the end—decides they might as well just kill the kid. Dale, who has not had much of a role in this season, begs him to be civilized and goes around asking people to disagree with this execution crap. Most of the episode consists of Dale lecturing people about being decent human beings, intercut with Lori and Rick arguing, their son Carl attempting to become the latest recipient of the Darwin Award, Hershel giving Glenn his version of The Talk…oh, and Carl being rude to Carol, the grieving mother.
We do get the pleasure of seeing Carol go off on Lori, but that’s pretty much the high point of the episode. On one hand, it’s interesting to see the dynamics of the group as they slowly but surely fall apart. On the other…the writing and pacing has been so awkward this season, it’s almost too late to make me care. The way I see it, the writers on The Walking Dead
have no clue how to handle a large cast (or female characters, for that matter) and thus are just flailing around while hoping we won’t notice.
Carl continues to amaze with his lack of brains: he goes digging through Daryl’s motorcycle, swipes a gun from the saddlebags, and wanders off into the woods. Oh, wonderful. Prepubescent boy doing dumb crap. He finds a zombie stuck in the swamp and starts taunting it. Is it too much to hope that natural selection will be victorious? I will say it’s criminal that we had to wait half an hour for a freaking zombie to show up during a zombie show.
The zombie gets loose and lunges. Carl drops the gun and runs away, leaving an extremely angry dead dude in his wake. Betcha Daryl will be pissed when he finds out his gun is missing.
The group meets. Where the heck is T-Dog? Has he been completely forgotten? Dale makes an impassioned speech about morals and civilization and generally not being jerks, and Andrea agrees with him. No one else speaks up. They drag poor Randall to the barn to execute him, blindfold him, and Rick gets his pistol out. Rick and Shane exchange a look while he cries. Daryl doesn’t seem entirely convinced, but doesn’t say anything. Did I mention the show had Daryl
acting as the freaking Spanish Inquisition, interrogating Randall early on? Really, guys? I don’t know if I see Daryl doing that, much less referring to Rick and Shane as “his boys.” Thought he couldn’t stand them?
As it turns out, Rick is not the tough guy he wants to be and can’t shoot Randall after Carl comes in and tries to goad him into it. They decide to keep him under house arrest or something. My attention was wandering at this point.
Of course, things aren’t quite over yet. Dale goes for a walk and gets ripped to shreds by the zombie Carl was taunting. Daryl arrives on the scene first and takes out the zombie, and the group panics and gathers around him. Hershel arrives and tells them all flat out there’s nothing he can do. Carl realizes it was “his” zombie that did the deed. This is why you don’t bring children to the apocalypse, folks. They get you killed.
Daryl opts to “put Dale out of his misery.” I suspect that buried in all that overdrawn drama is some message about the group permanently losing its moral center, but by that point in the episode (and at this time in the season) it was just laughably melodramatic. This is a bummer, considering what a strong character Dale was early on in the show.
For me, The Walking Dead
has lost its way. I think the writers/showrunners/whoever gave themselves too many characters to cohesively work with, and thus don’t know who to concentrate on and when. Thus we have characters doing random things at random times, characters disappearing for entire multi-episode arcs, and nonsensical behavior. It doesn’t work—the show jumps around too much, no development is shown, and then crazy stuff happens and everyone’s left going “Huh?”
The last moment between Dale and Daryl still managed to be somewhat poignant because regardless of how I feel about the writing, there are some fine actors there, and they do still make me feel. But the whole moment is built up from one
conversation Dale and Daryl had in this
episode. Their relationship should have built over time. Dale was a prominent character early on, and he got shoved into the background in season two, thus diminishing whatever role his death might have played. I’ll watch through the end of the season, but I don’t know that I’ll watch when it starts up again. A zombie show shouldn’t put me to sleep.
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