Entertaining Platt: The Walking Dead – “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Mmm...tastes like cricket.

And the winners of Post-Apocalyptic Parents of the Year are: Rick and Lori Grimes!

These idiots are so caught up in their personal drama over the Shane thing and the Randall thing that they totally lose track of young Carl, who survived getting gut shot by zombie bait Otis just so that he could wander off into the woods with Darryl’s gun and taunt super happy fun zombie out of his mucky confines in time for dinner with Dale.

Really, this episode amounted to a whole bunch of hand-wringing chatter interspersed with bouts of “What the hell?” and capped off by a burst of “what a twist!”

The chatter, which started in the morning and ended around sunset, mostly involved Dale roaming around the creepy homestead doing a lot of bug-eyed begging for the life of Randall, the captive kid from another camp, which I’ll just call the Redneck Others. Rick, urged on by Shane, wants to execute Randall so he can’t run off to tell the Redneck Others where to find the farm and all its precious resources, defensible structures, and vulnerable women with handguns, rifles, mirror shards, kicking horses, and flingable plates.

When it comes time to make the final choice, Dale gripes indignantly that they shouldn’t be making such a decision after just five minutes of discussion. Days must be shorter than normal in Dale-tasia. Didn’t he have plenty of opportunities to sway people from sunup to sundown? Isn’t that how he won Andrea over, of all people?

Well, obviously, this was all done as a setup to blatantly establish Dale as the moral conscience and the last gasp of the dead civilization left behind when the walkers swept across the world so that (spoiler alert!) he could be eliminated and leave the group struggling to find their own way without him. Furthermore, he wasn’t just eliminated. Ripped open by the walker that Carl accidentally loosed, Dale lay dying a few feet from a similarly wounded cow. Darryl had to put him down like just another doomed animal.

Welcome to the new world.

Meanwhile, Rick failed to kill Randall because Carl showed up and shame – as opposed to Shane – suddenly took hold.

I get why this has been an important narrative element, this choice between killing Randall, letting him loose, or incorporating him into Camp Creepy Homestead. It makes for some dramatic scenes and tense dialogue. But it really strikes me as a no-brainer sort of choice: He was among the group of people that tried killing Rick’s team in town, he knows where you live, he gave estimates of at least 30 people among the Redneck Others, and he admitted that the Redneck Others have done terrible things. It’s impossible to trust him not to run off and bring the bad guys to your door. He’s a drain on resources if you choose to keep him alive. And what happens if the Redneck Others get organized like Rick’s group did in the (albeit unsuccessful) search for Sophia and happen upon the farm without Randall’s help? Will it make matters better or worse, do you suppose, if they find Randall held captive there?

It’s a difficult choice, but to be absolutely sure about the safety of your camp, execution really seems to be the only option. Don’t want to get your hands dirty? Blindfold him, bind him, put him on the back of a horse, and haul him off to that public works station and leave him for the walkers. You still take the risk that he’ll survive and somehow make his way back to the Redneck Others, but maybe you’ll sleep better at night for a while.

Either way, it seems ironic that this old-time homestead where Rick and Lori thought they might build some bucolic kind of American Gothic life after the apocalypse is where they’re watching the last shreds of their dead civilization swirl down the drain.

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