'Walking Dead' Recap: Judge, Jury, Executioner

If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the zombie barn

walking dead
Gene Page/AMC
Dale defends himself from zombies on 'Walking Dead.'
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Where we left off: Sheriff Rick and Shane pummeled each other into near oblivion, yet reunited as teammates after surviving a zombie attack. Rick needs a night to decide whether or not to kill Randall, who was part of the Bad Guys but went to high school with Maggie and therefore is an actual person, but also one who knows where the farm is.

Where we pick up: It’s a "24"-style interrogation as Daryl beats the shit out of Randall in order to extract information about the Bad Guys. Just like Jack Bauer taught us, torture always delivers the scoop. We learn that the Bad Guys are rolling 30-deep, and they wander from town to town, scavenging supplies and raping teenage girls in front of their fathers. Randall insists that he’s not evil and he didn’t participate in the gang-rape and he just buddied up with the Bad Guys because they took care of him and took him in.

Daryl reports back to the Still Alives that the Bad Guys have heavy artillery and they’re very bad men who are up to no good.  Rick decides that they’re going to have to kill Randall and they’re going to need to do it today. Dale begs Rick to at least let the other Still Alives have a voice in the matter because you can’t just kill a kid. Rick agrees to wait until sunset to make a decision about Randall’s fate. Cue the ominous thunder.

Dale appeals to Andrea’s former life as a civil rights lawyer (really?) and urges her to protect Randall from Shane’s murderous ways. Andrea smugfaces that the world they used to live in is long gone, but Dale counters that keeping their humanity is a choice. And we know Andrea loves choices. So she agrees to keep watch over their prisoner.

Carl the Kid wants to meet Randall but Shane shrugs him off and tells him this is grown-up stuff. Shane talks to his compadre Andrea about the Randall situation, even though Randall can hear them from inside the barn. Shane is worried that Rick is going to pussy out and let Randall live and then there’s going to be a huge problem. (Shane! Randall can hear you!) Shane mouths off about taking over the farm and Andrea tries to lawyer up some reason into him, and suddenly Carl the Kid is in the barn. Oh hi, Carl the Kid! How’d you get in there? Randall tries to convince Carl that he deserves to live and that if he helps him survive, Randall will take Carl and his parents back to the Bad Guys and they’ll all take care of each other together! Shane breaks up their meet-cute and ushers Carl out of the barn.

Carl asserts that he can handle himself and he pleads with Shane not to tell his parents. If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the zombie barn. Shane says that Randall will try to sweet-talk Carl into letting his guard down. (Because Shane has watched TV! We’ve all seen this happen!)

Dale approaches Daryl and asks him to remember his humanity and vote to keep Randall alive. Daryl does not care. Dale plays the Sophia card. Daryl still does not care. Finally, Dale reveals his trump card – that Shane is an evil dude because he clearly killed Otis. Daryl is like: uh, duh? Shane claimed that Otis was covering him but he came back with the dead guy’s gun? Obviously, Shane killed Otis. (Okay! Now everyone on the farm knows that Shane killed Otis a million episodes ago. Let’s stop bringing up Otis. Let the dead guy lie. Or least amble around as a zombie.) Daryl pronounces that the group is broken.

Lori finds Rick in the barn, with a noose, with Colonel Mustard. Rick wants to know if Lori supports his decision to string up Randall like they’re in some John Wayne movie. Lori supports whatever Rick thinks is best – how complacent you are, Lori.

Carl sits by Sophia’s grave, gathering what look like bullets or bullet shells. Carol tries to assure him that Sophia is in heaven and she’s in a better place now and Carl sasses back that heaven is just a lie and anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot. (I thought heaven was a place on earth?) Carol complains to Rick and Lori that their son is misbehaving and being a jerk and furthermore she’s tired of everyone treating her like she lost her mind instead of her daughter. Well played, Carol!

Rick chastises Carl that he needs to think instead of talking. Carl shoots back that Lori always wants Rick to talk more. Rick tells Carl that this is different, and he must apologize to Carol and fix his mistake. Carl wants to know if Rick is going to kill Randall to fix his mistake. Touché, kid.

Dale continues his humanity quest with Hershel. Hershel doesn’t want to know what happens to Randall and repeats that he’s leaving the decision to Rick. Hershel just wants Randall and the Bad Guys to stay away from his daughters, and he thinks he’s made too many mistakes so he’s not making any more decisions.

Carl sneaks into Daryl’s wild-man camp with the skins and the ears and the awesome motorcycle. He rummages through its saddlebags until he finds a gun, which he steals and then heads into the woods. He spots a zombie stuck in the quicksand and throws rocks at it. So now Carl is torturing a zombie. He learned it from watching you, other Still Alives! He learned it from watching you!

Dale finally confronts Shane and tries to talk some sense into him. Shane cautions him that there are 30 Bad Guys and only 12 Still Alives and he is not going to be convinced to let Randall live. Dale straps on a set and tells Shane that it will change them all and make them no different from the Bad Guys if they just execute the guy without a real reason. Shane acts like a real man instead of a dickface and agrees that if Dale can convince everyone else to let the kid live, then he won’t say anything else about it. But he warns Dale that if Randall kills one of them, the blood is all over Dale’s hands. Deal.

In the farmhouse, Hershel plays Doodlebug with Beth, who seems to be recovering well from her suicidal depression. Glenn offers to help out and Hershel asks him where he’s from. Glenn says he was from Michigan, but his family originally came from Korea and Hershel launches into a speech about how immigrants built this country and how he’s finally decided Glenn is the right man for Maggie. He gives Glenn his special immigrant legacy watch and his Tevye-esque blessing.

Back in the woods, Carl taunts Quicksand Zombie. The zombie finally gets one foot free and he lunges at Carl. Carl shrieks and runs away – leaving Daryl’s gun, behind, I think?

And now it is sunset and it’s time to have the big We Need to Talk About Randall discussion. House meeting! Oh, hi T-dog! So nice to see you show up this episode. The Still Alives argue with Dale that keeping Randall alive means another mouth to feed as winter is coming. Dale wants to put him to work, with a guard. No one wants to be on Randall duty forever. They bicker. Finally, Dale grandstands: "So the answer is to kill him to prevent a crime that he might never commit? If we do this, humanity is gone."  He continues: "This is a young man’s life and it is worth more than a five minute conversation. We kill someone because we can’t decide what else to do? How are we better than those people we’re so afraid of?"

Right – if we start killing the living willy-nilly, we’re no better than what we fear. We’re no better than the teenage-daughter raping Bad Guys. But we’re also no better than the flesh-eating zombies. What is humanity, after all? Is it more than the need to survive and does "humanity" necessarily imply "civilization?" We should go back and watch Battlestar Galactica because it had lots to say about that.

Dale pleads to the group that if they execute Randall, the world they knew is dead. And the new world is ugly and harsh and all about survival of the fittest and that is not a world in which Uncle Dale wants to live. (Foreshadowing!) He urges the group to do what’s right, and there’s a long, slow pan across the other Still Alives.  Finally, Andrea (the former civil rights lawyer) agrees with Dale. But the other Still Alives are ready to kill Randall, and Dale bursts into tears and wants to know if the others are going to watch the murder or go hide in their tents and try to forget that they’re slaughtering a living, breathing human being. This group is so broken.

Nightfall. Rick and Shane and Daryl perp-walk Randall into the barn. Shane tells him to relax because it will all be over soon. Randall starts to whimper and cry, begging and pleading for his life. (Unlike the Dread Pirate Roberts, his words fall on deaf ears.) Rick aims his gun at Randall’s head and hesitates. Carl the Kid pipes up, "Do it, dad!" So Rick realizes what a horrible lesson he is teaching his suddenly bloodthirsty son and doesn’t kill Randall.

Rick returns to the Still Alives and reveals that he couldn’t execute the prisoner in front of Carl. Andrea runs off to tell Dale the happy news. But where is Dale? He is walking off his anger, storming through the cattle paddock in the moonlight. He hears moans. He sees a cow with its insides devoured. OH NO. He finds himself face to face with Quicksand Zombie. Quicksand Zombie tears open Dale’s stomach and roots around in his entrails just before the other Still Alives arrive and Daryl jams a knife into the zombie’s head. Rick calls for Hershel but it’s too late – Dale is disemboweled and clearly in excruciating amounts of pain and suffering. Andrea begs someone to do something. Rick pulls his gun, again. Everyone looks away, crying. Once again, Rick can’t do it. Daryl takes the gun and puts a bullet into Dale’s brain.

What will become of our Still Alives without their voice of morality and reason? Where does humanity go from here? Does Rick need gun Cialis?

Scorecard:

Humanity takes a serious hit as we lose good ol’ Uncle Dale

Zombies: Quicksand Zombie is dead-dead.

LAST EPISODE: Down at the Department of Public Works