If newcomer Randall thought he had it bad last week, well, hungry zombies prove to be a cakewalk next to an interrogation from Daryl Dixon. While he might not be as professional as Jack Bauer or well-spoken as Sayid from LOST, Daryl sure knows how to make a man talk. And he doesn't like what he hears.
Perhaps foreshadowing the coming of a certain Governor, it emerges that Randall is part of a much bigger group - one with no compunction against raping and pillaging. It seems an execution is imminent. As ever, Dale disapproves. With the rest of the group largely in favour (or at least indifferent to) a lynching, he sets about attempting to convince them to spare the boy's life. His pleas fall on deaf ears though, as most seem to share the cops' belief that executing Randall might be for the best. Even Hershell is content to leave the decisions to Rick and Shane. The future isn't looking too bright for poor Randall. Bless Glenn though, who admits to hanging on to his every word. Another father figure doesn't look far off though, as Hershell finally gives the kid his seal of approval regarding Maggie.
Meanwhile, young Carl is acting up, sneaking into the barn to talk to Randall and answering back to poor, grieving Carol. This earns him a telling off from Rick, which sends him running off in a sulk into the woods. Here he encounters a member of the titular walking dead, which he deals with remarkably well. Looks like getting shot isn't the only trait that runs through the male Grimes. Still, his misbehaviour and mouthiness is an irritant - we're beginning to see the emergence of the obnoxious little brat from the comics. The end of the world will do that to a child. His behaviour here is reminiscent of that of Jack Marston in Red Dead Redemption. Just substitute nearly getting killed by a bear for nearly getting killed by a zombie. His growing attitude prompts Rick's final decision as to what the group should do with Randall, and also proves Dale's dissent to be right.
Judge, Jury and Executioner is a very Dale heavy episode, and therefore full of heavy-handed moralising and potty hats. While it is impossible to take a man's pontificating seriously with a monstrosity like that on their head, it's inevitable that the survivors of a zombie apocalypse will all dress that way: after all, survivalists love stupid headwear. It's a much slower episode than we've had in recent weeks, but not a bad one, dealing with the inevitable questions that the show would always have to ask. And then there's the ending, which is a complete shocker. It's apt that there's no music played over the end credits - I was rendered speechless too (this review not withstanding).
It's quite tragic really - Dale's primary function in the group is to look out for zombies; as soon as he decides to take an evening off, he gets bitten by a zombie. And how. His is the worst case of bitten-by-a-zombie since Andrea's sister went out the same way in Series One. Sulkily examining a cow, Dale is attacked from behind and ravaged in the worst possible way. It's up to Daryl to put the old fella out of his misery - but with Dale as the camp's sole voice of reason, where does this leave the group? Will they set about lynching people willy-nilly now? Nevertheless, that's the end of Dale. I can't say I'm not disappointed - after all, I was hoping to see him on a peg-leg, noshed to death by cannibals, not going out like a chump in a field. Still, much as I have complained about Dale (a lot) he will be missed. He's one of the original crew, after all, and one of the comics' most memorable faces.
Here's a moment of silence for Dale, gone to the great RV in the sky.