You never really know what you’re going to get with any episode of The Walking Dead. While tonight’s episode may have been short on walkers, with just one making an appearance in all its lipless glory, that one walker certainly had an impact on the episode’s story, which was primarily focused on what to do about Randall.
“The world we know may be gone, but keeping our humanity, that’s a choice.”
I need to take a minute and absorb the full devastation I’m experiencing over the loss of one of my favorite characters. Dale was always great with a cause. In fact, finding the right words to make a point may have been his greatest strength. Through everything that’s happened, he may have been the one character that didn’t allow himself to abandon his principals entirely for the sake of adjusting to this new reality. We might have said the same for Rick, who’s still maintaining some shred of decency and humanity as he tries to make decisions for the group, but then he announced tonight that he was going to side with Shane on the decision to kill Randall. This came after Daryl tortured Randall to get information about the other group from the kid.
What do we know about Randall’s people? There are about thirty of them. They have weapons. And some of them raped a couple of teenage girls, forcing the girls’ parents to watch. It’s a pretty disgusting scenario to envision, and certainly one that paints an even more vivid picture of the reality of their “civilization” as it is now, but does that make Randall a monster or a direct threat to the group? I guess you could make a case that just about anyone could become a threat to the group. But Randall was associated with people that would most likely come after the farm if they knew it was there. So what to do? How to proceed?
The real threat to the group at this point may be the collapse of civilization, and Dale seems to be the only one who’s noticing. Even Andrea, who was once a civil rights attorney, was willing to stand by while Randall was executed. It wasn’t until later on, after some real pushing, after Dale had spoken to pretty much everyone individually to try to gain some support (and got none), and then again in front of the whole group when the decision was being made, that Andrea finally took his side. I almost didn’t buy that either, as it seemed to come out of nowhere. And maybe her changing her mind was more about her not wanting Dale to be completely alone on the matter than it was about Randall’s life. Regardless, she did take his side in the end, but it wasn’t enough.
“If we do this, we’re saying there’s no hope. Rule of law is dead. There is no civilization.”
The group was decided that Randall would die. Of course, Dale was right that most of them wouldn’t actually watch it happen. Rick would be the one to do the deed, it being his final call and everything. He’s sort of Nedd Stark that way. And Shane and Daryl were there, because both of them are sort of hardened survivalists now. It wasn’t until Carl showed up just as Rick was about to pull the trigger, to unnecessarily cheer his father on, that Rick realized he couldn’t do it. Carl’s a whole other story, but he did prove to be the eye-opener Rick needed to back off. The decision was made to keep Randall held captive for a while, which may or may not come back to bite them in the future.
It seemed like it was always going to be Rick’s decision in the end. But I liked that the group was forced to deal with it. Something like that shouldn’t be something that everyone just sort of nods and shrugs off. And it really shouldn’t be all on Rick’s shoulders to begin with. No one person should have all the say in whether another person lives or dies.
One thing I didn’t quite get was, why didn’t the subject of leaving come up during all of this? Are they all decided that they’re going to stay at the farm indefinitely? Given that a man’s life was on the line, it seemed like someone would have brought up the idea of packing up and moving on. Even if the idea was shot down, you’d think they’d at least discuss it.
“This group is broken.”
Dale met his demise while wandering out into the field at night and coming across a partially eaten cow. I’m not entirely sure what he was doing out there to begin with, unless it was because he heard the sound of the cow and went out to investigate. Regardless, he came across the same walker Carl saw earlier and the thing pounced on him before he could fire his gun. It tore his gut open and there was nothing that could be done. Daryl put a bullet in Dale’s head to put him out of his misery.
So in a strange twist, it was Dale who ended up with a bullet in his head. Maybe his death will shift some perspectives.
Dale’s death seems likely to affect Carl. Unbeknownst to everyone else, he stole a gun (Daryl’s) and snuck off into the woods earlier. He happened upon the walker that would later go on to rip Dale open, but at the time, the thing was stuck in the mud. Carl decided to mess around with it and nearly got himself killed when the frustrated walker managed to get itself out of the mud. Carl had been trying to shoot it when it started to attack him, and he lost the gun and ran back to the farm. He may be blaming himself now for failing to kill the walker that would go on to kill Dale.
Foolishly wandering off into the woods wasn’t the only bit of erratic behavior on display from Carl tonight. He also called Carol an idiot for believing in heaven. Nice thing to say to a grieving mother. And he snuck into the barn to give the stink-eye to Randall. At that time, he may have also overheard Shane plotting with Andrea to overthrow the group and take over leadership. If he heard it, he didn’t say anything about it to anyone.
Carl bugs me, much in the same way Lori does, in that I’m not sure of I’m supposed to dislike him or not. Granted, I can only imagine what it would be like for a kid to have to deal with this kind of reality. And he has no other kids to play with or confide in, which sucks for him. Still, he’s telling people off, wandering into the woods with a gun, and lurking around the prisoner. This can’t be leading toward anything good.
“No man is good enough for your little girl, until one is.”
The only uplifting moment offered in tonight’s episode came when Hershell gave Glenn his pocket watch. It seems a bit soon to be passing along family heirlooms to Glenn, and something tells me Glenn might feel even more nervous and stressed about the relationship now that he’s officially received Dad’s approval, but it was a generous offering and it shows that Hershel is willing to accept the relationship.
And that about wraps it up, with just two episodes left to the season. Dale’s gone, which is definitely disappointing. But hopefully his spirit lingers and at least a few people in the group reconsider the things he said about their humanity, because the group really does seem to be broken. Maybe the loss of Sophia is to blame for that, or maybe it was just a matter of time before people began to shift their outlooks on life and death and what really matters.