‘The Walking Dead’ Season 2, Episode 11: ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ Recap

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Sarah Wayne Callies and Andrew Lincoln The Walking Dead Judge Jury Executioner The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 11: Judge, Jury, Executioner Recap

(This recap features MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner.’ Stop Reading If you have not yet seen the episode.)

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After the well-paced zombie killing antics of last week’s ‘18 Miles Out,’ The Walking Dead returns to where it is more comfortable, by focusing on the internal squabbles of the survivors – but this time the argument centers on the worth of a man’s life. While everyone else seems to think executing Randall (Michael Zegen) is in the group’s best interest, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) does his best to dissuade whomever he can in ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner.’

Randall’s future looks pretty bleak from the onset, as the group’s resident ear collector (Daryl)    puts his apparent apathy to good use by torturing the young man for information regarding the group he was traveling with. Daryl (Norman Reedus) knocks Randall around for a bit, but when he’s not getting the right kind of answers, puts his knife in Randall’s gnarly leg wound from ‘Triggerfinger.’ The cringe inducing technique is enough to get Randall to spill the beans on what kind of group he’s been with, and the details are less than encouraging (The Governor, perhaps?).

Supported by the information that Randall’s companions are both heavily armed and prone to violence toward women, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finds it difficult to see another solution besides killing him. Naturally, having championed (read: forced) Andrea (Laurie Holden) into choosing life at the end of last season, the sentence of death does not sit well with Dale.

‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ takes a David Milch (Luck) approach to storytelling, in that it begins in the morning and plays out until the end of a single day. Most of that day is spent with Dale visiting various members of the group, and begging them to take his side with regards to the execution of Randall. He first visits Andrea, and manages enough of an appeal that the former civil rights lawyer agrees to stand watch, lest anyone (read: Shane) get the idea to remove Randall ahead of schedule.

Next, Dale meets with Daryl and Hershel, but to little avail. Hershel seems wracked with self-doubt after the barn incident and is driven mainly by a need to protect his daughters, so Hershel places his faith in Rick. On the other hand, seeing as how Daryl happily bloodied his knuckles with Randall’s face, it’s a wonder Dale even bothered talking with him. The discussion does raise the notion that the group is broken, and once more brings up the fact that everyone seemingly knew Shane (Jon Bernthal) killed Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), but no one – especially Rick – was bothered by it enough to do anything about it.

While Dale is making his rounds, Carl (Chandler Riggs) decides now is his moment to lose it, and start acting like a complete tool. He began the day by sneaking into the barn to have a brief chat with the captive, and then has some choice words for Carol (Melissa Suzane McBride) about her spiritual beliefs regarding her daughter Sophia.

Following his father’s reprimanding, Carl skulks around Daryl’s fly-ridden hang out and manages to come up with a handgun from Daryl’s belongings. Spurred on by his newly inflated sense of self-esteem, Carl goes exploring and stumbles upon a walker that’s gotten himself stuck in the mud near a small creek. After realizing the walker is immobile, Carl proceeds to antagonize it, getting dangerously close while brandishing the handgun. Inevitably, the walker breaks free enough to lunge at the boy, causing Carl to lose the handgun and make a run for safety.

Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale The Walking Dead Judge Jury Executioner The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 11: Judge, Jury, Executioner Recap

As the sun sets on the day, Dale makes his final appeal to the group as a whole, where even his frequent ally Glenn (Steven Yuen), can’t seem to muster the justification to keep Randall from his death sentence. And with that, it appears Randall will be executed in the barn – but Rick’s hand is swayed by Carl’s arrival and encouragement of his father to pull the trigger. Rick relents, and Randall is once more remanded to custody.

Dale, sickened by what has transpired, walks out into a field in search of solace, but instead stumbles upon one of Hershel’s cows that has been eviscerated and is slowly dying. Poor Dale has only a fraction of a second before he is tackled by the ginger-bearded-walker Carl was provoking earlier. Despite the group’s best efforts to reach him, Dale is ripped open by the walker just mere seconds before Daryl can dispatch it.

The group gathers around the dying man, with Carl making the connection between Dale’s condition and his irresponsibility earlier in the day. Although Rick steps up to handle the unpleasantness, it is Daryl, who after quietly saying goodbye, puts the gun to Dale’s head and pulls the trigger.

Although much of the suspense for the rest of season 2 was lessened by a website faux pas earlier in the week, this episode will certainly have many fans talking about Dale’s gruesome exit from the show.

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The Walking Dead returns next Sunday @9pm with ‘Better Angels’ on AMC.

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  1. Personally, I like treating the comics and the tv series as two seperate entities. Because there are things I like about both and get frustrated about both. One of the things I do like, though, is not knowing what’s going to happen to the characters in the tv series as opposed to the comics. Because, yeah, as someone pointed out earlier, if they kept it the same, those who read the comics would easily be bored. And, I think it’s just fun to take the characters and try out a slightly new path for them to see what they do. As for Carl, I have to admit, him wandering around like he was made me question the parenting going on there, but the coldness he’s displaying doesn’t surprise me. First he thought his father was dead, then the world went to hell, he did get his father back, but things are still on Whaley ground, because it’s day to day and who knows who’s not going to make it. Then, Carl gets shot, which is pretty damn traumatic for a kid. He loses the only other kid and friend he had in the group to ground him to being a kid, and he’s picking up on the mentality of the group as it’s changing. He’s going through a phase of adjustment where it’s easier to go cold and steel himself for later. So I get him and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the show vs. what I know happens in the comics. And poor Dale. Some like him, some don’t. I did and I will miss him. He was irritating sometimes, but I think he did have a good heart deep down and was really trying to help. But, as they said on Talking Dead, he was like Piggy from Lord of the Flies. He was a voice of reason for a civilization that no longer applied. His death had to happen as a symbol. Each of these characters aren’t just people, but symbols of each aspect of humanity. And the further into this new world of sorts they go into, you’ll see how humanity changes to adapt and survive, if at all, in the new reality. Can civilization, in any form, remain as Dale hoped for, or will we lose it entirely, simply to survive?

  2. Personally, I like treating the comics and the tv series as two seperate entities. Because there are things I like about both and get frustrated about both. One of the things I do like, though, is not knowing what’s going to happen to the characters in the show as opposed to the comics. As someone pointed out earlier, if they kept it the same, those who read the comics would easily be bored. And, I think it’s just fun to take the characters and try out a slightly new path for them to see what they do. As for Carl, I have to admit, him wandering around like he was made me question the parenting going on there, but the coldness he’s displaying doesn’t surprise me. First he thought his father was dead, then the world went to hell, he did get his father back, but things are still on shaky ground, because it’s day to day and who knows who’s not going to make it. Then, Carl gets shot, which is pretty damn traumatic for a kid. He loses the only other kid and friend he had in the group to ground him to being a kid, and he’s picking up on the mentality of the group as it’s changing. He’s going through a phase of adjustment where it’s easier to go cold and steel himself for later. So I get him and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the show vs. what I know happens in the comics. And poor Dale. Some like him, some don’t. I did and I will miss him. He was irritating sometimes, but I think he did have a good heart deep down and was really trying to help. But, as they said on Talking Dead, he was like Piggy from Lord of the Flies. He was a voice of reason for a civilization that no longer applied. His death had to happen as a symbol. Each of these characters aren’t just people, but symbols of each aspect of humanity. And the further into this new world of sorts they go into, you’ll see how humanity changes to adapt and survive, if at all, in the new reality. Can civilization, in any form, remain as Dale hoped for, or will we lose it entirely, simply to survive?

  3. Personally, I like that the comics and show are seperate entities. There are things I like about both and get frustrated about both. One of the things I like, though, is not knowing what’s going to happen to the characters in the show as opposed to the comics. As someone pointed out earlier, if they kept it the same, those who read the comics would easily be bored. And, I think it’s just fun to take the characters on a slightly new path and see what they do. As for Carl, I have to admit, him wandering around like he was made me question the parenting going on there, but the coldness he’s displaying doesn’t surprise me. He thought his father was dead, then the world went to hell, he did get his father back, but things are still on shaky ground, because it’s day to day and who knows who’s not going to make it. Then he gets shot, which is pretty traumatic for a kid. He loses the only other kid and friend he had in the group to ground him to being a kid, and he’s picking up on the mentality of the group as it’s changing. He’ adjusting to where it’s easier to go cold and steel himself for later. So I get him and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the show vs. what I know happens in the comics. And poor Dale. Some like him, some don’t. I did and I will miss him. He was irritating sometimes, but I think he did have a good heart deep down and was really trying to help. But, as they said on Talking Dead, he was like Piggy from Lord of the Flies. He was a voice of reason for a civilization that no longer applied. His death had to happen as a symbol. Each of these characters aren’t just people, but symbols of each aspect of humanity. And the further into this new world of sorts they go into, you’ll see how humanity changes to adapt and survive, if at all, in the new reality. Can civilization, in any form, remain as Dale hoped for, or will we lose it entirely, simply to survive?

  4. Whoa! Sorry about all the posts, everyone! Mobile posting is screwed up. It said it couldn’t post so I thought I had too many characters. Again, apologies.

    • 4 walls of text FTL. If you are going to attempt posting from a mobile device, PLEASE include a few paragraphs so it’s readable.

  5. Personally I think this episode was another slow one until the very end with Dale dying and what not, now with him gone who’s supposed to be the voice of reason? And what’s the deal with these one zombie episodes we’ve been shown? I hope that season three warrants more action because if not I’m gonna have to quit watching this show… Until it gets picked up by HBO ;)

    • A total snoozer of an episode and typical episode from a subpar second season BTW Dale was not disemboweled – he died of boredom

      • I would have rather seen this on HBO. The expense would be higher, bigger bang on these episodes but as far as the road to these episodes and the lack of zombies it wouldn’t change. This again, is helmed by Kirkman, the creator of the comic book. This is his vision. He likes to create a calmness before the hurricane. Yes, the 1st 6-7 episodes could have gone faster but that was slowed down with the change of directors/producers. Since episode 8, this has been Kirkman’s sole direction now. Zombies are an afterthought now. You might see an episode here and there with some zombies but I would say don’t count on a lot of zombie action now. This now moves on to human danger.

  6. It was nice to see Darryl point out what I have been saying all along. If Shane’s story about Otis’s death was true how did Shane come back with Rick’s gun?

  7. I don’t know…I’m not enjoying the second half of this season as much as i did the first. It just seems…I don’t know, badly written, I guess? I’m not quite sure what it is, but i find myself laughing at ridiculously corny moments (e.g. when Carl’s mom tells the late Sophia’s mom to calm down before she even opened her mouth…like, what was that?? but just little things like that). I’ll keep watching, because I’m obsessed with finishing things, but…mneeeeah….

  8. I know this has probably been touched upon, but with Dale gone who’s going to be the voice of reason? I know it won’t be Rick because he’s got his head so far up Shane’s ass that he needs a map and a flashlight to get out. I think Darryl is probably my favorite character because he’s a no BS kind of guy coming or going. I wonder what’s going to happen when he realizes someone I.e. Carl lost his gun

    • I agree I liked Dale’s character. Maybe Darryl will whip the hide off of that bratty little sneak thief Carl’s back for going through his stuff, stealing his gun, and losing it. I know some people have said “Carl was just being a kid” but hey I was a kid and it never involved being a rude, disrespectful little thief.

    • I am sure Darryl won’t realize the gun is missing until he is surrounded by Walkers, and then it might be too late.

      • they had better not get rid of Darryl I mean they’ve already gotten rid of Merle. Either that or he’s part of the governor’s group. @kbrown I liked dale too but in this episode he got a little preachy, and as for what you said about Darryl whipping the hide off Carl’s back I seriously hope somebody does it

  9. Interesting episode:

    Side Note: To the person who recommended downloading the podcast “We’re Alive” Thank you a lot. For those who like “The Walking Dead” and would like something more than what you can get from watching a show about Zombies….Check out that podcast….It’s a production with different actors and sound effects…..really good

  10. Something that I find annoying in this show, is the complete lack of critical thinking. Especially the women, who are depicted as so idiotic. Where are the smart & savvy women on this show? These silly gals are the reason women aren’t taken seriously or respected at all, they are pretty idiotic and annoying. What do you think? I haven’t ever watched the Talking show and wonder if they’ve ever discussed this issue.

    • Yes! Jude I totally agree with you. The stereotypical gender issues are super annoying for me to watch. I cannot seem to root for any of the women in the show. Lori is depicted as the leader’s wife and she is the biggest idiot! Let’s face it. Her job in the show is to be Carl’s mother and yet the boy runs around all day with a gun unsupervised! The boy tortures a walker all day long, disobeys (twice!) and goes into the barn, he steals a gun, calls Carol an idiot and lies about it to his father, and oh yeah, doesn’t trust his mother to tell her about a walker running around loose in the farm! Lori’s biggest ethical problem is to nag at Andrea for not doing laundry???? Why because women’s job is to do laundry? Andrea was the suicidal chick who has now turned homicidal for no reason. It’s not like she developed common sense, she just shoots without regard for other people’s safety. Beth is now the suicidal chick. Carol is the abused woman without a personality. From the first season, the men have been fighting the walkers with anything available to them and the women just got scared and screamed! I always wondered why they don’t pick up a bat or a piece of wood?

      • Actually, Lori killed some walkers when she crashed the car and Andrea kills tons of walkers in the finale.

  11. Personally I think this show is great and one of the very best things on TV since LOST. It’s amazing that the reaction of love/hate is very much like LOST. When all is said and done The Walking Dead will go down as an epic acheivement as it will get bigger in scope and darker as it goes on. I love the fact that it stays on the farm this season as it feels like a chapter in a long novel. It all works for me. Love it!

  12. When you are a child recovering from a gunshot wound in the post Zombie apocalypse, you might be tempted to wear a big hat.

    When you wear a big hat, you can become less introspective.

    When you become less introspective, you can miss the root cause of your temporary overcompensating behavior.

    When you lack behavioral introspection, you will justify the practice of taunting zombies stuck in mud.

    When you taunt a zombie stuck in mud long enough, you are actually motivating him to become unstuck.

    When a sufficiently motivated zombie becomes unstuck, he can kill the embodiment of conscience of your small group of survivors.

    When your group has no conscience, the line dividing zombies from the living becomes ambiguous.

    When you see that your choices have blurred the line between the living and the dead, it’s time to get a new hat.
    :)

  13. This episode was boring and all we saw was Dale bitching and moaning and whinning about not killing the hostage..blah blah blah..I was so happy and I was cheering when Dale got killed by a walker at the end of this episode! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I don’t really have a problem with a zombie being strong enough to rip open someone’s stomach. I DO have a problem with a zombie who is strong enough to rip open someone’s stomach who earlier in the day couldn’t even lift his feet out of the mud.

    • @Jbrose23 haha you got a point.

      Poor Dale :(

  15. There is too much logic sacrificed for convenience in this show. It almost hurts watching them wear T-Shirts and tank-tops.
    Wearing heavy clothing and having to deal with dwindling water supplies and heat exhaustion would be much more desirable drama than listening to them constantly debate morality in zombie apocalypse America.

  16. Where was that Spoiler Alert? LOL So now you all know what happens, LOL. Shall I reveal the Season Finale as well? LOL

  17. What was the point in posting that here? That was a pretty insensitive thing to do. I did not read the whole post and I do not know if it is what will really happen in the next episode but if it is, that waa really a nasty and mean-spirited thing to do to the people on this website.

    • I totally disagree. I love reading JaredDAC’s spoiler posts. I have no idea where he gets his info from or who is source is, but I don’t care since his posts have all been 100% true, beginning with the mid-season finale when little Sophia got her appetite back. Keep it up!

      • Why on earth would you want to read spoiler posts? I come to this website to discuss a show I like, not to read what is going to happen and have the show ruined for me. Hey did you see “Psycho”? No, well Anthony Perkins is his own mother. Did you see the “Sixth Sense”? Hey Bruce Willis is a ghost all along. It is a real jerk move to try to ruin a show for people by telling them on a fan website what is going to happen.

  18. Episode 13: “Beside the Dying Fire”

    Episode begins with Rick saying something, while Lori says something else. A zombie, Andrea says another thing about something. Cue theme music.

    Daryl says something but Carol mumbles. T-Dog sighting! Zombie

    Carl looks, Rick says something, Hershall mumbles, Zombie

    End episode

    • Lol, okay that was pretty funny!

  19. Best show on TV!

  20. what a bloody annoying show. dale I liked before this episode as the voice of reason but even he suddenly became Jesus reborn preaching to everyone on morals.
    bad writing-never once did anyone turn around to him and point out the obvious which was what happens when randell runs off and calls his friends hey dale? will you accept everyones blood on your hands then? your willing to risk everyone’s life on this kid? I bet he would have shut the hell up then.
    and for gods sake what was Carl doing? I really want him dead in the most painfully cruel way possible now- the kid is I little s**** and if I was rick-I would have shot him myself! no he wasn’t being a kid- if was being the biggest idiot with as much brain cells as the zombies-which reminds me- I could have sworn this show was meant to have some of them in it? you know, and a bit of suspense ? right now its all about the mis-adventures of some stupid kid evolution should have dealt with many years prior. its a wonder he has survived this long with his antics

  21. To kbrown2225 who said…”I know some people have said “Carl was just being a kid” but hey I was a kid and it never involved being a rude, disrespectful little thief”. True…but did you ever lose your father…witness civilisation end…find out your father didn’t die…got shot…lost your only child friend…and that too after being so sure she would be found alive (the only other child that might exist on this planet)? I’d say he’s been through a lot…and whilst I’d also like to smack him one after what he did in this episode…that’s just frustration speaking. I can see why he’s turning out this way. One note about Randall…I’m surprised Dale was so strong in his defence of Randall given what they already know about the group he’s associated with. However, imagine you’re in a world like this and you’re on your own…and have the misfortune of meeting a group like this “other group” on your travels. Would you join them to survive…or would you pass it up and go alone? When you sit down and think about what it’s like living in such a world, once you get back past the coolness of the Hollywood stuff…it’s downright frightening.

    • Well I never dealth with the whole “civilization ending” thing, but I lost my father when I was a kid and I did not become a disrespectful little thief. Also if I was trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse I would not, under any circumstances, destroy my humanity and betray my morals by joining in with a renegade band of murderers, rapists and thieves. I would rather become a “zombie buffet” than to stoop to that level. To stand by and watch (and I am sure Randall did more than that) while innocent people are raped and murdered just to save my own hide? No, not a chance and anyone who would deserves to die. It is just my opinion that is the way I look at it. If participating in that sort of behavior is the price of survival I would eat a bullet first or better yet see how many murdering rapist I could make eat some bullets before they killed me.

      • kbrown2225 – Well you’re made of sterner stuff than most. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see how Carl, going through everything he’s going through…a world without kids…where the adults are becoming more unstable by the minute…can get pretty messed up. As for Randall, I’m in the camp (pardon the pun) of executing him. As I said, I was surprised Dale was so strong in his defence of Randall given what they already know about the group he’s associated with – having not only raped 2 women, but were sadistic enough to make the father watch. It was a member of this group that first drew on Rick (and that guy’s fat friend was already coming off as a little hostile)…a group whose members then shot at Rick’s group without question…and left one of their own to die. Even without having seen Randall’s apparent enthusiasm in killing the lady zombie in 18 Miles Out, Dale should have been questioning who exactly he was defending. That said, my question about joining the “other group”, of course, assumed you wouldn’t have known what you were signing up for in the beginning. However, once you’re a part of them, how exactly do you then stop a group or armed men from raping two women single handedly? No normal person wants to be part of such a group…but what do you do…other then leave them to it and go off alone…unless you’re happy to die trying in an unsuccessful rescue mission. As much as I’d like to be a hero…and would hate myself for just walking away…don’t think I’d want to die. As it is, the show is setting up Randall so it looks like he’s pretty sinister…so I doubt there’s watching the show who will agree with Dale on this.

        • I was with the shoot Randall crowd, especially with how he described the rapes. One, he is dangerously stupid in announcing he knows Maggie and then bring up the rapes. And his only defense is “I didn’t do anything.” Very self serving and made me believe he did partake in the rapes voluntarily. Maybe if ha had said “There was nothing I could have done to stop it. They would have killed me if I tried,” would had garnered a bit more sympathy.

          And society demands people to say no to evil deeds, even if it meant sacrificing themselves. Look at the Germans who were “just following orders” and did it “to keep from being shot themselves.” A number of them were punished at War’s end, some even executed, with the message being: If you will be killed for saying “No,” that will not save you for we will do so for having not said “No.”

          But with how they met Randall (the shoot out), they should have just left him, with maybe the option of ending it now with a mercy shot instead of letting the Walkers kill him, but Randall’s decision.

          As to Dale’s attempts to save Randal, while I disagree with what he wanted, he was right in that they needed to discuss it, instead of just making an arbitrary decision to kill a fellow human being. To me, Dale was more fighting to keep the group’s Humanity instead of becoming a pack of animals in an increasingly dangerous place. Dale and Shane were both moral compasses. Dale was a Moral compass for the group and Shane was a Moral compass for the self.

          If Dale had been with Otis, instead of Shane, Otis would have returned with Dale having sacrificed himself to the Zombies so Otis could get the drugs to Carl.

          Now if instead of Shane and Otis, but instead Shane and Lori, Shane would have come back alive with Lori as Zombie meat. Shane would have shot Lori in the leg and made some excuse that Lori had said “Save Carl for me,” before sacrificing herself. Shane would have sacrificed the entire group to keep Lori, Carl, and himself safe, but would have sacrificed both Carl and Lori to keep himself alive.

          • I like your analysis.

          • Wailwulf – Good post. Still the more I think about this episode, the more I don’t understand how Dale didn’t see the problem in using this situation to question the group’s humanity or lack of. I don’t agree with his views that this was not being discussed properly. They did discuss it…and whilst it might not have lasted more than 5 minutes…it seemed there was more than a good case for shooting Randall. Only Andrea sided with him (going against her character…so could only have been out of some kind of sympathy for Dale). In any case, Dale failed to see the danger Randall presented or failed to put up a good case of what else to do with him. He even asked…how does that make them any better than the people they’re worried about. It was silly for Daryl not to point out that they don’t rape the women they come across….or Hershal didn’t press home that it was people from this other group that first drew a gun on them (especially given he has the biggest family to protect). Ultimately, it was a tough position for them all to be in (Carol…being the most gutless of them all)…but I’ve not met anyone who has sided with Dale on this. I think the scriptwriters could have at least tried make Randall seem more innocent (certainly less sinister) to help make Dale’s case stronger.

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