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Walking Dead Episode 211

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It had to happen eventually. Every series needs its own Worst Episode Ever. This week we got it from the Walking Dead.

The crux of the episode was the decision to kill or not to kill Randall, the kid they saved from fence impalement. That’s pretty serious dramatic material. It’s literally a matter of life and death. And yet…

Out of 42 or so minutes of actual show, about 33 of them were spent watching various characters meander about the farm. Here’s Rick chatting with his wife on the porch. There’s Carl being a little shit to Carol. Now Dale’s going to stop by Daryl’s Ear Shack for some talking. Then off to see Shane. What is Shane doing when Dale arrives? Not much. Just standing there, leaning up against the back of his car.

Try to imagine the writer’s room when that scene was conceived. “Ok, so, Dale needs to go talk to Shane because he’s the only person he hasn’t ambled over to yet. What should we have Shane doing?”

“Something that exemplifies his character, as a man of action.”

“Right! So, leaning on a car inexplicably parked out in a field then?”


Seriously – nothing happens forever. People wander. They talk. Lori continues her weird metamorphosis into some kind of 50s housewife. “I don’t have opinions honey, I’m sure you know what’s best.” You think I’m exaggerating? Her exact words were, “If you think it’s best.” Talking about whether or not to execute a teenage boy, mind you.

I know I talked about this last week, but the insane rage and fear these people have toward Randall makes absolutely no sense to me. He’s a kid who has done nothing to them. Yes, he shot at them – in the middle of a gun fight! That makes Daryl’s torture scene at the beginning even harder to stomach. Pounding on his face? Cutting into his wounded leg? Why?

(This also brings up a serious pet peeve of mine. TV shows seem to think people can take an enormous amount of abuse with relatively few ill effects. In reality, one bare-fisted full-strength punch to the face will knock many people unconscious, and definitely leave them seriously dazed at the least. Repeated blows will cause skull fractures and break the puncher’s hand).

This episode was so dull even the zombie action was reduced to a walker literally stuck in the mud while Carl throws rocks at it. All of the humans have become so utterly unlikable that I actually felt bad for the zombie, hoping it would eat Carl. Please, someone eat Carl.

As the end draws nigh for Randall (and, more mercifully, for the viewers), some fireworks rescue the episode. First, Dale goes all Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, delivering an impassioned plea in favor of sparing Randall’s life. This was the Walking Dead version of courtroom drama, and it was a stirring scene. Dale’s courage to speak out even with no one on his side, trying to convince them of the value of ethics and the rule of law even in a world gone utterly insane was pretty powerful stuff, and well acted by Jeffrey DeMunn. Everyone else was totally down with murdering humans though. A more chilling comment on the state of human relations than Glenn’s, “He’s not one of us,” would be hard to find. This scene also featured T-Dog’s only line of dialog, in which he muttered something about what they should do with the body of the executed boy while everyone else in the room talked at the same time.

Rick, Shane and Daryl drag Randall out to the barn to be killed by a firing squad of one: Rick. With the gun to Randall’s forehead and the boy crying and pleading for his life, it occurred to me that shooting him might be a step too far even for a cable channel. It might even have been a step too far for jaded old me – I’m not sure that’s a show I’d be terribly interested in watching any more. But Carl shows up, does the creepy kid bit, Rick loses his nerve, and Randall is spared.

Our joy is short-lived, however. Dale is walking off his failure to prevent an unjust execution when he finds a zombie cow. The first thing I thought was, “Something ate that cow, better watch…oh, there it is, behind Dale.” Not just any walker, but the very same one Carl freed from the mud earlier. Dale fights it off while everyone comes running, but the zombie develops super strength and pulls open Dale’s stomach with its fingertips.

Now Dale is martyred, Carl possibly felt an emotion, and the group is pulled close together again by the reminder that there’s a big, shambling external threat. You know, the zombies.

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Posted by on Sunday, March 4th, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline, Images. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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