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The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 211 ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ Review

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Quick Take: James takes a different approach to an episode he thinks marks a pivotal shift in the show's dynamic.

I have previously said that AMC’s The Walking Dead television show needs to be digested separate from the comic book, but I still find myself at times expecting the familiar plot points to happen and in the same timeframe. I fell victim to this approach again with ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner,’ but this time I was pleasantly surprised rather than slightly disappointed.

What follows is not my traditional reviews, but a scene-by-scene as-it-happens recap:

Darryl plays the part of Rick’s enforcer in the pre-opening credits sequence, beating the crap out of Randall as a form of interrogation. The rough tactic appeared to work with Randall admitting at one point to being a passive contributor to a gang rape. He probably could have left that bit out when a raging redneck is using your face to reshape his knuckles.

Oh man, somebody just drag Dale out to a pasture and put his tired ass out down. I don’t know if it’s his constantly wide eyed non-verbal scoffing, or just his overall demeanor, but he’s gone well past early-Andrea on the annoyance matter. I’d rather everyone start looking for Sophia again (no, I haven’t forgotten she’s dead.)

The difference between Rick making the decision to kill Randall versus Shane making it is that Rick has weighed all the options and come to that conclusion, while Shane goes right from his gut sole survivor instinct.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 211 Judge, Jury, Executioner Review

Andrea watching Randall isn’t a good idea. Not a good idea at all. Every scene she is in, she’s just itching to shoot somebody in the head.

Shane’s getting popped this episode. I can feel it. I can smell it. It has to be soon with his new show coming on TNT. If his exit goes the way of the comic, that would bring the show to a totally different level.

Shane is suggesting a severely hostile takeover of both the group and the farm, all in front of Randall? Why would you show a weakness in your group like that if you’re so worried about him or his group coming and unraveling everything. Oh yeah, you’re just going to kill him anyways so who cares?

Wow, Carl watching Randall creepily. Could he be a freakier looking kid?

That’s great and all that Shane pulls a gun on a beaten, gimpy, chained up guy, but let’s not take it out on him that you weren’t paying attention to where Carl was.

Dale vs. Darryl. Seriously, Dale, Darryl really doesn’t give a crap. He has moments and whatnot of compassion and being a team player, but all in all he doesn’t care right now. Actually, it isn’t that he doesn’t give a crap, he’s a realist. No pretension.

Tick tock goes the clock and Carl’s mind is gone. Tick tock goes the clock, he’s gonna find a gun.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 211 Judge, Jury, Executioner Review

Some people are going to find it odd that an episode directed by Greg Nicotero would be so light on gore, but his work, and what makes him so good at what he does, is that it’s a physical representation of dramatic tension which this episode slowly builds.

OOOOOOOH, Carol just grew a backbone. Verbal smackdown on Lori.

Excellent father/son moment between Rick and Carl talking about appropriateness in both actions and words. It’s the type of conversation that should happen, if it does, much later in life, but everyone has grown up quite fast.

This whole Dale going from person to person and getting their insight is feeling really forced and just a plot failure. Dude needs to go and FAST!

Yup, Carl finds a gun. Saw that happening. Are we finally going to see the scene that took Shane out far earlier in the comics? The moment where Carl becomes one of the most feared people in the group? This Walker just ran into his worst nightmare, an 8-year old with a gun. Actually I don’t know how old Carl is supposed to be, I just wanted to pooch a line from “Cop and a Half”.

Dale vs. Shane, Round Who Really Cares At This Point. Alright, Dale actually makes a good point. Killing Randall doesn’t make a difference in the number of people in his group that are a threat to them, but it does make it one less person, and what the hell else are they going to do with him?

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 211 Judge, Jury, Executioner Review

Carl is playing the most dangerous game of “I’m not touching you” ever. Not smart. Really not smart, but then again very typical of a little kid’s mindset. Regardless of what he’s gone through or witnessed, he still has the air of invincibility that kids have even if it’s peppered with a defeatist view.

And Carl loses Darryl’s gun. I’m sure that isn’t going to come back to haunt Darryl like when he’s pinned and runs out of arrows, then goes into his saddlebag on his bag looking for his piece only to come up empty and end up as Walker-food. I’m sure that isn’t going to happen at all.

Ummm, k, Carl, WHERE IS THE WALKER? Plan on telling anyone about him? Plan on telling Darryl you stole his gun? Plan on taking that hat off EVER?

Oooh, it’s T-Dog. Nice of you to join us.

Everyone is making some really valid points about the state of their group and humanity and blah blah blah. An excellent discussion in Hershel’s living room. Is anybody watching Randall right now or are they just trusting the chains attached to a 150-year old weathered and beaten down shack?

Newsflash Dale, the world you knew is dead. It is survival of the fittest at this point, hence Otis getting punked (not 100% a fat joke).

Oh for heaven’s sake, Randall, have some dignity. Grow some cajones, not that I wouldn’t be blubbering and begging for my life, but still.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 211 Judge, Jury, Executioner Review

In walks Carl, and out walks Rick’s fortitude. Maybe Carl is starting to lose a bit of his humanity. Maybe it’s for the better, though. He could be the perfect combination of both Rick and Shane, the coldness and ability to do the bad things that make others uneasy and the intelligence and wisdom to make the right choice when it counts. It’s the best of both worlds, kind of like when Superman and Wonder Woman had a kid in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again.

WHOA! WOW! Didn’t see that coming. At least Dale didn’t go out like a punk.

Hey Carl, “Look what ya did ya little jerk!” (Home Alone — boom, two in one review. I rock). Glad someone else stepped up and made “the choice,” and fitting that it was Darryl. If Rick has to put any more people in their group down he might start to get a complex.

The Walking Dead ‘Judge, Jury, and Executioner’ plot was a little plodding. Dialogue was solid, but was held back a little due to the sluggish pacing. Everything was building towards that final couple of minutes and looking back you’ll see all the little nuances that fed into it.

I’m still waiting for the inevitable Shane’s brains go bye-bye that is coming at some point, but this episode has really adjusted the show’s dynamic. It may not be too obvious at first, but it’ll show up as the season progresses. This will be, I think, one of the episodes you look back to after the season finale for clues and hints as to how they got to where they are going.

- James Zappie

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

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