by Samantha Rullo
At times, “Judge, Jury, Executioner” episode seemed be falling back into the slow melodrama of the season’s first half, but it was written well and able to bring enough suspense to maintain the success and high quality that has defined recent episodes.
Recently, the show has mainly focused on the conflict between Shane and Rick, but with the two finally coming to an agreement on something, most of the other characters were able to be showcased in this week’s episode. By shifting the focus to different people throughout the episode, the main conflict, a highly ideological one, was able to be more relevant and dynamic.
Surprisingly, if there were one true main character of this episode, it was Carl, who until now really served as a conductor of various plot aspects, but finally has some true issues and importance. Carl has shown that he is maturing and beginning to form his own opinions on the world he is now growing up in, but in tonight’s episode we really saw what kind of effect this new, harsher life can have on a child. The divergence from his parents and disillusionment he showed will probably cause problems in the future, if he continues to be so heavily featured. However, the sudden focus on Carl did make it fairly obvious that he would somehow have an impact on the resolution of the Randall debate, lessening the effect of what should have been a surprising moment of the conclusion.
The other important character was Dale, whose constant moral reprimands haven’t been as prevalent recently. He more than made up for lost time in this episode as he argued his case for decency and democracy to almost everyone, individually. It was almost exhausting by the episode’s end, but the last few moments explained its importance– this wasn’t just Dale’s usual lecturing on ethics. Though unintended, it was his last, pleading message to the group. But Dale’s sudden death leaves a question, with Rick becoming less steady in morals and more willing to do whatever it takes to protect everyone, who will serve to remind everyone of their humanity?
The ending also seemed to hold significance for Daryl, who has slipped out of sight since his search for Sophia ended. It was expected that Rick, the acknowledged leader, would be the one to end Dale’s suffering, but by stepping in and doing it himself, Daryl reasserted his presence in the group as more than just a hunter. Daryl has always been an interesting and complex character, seeming to struggle against his own instincts at times, and hopefully this means we will get to see more of him.
With only two episodes left, there are a lot of conflicts still developing that need to be dealt with in some way before the season ends. A key issue was raised in this episode– the status of the group. Dale called them broken, and with his death the group may begin to truly examine itself, leading the show into a tumultuous and possibly game-changing season finale.
Samantha Rullo is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.