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The Walking Dead #2.11: Judge, Jury, Executioner

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 13 March 2012

‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ is a compelling hour of television that falters under Rick’s continued half-hearted character arc.

The crux of the episode – whether the survivors should kill Randall instead of letting him go and taking a chance on Randall leading his group to Hershel’s farm – forms a potent moral quandary that props up the episode. It’s rife with dramatic potential, but the episode chokes on a few points. First and foremost is the way Rick has been handled this season.

A few episodes ago it was he who was advocating saving Randall from walkers and not leave him behind. This is after Rick had been shot at by Randall’s people for killing Tony and Dave (who, incidentally, attempted to coax the location of Hershel’s farm out of Rick and then tried to kill him). While the argument could be made that Rick wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) trust Randall, why go through all the trouble to save him in the first place? This logic flaw has been killing this particular storyline for me.

It also continues Rick’s somewhat wishy-washy character arc this season. At times hard, other times deeply indecisive (the trend from ‘18 Miles Out’ continues here). Rick here tries to be the strong leader, but comes off as following the colder Shane’s lead, and the ultimate moment of truth – and Carl’s involvement – was plain awkward. And not in a dramatic way. It was just preachy and obvious, and felt contrived.

Speaking of Carl, I have another nitpick. For a group that is supposed to be jumpy about walkers and losing Sophia, they don’t seem to have a great track record in keeping an eye on kids. Carl wanders off, first obtaining a gun and then traveling down a ways until he finds a zombie stuck in the mud (and almost pays the price for it). Really, who is watching the kid? How does no one notice he is missing for a while?

It comes back later to haunt them later, and it turns out to be truly gut wrenching.


Meanwhile, Dale opposes the execution, providing the voice of civilization that the group has been lacking recently. Jeffrey DeMunn provides his best performance as Dale, providing an impassioned and well-timed speech that defines the issue laid out before the group. This scene, where the entire group meets in Hershel’s living room, really showcases how fractured the group has become on a subtle level. Tired, weathered, and their humanity in fringes… it encapsulates the state of the group. And it’s not pretty.

‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ is an episode that will be remembered for its stomach-turning conclusion, but the middle is uneven. DeMunn’s performance lifts the episode, and the story does offer a compelling look at an awful moral conundrum, but it’s a bit of a speed bump in terms of quality. Hopefully things will pick up from here.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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