Ok, The Walking Dead. I’m giving you the same warning that I gave True Blood at the end of its horrendous Season 4. You have these last two episodes of the season (it’s weird and disappointingly refreshing that the season is so close to being done) to get things right, to find your way, before I decide to give up on you. Something tells me that you don’t have it in you because after what was possibly one of the worst episodes in the entire series, Sunday’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner,” I just can’t take the trainwreck that you’ve become much longer. The only reason that I’ll be returning to True Blood after it’s fuck-up of a fourth season was the death of series load Tara and the potential return of Denis O’Hare as Russell Edginton (by far one of the best characters in the series run). Not even the promised introduction of David Morrissey as The Governor for Season 3 of The Walking Dead is becoming enough to pique my interest about keeping around when your storytelling is both simultaneously so ham-fisted and so dull. Even killing off one of the few remaining likeable people in this increasingly detestable cast (and not in that good The Sopranos or Oz kind of way) wasn’t enough to save this terribly boring lap on the way to the end of Season 2.
After last week’s strong episode and the complete mess that was Shane and Rick trying to take Randall to a secure location to get him away from the camp, Rick (and the rest of the camp) are now faced with the tough decision on what to do with Randall since they aren’t able to just let him go (because he knows about the location of the farm). After Daryl tortures Randall into confessing that he was with a group of around 30 men and women (though I felt at times that he was just telling Daryl what he wanted to hear), Rick and the rest of the group decide to execute Randall with Dale being the sole voice of reason against murdering a man who has committed no crimes (other than trying to defend his own life during the shoot out in the town). The rest of the episode (and this is no fucking exaggeration) is spent with Dale trying to convince the rest of the survivors to let Randall live and to find some way of keeping him on the farm and within their sight that doesn’t involve a cold-blooded execution. Dale fails. The only other real scenes of the episode are what seem at first to be innocuous scenes with Carl rebelling agains his parents and the other adults and then going out in the woods where he pesters a Walker that’s stuck in the mud with sticks and a gun until suddenly it’s not stuck anymore, and Carl manages to get away. During the execution itself, Carl walks in on Rick and cheers him on at which point Rick realizes the error of his ways. As Andrea rushes off to tell Dale (she had actually come to his side at the very last moment), we see Dale trekking through the farm’s fields upset when he is attacked by the same Walker that Carl caused to become free and he’s eaten. Daryl is forced to put him out of his misery.
On a series with halfway competent writers (unlike The Walking Dead), this could have made for one of the most compelling and thought-provoking episodes of the season. While the obvious answer is that you don’t kill someone who’s committed a crime even if he may be a potential threat down the road (although obvious is the wrong word since my dad and I had a small debate on the issue where he sided with the rest of the camp), a good show could have really milked this for all its dramatic worth by having more than just the moralizing old man be the voice of reason. Jeffrey DeMunn gave his best performance of the series as Dale in this episode, but we were so obviously supposed to side with him that it was a little on the heavy-handed side. However, not only did the show beat you over the head with this, it ruined almost every other character (except for Andrea) because of how quickly they all decided to let this man die. Glenn is supposed to be the moral and emotional center of the group but he was as quick to let someone else kill this man as Shane was (though perhaps without Shane’s enthusiasm). You can make your characters do unlikeable things and make bad decisions. Lost was all about watching these characters work through their problems only to make new ones that they’d have to work through later (unless they died first). The Walking Dead doesn’t write its characters 1/4 as well as lost. NIkki and Paolo are two of the worst TV characters ever but they’re still better than T-Dogg and Carol. The Walking Dead has done almost nothing to make me want to emotionally invest in anyone in this group and now that the only good guy left is gone, why do I even want to see if these assholes live or die?
You’ve got two chances to get things right. That’s all I’m giving you. Otherwise, we’re going our separate ways and I’m not looking back. There is literally only one thing that this show could do right now that would make me keep watching if the writing doesn’t improve dramatically and that would be introducing Michonne to the TV series and I really just don’t see that happening. I feel like I would have heard about that on the internet somewhere like I heard about the Governor. But if she came back, her bad-ass nature might be enough to make me stick around. Otherwise, I’m ready to leave this once ragtag but now almost criminally apathetic group of survivors to their fate, because I just don’t care about any of them anymore. I watch TV shows, good or bad, because I want to come back week after week and be emotionally invested in the arcs and developments of a steady group of characters. I value character above almost everything else on TV, and I can’t think of a more widely watched program than The Walking Dead with such flat, boring, and one-dimensional characters. And I’m tired of trying to justify that flaw in my head anymore.
Final Score: C