Horror On TV: Tales From the Crypt 2.10 “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”


For tonight’s excursion into the world of televised horror, we have the 10th episode of the 2nd season of Tales From The Crypt!  This episode, which originally aired on June 5th, 1990, is called The Ventriloquist’s Dummy!

Who doesn’t love a creepy ventriloquist story?  And this is certainly a creepy one, with an ending that you’ll either love or hate.

This episode was directed by Richard Donner and written by future Shawshank Redemption director and Walking Dead showrunner, Frank Darabont!

Enjoy!

4 Shots From 4 Films: Stephen King Edition


With just minutes left til the end of the day I thought it was time to wish one of my favorite a happy birthday.

I pretty much spent my junior high and high school years reading everything that Stephen King had written and published up to that point. The habit followed me after high school graduation and I’ve picked up on other authors since.

While Stephen King has slowed down some when it comes to the amount of novels he has released in the last decade or so, he is still one of the few authors whose books I will buy without even knowing what it’s about.

Here are just four films adapted from his stories that I consider favorites of mine. They’re just stories about a boy’s first car, a man waking up from a long sleep, a cat named Church and a grocery store full of people.

4 SHOTS FROM 4 FILMS

Review: The Walking Dead S5E16 “Conquer”


TheWalkingDeadS5E16

“Simply put, there is a vast ocean of shit that you people don’t know shit about.” — Sgt. Abraham Ford

[spoilers within]

The Walking Dead has been derided as badly-written (early seasons definitely had it’s story issues) with recycled themes and subplots with characters that barely rise above one-dimensional. Only the most ardent fan would take those criticisms of the show and dismiss them outright. The series has had it’s many flaws and the three mentioned have been ones earned through the show’s first three seasons of revolving door showrunners.

There was the show’s original creator, Frank Darabont, who injected a cinematic quality to a tv show that could easily have gone campy (Z Nation), but whose need to control every aspect of the show made him lose the support of the very studio that helped him get the show up and running. It didn’t help that his first half of season 2 where the group searched endlessly for Sophia almost sunk the show.

With Darabont given his walking papers the show turned to series writer and producer Glen Mazzara to right the ship after a listless first half of season 2. Things definitely turned for the better with Mazzara in charge and for the first half of season 3 it looked like Mazzara might have finally figured out what sort of show The Walking Dead should be. In the end, he too ran out of steam as season 3 limped into an underwhelming season finale.

Scott M. Gimple took the reins and things for the show has been improving at a steady rate since season 4 and finally culminates in a season 5 finale that was both full of suspense, action and melodrama in equal amounts that has been the mark of his current tenure as series showrunner. If the show has an award for series MVP it should be handed gladly over to Scott M. Gimple.

“Conquer” starts with a cold opening that already signals that great things are afoot for the rest of the season finale’s extended 90-minutes. We find Morgan asleep (quite peacefully) inside a derelict car in the middle of the woods. We see him wake up and go about what’s probably a daily ritual for him when his breakfast gets interrupted by a stranger who happens to be sporting a “W” mark on his forehead (with dirt instead of carved into). He’s the first person we meet who seems to be affiliated with the very Wolves this second half of the season has been working up as the next Big Bad to threaten Rick and his people. It’s a sequence that gives us a clue as to the sort of bad guys these “Wolves” are going to be for Rick and Company. With some fancy staff fighting and a zen quality to his actions, Morgan more than holds off the two “Wolves” looking to steal his gear and add them to their collection of “W” marked zombies.

The rest of the episode takes on three different storylines involving Rick, Father Gabriel and Glenn.

With Glenn we see him follow Nicholas seen climbing over the walls of Alexandria. While not the most smart thing he has done of late, Glenn has a right to be suspicious of Nicholas who has done nothing but get people (both his own and Rick’s) killed while pumping himself out to be a strong protector when Glenn and the audience know that he’s far from it. It’s a sort of chase sequence as Glenn and Nicholas end up going at it mano-y-mano with Nicholas starting it off with a failed ambush that only wounds Glenn, but does hurt him enough that at times during the episode there was a great chance it was going to be him that would be the significant death to mark the season finale.

The writers (Scott M. Gimple and Seth Hoffman) don’t do the obvious and kill Glenn off, but does make him teeter on the brink of doing what many in the audience hope would happen and that was kill Nicholas once he finally had him beaten down. Instead, Glenn shows that despite his extended time out in the savage wilds outside the walls of Alexandria, he still has some compassion (misguided it might well turn out to be) and the need to see justice done. While Glenn might not have died in this finale his growing role as the voice of reason and compassion in a group that’s become fractured emotionally and mentally means his days on the series could very well be numbered.

Father Gabriel was the more frustrating segment of tonight’s finale. His time with the group has found him to be both naively stupid of the new world around him and mentally unstable because of what he had to do to survive. Yet, we find him talking a walk outside the walls in a bright, clean white shirt like he has cleansed himself prior to make sure he dies with a clean conscience. Instead, the instance a zombie was about to do what he seems to want he finally decides to want to live. But then does another 180 degrees and decides to leave the compound’s gate unsecured knowing it means zombies will definitely wander in.

The writers don’t seem to know what to do with Father Gabriel. From the moment he was introduced they seem to be flailing in the dark with so many ideas on how to treat an unstable man whose faith has been shattered by this new world where the dead don’t remain dead and those who survive must turn to their darker instincts (him included). One moment he’s trying to poison the minds of Deanna about Rick and his people while not confessing to the dark deeds he has done. Next he’s trying to atone for those very sins only to turn around and do something that would add more sins to his ledger.

It’s a shame that Father Gabriel has become such an albatross this season for the show since Seth Gilliam is such a great actor (as his time on HBO’s The Wire has shown). There’s still a glimmer of hope for the fallen priest as we saw when Maggie arrives just in time to keep Sasha from killing Father Gabriel. Will Maggie’s own Hershel-like act of mercy be enough to finally turn Father Gabriel towards something more concrete (whether as a good guy or a bad guy) would have to wait for season 6 this coming October.

We finally come to Rick who is in a sort of timeout after his total breakdown in the previous episode. He finally understands that he might have gone a bit Shane-like and overboard with his behavior, but he also still believes that Alexandria’s best chance of surviving beyond the luck they’ve had before their arrival was for them to stay and takeover. Whether they take over by the examples of their words and deeds or through force if the Alexandrians try to kick them out would depend on the very people who don’t seem to understand what’s truly at stake.

Rick gets a sort of visit from all the differing voices within his group. There’s Glenn and Michonne who wonder if Rick never wanted for their stay in Alexandria to work. Then there’s Carol and, to a certain extent Abraham, who has seen enough of how Alexandria operates to know that these people are like children who have had the luxury of never having been confronted with a no-win situation to wake them up from their fantasy of trying to rebuild civilization. It’s the sort of angel and devil on the shoulder bit that could’ve gone terribly cheesy, but ended up being natural and poignant to the episode’s narrative. A narrative that showed how both Rick and Deanna have been both wrong and right in their stances of how Alexandria should be led.

It would take a death to someone Deanna holds dear for her to finally understand what Rick and his people have bee trying to tell her and the rest of the Alexandrians. Abraham (who has become the show’s go-to-guy for memorable one-liners) said it best himself during the night meeting to decide Rick’s fate. In the only way Abraham knows how he says, “Simply put, there is a vast ocean of shit that you people don’t know shit about.”

In the end, Abraham was correct in that the Alexandrians just do not understand the world they’re living in. They might have the strong walls (not so strong that people can’t climb over them) to keep the zombies out. They have power and running water and some luxuries of the life long past dead. Yet, they’re naive and delusional to think that they won’t have to get their hands dirty to keep their way of life going. These people need people like Rick Grimes and his band of survivors. They might not be the best examples of how society and civilization was before the zombie apocalypse fell on everyone, but they were the ones who best adapted to it and still kept a semblance of their humanity in some way.

So, season 5 ended with not just Rick using a brand of reasoning and a recent example of how things could easily go from good to bad to make his point, but with Daryl and Aaron bringing Morgan back to Alexandria for a reunion between the first two characters we met on this show. Last time we saw Rick and Morgan together was in season 3’s “Clear” and Morgan was definitely not in his right mind while Rick was still holding onto his pre-apocalypse principles. with their latest reunion it looks like things have reversed with Rick looking more and more like the Morgan of “Clear” while Morgan has recovered from his crisis of conscience to come out the other side clear of mind.

We already know that there will be a season 6 and a season after that (AMC knows a goldmine when they see it and this show is literally printing them cash). The questions left unanswered by tonight’s finale looks to be the driving force for the next season. The Wolves now have an idea that Alexandria exists (from the knapsack full of pictures Aaron dropped at the canned food warehouse depot) and will probably try to visit them soon. Then there’s the question of how will Glenn finally expose Nicholas’ cowardice and duplicity to the Alexandrians and whether Nicholas will remain a problem for Glenn moving forward. The biggest question remains on whether these Wolves will involve Negan of the comics in some capacity or just the tip of a bigger danger.

The season closes with a very appropriate scene before fading to black. A car in the canned food depot marked in stark white spray paint with the words: “Wolves Not Far.”

Notes

  • Tonight’s season finale was directed by series exec. producer Greg Nicotero and written by showrunner Scott M. Gimple and series writer Seth Hoffman.
  • The Wolves seem to be a new group made just for the show. They don’t seem to correspond to any past group that the comic book has had Rick encounter and/or fight against.
  • The trailers trap full of zombies with the “W” marks on their foreheads was reminiscent of a similar scene and trap from Resident Evil: Extinction.
  • Aaron had his own moment during the escape out of the car that was straight out of the original Dawn of the Dead. machetezombie
  • Kill of the season has to be when Daryl took the chain, whipped it around his head to take the top of the heads of three zombies with precision. that’s kill of the week stuff that even Zombieland would be proud of.
  • When Father Gabriel fails to secure the main gate and then his subsequent behavior and confession to Maggie at the chapel was also reminiscent of a character from a George A. Romero zombie film: Day of The Dead. When Pvt. Salazar decides to commit suicide by letting in zombies into the secured compound.
  • Lennie James was trained to use a walking/fighting stick by the original Donatello from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • The scene at the meeting where Pete accidentally kills Reg and the aftermath was straight out of the comic book frame for frame.
  • Talking Dead guests tonight are Morgan, Carol and Daryl (Lennie James, Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus) from The Walking Dead.

Season 5

Trailer: Godzilla (Teaser)


Godzilla

This past summer saw the return of kaiju to the film vernacular with the release of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. The very same studios which released this film, Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures return next summer with a similar film, but this time with the return of the granddaddy of all kaiju: Godzilla.

Godzilla is a reboot of the kaiju franchise with Gareth Edwards trying to make up for the travesty that was Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla of over a decade ago. This time around it looks like (at least from the teaser) that Edwards is going the serious route with this reboot. It helps that he has quite the cast to play around with. This Godzilla will star Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ken Watanabe.

We also get a brief glimpse of Godzilla itself right near the end followed by the iconic monster scream that’s as recognizable as the tweets and twoots of R2-D2.

Godzilla will return to the big-screen on May 16, 2014.

Horror Review: The Walking Dead S3E01 “Seed”


“Holy shit!” — Axel

[some spoilers within]

It’s been a year since the cliffhanger which ended Season 2 of AMC’s widely popular The Walking Dead. We found Rick and his group escaping from the herd of zombies which swarmed into and over Hershel’s farm. The group lost two more to the walkers in the form of hapless Jimmy and Patricia. Andrea has gotten separated from the main group with most of the guns. It’s only through the timely intervention of a hooded stranger dragging along two incapacitated walkers that Andrea even gets to make it to this new season. It’s this hooded stranger and the last image we see of a darkened prison complex in the distance that has brought a new sense of optimism for the show which had been up and down through most of it’s sophomore season.

The second season had been rife with struggles not just for the characters in the show but also behind-the-scenes as original showrunner and executive producer Frank Darabont was unceremoniously fired from the very show he helped bring off the ground. Fans of the show and of Darabont saw this as a bad decision, but as the season unfolded there seemed to be a major consensus that Darabont might have been the problem to why the first half of the second season moved along even slower than the walkers. The second half saw new showrunner Glen Mazzara taking over and even though some of the same problems in terms of characterization and dialogue still remained the show in the second half seemed to move with a better sense of urgency which culminated in two of the series’ best episodes to date to close off the season.

Season 3 now begins with the episode titled “Seed” (directed by veteran series director Ernest Dickerson) and we get a major timeskip from the end of last season to tonight’s premiere. Rick and his group look to still be on the move with no safe haven in sight. In what looks like a hint of good things to come in terms of pacing and dialogue the show starts off gangbusters as Rick and his group raid a country home, dispatching the walkers within with ruthless efficiency and searching the place for supplies and other useful things real fast. There wasn’t any time for standing around or even going off into long expositional scenes to try and convey what had happened between the end of last season to tonight’s start.

Glen Mazzara, the show’s new showrunner had promised that the show would be taking on a new direction when he took over halfway through season 2, but we’re finally able to see his experience as a TV show producer and writer bear strong fruit with tonight’s premiere. We get to see Rick and his crew acting with more of a sense of urgency in just the first twnety minutes of the show than they had in the first two seasons. We’re finally seeing everyone realizing that they’re now stuck in a world with new rules that doesn’t make room for personal quirks and emotional issues (though we still get hints that they’re still but set aside for the greater good of the group) that just saps the energy from everyone. This group looks more like the sort of team that Shane would’ve thrived in and it looks like Rick has taken on the role of leader much more forcefully. It hasn’t mended the rift between him and Lori for what had transpired over two seasons of interpersonal conflicts that got more than just his best friend killed but others as well.

Tonight’s episode does a great job of explaining through their actions and behavior just how much time has passed between the seasons and how that intervening time has tested the groups mettle and made them harder and more capable in holding their own against the walkers. Even useless characters like Beth, Carol and Carl have become more adept in protecting themselves. It’s surprising to see Carl actually becoming the character he was in the comic book. I’m sure some parent groups will not be approving of Carl actually handling his gun with expertise but this is that kind of show and just because one is a kind doesn’t mean they have to be helpless.

If there were complaints about Darabont’s handling of the show during his short tenure it was that he was too much into creating a very slow burn that culminated into a huge climactic finish. It was fine for a truncated first season, but it showed just how ill-conceiveda narrative style it was for a tv series over a full season. I don’t sense that same feeling with tonight’s episode. One could tell that Mazzara was now fully in charge and not working on whatever Darabont had come up with for season 2. It’s a great start to the new season which has a good chance in reversing some of the ill-will last season’s very slow burns and wheel-spinning had created with a segment of the fan-base.

It also helps that we didn’t have to wait too long to see the official appearance of Danai Gurari in the role of fan-favorite Michonne with her zombie pets and katana. It wasn’t an episode spent directly introducing us to her but enough time was spent away from the group in the prison. Michonne as a character could become too much a caricature of the badass comic book female character, but for tonight it was just refreshing to see a female character on this show as capable and clear-headed as her. There’s even a hint of the sort of friendship that seemed to have grown between Michonne and Andrea since the end of season 2. Shane may have been a bad influence (though helpful in getting Andrea out of her suicidal rut) in season 2, but here’s to hoping that Michonne will be the sort of influence that Andrea will be needing to get her to become the badass characteron the show that her character is in the comic book.

One thing that tonight’s episode also did great that we only saw hints of with the first two seasons was the action such a series could have when given a chance. This is a series about the zombie apocalypse and those trying to survive in it. While I don’t expect each episode to be as action-packed as tonight’s premiere it was an encouraging start to what looks to be the real beginning of the Glen Mazzara era of The Walking Dead.

Now onto episode 2. With tonight’s cliffhanger ending (one that really got me by surprise) it’s going to be interesting to see how Rick and the new group in the end will get along or will they. Just as long as it doesn’t take the show all of the first half of the season to do it then I am all for intergroup conflict until the walkers become a more pressing problem.

NOTES

  • I’m quite surprised how quickly the show got the group to the prison. So, unlike season 2 which would’ve have the group wandering around in circles for 2-3 more episodes before finding their way to the complex.
  • It looks like Rick has gotten tired of what must’ve been Lori’s incessant harping during the months the show timeskipped between season 2 and the premiere of season 3 tonight.
  • Carl still hasn’t found a way to get himself lost thus get someone else killed which could be a nice change of pace for the character.
  • On a good note, Carl looks to be growing up and taking a handle on becoming a useful member of the group. He even does his share of some coldblooded killing of walkers in the episode’s intro.
  • In fact Carol becomes quite useful as well with Rick even commenting out of hand how much she grown to become a good shot with the AK-47 she was wielding.
  • All the talk of ‘shipping Daryl and Carol will get even louder as the two spent a brief moment flirting with each other after the group had taken over the prison courtyard.
  • Lori…Lori…Lori still looks to be the emotional weak point of the group and show, but this time around everyone in the group is either tuning her out or just trying to keep her focus and attention on keeping her unborn child safe. Even Hershel makes a point to remind her that this wasn’t about her anymore and that she should stop her complaining. It’s all about the baby and that’s all he and she should care about.
  • Beth and Carl…too cute.
  • Way to cockblock our boy Carl, Hershel…
  • Armored zombies, ’nuff said.
  • Some great work by Greg Nicotero and his team over at KNB EFX. A special note would be on the gas mask walker who got it’s face unceremoniously ripped off when Rick pulled off the gas mask. As a hardcore gorehound even I had to wince at that scene. It was great!
  • In what could be a way to reconcile the character of Dale in the comics who lasted longer than in the show the writers may be substituting Hershel in that role. The next couple episodes will tell if that’s the case.
  • I think whoever is the prop guy for this show has read Max Brook’s zombie novel World War Z if the makeshift “Lobo” Glenn was wielding is any indication.
  • Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: I stopped counting after 30.

Review: The Walking Dead S2E12 “Better Angels”


“No more kids stuff.” — Rick Grimes

[some spoilers]

Fans of the comic book that The Walking Dead is based on have either been excited or up in arms about the major changes and deviations the show has taken from the source material. It’s a major point of contention that probably has lost some of the hardcore fans of the comic book. I can understand why they would bail on the show. They love the comic book with such a passion that any changes made from pages-to-screen is seen as a betrayal for their hard-earned loyalty through almost a decade of reading the series. On the other side of the equation I do believe that the changes have been a good thing for the tv series. It’s kept things unpredictable to the point that long-time readers cannot predict what will happen as the show moves forward. It’s this know knowing aspect of the tv series over the comic book source material that should keep things fresh for everyone.

“Better Angels” is the penultimate episode for season 2 and it’s another good step towards rewarding the show’s fans for sticking with the show despite a first half to the season that’s been called very slow. It’s cold opening was a nice balance of the quieter moments that the first half had been mostly about as Rick and the group buries Dale and the rest of their dead. Balancing this is a montage of Shane leading a hunting party driving around the outskirts of the farm to destroy those zombies who are too close for comfort to the farm. It’s an opening that will lead the two men the cold opening focused on to finally hash out their differences by episode’s end.

Glen Mazzara (the show’s new showrunner after the firing of Frank Darabont halfway this season) co-wrote this episode with Evan Reilly and it’s going to go down as one of the best episode of this season, if not one of the best in this series’ short history, so far. The first half of the episode shows how some have been dealing with Dale’s death in the previous episode. We get Carl feeling more than just a bit guilty about his role in getting the group’s moral compass killed to Glenn and Andrea exchanging some fond memories of the old coot as they try to fix and start Dale’s old RV. Even Daryl looks to have been affected by Dale’s death as he becomes much more helpful in this episode as if he understands that the group may be broken, but it won’t be because of what he didn’t provide.

If there was ever a reason to believe that this show has turned a corner in terms of storytelling since Darabont left the show then this episode just strengthened this second half as an almost reboot to the season. It closed off one major story arc as the showdown between Rick and Shane finally came to a head in the last ten minutes of the episode, but it also went a long way into finally answering just what exactly Dr. Jenner whispered into Rick’s ear at the CDC at the end of the last season. It puts a whole new set of problems for these survivors and also adds a new level of anxiety to the series. The fact that just dying even when not bit by a zombie will cause a recently dead person to come back to life adds to the hopelessness echoed by Jenner at last season’s finale.

With just the season finale left the series has quite a bit of storylines to deal with. The episode ends with Rick and his son Carl over the body of the former’s best friend and the latter’s surrogate father and as the camera pans into a wide shot we see that just beyond the crest and unknown to father and son was a herd of zombies emerging from the nearby woods. We also have the lingering danger of the dangerous group of survivors that may be camped just a few miles from the farm who may pose a much bigger danger to the group than the zombies themselves. No matter how the season ends it looks like the group’s time at the farm may be coming to an end and that’s as welcome a turn as the speed by which Mazzara and his writers have changed the pacing of the story.

Notes

  • Just have to say that tonight’s episode had some great scenes from the wide shot of Rick and Shane at the top of a crest with a very large looking moon back-lighting the pair.
  • Interesting how Rick voices the one thing many people have been complaining about Dale’s character during his eulogy over his grave. Yes, Dale got under the skin of not just fans of the show, but it would seem the others characters in the show itself.
  • The cold opening of the group giving Dale and the others the group has lost (both Sophia and the friends and family of the Greene’s in the barn) was paralleled by Shane, Andrea, T-Dog and Daryl driving around the farm’s perimeter destroying the zombies they come across. This was something that was long overdue and it was great to see just well this group destroyed the zombies when they had the upper hand and weren’t outnumbered. This is a major point of topic for zombie lore fans who know that when it small numbers zombies are pretty easy to avoid and/or fight when one keeps a cool-head.
  • That final zombie before it got the top of it’s head smashed open by a shovel strike from Shane got a very cathartic beatdown from everyone. It’s as if these four were taking out their frustrations on this last zombie.
  • It looks like Hershel and his family have finally seen the light and allowing Rick’s group
  • Great scene (brief as it was) between Rick and Daryl early in the episode. We’re seeing just how much Rick appreciates Daryl for doing what needed to be done with Dale at the end of the last episode. Even Daryl is starting to figure out how much of the “heavy-lifting” Rick has been doing since he joined the group. No matter what Shane fans may think about him being the only one who made the hard decisions I think Daryl would think differently as he sees Rick as the one who was the true leader even if he didn’t agree with everything Rick said or do.
  • Speaking of Shane, it looks like Dale’s death may have finally pushed him over the edge. Seeing the one person who was all about keeping the group from losing their humanity die not because of the group’s descent into amorality but because of the very danger that has no use for high principles and moral high grounds. Shane finally sees that he’s been right all along and it doesn’t help that Lori looks to be trying to make amends with him.
  • We see that Lori as a character continuing her turn as the Lady MacBeth of the series as she continues to try and manipulate the situation between Rick and Shane to her advantage. Whether she prefers Rick or Shane becomes even more cloudy.
  • In this episode we’re seeing Rick beginning to lose more and more of his need to hold onto the world before he woke up in this zombie apocalypse. The quiet scene between him and Carl in the hayloft was a good example of this. Rick knows that Carl will not be able to grow up in a world where children have a chance to act like kids. Him handing Daryl’s gun back to Carl is the first step in Carl finally losing that youthful innocence. Whether Chandler Riggs can pull off a Carl that’s becoming more and more adult at such a young age would be determined in the coming episodes and seasons.
  • We finally get the Randall story-arc ended as he becomes the excuse for Shane to get Rick alone with him and solve the problem his best friend poses.
  • The revelation that just dying without being bit or scratched by a zombie has now changed everything for the worst for the group. Even the escape of non-zombie death doesn’t stop one from coming back and joining the innumerable legions already roaming the countryside. It’s another acknowledgement that The Walking Dead has been following the zombie lore rules set down by the grandfather of the subgenre, George A. Romero himself.
  • With Shane and Dale both gone it will be interesting to see just who will replace their roles in the new season. I can see The Governor (David Morrissey cast in the role) taking on the villanous role that Shane occupied this season, but Dale’s voice of reason may just be a much harder one to replace.
  • T-Dog actually got more than just a cursory cameo appearance in this episode real early in the episode. He also got more than just one line. He was actually part of a real conversation. Maybe there’s hope for him yet (doubt it).

Review: The Walking Dead S2E11 “Judge, Jury, Executioner”


“This new world is ugly. It’s harsh. It’s survival of the fittest and that’s a world I don’t want to live in.” — Dale Horvath

[some spoilers]

All the episodes since The Walking Dead returned from it’s mid-season break has shown a change in pace through most of it’s episodes. The first episode since the break looked to continue the much slower pace of the first half of the season but finished off with a literal bang and the two episodes following it up just continued this faster pace to the second half.

“Judge, Jury, Executioner” returns everyone back to the farm and has to deal with the conundrum that is Randall. The farm has become a symbol of the show hitting the breaks instead of keeping pedal to the metal. It happens once more tonight as the bulk of the episode was mostly Dale trying to convince everyone and anyone away from Rick’s decision to kill Randall. It’s a decision we’ve been expecting as Rick readily admitted it to himself and his erstwhile friend Shane in the previous episode that Randall will probably have to die to protect the group and the farm from the unknown group lurking out there.

Jeffrey DeMunn seems to have had a tough time having to play the role of Dale Horvath who was suppose to be the voice of decency and morality in a show that was veering away from such pre-zombie apocalypse notions. It’s a sort of character that will always look out of place in a world written to be lawless and tooth-and-nail survival. Most post-apocalyptic stories will always have such characters to try and keep the rest of the group from becoming savage and amoral. It’s a tough role and made even tougher when those who behave without conscience and without morals seem to look more like hardy survivors while those who try to stay decent end up being shouted down or killed outright for their naivete.

It didn’t help DeMunn that his character seemed to come off as spinning his wheels whenever he tried to speak up to the group about the dark path they’ve been traveling down since the end of the first season. Tonight went a long way to making Dale’s point of view make sense as it did show him as the only person who seemed to be the only one who wanted to hold onto his humanity in the face of apathy and amorality. Whether his ideas and point of view was correct or not doesn’t matter. He was that angel on everyone’s shoulder who was fighting for control of the group’s morality over the devil that was Shane.

While the outcome of the decision to kill Randall wasn’t too much a surprise, Rick may be learning to be pragmatic about his decision making, he still has a soft spot in trying to be a high moral role model for his son Carl and killing Randall wouldn’t be a good way to keep up that illusion. The outcome in regards to Dale was a major surprise and should continue the show’s off-the-rails decision to deviate from the comic book in terms of who lives and who dies and when it happens. Seeing the zombies attacking Dale and with him vainly keeping the snapping jaws from his face made the scene almost being set-up as a way to convince Dale that those who were going to save him were the same people he was accusing of being amoral and inhumane. So, it was a major shock when the zombie remembered it had more than just it’s snapping teeth to kill and decided to use it’s clawed fingers to rip Dale’s midsection open.

As surprising an ending that the Sophia story-arc ended up doing with the character this one with Dale was even more so.

Just like episode 8’s “Nebraska” which started off slow and was much more focused on intellectual and philosophical debates about the right and wrong things, tonight’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner” went down a similar route until an ending that also had a literal ending with a bang. With just two more episodes left in this second season of The Walking Dead Glen Mazzara and his team of writers need to close off this Greene Farm location and find a way to get the group back on the road and have it make sense. I’m much more confident that this new showrunner and writing team will pull it off than the previous regime.

Notes

  • Dale looks so lost trying to get people to listen to his talk of decency and humanity. Everyone either looks at him like he’s talking crazy or just plain tired of hearing the same litany of why the group needs to retain it’s sense of humanity. Even the one person he thought he had in his corner in Hershel pretty much admits that his convictions in the decent thing to do were mistakes.
  • I know it’s getting old, but it’s sort of hilarious watching Dale and Shane trying to sidestep the fact that when it comes down to the bones of it they both want to kill each other.
  • Good to see Hershel make a decision about Glenn and his daughter. It’s definitely a much better scene than how it was handled in the comic book.
  • It was very surprising to see Andrea suddenly switch gears and support Dale during the group’s confab inside the house. I’m still not sold on her sudden change of heart. I think some of it was Dale’s unwavering conviction and near pleading to the group not to go down a path hey may never recover, but I also think her reaction to Shane’s advice to do some sort of coup over the Rick/Hershel leadership might’ve shown Andrea to what extremes Shane would go to. She might be regretting calling Shane as her good teacher in regards to survival.
  • Carl was a major part of tonight’s episode and probably highlighted the very things that screamed “Dumb things TV kids do” for everyone watching the show.
  • The dumb things he did sneaking into the barn to get his close look a Randall and then sneaking off with Daryl’s gun off into the nearby creek and finding the zombie might be the only thing people will remember about tonight’s episode, but deeper down Carl was the very symbol of how things were taking an amoral turn for the group that Dale was railing against.
  • Carl the tv version looks to be much farther along the path of becoming a sociopath than his comic book counterpart. I think having Shane live past the first six episodes of the show and still alive with season 2 winding to a close has had a much more detrimental effect on the child of Rick and Lori Grimes than in the comic book. This makes the character much more interesting moving forward but it also could blow up in the writers face if they make him too sociopathic and amoral that redemption would be too late for the boy.
  • Daryl’s moment in the episode showed him at his worst, badass and best. Worst in how he continues to try and distance himself from the rest of the group. Badass in how he’s able to get the very info about Randall’s group when others from RIck and Shane have failed. Best in how he dealt with Dale and how he may be the one person Rick should listen to moving forward.
  • Daryl is not idealistic like Dale, but he seems to be more observant about how the group is doing and handling things than people give him credit for. He’s willing to follow Rick’s lead even if he doesn’t agree with most of it, but at the same time won’t upset the group’s leadership dynamics. The fact that he knew Shane killed Otis but not as guessing, but observing Shane the moment he got back without Otis makes Daryl less the dumb, hick redneck he’s shown to be.
  • Some people have been theorizing that killing off Dale was because Jeffrey DeMunn was a Darabont regular thus was going to be on the chopping block because of that professional relationship. If that is the case instead of a creative decision to shake up the show’s group and storyline even farther from the comic book then Laurie Holden should be worried in her role as Andrea since she is also a Darabont regular.
  • T-Dog makes an appearance and I think he had one or two throwaway lines. Please, Mazzara and writers just kill him off and bring in Tyrese who at least brings some backstory that could be mined to better effect than what T-Dog has contributed.