Summary: The consensus is to kill Randall but Dale begs for a day for him to convince others to see reason. He goes to everyone, but they don't listen. The consensus is still to kill Randall. Carl goes rogue and tries to kill a walker. He fails and the walker escapes. Rick goes to kill Randall but is unable to do it when Carl arrives and tells him to do it. Dale walks away on his own but is attacked and killed by the walker that Carl was unable to kill.
The Good: This episode was another one focused on the Randall story, and because of that it felt stronger and more enjoyable. The focus on Randall paid off from the first moment when Daryl was interrogating Randall with violence. It was dramatic and effective, and I enjoyed it.
The Randall focus provided a good conflict to examine an important theme: the remains of civilization in an apocalypse. This episode becomes emotionally affecting and memorable because of this exploration and the conclusion it reaches: that civilization is dead. This is such a dark and depressing direction to take the show, and it works for the most part.
The exploration stems from Dale who tries to fight for Randall's life. While I had my problems with that, (see: The Bad), I thought it was a solid storyline. I particularly liked that Dale's conversations allowed us to see how a lot of the other characters are dealing with the Randall situation, also giving us insight on where their current morals and relationships lie. I thought this was particularly effective with Daryl and Hershel who both got good lines to make them more likeable and show more of their personality without being annoying. This was much better character development than what was happening in the first half of the season.
This does build to a great climax too. I enjoyed the group discussion as everyone felt in character as they discussed, but it never really stood out as a particularly great scene of drama. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't special and at first I was underwhelmed with how simple it was, as it didn't feel like a proper emotional pay-off. But thankfully, the story was much stronger than that. First there was a great scene where Rick finds he can't pull the trigger after he saw what the new world is doing to Carl, which was a strong scene carried by Andrew Lincoln's great performance. It was a good piece of storytelling and it seems to have made Rick pull back on his Shane-like instincts which I imagine will reopen the conflict between him and Shane as Shane has most certainly noticed Rick's current weakness.
But then it all led to Dale's death scene at the end. While that scene was flawed as well (see: The Bad), it felt like a huge deal and a significant moment, one which I wasn't expecting. It will likely be a cataclysmic event with a greater significance than Sophia's death since Dale stands for the humanity in the group, yet now he is dead. Carl will already be facing the consequences of his actions now that he has noticed the walker that killed Dale was the one he encountered, so that's already one significant development. I imagine we will be seeing more in the next episode, which will likely build up something big for the season finale.
Lastly, I really liked the Glenn and Hershel scene. It was a nice little scene which I appreciated.
The Bad: Unfortunately Dale bugging everyone got annoying and repetitive fast. I mentioned how all the other characters got good development, but Dale did not. He was a broken record for the whole episode and I really wish that they had saved his arguments for the big argument scene to make that moment feel more important. Sadly, by making Dale annoying, it also hurt the emotion I felt when he died.
Carl's story wasn't very good either. While it is hard to demonstrate what a young kid would feel during an apocalypse, I feel like what we got wasn't very good. For one, it's hard to relate to Carl and sympathize with him, making his story feel very awkward. If I can't get emotionally engaged, the story is already not working. Furthermore, Chandler Riggs isn't doing a good job of playing Carl, and poor acting takes away a lot of the story being told. Also, where the hell are Lori and Rick? Do they never watch their kid ever? Every single episode Carl goes off alone and these two never seem to learn. It's awfully convenient that they are such awful parents and it is already becoming a plot device. What makes this worse is that Rick is presented as a good father, considering the lectures he gives Carl, and yet he doesn't seem to take care of him. It's worse for Lori though who literally does nothing for an entire episode and yet she still can't watch her son for more than 15 seconds.
Dale's death wasn't staged very well. He was walking in an open field where he should be able to see and hear everything. There's no way a walker can just sneak up on him like that. Furthermore, I find it tough to believe that the hands of a walker could just rip him open the way that they did. Sure, it was dramatic, gruesome and affecting, but it does stretch believability.
This episode was dark, brutal and depressing. While it certainly did do its job of making me feel something, it has left me feeling hopeless and depressed. The problem with this is that I don't care about many of the characters or stories in the show, mostly just a select few. This show has been relying on brutal misery to keep us invested and I don't think that makes for a great TV show. That's how this episode affected me more than anything else, and I don't think that's a good thing because I'm not properly invested in the story. If this keeps up, emotions like these are more than capable of driving me away from a story if I'm not completely invested in what's happening.
The Unknown: How will Carl react to Dale's death? What will his guilt be like? He is certainly a very unpredictable character at the moment.
What was the significance of Andrea siding with Dale about Randall's fate?
What happens to Randall now? I don't imagine that Shane takes too kindly with Rick's decision. Could they be heading towards a huge confrontation in the season finale?
Best Moment: Rick choosing not to kill Randall and being forced to face who he has become was a great moment. It was surprisingly subtle and I really enjoyed it.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a big and eventful episode for the show and it has provided the most difficult mixture of good and bad to base a score off of. The episode was memorable and powerful, but was also poorly executed at times and unrelentingly miserable. Its strengths managed to also be its weaknesses and I'm left rather confused by how I feel about the episode and the show as a whole. I do feel more positive emotions than negative ones though, so I will give this episode a solid score, and I hope that the series finds a way to build off of this in a good way.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.