I Just… I Don’t Even Know What to Say…

Written by  //  March 5, 2012  //  Televised Entertainment in Review  //  13 Comments

Alistair’s Flummoxed by “Judge, Jury, Executioner” Beware: SPOILERS Abound!

Okay – so… I don’t even know where to begin… well first, let me just give you all fair warning and offer up a Spoiler Alert right off the bat because there was just too much going on in this episode and the what– 4 or 5 people that read this column (?) have probably already seen it and we have way too much to discuss.

Before people get their panties twisted and think that I’m going to sit here and criticize the episode for all the dialogue we sat through – give me a minute – because actually, the dialogue this week was pretty spot on and I enjoyed it, much like last week. That’s not what has me utterly perplexed about last night – let’s break this down before I start confusing all of you even more – forgive my scatter-brainness, it can’t be helped sometimes. The problem I’m having with this show isn’t with the dialogue – it’s the decisions the writers are having their characters make which seem to go against everything about the established story-arc but serve as a back drop to discuss more serious subjects. Basically, in order to bring up heavy stuff like life vs. death and survival instincts vs. human decency in this post-apocalyptic culture – these characters are making some really stupid choices that no one who was actually going through this would do.

Let’s start from the beginning of when the problems from Season 2.2 start and work forward to last night’s crazy ending –

 

Inherent Plot Problem No. 1 – Randall:

Rick and Hershel saved this guy after he was left behind by his crew when they all got into a gunfight at the town bar and chose to bring him back to the farm to fix him up. (Only to then decide to kill him later, which begs the question, why did they save this guy in the first place?) When Rick and Shane tried to drop Randall off somewhere a week later so he can be about his merry way, Randall admitted that he knows Maggie and Hershel… which means he knows where the farm is.

This is all news to Rick and Shane – but it makes me wonder this: if Randall went to high school with Maggie – why didn’t Maggie recognize Randall in the first place? When he first arrived at the farm he was blindfolded, and I’m going to guess that behind a blindfold, all farms probably look the same. At some point his blindfold had to have been removed, and Maggie and Hershel came into his line of sight. Hershel I can understand not realizing who this kid was, but this is a small town – the high school couldn’t have been that big – as soon as Maggie saw Randall (whether it was when he arrived or later), she should’ve recognized him and told the others that he knows who she is and where she lives. Thereby, Rick and Shane wouldn’t ever have been put into danger by trying to drop Randall off – they would’ve kept him at the farm and debated there what to do with him – and the awesome action we saw last week would’ve never happened, but as great as last week’s episode was, plot-wise it just made zero sense.

Inherent Plot Problem No. 2 – The Grimes:

When this show first began, one of the major themes was Lori’s insistence that Carl keep his innocence. This was somewhat challenged when Rick took Carl out to look for Sophia and Carl was accidentally shot in the chest by Otis. This lead our group to Hershel’s farm, and it made Lori even more protective of Carl than she was before. Not only has Lori been steadfast in her mission to keep some semblance of a normal childhood intact for her son, she’s also been watching him like a hawk. So why the hell was NO ONE watching Carl in last night’s episode?

I do want to toss in that I kind of like the way they’re going with his character – is he turning dark and cold? Is he becoming a sociopath? It’s interesting to watch this adolescent boy becoming a man in a zombie-ridden world – but all of that aside – why the fuck was this kid left to wander through the woods ALONE – when 1. Lori’s never let that happen before, 2. Both Shane and Rick treat this kid like they’re his dad and watch him constantly but inexplicably tossed him off last night, 3. After the whole mess with Sophia it should be obvious to all of the adults in this show that the kids can’t be left alone or allowed to run around in the woods without supervision – really the kids shouldn’t be running around in the woods period, given that Carl was being supervised by his dad when he was shot and 4. Both Lori and Rick were standing there together on the porch discussing Randall’s fate and not once did either one of them look at each other and wonder why the other wasn’t with their son, something I’d expect any parent – zombie-ridden world or not – would want to know. “Hey babe, are you standing here hanging out on the porch contemplating life? Well where the hell’s our kid, then?”

Instead, for whatever reason – Carl was left to himself for pretty much the whole episode, with the exception of being yelled at by any adult that he came across which I’m sure didn’t help matters and only fueled his budding pre-teen angst. Not only did this mean that he snuck into the shed they’re keeping Randall in and may or may not have come close to being hurt (judgment on Randall’s character is still a gray area, given that he admitted to Daryl that the group he ran with had a penchant for raping women but swore he had nothing to do with that and has maintained this whole time that he only has good intentions), but it also meant that he was able to go into the woods unattended, find a Walker stuck in the mud, tease him mercilessly until the Walker was able to get itself free and go after him – and by freeing said Walker Carl directly contributed to the shocking death of Dale at the end of the episode.

These two major problems are what made me seriously dislike last night’s episode. But despite all of this inconsistency – the dialogue really was fantastic. These are the kind of conversations that fans have been waiting for. This examination into what would happen to our sense of morality, decency, and most importantly, justice – when everything as we know it is gone. Dale’s attempts to save Randall’s life – to be the one voice of reason in the midst of a group out for blood – was stellar television. I hope I’m not the only person who watched and thought a little of Twelve Angry Men, because that’s what I felt like I was seeing – a new twist on that argument – instead of getting past whatever stereotypes we may have about others in the name of justice, the question was do we toss away our moral code in the name of survival?

The characters that have gotten very little screen time the past 2 weeks finally showed up: Dale figured prominently as he spent the whole time trying to convince the others to spare Randall’s life, Carol made her usual teary-eyed / angry appearance and I have to admit I’m kind of sitting here sometimes wishing she’d just get bitten already because it’s getting old, T-Dog barely had any lines, and hasn’t for awhile, why is he even here? And Glenn finally showed up to receive Hershel’s blessing to date his daughter Maggie, when it’s already kind of a moot point since Glenn’s acting like he’s in some kind of wide-open dating field and “settling” for Maggie isn’t wise.

The real “side-character” standout continues to be Andrea – who I couldn’t stand last season or the first part of season two, but lately has grown on me. She’s sort of coming of age in front of us – turning away from the hot-headed character of before and shaping into one of the more reasonable members of the group. She’s actually become a good middle-woman to Shane and Rick – she can see the positives and the logic of both men, and is able to reasonably talk to Shane when others can’t. I like where she’s headed, and I liked that last night she was able to put aside her original promise to stand by Shane and see Dale’s logic and support him, even when Glenn turned his back on his friend.

As I said, the episode belonged to Dale, and to Carl as well, although confusingly. Dale shone as the lone voice of reason – whether viewers found it annoying or not – he adamantly defended his position that if Randall is to be executed it should be done after some semblance of a trial, or after someone could reasonably talk to him and ascertain if he meant the group harm. What I loved about Dale last night is that he was the embodiment of the last vestiges of their now fading culture. His position that Randall should be treated fairly goes in line with the American justice system that all of our characters believed in before the outbreak began but that they all now challenge in the name of survival. The discussions the characters had last night were to me, talks that anyone would have if put in the same situation. When law is pretty much wiped out and we’re all left to our own devices, is it still important to put people through due process? Or do we have a duty to our own loved ones to eliminate any and all supposed threats, whether justified or just suspected?

It was a result of the two main plot problems I mentioned above that sadly lead to Dale being killed. Rick’s stupid decision to save Randall, a complete stranger, and bring him back to the farm – risking the safety of everyone else to the point that he then decided to just kill him anyway made zero sense and caused Dale to become angry and try to convince the others that they were making a mistake in wanting to execute Randall. Rick and Lori’s failure as watchful parents lead to Carl stupidly goading on a hungry Walker that took off after him. Then in a continuation of stupid decisions, he returned to the farm and neglected to tell anyone that there was a Walker tailing him. When Dale angrily walked away from the group, unable to witness the murder of a possibly innocent man, he walked right into Carl’s Walker and was ripped apart.

All of this makes me wonder why this group, as a whole and not just Shane, Andrea and Daryl – hasn’t taken up and questioned Rick’s leading abilities. Being the sheriff doesn’t necessarily qualify you to be the de facto leader of a group of survivors. Not only did Rick make a dumb call in bringing Randall to the farm, he made it worse by not being able to carry out the murder once he’d decided that’s what he was going to do. His neglect of his own son directly lead to another member of the group being attacked, and what’s more – when it came time to put Dale out of his misery, Rick couldn’t pull the trigger and my TV husband Daryl had to do it. Robert Kirkman’s comic series may be centered on Rick Grimes, but the writing of the TV series isn’t doing Rick’s character any favors, and frankly I’m tired of him – I may just have to break from the group myself and join Team Shane.

 

About the Author

Alistair Blake Arabella

“Alistair Blake Arabella” is the brainchild of entertainment writer and managing editor Vanessa “2 Fingers” Berben . If you’re missing the latest refill of your Dexedrine prescription, there’s a good a chance Alistair’s in your bathroom and has already crushed it up and snorted it. Now be a good little kitten and fetch her drink. If you’d like to receive the hallowed word of Alistair drop a line to AskAlistair@gmail.com – you just may be in the next episode of “Ask Alistar” if you’re very, very lucky.

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13 Comments on "I Just… I Don’t Even Know What to Say…"

  1. pansy park March 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm · Reply

    hey you cant have Daryl ;)

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 6, 2012 at 8:36 am · Reply

      Oh I can – and I will. Ha! I left my TV boyfriend Nick Stokes for him! He’s now my TV husband. :)

  2. pansy park March 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm · Reply

    and yes i was grumpy about the bad way it was written for Carl to roam around and be the stupid kid, and his family to think they are protecting him by not including him in adult talk (hello he just walks in when he wants so he hears and sees everything). They need to have more supervision and better talks with him if they want him to act like a child not of the lawless zombie times. Although his character is supposed to be dark from growing up in the zombie world he doesnt have to be a prick. Just saying.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 6, 2012 at 8:40 am · Reply

      Yeah – I haven’t read the comics, although I do have close friends that have so I bug them all the time to find out about the comic versions of the characters so I can act like I know what I’m talking about – ha!
      It was just weird – I can see that any kid who grew up in that world would be a little darker, and would look at things differently (like when he told his dad to go ahead and execute Randall – and then Rick promptly bitched out) but the whole zombie-baiting scene disturbed me, and then when he came home and just stared creepily at all of them until Lori told him to get out of there – it was weird. And I’m not liking the way Lori’s raising him – I understand that you want to keep him a child, but she’s got to accept that it isn’t like that anymore, and that trying to keep him innocent is only going to hurt him in the long run – this kid needs to be educated about how to survive in this new world – mainly so he doesn’t go off by himself into the woods, steal other people’s guns, lose other people’s guns, and then lead a hungry Walker straight to camp! Ugh. Shaking my head. So dumb.

  3. Mark in Omaha March 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm · Reply

    Excellent points. Minor quibble, think college not high school. If the kid had gone to high school there, everyone would have know him, and his family. But that also begs the question as to why he was there a whole week, and Hershcel patched him up but the fact he knew his daughter never came up. How did Randall know that he knew Maggie unless he had seen her at the farm, and then waits until they are going to drop him off in zombie central to bring it up? If he knew Maggie and knew they had a farm and where it was then why did they just happen to show up in that town? Did he lead the raiding party there?

    I’m sorry to see Dale go, they lost their literal and figuritve consience. However Dale was WRONG! They had two choices, bring the kid back and incorporate him into the new group, which they didn’t do, or leave him back in town to die (or put him out of his misery then). He admitted that the group he is with raids other survivors and takes their supplies, and rapes the women while they are at it. That deserves the death penalty right there. Way too easy to say, I just watched, I didn’t do any raping myself. Yeah, you didn’t stop them and you didn’t get away from them, that makes you one of them.

    Carl seriosly needed a belt to his backside last night. Ignoring everything everyone told him, mouthed off to Carol (very cruel blow there) getting near the prisoner, stealing the gun from Daryl’s (Merle’s) motorcycle, losing the gun, just about getting eaten by the zombie (and not telling anyone anything about it), and in the last scene his Mom told him to go to the house and he ignored her too.

    Kudo’s to Daryl for figuring out Shane’s story was bullshit as soon as he got back. He’s going to need that gun at a critical time and it won’t be there, but why he doesn’t have it on him is beyond me. Did you notice the Waffen SS lightning bolt symbols on Merle’s gas tank? Nothing says White Supremacist like Nazi symbols.

    I didn’t catch it but someone on another blog did. Andrea grabs the bag and asks Dale if that is all the ammo? When Dale went to talk to Shane, he was putting two boxes of ammo in his car. He has been toying with the idea of leaving, and he has been trying to get Andrea on his side. Question, if he leaves, does he take Andrea with him, or does he try to kidnap Lori and Carl?

    Carol continues to be useless. T-Dog was absent last week and had zero lines last night. No one bothered to ask him what he thought about the outsider getting executed. Must be another way they are saving money but it just smacks of racism both in the story arc and behing the scenes. Glenn is still moping around and I’m losing respect for him by the minute. He wouldn’t even stick up for his buddy Dale.

    The rule of law is out the door. Your priorities would be you, your family, your group (or tribe). All outsiders would be suspect and presumed to be dangerous.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 6, 2012 at 8:34 am · Reply

      Right on all points – Randall did specifically say he went to high school with Maggie, which is why I cry foul on that because you’re right – if it were college, people easily get lost in a crowd – but not a small town high school – I went to a small town high school and still get hit up on FB by every fucker I went to school with. Ha! Sorry.
      And yeah – when Randall sat there and tried to justify himself by saying he wasn’t part of the rape he just watched – sorry kid, that’s still being part of a rape in my book. I would’ve gotten rid of him on the spot.
      I did catch the SS on Merle’s bike, and that Carl stupidly lost that gun – I couldn’t believe how stupid that kid was in this episode – I just don’t get where they’re going with his character – they have the opportunity to do some great things with that, and I’m scared they’re failing.
      I think Andrea’s said before that she would go with Shane if he was ready to go – I saw that Shane was stockpiling ammo – and if I were him I would too – Dale had no right to act like he was the keeper of the guns & ammo, that isn’t fair to me -
      I’m conflicted about how to feel about his death – you’re right – he did serve as the morality of the group, but that occasionally approached horribly annoying territory.
      Oh Carol… she is seriously bugging the hell out of me. I hope that Daryl, Shane, and Andrea just up and leave – maybe take T-Dog with them so he has a shot at actually getting to SPEAK now and then – can’t wait for next week to see how this is all going to pan out!

  4. Mark in Omaha March 6, 2012 at 11:11 am · Reply

    Are you sure he said high school and not just school? If he went to high school then the whole scenario is just very sloppy writing. Of course he would know her, her father, her sister, her cousins, and where they lived, and they would know the same stuff about him. I caught “went to school with Maggie” and made the assumption he meant college and he might have known who she was but she might not have been as informed about him. Maybe she dated an upperclassmen in his fraternity or something. Then he might have an idea which town she was from (no one has thought about looking in a phone book I guess). How or why that information would surface after they were ready to dump him in zombie central is also very sloppy writing. Hell, the whole show is very sloppy writing.

    Can’t believe I missed the whole ammo subterfuge.

    What is it about good girls and bad boys. Why is Daryl so attractive? His greasy hair, dead animal hides drying on a clothes line, racist symbols on the gas tank of his hog? Do you want him to drag you back to his lean-to shack and have his way with you?

    Randall is just dangerous, don’t like anything about him. If Rick can’t pull the trigger (twice) we know Daryl can.

    We should start a Free T-Dog movement. Give T-Dog a story, let T-Dog have some fricking lines! There were two black people in this group, they killed one and marginalized the other.
    Not counting the black guy and his son that found Rick when he came out of the coma. They are gone and forgotten like the helicopter, the radio broadcast, automatic weapons, and whatever Jenner said to Rick in the CDC before it went boom.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 6, 2012 at 11:54 am · Reply

      Oooh – you know, you’re right – I think he DID say “Went to school with Maggie” and me, thinking this is a small southern town and Maggie helps out on the farm so might not have gone to college – I think I just assumed the other direction than you did – that it was high school, not college – because that’s exactly right – IF it were college where they met or he saw her, how or why would he know where she lived? High school just seemed more plausible to me, since that’s more local and most kids in a small town would know where everyone lived – either way I still the writing is sloppy – IF it were college, and Randall saw Maggie there – the way he was blubbering for understanding I’d think he would’ve spoken up – sort of “Hey wait! There’s Maggie, we were in college together – she can vouch for me that I’m not a bad guy!!” That’s what I would’ve said if I were caught up in that. Then again if I ran with a crowd that liked to rob people and rape young girls, I would’ve left that group a long time ago. He most definitely is shady and I don’t trust him – I thought he was going to try and grab Carl and hold him hostage or something.
      Okay – let me just say, I actually like nice guys! I think I was the one “bad girl” in school that only dated nice boys – which meant the dating field was pretty wide open for me since all my friends wanted to lust after the assholes. What I like about Daryl isn’t his badness, it’s his goodness – he’s good in a fight, he knows how to survive, he knows how to hunt, he’s quick to make a decision and act on it, he’s smarter than they give him credit for (evidenced by his admittance that he knew immediately that Shane had killed Otis) and he isn’t unattractive – in this show’s scenario, if I were there, I’d look at Darly as the best candidate to team up with, and would want to side with him – he’s just more reliable and a better survivalist than the others. And I do give him credit for shirking off the whole white supremacy thing, which I think he said earlier was more his brother’s thing than his, because he did save T-Dog, and he’s one of the few characters that actually listens to T and gives him some respect -
      And yeah – WTF is up with T-Dog? He’s not a bad character! Irone Singleton’s a good actor – just think about the scene when he was hurt and Daryl saved him, and he was delirious with fever and spoke to Dale – it’s apparent this guy has thoughts that run deeper than just relegating him to scowling in the background. He’s a totally wasted character.
      And I’m getting really tired of this show’s blatant racism – let’s just call it like it is – and that’s not Robert Kirkman’s fault, actually – there were a few AfAm characters in the comics (his friend in the beginning with the son remains a main character in the books, and there’s also a female character who’s incredibly good with knives that’s not in the show at all – many believe her part was replaced with Daryl’s character, but she’s the main ass-kicker in their group, and she’s a black woman – so where is she in the show?) – it makes me angry as well, because as a biracial person I want to see different faces – and I want to see them be prominent – Mark you’re raising a really good question here I wish we could explore more – I’ll have to dive into that in the next post – but why is the one Asian character a total coward? Why is the one AfAm character never given lines or a story plot? Where are the hispanics? Why is this world only filled with white people? I don’t get it.

  5. Mark in Omaha March 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm · Reply

    The hispanic family left after the zombie attack at the rock quarry. They said, these people “es muoy loco” and got out of there.

    Glad to know you dated nice guys. I was a nice guy and got zero dates, all the girls wanted the jocks.

    I would be in the Daryl camp too, much better survival chances with him over Shane or Rick.

    Looking back on things, they have a poor track record showing people of color.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm · Reply

      Ha! Yes, I guess my dating history doesn’t really have anything to do with this episode, but I just had to throw that out there since I know “nice guys finish last” and I have to defend my fellow “good guy” likers out there – we do exist! = )
      Why do you think it is that they do such a poor job of showing other races? Do you think it’s intentional or that they just aren’t thinking diversely?

  6. cristina March 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm · Reply

    Oh yeah. Especially agreed on the Carl issue. I don’t blame the boy for wanting to wander around like most kids do (though if I was stuck in that world at that age, I’d be cowering behind my mama’s legs!) But Lori not batting an eye that he’s been gone so long and then he shows up pale and splattered with mud? um, right. It IS irritating when the writers manipulate their characters’ realities so much in order to get their desired plot points in. BUT gotta say I didn’t dislike this episode. I admit, I’m in it for the ‘whoa’ factor: did it get me to say “whoa” at the end of the episode. And this totally did. I’d heard some rumors that a major character was gonna bite it at the end of this episode, but i sho didn’t think it’d be Dale. And such a brutal ending. Though HE should’ve known better than to go wandering away from the others at night, by himself. Even with his disgust at what was happening. But it gave me chills, after he was the blinding white light of humanity among that group, and then got so awfully snuffed out – makes me wonder just how dark and nasty things have yet to get. Ooof! At least he got his friend Andrea back in the end. Geez and how is Carl going to react to being the one who essentially killed him? After being all Damien-like, it still obviously upset him that he was the cause of Dale’s death. And even though there was just one zombie in this episode, damn that was some decent zombie-ing. even the pictures on your post were a little much to handle in broad daylight. This is a soap opera. A soap opera with lots of blood and gore, but a soap opera nonetheless and even with all the inconsistencies and sloppy writing, it sucks me in again and again. But still, the randall situation, tdog’s muteness, LOTS of things they could work on!

  7. cristina March 9, 2012 at 9:24 am · Reply

    on a lighter note: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8z_dJoWjP4&feature=youtu.be

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella March 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm · Reply

      Oh yr god that is the most awesome video ever – I had to put it on blast everywhere. And now thanks to you, The Growing Pains theme song has been stuck in my head ALL. WEEKEND. Hurry up and watch this week’s episode so we can dish already!!!

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