Well, they can't all be winners.
Sunday night's episode of "The Walking Dead" on AMC took a step back from last week's installment, when ten zombies were iced and many more had face time.
This week, we spent about 55 minutes (including commercial breaks) hemming, hawing, pleading, pussyfooting, wavering, flip-flopping and beating around the bush.
Basically, Carl turns into Goofus and sasses his elders, taunts the dead, steals firearms and cheers for executioners. Everyone else spends the whole episode trying to figure out how to solve a problem like Randall.
Then in the last five minutes, Dale saw a zombie Brahman bull, got his guts ripped out by a P90X zombie and then took a bullet in the brain from Daryl. (Dale, Daryl, Dale, Daryl, get it? Yeah, me neither.)
Oh, whoops, sorry. You're supposed to put that before the spoiler!
Anyway, that pretty much gets us up to date on the major plot developments of Sunday night's episode. It reminded me of the midseason finale, when nothing happened until Shane busted that whole dang barn door open and it started a zombie mascot parade massacre.
I guess the season is kind of like a fireworks show. They set off like a dozen fireworks at once and it's like pop-pop-pop-poppity-pop! And everyone is like "Let's go!" and then it all slows down to pop ... pop and everyone lays back down on their picnic blanket and sips their glass of wine and is like, "Isn't this nice?"
Except with the Internet and fans of graphic novels, people aren't very patient, so I bet everyone is going to be upset on Twitter and Lycos with the pace of this episode. I'm OK with it, as long as we get a lot more action next week.
Dale Horvath, or Atticus Finch?
The whole episode builds up to this big "Inherit the Wind," "A Few Good Men," courtroom showdown between Dale and Rick. And when the big moment arrives, Dale dominates Rick with his tearful speech! Dale's all gesturing with his hands like a community theatre actor, wringing his Gilligan hat. And the whole time, Rick is just like "Duh, uh, I think we should kill him. I'll protect yewww!"
Here are a few of Dale's knockout punches:
- "This is a young mans life, and it is worth more than a five minute conversation!"
- "Is this what it's come to, we kill someone because we can't decide what else to do with him?"
- "If we do this we're saying there is no hope. Rule of law is dead. There is no civilization."
- "This new world is ugly, it's harsh, it's survival of the fittest, and that's a world that I don't want to live in. I don't believe that any of you do. I can't. Please, let's just do what's right."
- "You'll go hide your heads in your tents and try to forget that we're slaughtering a human being."
A fitting farewell
Dale's last action before getting blasted is a heart-rending twitch of his coniferous brows, as if to say "Fare thee well, sweet friends. Please smile when you think about me. My body's gone, that's all."
Remember in "Deliverance" when... — (that introduction almost always ends with "...Ned Beatty was raped by hicks?" but not here!) — ...Drew got all shaken up by the way Burt Reynolds coldly murdered that raper hick and then died shortly after? Dale's death kind of reminded me of that.
Carl, throwing rocks at that zombie with the size 22 waist. The first time he winds up and releases it looks like he's throwing with Woody Allen's non-dominant arm. Then he tries again and ... *sad slide whistle sound*.
Second place: Daryl. When he's giving Randall all those knuckle sandwiches it looks like he's trying way too hard. He's doing all these little crow hops like Happy Gilmore or something, and it just looks way too unnatural.
Did you notice?
Carl approaching Randall and that zombie all wide-eyed and full of wonderment was eerily similar to Carl approaching that deer in the season two premiere when he got sniped by Otis.
- Daryl's hog has a Nazi "SS" sticker on the gas tank?
- Glenn is from Michigan by way of Korea?
- Shane loads Zelliger high velocity ammo into the trunk of his Hyundai?
Father of the Year contest
Rick vs. Hershel.
Hershel sings the Doodlebug song to Beth, who's learning how to smile again. Rick teaches wild-at-heart Carl a lesson by telling him "Don't talk, think. That's a good rule of thumb for life."
A thing that I wish had happened
When Hershel produced that watch to give to Glenn, I wish that he had explained how it had been hidden up a pair of poop chutes in a Vietnamese prison camp for seven years so that Glenn could have it.
The big question
Do they bury Dale in his Gilligan bucket hat? If not, who gets it? (Fingers crossed that it's T-Dog!)
In other news
Lots of web sites have been reporting on the accidental release on the AMC web site of the impending death of Shane. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I'm pretty sure that AMC did that on purpose to generate a bunch of hype.
The T-Dog drinking game
If you wanted to make it worthwhile, it would have to be a triple shot of grain alcohol for every time T-Dog did something of note. He utters like three words in this episode before Dale cuts him off. Patricia (Patricia for goodness sake!) has a bigger role in this episode than T-Dog. The only character with a smaller footprint at this point is Jimmy. Did that guy die when I wasn't paying attention or something?
Daryl, to Randall: "You ever pick off a scab? Start real slow at first, sooner or later you just gotta rip it off!"
Daryl, re: other group: "They roll through here our boys are dead, and the women are gonna wish they were."
Rick: "We reconvene at sunset. Then what happens, happens."
Shane: "Rick's my friend. Hershel, he's all right by me. Dale got a big mouth, but he's harmless."
Shane to Randall: "You like talkin'? "You like talkin'!?"
Shane: "Carl, quit trying to get yourself killed man!"
Daryl: "This group's broken, I'm better off fending for myself."
Daryl, to Dale: "I didn't peg you for a desperate son of a bitch!"
Carol, to Carl: "You know, we'll see Sophia again in heaven someday." Carl, to Carol: "Heaven is just some lie, and if you believe it, you're an idiot!"
Carol, to Lori: "I don't need you to patronize me. I lost my daughter, I didn't lose my mind!"
Hershel: "Dozen steer busted through the fence. Been wrangling the runaways all morning, but you're not here to talk cattle."
Shane: "You got balls, Dale, I'm gonna give you that."
Shane: "That blood, that's gonna be on you. You're wrong about this Dale, dead wrong."
Hershel, to Glenn: "Immigrants built this country, never forget that."
Carl, to Rick: "Do it, dad, do it!"
Rick: "Do you have any final words? Randall: "Please don't."
What everyone is up to
Lori: Standing by her man and advocating against the death penalty.
Carl: Looking for small rodents to torture and black lipstick to wear. Also taunting trapped zombies, egging on would-be executioners and becoming guilt-stricken when said taunted zombie kills a kindly old man.
Shane: All the sudden starting to look like the balanced, reasonable one.
Andrea: Puckering her bee-stung, pouty lips and wearing tight-fitting tops. Also siding with Dale on the death penalty issue.
Dale: Standing up for the little guy, getting his bread basket ripped open like a gift wrapped Nintendo 64 on Christmas morning, 1998, and having his amazing eyebrows used as a pointblank target by Daryl.
Glenn: Getting the old "Welcome to the family, son," from Hershel, and breaking Dale's heart moments before Dale's death. Dale is like "Et tu, Brute?"
Daryl: Torturing prisoners by stabbing them in the leg wound, acting tough, and carrying out mercy killings.
Carol: Trying to convince folks that she's not cray-cray, wearing a really big/ugly purse/messenger bag, and getting backtalk from preteens. Also wearing her gray proud. You go girl!
T-Dog: Peeking his head into scenes in an effort to become relevant again, getting interrupted by other characters when attempting to speak, and fetching shotguns for characters with stronger leadership qualities.
Hershel: Welcoming Glenn to the fam, wrangling cattle, telling tales of ribaldry, and giving up on dying patients.
Maggie: Hovering around in the background of scenes and suggesting alternatives to execution.
Randall: Telling stories about what darkness lies in the hearts of 30 men, leading impressionable youth astray and pleading for his life.
Only one choice, but a good one. The one mired in a bog who had to really tighten his belt. He made some gnarly noises, bobbed around like some kind of cursed surfer, and made confetti out of Dale's abs with his razor sharp finger nails and insanely chiseled forearms.
Best zombie kill
Only one choice. Daryl burying his Gerber knife in Tom Joad zombie's forehead.
Zombies: One, for 78 on the season. Humans: One! Dale "Eyebrows of Fury" Horvath, for six on the season (Otis, Sophia, Dave, Tony, Sean, Dale.)
Is the infection starting to spread without bites? Can cattle turn into zombies? Where is Dave and Tony's camp? Are those other survivors mounting an attack on the farm? What did Jenner whisper to Rick? What has become of Merle Dixon and the father-son team of Morgan and Duane Jones?
A look ahead to the next episode, "Better Angels"
Dale gets a nice, small funeral. T-Dog loads some supplies onto a baby blue pickup truck. T-Dog says "Oh, hell no!" Randall escapes by punching Shane in the beak. Hershel finally lets the band of survivors move into the house, and everybody gets their marching orders. Rick tells Carl his origin story and then gives him his sidearm.