Season 2, episode 11
Judge, Jury, Executioner
- Dale makes a desperate plea for the group's humanity when they deliberate Randall's fate.
The episode begins with Daryl brutally beating the tied-up Randall, who continually proclaims his innocence. Randall states he was part of a much larger group, and that even though those men raped women, he's not like them.
Daryl goes to the group and tells them what Randall said, while Rick declares Randall a threat and says he should be executed. Dale is horrified to hear this, and begs Rick not to take any action until he talks to the group and finds another way. Dale then asks Andrea to keep watch on Randall if Shane shows up, and Andrea agrees.
Carl and Shane approach the shed, and Carl is curious to know more about the prisoner. Shane tells him that the grown-ups can handle things, before having a conversation with Andrea. Shane says to Andrea (who indicates that she will shoot him if he tries to attack Randall) that he doesn't believe Rick will go through with the execution. Meanwhile, Randall sees Carl spying on him, and begs to be let free. Carl begins walking towards Randall... only to be stopped by Shane, who shoves a gun in Randall's face before dragging Carl away.
Dale goes to Daryl and asks for his support in sparing Randall's life, but Daryl doesn't care what happens either way. Elsewhere, Lori and Rick have a conversation about Randall's fate while the latter is tying up a noose. Rick coldly indicates that Randall won't be a problem anymore. Meanwhile, Carol wanders upon Carl kneeling by Sophia's grave. When Carol promises Carl that they'll see Sophia in heaven, Carl tells her that heaven is a lie, and that she's an idiot for believing in it. Later on, Rick has a stern conversation with Carl for talking back to Carol.
Dale goes to Hershel and asks for his support. Like Daryl, Hershel doesn't care about Randall's fate. A short time later, Dale asks Shane for his support. Shane gives Dale credit for trying, and says that if everyone else supports Randall living, he will as well.
Carl discovers a handgun tucked into Daryl's motorcycle and steals it, just before he goes for a walk in the forest. He discovers a lone walker trapped in mud, and begins goading it by throwing rocks at it and attempting to shoot it. The walker lunges at Carl and breaks free from the mud, and Carl narrowly manages to get away
At the farm, Hershel is checking up on Beth when Glenn walks in. After a short discussion about each other's family and heritage, Hershel gives Glenn a pocketwatch, indicating that he is "good enough" for Maggie. Meanwhile, Rick again asks Lori if he's doing the right thing by executing Randall, and Lori agrees.
In the farmhouse, the group gathers to decide Randall's fate. Dale says that he and Glenn are the only ones who believe Randall should be spared, but Glenn indicates that he has taken Rick's side as well. Dale passionately explains that Randall should be given a chance to prove himself, and that the group will go down a dark path if they execute him. Dale's words sway Andrea to support him, but the others remain steadfast.
Rick, Daryl and Shane bring the bound Randall into the barn and get ready to kill him, with Randall crying and begging for his life. As Rick aims his weapon, Carl approaches and tells his dad to do it. Shocked at his son's behaviour, Rick can't go through with the execution, while Shane angrily leaves. Rick goes to Lori and tells her he couldn't go through with it because of Carl.
A despondent Dale walks through the farmstead, and discovers a cow that had been gutted. As he investigates, he is attacked by the same walker Carl failed to kill. The nearby Daryl runs to Dale's aid and kills the walker, though not before the latter disembowls Dale. The group discovers what happened and are grief-stricken, while Carl realizes the walker is the one he couldn't bring himself to kill. Rick attempts to put Dale out of his misery, but can't bring himself to do it, leading Daryl to take the weapon from Rick's hand, point it at Dale's head, and pull the trigger.
- Berserk Button: Daryl loses it when Randall tells him that the "Philadelphia group" made a father watch as they raped his two teenage daughters.
- Behind the Black: The walker attacks Dale from just off-screen while he's standing in an empty, wide-open field with full visibility.
- Call-Back: Daryl is shown making new arrows (with whittled-down strips from a tree) to replace the ones he lost in "Chupacabra".
- Chekhov's Gunman: The walker that Carl couldn't go through with killing shows up later to attack and mortally wound Dale before he's finally put down for good.
- Death by Adaptation: Dale. In the comics, he survived until the "Fear the Hunters" arc.
- Failed a Spot Check: Dale, when the walker attacks him in the middle of the field.
- Gut Punch: What appears to be a filler episode turns tragic in the last five minutes as a walker attacks and mortally wounds Dale, which results in the first major character death in the series.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Used by Daryl on Randall.
- Killed Off for Real: Dale.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Carl deciding not to kill the walker trapped in the mud when he had a chance (and deliberately goading it with rocks) comes back to haunt him later when the same walker kills Dale. Carl realizes this at the end of the episode and begins crying.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Carl, once he realizes the walker he freed killed Dale.
- Parental Neglect: Despite Rick and Lori giving him a stern speech about his behaviour, Carl is allowed to wander off into the forest, despite Rick already knowing that there are walkers who were trapped there.
- P.O.V. Cam: From Dale, just before Daryl shoots him.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Dale's actor, Jeffery DeMunn, asked to leave the series after longtime friend Frank Darabont was fired by AMC. The writers ultimately opted to have his character get messily eaten by walkers (and eventually put down by Daryl) as a result. DeMunn asked the showrunners if they could change his fate after filming his final episode, but the showrunners chose not to reshoot the ending.