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Judge, Jury, Executioner

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Judge, Jury, Executioner
Season 2, Episode 11
AMC TWD Judge, Jury, Executioner
Air Date March 4, 2012
AMC (United States)
March 9, 2012
Fox (United Kingdom)
Written By Angela Kang
Directed By Gregory Nicotero
U.S. Viewers 6.77 million
Episode Guide
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"18 Miles Out"
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"Better Angels"
Cast Guide
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale Horvath
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Also Starring
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene
Michael Zegen as Randall
Picture Gallery

"Judge, Jury, Executioner" is the eleventh episode of Season 2 of AMC's The Walking Dead. It originally aired on March 4, 2012 at 9/8c on AMC.

Plot Synopsis

In the farm's slaughter shed, Daryl interrogates and beats a bound Randall. Randall confesses that he was traveling with a heavily-armed group of 30. The men, he says, have raped women before. Still, Randall insists, "I ain't like that."

Daryl reports back to the rest of the group. Rick declares Randall a threat, and that he must be killed, "You can't just decide on your own to take someone's life," Dale objects, begging Rick to give him time to talk to the group and find another way. Rick agrees to give Dale the rest of the day.

Dale asks Andrea to guard Randall against Shane while he talks to the others. He asks if Andrea agrees that Randall should be killed. "The world we knew is gone," Dale argues, "but keeping our humanity? That's a choice." Andrea agrees to watch Randall — "But not because I think you're right," she says.

From inside the slaughter shed, Randall overhears Shane approaching with Carl. Carl is curious about the prisoner, but Shane insists he let the grown-ups handle it.

Shane asks Andrea, who's standing guard outside, if she would stop him if he were to try to shoot Randall. She insists she would. Shane shares his suspicion that Rick won't be able to go through with the execution. "Every time we have a problem around here," he says, "who you thinks behind it?"

Meanwhile, Carl watches Randall from the rafters of the slaughter shed. Randall notices him. "I didn't do nothin'," Randall tells Carl, begging to be set free. Carl slowly starts walking toward Randall, but is halted when Shane enters.

Shane shoves a gun in Randall's face and drags Carl out of the shed. "Quit tryin' to get yourself killed," Shane scolds.

Dale approaches Daryl about Randall. "This group's broken," Daryl says, stating he doesn't care what happens either way. Dale asks Daryl to stand with him anyway, but Daryl won't.

Lori finds Rick tying a noose in the barn. He asks if she supports his decision. "If you think it's best," she says, asking about what happened on the road with Shane. "He won't be a problem anymore," Rick answers.

Carl is kneeling by Sophia's grave when Carol approaches. They'll see Sophia in heaven, she tells him. Carl snaps back that heaven is just a lie, "and if you believe it, you're an idiot."

Later, Rick chastises Carl for talking back to Carol. "Don't talk," Rick says. "Think." Dale goes to Hershel, asking for his support. "I don't want to know," Hershel insists. "I leave it with Rick."

Carl wanders into Daryl's camp and finds a handgun stashed in Daryl's motorcycle pouch. He pockets it, and heads into the forest. Carl stumbles upon a walker stuck in the mud of a creek bed. Fascinated, he begins throwing rocks at the walker, then approaches to shoot it with Daryl's gun. The walker lunges at Carl, eventually freeing itself from the mud and grabbing on to Carl's leg. Carl falls to the ground, but manages to get away.

Dale, meanwhile, tries to convince Shane to spare Randall. Shane gives Dale credit for the effort, and says that if Dale convinces the others, he'll go along with it. "But I'm telling you now," Shane warns, "you're wrong."

In the farmhouse, Glenn finds Hershel checking up on Beth. Hershel asks Glenn about his family and tells him about his own Irish heritage. He hands Glenn a pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather. "No man is good enough for your little girl," Hershel says, "until one is."

As the sun sets, Rick again asks Lori if she thinks he's doing the right thing. Lori nods. The group gathers in the house. Rick asks if anyone thinks Randall should be spared. Dale posits that the only people who think so are himself and Glenn, but Glenn too sides with Rick. "He's not one of us," Glenn offers.

Dale begs to give Randall a chance to prove himself, but the others insist they wouldn't feel safe with him around camp. "If we do this," Dale says, "We're saying there's no hope."

Dale pleads with the group to do what's right. Andrea eventually sides with him, but the others stay silent. Despondent, Dale leaves the room. "This group is broken," he says, echoing Daryl. Afterward, Rick, Shane, and Daryl bring Randall to the barn and put him on his knees. Rick asks if he has any final words. Randall cries, begging for his life. As Rick raises his gun, Carl enters the barn. "Do it, Dad," he says. Shocked, Rick lowers his gun and orders Randall taken away. Shane storms out of the barn.

Rick brings Carl back to the camp and tells Lori what happened. "He wanted to watch," Rick says. "I couldn't." Meanwhile, Dale walks through the fields. He hears the moans of a dying cow and goes to investigate; the cow had been gutted. He turns and is attacked by the same walker that Carl found in the creek bed. Back at camp, the others hear Dale's screams. Daryl runs to the scene, where the walker is on top of Dale, tearing into his stomach. Daryl stabs the walker in the head, then shouts for help. Dale's intestines are spilling out of his gut. He goes into shock. When Hershel arrives, he reports that Dale can't be saved. As Dale writhes on the ground, Carl sees the body of the walker he was throwing rocks at previously lying nearby. Horrified, he buries his head in Lori's lap. Andrea begs Rick to help Dale. Rick unholsters his gun, but can't shoot. Daryl takes the weapon and aims it at Dale's head. Dale gives him a faint reassuring smile. "Sorry, brother," Daryl says and fires.[1]

Other Cast






"Judge, Jury, Executioner" was originally broadcast on March 4, 2012 in the United States on AMC. Upon airing, the episode garnered 6.771 million viewers and a 3.5 rating in the 18–49 demographic, according to Nielsen ratings. This indicates that 3.5% of people from the demographic viewed the episode. It became the highest-rated cable telecast of the day, attaining significantly higher ratings than that of Storage Wars on A&E Television and Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo. Similarly, the episode outperformed all cable television programs during the week dated March 4. Total viewership and ratings declined moderately from the previous installment, "18 Miles Out", which obtained 7.04 million viewers and a 3.8 rating in the 18–49 demographic.

Critical Response

"Judge, Jury, Executioner" was lauded by television critics. Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald called it an "incredible episode"; "Walking Dead again proves it is one of the best dramas on TV and almost makes me feel good about paying my cable bill." Writing for the San Antonio Express-News, Rene Guzman opined that it "delivers all that messy drama in spades with a true gut-wrenching end to one of the series’ core characters". Wetpaint's Molly Friedman stated that in "Judge, Jury, Executioner", the audience "finally had a reason to shed some tears and remember just how much we care about the original gang of apocalyptic misfits". Kevin Yeoman of The Christian Science Monitor and E! Online journalist Tierney Bricker concluded that the episode managed to effectively surprise the audience, while Cyriaque Lamar of io9 declared that "Judge, Jury, Executioner" was inferior to its predecessor by writing that it "served up a bunch of quasi-entertaining scenes of people arguing and capped them off with one of the most accidentally funny closers ever committed to basic cable". In his B+ review, Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club said that the episode continued the series' path of a more focused and central direction. Josh Jackson of Paste was intrigued with the series' exploration of morality during an apocalyptic event in "Judge, Jury, Executioner". Eric Goldman of IGN was much more pessimistic about the episode than the general consensus. In his 6.5 out of 10 rating review, he called it "especially dull" when compared to the previous installment.

Dale's death was adulated by commentators, who affirmed that it was a gruesome and emotional scene. Scott Meslow of The Atlantic suggested that because of his death, The Walking Dead embraced a more dark and sinister philosophy. He asserted, "Taken broadly, his death marks the death of a certain morality on the show, and the embrace of a philosophy that's something crueler and darker. Dale, unlike any of the other survivors, maintained his humanity to the very end of his waking life—but even he couldn't choose not to come back as something amoral and inhuman. In a world that seems utterly incapable of getting better, it's a none-too-reassuring sign that things will almost certainly get worse." Gina McIntyre of Los Angeles Times echoed synonymous thoughts: "It's left to Daryl to shoot the man to end his suffering, which is profoundly too bad. Without Dale to raise all those nagging concerns about doing what's right, zombie apocalypse or no zombie apocalypse, I fear for the future of this walker-infested world." Handlen and Calgary Herald's Kimberly Potts thought that it was among the shocking moments in the series, while Friedman expressed that she was "riveted by the awesome attack [...] and filled with sadness, as the original gang watched their friend die a slow and painful death". Handlen remarked: "It’s a shocking scene, partially for its straight-forward gore, and partially for the astonished, uncomprehending expression on Dale’s face. [...] This, right here, is the kind of sequence the show needs. There’s too little sense of danger right now." Verne Gay of Newsday described the sequence as "violent", and ultimately summated that DeMunn's absence will be felt as the show progresses. However, Lamar professed that the writers should have written off Dale in a more respectable way; "That wasn't the way to off the show's most annoyingly sane character. Dale's redeeming quality was his ability to guilt everybody into paying lip service to rule of law; his weakness was his naïveté. Having an escaping Randall kill him would've offered some poetic symmetry. I'm not going to miss this character, but he deserved a better send-off." Time journalist Nate Rawlings drew allusions from Dale's attack to the episode title, commenting that "when the lone zombie we see in this episode tears open Dale’s stomach, spilling the contents of his body onto the cold ground, we’re reminded that the walkers are the judges, they’re the jury, and this particular one was a most brutal executioner." Although he was shocked by the sequence, Goldman assailed the earlier development of Dale in the episode, opining that he was obnoxious.

Handlen felt that the character development of Carl Grimes was more stable that similar developments in the episode; "Using Carl to both resolve the episode’s plot, and making him semi-responsible for Dale’s death, has a satisfying neatness, and serves as a reminder that for all their talk, Rick and the group have no idea what impact their choices will make."[1]Likewise, Jackson and Ryan Rigley of MTV noticed the darker transition of the character; "Carl's moral compass has greatly shifted since being shot and seeing the walking corpse of his friend, Sophia," asserted Rigley. Jackson concluded that it was one of the episode highlights, writing, "He awakened from his coma talking about the beautiful doe, but ever since the dead body of Sophia limped its way out of that barn door, he's become colder and harder. When Carol sees him at Sophia’s gravesite, she tries to comfort him with talk of heaven, and he calls her an idiot. He's looking to emulate the men leading the group—the different kinds of toughness displayed by his father, Shane and Daryl. And he finds the chance to test his own bravery, playing near a zombie stuck in the mud by the creek, keeping the discovery to himself." Jackson commented on Carl's reaction to the death of Dale, saying that despite a gradual change to a dark nature, he "realizes [...] that he's still very much a kid".

A.V Club IGN
B+ 6.5


  • Last appearance of Dale Horvath.
  • The name of the episode, "Judge, Jury, Executioner," implies these roles will be filled out for Randall's fate. However, only the Judge and Jury roles pertain to him, with Rick as the judge and the group as the jury. The executioner is Daryl, who instead kills a suffering Dale when Rick cannot bring himself to do it.
  • Dale is the first main character to die.
  • This episode has the least walker kills of to date, with a grand total of one kill.
  • According to Greg Nicotero, when originally scripted, Dale was supposed to find Jimmy having been attacked instead of the cow that was filmed.[2]
  • Jeffrey DeMunn, who played Dale, had a change of heart about leaving the show and asked after filming his death if the showrunners could change the episode so he could live and keep portraying the character. Unfortunately, they had already filmed the scene and decided not to spend the extra money that would be required to reshoot the ending.




  1. AMC synopsis
  2. Talking Dead episode 3/4/12
Episodes of The Walking Dead
Season 1 "Days Gone Bye" • "Guts" • "Tell It to the Frogs" • "Vatos" • "Wildfire" • "TS-19"
Season 2 "What Lies Ahead" • "Bloodletting" • "Save the Last One" • "Cherokee Rose" • "Chupacabra" • "Secrets" • "Pretty Much Dead Already" • "Nebraska" • "Triggerfinger" • "18 Miles Out" • "Judge, Jury, Executioner" • "Better Angels" • "Beside the Dying Fire"
Season 3 "Seed" • "Sick" • "Walk With Me" • "Killer Within" • "Say the Word" • "Hounded" • "When the Dead Come Knocking" • "Made to Suffer" • "The Suicide King" • "Home" • "I Ain't a Judas" • "Clear" • "Arrow on the Doorpost" • "Prey" • "This Sorrowful Life" • "Welcome to the Tombs"
Season 4 "30 Days Without An Accident" • "Infected" • "Isolation" • "Indifference" • "Internment" • "Live Bait" • "Dead Weight" • "Too Far Gone" • "After" • "Inmates" • "Claimed" • "Still" • "Alone" • "The Grove" • "Us" • "A"
Season 5 "No Sanctuary"

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