Bye, DaleFace: Walking Dead S2 Episode 11 Review
Posted by Alan Edwards
I’ve begun the laborious process of catching up on past Walking Dead episodes. It’s harder than I thought it would be, and this episode is a perfect encapsulation of why that is the case. I think this show is coming down with a serious case of Heroes syndrome: a strong start followed by a realization that the writers have no idea what they want to do.
But anyway, when last we followed this group of absentee parents who nevertheless think it’s best to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, Shane and Rick were going to try to leave the kid Rick rescued, patched up, and decided he couldn’t live with, after which the two got into a brawl that nearly got them all killed, all of which could have been avoided if Rick had just let Shane kill the kid. Rick, however, insists on it being his choice and that he has to sleep on it.
So, of course, the show begins with Rick deciding the kid needs to die. Sigh.
But mostly, this show isn’t about Rick or Shane or Daryl or anyone interesting. Nope, this one features two of the three most annoying characters on the show for nearly its entire length, Carl and Dale. The third, Lori, makes her presence notable by being completely absent, because she is simultaneously the last and worst mother in the world.
But first, Dale. Dale Dale Dale. Hoo boy. After Rick has decided the kid’s fate, because he is The Leader, Dale wigs out. For the first third of the episode, Dale goes around trying to convince people not to let Rick kill the kid. Mostly his argument centers around giving the DaleFace (which consists of bugged-out eyes and open mouth) of incredulous disbelief and saying “But we can’t do this!” He never really gives a good reason why they can’t, other than “We’d be just like them!” or “It’s uncivilized!” Yes, after the fall of civilization, Dale is delusional enough to believe that if everyone can just pretend like civilization still exists, then everybody would get along, because before the zombies came no one ever killed anyone else, there was no rape, no wars, no assaults, no muggings, no nothing, everyone loved each other. It’s the fucking end of the world, Dale. Rick asks Dale if there are witnesses they should call. Dale has no answer. Herschel wants his people safe. Dale has no answer. Darryl has no tolerance for the old man’s bullshit. Shane disagrees with Dale’s perspective. Old guy gets no traction, but won’t let that stop him. He is bound and determined to give everyone the DaleFace until someone breaks.
Meanwhile, as usual, Carl is wandering the fuck around in the middle of a fucking zombie apocalypse. Again. He’s the only child anyone knows about, and no one, literally not one fucking person, keeps an eye on him. Not Rick, not Dale, not any of the women who are apparently CONSUMED with laundry, and especially not Lori, who is the shittiest mother in the universe. I mean, come on. The only other child in their group wandered off alone and got zombified. They literally just shot that girl in the face. Lori takes this as a wake-up call and aggressively ignores her son. I can’t remember the last time Carl and Lori were near each other. Either Carl comes running up to Lori or is off by himself. She doesn’t watch him, doesn’t give a fuck about him. It is fucking bizarre.
Anyway, the tiresome kid wanders around alone. He mouths off to Carol Stubblepate, rubbing her face in the news that her daughter is dead and there is no heaven like the shitty human being he is. She freaks and he moves on. He finds Darryl’s camp, far from the idiots he still hangs out with, and immediately takes the gun Darryl has stashed there. He wanders off again. He finds a zombie stuck in some mud. Since no adult will apparently spend an iota of time with him, Carl decides that zombie attention is better than no attention. He watches it. He throws rocks at it. Eventually he decides to shoot it, so he walks as close as he can to it and holds the gun up and doesn’t pull the trigger. After god knows how long, the zombie gets its foot out of the mud, knocks the gun from Carl’s hand, and attacks the boy. Sadly, Carl escapes.
He comes running up to the house, where Rick has declared that it’s time for a meeting to decide the kid’s fate that he’s decided. A “debate” ensues, where Dale tries to convince everyone logically and civilly that the kid has a place in their group and can be productive. I’m just kidding. Dale uses DaleFace, histrionics, and incredulity to get his point across, which fails miserably. No one will agree with him. He yells at everyone. After it’s clear he’s lost, Andrea – for absolutely zero reason I can fathom – just suddenly says, “He’s right!” Other people agree. They can’t figure out what to do with the kid, which makes everyone go, “Oh, yeah, he could run off and get his group and put us in danger, I forgot,” so the kid’s head is back on the block. Dale gets mean and sneers that he’s sure everyone is so bloodthirsty that they’ll all want to watch and drink his blood afterwards or something. He’s quite the smooth orator. It’s decided: the kid has to die. Dale huffs off.
Rick, Shane, and Darryl go to do The Deed. They take the kid to the barn, where Rick does his best Ned Stark impression. He gives the kid a chance to say some final words. The kid is just sobbing and freaking the fuck out, as if he’s been dragged to a barn at night to be shot or something. Rick raises his gun. Carl shows up, because of fucking course Carl shows up, who the fuck would think to keep an eye on the only fucking child still alive in a fifty-mile radius. He gives one of his famous CarlFaces and says, “Do it, Dad! Shoot him!” I am not really sure why. So of course his Dad can’t perform while his kid is watching. Shane ushers Carl out, but it’s too late, and Shane sees it. The Leader can’t follow through on the tough decisions. He decides that the kid will live.
Andrea is fucking ecstatic for some reason – again, not sure where this comes from, since they don’t really show her changing her mind, but whatever – and says, “We have to tell Dale!” Cut to Dale, wandering alone at night, carrying his gun, because for a guy that bitches anytime someone shoots a zombie or a person or a tree, he sure as fuck is always carrying a gun. He comes across a gutted steer, one of the things that this group is probably counting on to feed them and winter is coming and all that. Dale gives the cow DaleFace until he gets attacked by a zombie. He struggles, but even the power of DaleFace and Judging Everyone can’t help him when the zombie tears open the skin of his stomach.
Darryl comes flying up, tackles the zombie, knifes it in the head (because when Darryl does it it’s awesome, but when Shane does it he’s inhuman) and shouts for the others. Everyone gathers around Dale, who is doing DaleFace as hard as he can. Herschel looks at the torn skin. Doesn’t seem likely the zombie had a chance to really damage any organs, and people in real life have had their guts falling out of them and still get treated as much as possible, but Herschel takes a look and shakes his head. Hey, I’m no veterinarian, so what do I know? Maybe Herschel doesn’t fucking like the guy and just pronounces him a goner. I know I would. Carl sees that the zombie that attacked Dale is the same one he was playing with earlier and is upset. I swear, pretty much every dead person in the group can be traced right back to Rick, Lori, or Carl. The three of them just like to fuck people up.
Andrea is distraught and says that Dale is in a lot of pain. Time to put Ole Yeller down. Rick, as The Leader, realizes what he must do. He pulls out his gun, holds it up, and… can’t do it. Again, he is faced with a hard decision and can’t go through with it. Darryl takes the gun, says “Sorry, brother,” and fires. End show. Goodbye, DaleFace. You will not be missed. Again, I wonder how the group would have acted had Shane been the one to man up and do it. I assume not well. Only Rick can shoot people, and if he can’t they make Darryl do it, because Darryl is awesome.
So if Rick had just let Shane shoot the fucking kid last episode, Dale would be alive. Everyone would hate Shane for it, but that’s the truth. The pragmatic solution would have prevented tragedy. Fucking Rick, man. I think it deserves its own post.
And yes, I know what happens next episode.