On this week’s Walking Dead, the Grimes Gang found itself locked in a bitter life-or-death debate. The life in question belonged to injured interloper Randall, whose knowledge about the location of Hershel’s Family Farm made him a potential liability. Releasing him into the wild was an invitation for disaster — Randall admitted that he belonged to a thirty-person gang with heavy firepower and a loose moral code. But keeping him prisoner was no better: Food is getting scarce as winter approaches, and it seemed likely that the bleeding-heart Rick partisans would give Randall plenty of opportunity to escape. So the cast spent the entire episode discussing possible outcomes, and in the end [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!!] nothing happened to Randall, but a disgusted Dale ran afoul of a renegade walker. He actually seemed to be doing a decent job of fighting the zombie off…at least until the undead attacker ripped his ribcage open. (Hershel’s magical combat-veterinarian powers couldn’t fix that one, alas.) Daryl Motherf—ing Dixon was kind enough to send Dale into the next life with a sorrowful bullet to the brain. (if you missed it, check out the transcript of Sunday night’s EW live chat, when Norman Reedus took your Walking Dead questions.)
The death of Dale comes as a shock to fans of the Walking Dead source material. In the graphic novels, Dale is one of the most prominent characters in the cast, and becomes a consistent voice of quiet moral authority. That being said, Dale felt a bit out of place in the universe of the TV show. (For one thing, the decision to keep Shane alive quickly sidelined Dale — all the the security-vs-morality conversations that Shane and Rick have been having this season were between Rick and Dale in the comic books.) Notably, actor Jeffrey DeMunn is a regular in Frank Darabont films — so feel free to begin theorizing that his departure is a bit of meet-the-new-boss housecleaning from replacement showrunner Glen Mazzara.
Personally, I’m not complaining. TV-Dale was never particularly exciting and was frequently very annoying. With his death, the show no longer has a bland voice of reason. Even better — the fact that Dale was killed by a walker who was attracted to the farm by Li’l Carl might indicate a loss of innocence for the show’s kid mascot. (It’s also a little ridiculous, but I’ll take fun-ridiculous over boring-ridiculous any day.) I’ll be talking more about the Death of Dale in my recap later tonight. For now, tell us what you thought about this big twist. Are you sad to see Dale go? Do you wish they’d killed someone else? Or multiple someones?
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