Blick Tolkien reviews The Walking Dead – Episode 017 – Judge, Jury, Executioner

The Walking Dead - Episode 017 - Judge, Jury, Executioner 45 min., 2012
Written by Angela Kang
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★

Relax, it’s not Judge Dredd.

* * *

Show Premise:

Sheriff Rick Grimes after waking from a coma, finding his family and a small group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. He leads his family and survivors to Hershel’s farm for safety after the CDC and its lone scientist are destroyed and Sophia dies. Hoping to reside there.


The following review is rated SIN (Sincerely Intrigued Negro), it contains several rants that appear at random. The views here do not reflect the thoughts of a completely sane person. They are being presented by a person of African-American descent who has grown up in a rather unseemly portion of town, taken recreational narcotics, and has been molested by a clown. Feel free to skip certain paragraphs, if you simply want a recap and continued review of the episode. Hipster, child, feline and vegan discretion is advised.


My review’s gonna contain a full episode recap, so spoiler alert bitches!

I’m sure this may come as a surprise to you all but I think this episode, or at least the recap, will likely be the shortest one I have ever done. Now get those pants around your ankles, this one’s coming hard, fast, and I probably won’t look you in the eye during or after. This episode continues debating the value of a human life in a land full of the undead. On the one hand Randall (the prisoner from episode ten “ 18 Miles Out”) does represent a real and serious threat to not only the security of the group as individuals but also to the only place they have found real stability so far. He also, however, is still a member of the living and any death decreases their numbers considerably. This episode, more or less, delves into a lot of grey area on capital punishment. The problem in situations like this is that it quite literally becomes us or them. When you take that type of stance and the “us” equals humanity and the “them” describes zombies or the undead, it’s sort of understood that the uninfected would have to stay that way and relying on your fellow man is required to make that a certainty. But when you think all your fellow man wants to do is rape your women and wipe you out then he stops being an ally and becomes an enemy. All this is speculation and trust is really hard to come by. Especially considering it’s survival of the fittest.

The beating we see Randall exposed to by Daryl to get some Intel seems like something from a cop show. I half expected Dennis Franz to come in and pull him off for a second. So once the kid tells them that his crew has 30 people all with semi-automatic weapons, Rick makes it clear that he’s obviously a threat and they have no choice but to “eliminate the threat”. Dale, as usual, is championing on the side of right so Rick gives him until sundown to sway the group before the execution. He talks Andrea into watching over the prisoner so Shane can’t just snipe him while he gets his plea on. No matter who he talks to though no one seems to be on board but Glenn, and that’s just barely. While he’s out trying to get signatures for his pardon Shane pays the prisoner a visit to find Andrea guarding him and tells her he wants to start up another coup. Leading the group and keeping Hershel and Rick under control. She’s skeptical but the convo eventually drops off. Carl checks up on him and seems way too fascinated by the prisoner. Watching from the rafters the guy tries to appeal to Carl and befriend him but before he can get anywhere with it (which I think judging by his face wasn’t an option) Shane interrupts them, shooing him back to his momma.

Lorie goes out to the barn and makes sure Rick is really up to doing this while Carl visits Sophia’s grave. This scene shows how far from being the care free scared little boy Carl used to be to the cold hopeless “pragmatic” boy he’s becoming. In the scene, Carol tells him they will see Sophia in heaven someday and that she’s in a better place. And, with no remorse, Carl shuts her down with a few words. He says that “heaven is just another lie and that if she believes in it that she’s an idiot” and walks away. He crushed her in that moment and Rick goes after him to have a chat once Carol tells him about it. The heart to heart has Rick telling Carl about shaking someone’s faith. That telling her heaven didn’t exist was a mistake and he should fix it. He asks his dad is that why he’s killing that guy, to “fix” his mistake? Then gets uber concerned about how he’s gonna kill him. Near serial killer interested. Rick just sends him on his way to apologize. Carl runs off to the woods and finds a zombie stuck in the sediment near the pond and decides to hit it with rocks and taunt it. His field trip gets interesting, culminating in a near death experience. He steals Daryl’s gun and sights on it, but it escaped the muck before he could take a shot at it and he’s forced to run back to camp.

They have the big vote and despite all his platitudes about how death changes people and how losing their humanity is something they can’t come back from they still vote Randall has to go. Even Glenn is pretty much against saving him which shocked the hell out of me. Disgusted, Dale storms off to be alone. With the majority ruling, Rick gets Randall to the barn and has him kneel. But before he can take the shot, he sees Carl looking at him with bated breath, urging him to do it. His words stay Rick’s hand. Of course, Shane is pissed but they call it off so Rick has time to think.

During his walk of shame Dale runs straight into the zombie Carl was taunting and before anyone can come to his aide he gets his guts torn out. This was the most unexpected death so far. Even more of a shock than Sophia’s untimely passing. Hershel can’t save him and they are all heartbroken even Shane seems upset but Daryl has to end his suffering and puts one in his brain. Fans I’m sure who know of Dale’s exploits after this and his romance with Andrea or his losing a leg, or becoming Cannibal soup will be shocked. Those that see him die while Shane is STILL going strong are probably just pissed! This was by far 9 out of 10 on my scale of awesome television. So I will see you for episode 12: Better Angels review. Until then, may all your films bring fright.

Have You Read...?

About Blick Tolkien

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at
This entry was posted in Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Blick Tolkien reviews The Walking Dead – Episode 017 – Judge, Jury, Executioner

  1. John Bruni says:

    The way things are going, by the time this series is over, the only people left will be Rick and T-Dog, and I’m sure Rick will die in the last episode, leaving only T-Dog. Holy Jesus, that would actually be awesome. I hope that happens. Andrea will be next, because she’s still alive in the book. Then Daryl (because people like him too much to continue having him on the show), the rest of Herschel’s family will take an entire season to get rid of (Maggie will go first, because she’s still alive in the book), Carl will die and become a zombie (but Rick won’t be able to kill him, so he’ll be killed later by his own son in the series finale), then Glenn will go in a really stupid way. What about Michonne, you ask? She’ll die in the first episode of the next season, because they want to keep us on our toes. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking.

Leave a Reply