Watching Dead... The main thrust of 'Judge, Jury, Executioner' concerns our survivors debating whether or not to kill Randall (Michael Zegen) and it's only in the episode's final moments that events take a surprising and gruesome turn. So this recap will deal briefly with this week's other key moments, before addressing that ending...
Following on from the events of '18 Miles Out', it becomes clear that Shane, despite appearances, has learnt precisely nothing. He's still as bullish, hot-headed and potentially dangerous as before.
Worried that the rest of the group will "pussy out", he even suggests staging a mutiny. While it's easy for your loyalty to waver while watching The Walking Dead, this week it's hard to feel anything but contempt for Shane...
It helps that Michael Zegen does a good job of making the viewer feel sympathy for the captive Randall, but what really makes Shane detestable is his hypocrisy. "Rick's my friend," he tells Andrea, referring to the man he threw a wrench at and tried to beat to death last week.
Another character it's easy to hate in 'Judge, Jury, Executioner' is Rick and Lori's son Carl. This show's included many a horror movie stable in the past and now it has one more to add to the pot - the creepy child. As Carl stalked towards Randall in the barn, this writer found himself more concerned for the prisoner than for the 12-year-old boy.
Let's not mince words - Carl is developing into a horrid, idiotic child - he's thoughtless and cruel in his exchange with grieving mother Carol (Melissa McBride), he toys with the trapped walker and even encourages his father to coldly execute Randall.
To top it all off, in failing to warn the group about the walker loose near the farm, he's indirectly responsible for what happens in the final scenes. While Carl is becoming really quite loathsome, this writer has nothing but praise for the impressive Chandler Riggs - not many child actors could stand toe-to-toe with their talented adult counterparts.
And last but certainly not least - Dale's death. While the blame lies chiefly at Carl's door, each member of the group is at least partly responsible - indirectly casting him out, they isolated the old man, putting him in danger. He paid the ultimate price.
While Dale bows out on high, this viewer isn't particularly happy about his exit. It seems a little cheap, given that it was reportedly written into the show at the request of actor Jeffrey DeMunn, who was said to be unhappy at the firing of original Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont.
While some characters on this show have outlived their usefulness, Dale certainly wasn't one of them. We're prepared to be proven wrong, but there doesn't seem to be a strong enough plot reason to axe the character. It's a shame that many of his finest moments from the comic series, such as his romance with Andrea (Laurie Holden), will never be depicted on-screen.
Looking at the positive, 'Judge, Jury, Executioner' is without doubt DeMunn's finest hour - he delivers a highly emotive performance and, thanks to the actor's natural charm, he manages to lecture the other characters without seeming stuffy or superior.
There's a real sense of tragedy as Dale moves from one group member to another in his attempts to save Randall and fails to elicit any support. Given what later occurs, it was a nice touch to have Andrea change her mind and stick up for him one last time.
It's a shame then that Dale's final moments leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Was it really necessary to give an amiable, noble character such a horrific death? The Walking Dead has always been a dark, violent show but a heroic exit for Dale wouldn't have gone amiss. The way things went down, it just seems mean-spirited.
And in a cutthroat world where, more and more, mercy is seen as a weakness, likeable characters like Dale are absolutely at a premium. Now they're at a minimum too - the exchange between Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) regarding Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was one of the few warmer moments in what was an almost unrelentingly grim episode.
It would be a mistake for The Walking Dead to allow itself to be swallowed up by its own darkness. For darkness to be at all effective, you need a little light for contrast - with Dale gone, this show just lost one of its brightest sparks.
Let us know what you thought of this week's Walking Dead below!