No one is safe in Robert Kirkman's world of The Walking Dead!
AMC's hit zombie show took another turn in a different direction than the comic book with the death of a major character on tonight's episode of, "Judge, Jury, Executioner."
Dale, the voice or reason and the group's conscience, saw himself get dismembered by a Zombie! A Zombie that Carl found stuck in the mud earlier in the episode!
While the group tried to figure out what to do with the captured boy from the Governor's camp (assumed), with the majority wanting to execute him, Dale was the lone voice arguing that in doing so that would make them just as bad as the boy's group.
However, when it came down to it, Rick just couldn't go through with the deed, and the boy's life was spared.
Getting back to Carl and the Zombie, Carl snatched a gun and went into the woods where he came face to face with a Zombie. However, the Zombie was immobile as its feet were encased in mud. Carl began to throw rocks, and eventually took out his gun and pointed at the Zombie. But then the Zombie's foot became loose and grabbed Carl, who did manage to get free and run away.
So after everything, at night Dale hears a loud moan, and finds a cow that has been disemboweled. Then from behind, the zombie attacks! The rest of the group hears the commotion and begins to make their way to Dale. The Zombie is attempting to bite Dale right in the face and the poor man is doing all he can do fend him off - but it's not enough! The Zombie rips open and reveals Dale's innards!
Daryl is the first to arrive on the scene, takes out the Zombie and calls for help.
Hershel arrives, but says it is too late.
The group sees how much pain Dale is in, with Andrea specifically mentioning it, and with that Daryl puts him out of his misery!
The reason this was such a surprise is that in the comic books Dale was attacked by cannibals, lost his leg, eventually was bitten, and when he turned, he was put down by Andrea.
Here's what Kirkman had to say on the death of tale over at the THR:
The Hollywood Reporter: You killed Dale! Are you disappointed that you weren't able to explore the romance between Dale and Andrea that was such a big part of the comic series?
Robert Kirkman: Not necessarily. I have talked many times how much I like the difference between the comics and the show. There are going to be big plot lines that we may not necessarily get to, like the romance between Dale and Andrea. If you think you really want to read that story line, that's available in the comics, and I highly recommend you pick those up. The show is always going to be a different animal and the decision to kill Dale off was a big one and it wasn't one that was made lightly.
Dale has become the moral center of the group and especially in this episode for him to be going around and saying, "Let's retain our humanity," he's the last guy that's preaching that at this point with Rick making the decisions he has been making of late. To lose this guy at this moment means so much for this group. It's going to be such a monumental death that it's going to affect things a great deal moving forward. It seemed like the right time and that to me, all the stories that are going to come out of this that people haven't seen yet, are worth losing the Dale/Andrea relationship.