Great news: Most annoying character on "The Walking Dead" now dead

I made the title of the post ambiguous in case any readers Tivo’d it and haven’t watched yet, but c’mon. We all know who I’m talking about. Realistically, it could only be one of two people: Either Sophia’s mopey mom, whose name I still don’t know, or that endlessly whining bleeding heart Dale. (Alas, the screencap AMC chose for the clip embedded below gives it away.) Now that some of the dead weight is being shed, I take it poor underused T-Dog is next. Or maybe Herschel’s other daughter, who tried to kill herself a few episodes ago? As with Sophia, until that plotline unspooled, I had no idea that character even existed. I wonder which barely-there member of the ensemble will be next to be suddenly thrust to center stage in the expectation that anyone watching cares a whit about them.

Incidentally, the kill scene here is dumb on several levels. How did Dale not hear it coming in the still of the night? These things growl constantly every time they’re onscreen, which isn’t often. How did the zombie disembowel him with his bare hands? (Admittedly, that’s happened in Romero movies too.) Tacking it on at the end right after the big dramatic climax with the prisoner made it feel random and haphazard, a zombie ex machina to get rid of the character before people start tuning out in sheer irritation at his do-good-ism. Then again, all’s well that ends well — and this certainly ended well. And in fairness, they did a brilliant job with the scene of Rick’s son tossing rocks at the zombie stuck in the mud. For all the grating soap-opera melodrama, there are sporadic flashes of genius in how the show captures the pathos of the zombies’ predicament. The scene of that zombie snarling from the end of a noose was the best thing about the first half of this season. Having little Carl amuse himself by humiliating a zombie who’s helpless in front of him was a more affecting moment of dehumanization than the entire Shane storyline. More of that and fewer weepy “here’s mah pappy’s timepiece” exchanges between Glenn and Herschel, please.