Hiatus Helper: Our Favorite Walking Dead Episodes of the Series So Far
Is it just us orÂ has this hiatus been especially painful? Season 5 doesn’t premiere until the fall, but AMC is helping ease our withdrawal by marathoning all four seasons of the show starting Friday, July 4th at 9 am. Since we’re pretty serious fans of the series, we thought we’d take this opportunity to tell you about some of our favorite episodes.
Favorite Episode: “Beside the Dying Fire”
Season 2 Finale
This was my favorite when I started watching The Walking DeadÂ two years ago, and even after two full seasons, I have yet to see an episode that comes even close to knocking it out of the top spot. Here’s just a few of the reasons why this episode blows me away every time I watch it:
- The action sequences are amazing. I remember watching the episode for the first time, seeing that mega-herd heading straight for Hershel’s farm and thinking, “HOLY S**T!!” All those walkers! For those viewers who are hard-core zombie fans, this had to be the ultimate wet dream. But, it was also the first time the group had faced a herd of that magnitude, and they were completely unprepared for it. Their big plan was to drive around in their cars killing as many walkers as possible, and then lead the rest off the farm by driving away. Uh huh. Well, I guess if you see thousands of walkers heading your way that may be the best plan you can come up with if you have only a few moments to think about it. As I watched, I knew their efforts were ultimately going to be futile, but the heart-racing scenes as you watch them try just stunned me.
- Enter Michonne and her pets. If you are familiar with the comics, you know that Michonne is one of the most unique and pivotal characters in the entire series. At the end of the episode, we are finally introduced to the character, and a hell of an introduction it was. Just when we think that they are about to kill off Andrea, out of the blue comes this sword-welding, hooded bad-ass with two armless, toothless walkers chained to her side. It was a grandiose introduction to a character that would be very instrumental leading into the Woodbury and Governor storylines of Season 3.
Episode: “Killer Within”
Every character death on this show hurts, some more than others. In this episode we lost two major characters, T-Dog and Lori Grimes, and while Lori may have been one of the least-liked characters, her death scene will go down as one of the most memorable and most painful. What could be more gut-wrenching than the final words of a dying mother to her son, and then, like twisting the knife in the wound, the son having to shoot his mother in the head after it is all over. I’ve never been a fan of Lori Grimes nor of the actress Sarah Wayne Callies‘ performance on the show, but I must admit she did a stellar job in those final scenes.
This is what I want. This is right. Now, you take care of your daddy for me, all right? And your little brother or sister. You’re gonna be fine. You are gonna beat this world, I know you will. You are smart and you are strong and you are so brave. And I love you. You gotta do what’s right. You promise me you’ll always do what’s right. It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world. So if it feels wrong, don’t do it, all right? If it feels easy, don’t do it. Don’t let the world swallow you. You’re so good, my sweet boy! You’re the best thing I ever did. I love you. — Lori to Carl
It’s OK — you can cry now. I’ve watched this episode at least a dozen times, and I still do every time.
After the fall of the prison, the second half of season four focused primarily on character development episodes, each week highlighting a particular character or small group of prison survivors. “Inmates” was one of the exceptions, and it was full of all kinds of goodies. First, we learned that Baby Judith survived the prison attack (yay!!) and was rescued by Tyreese, Lizzie, and Mica. The irony of that was after surviving a full-blown guns-a-blazing assault by the Governor, she was nearly smothered to death by 10 year-old Lizzie. This is what I dubbed “Crazy Lizzie Part 1” and is definitely one of the top WTF scenes of the season, perhaps of the entire series.
However, the best part turned out to be the last two minutes. Â After all of the gloom and doom, the episode ends (finally!) on a light note. Three of the biggest characters in the comic book series — Sgt. Abraham Ford, Dr. Eugene Porter (my personal favorite), and Rosita Espinoza — are introduced and in a very comical way. We soon learn in later episodes that Eugene will provide the much-needed humor in a show where there is very little, if anything at all, to laugh about.
Episode: “The Grove”
Look at the flowers, Lizzie. Just look at the flowers. This episode is what I called “Crazy Lizzie Part 2.” Even with all the Governor and Terminus crap that went down in Season 4, if you asked fans for the one thing they will remember from the season, this would be it for a lot of them, I’m sure. Because I read the comics, I knew Lizzie was going to kill her sister and I knew someone would probably have to kill Lizzie because of it, but I still felt like my heart had been ripped out and stomped in the dirt in the end. And, I owe that completely to Melissa McBride because she definitely hit the ball out the park on this one. There’s lots of buzz that the show may be getting a rare Emmy nomination for McBride’s performance in this episode. I truly hope so because I can’t think anyone who is more deserving than her.
I originally marathon’d the first three seasons of The Walking Dead so, for me, I never think of the show in terms of individual episodes but rather in terms of one long, continuous, super-sized movie. And I think of it in terms of outstanding moments and scenes. So choosing my favorite episode was difficult to say the least.
Favorite Episode: “Better Angels”
Before I started watching TWD,Â I had been spoiled on a couple of the major plot points, most notably Shane’s death. It was a big deal at the time. There’s no way I could have shielded myself from the news. But all I knew was that he died. I had no idea how it happened. While I was gobbling up the second season I watched with a heightened anticipation. I always wondered in the back of mind whether this was going to be the moment Shane died. When I finally got to “Better Angels” and saw how it all went down, it was so different than I had ever imagined. And so much better. This was a case of reality exceeding expectations.
Rick and Shane’s relationship was beyondÂ broken by this point. Rick had everything Shane wanted and at one point had. The two of them really couldn’t exist in the same group. One of them had to go. Shane put in play a plan that was supposed to result in Rick’s death by his hands. He took it upon himself to free the prisoner they held captive in the barn. He let Randall think that he was going home to his posse. Once they got out into the woods, Shane ruthlessly snapped the guy’s neck. Made it seem like there was a struggle and then later led Rick out into a clearing where he was going to kill him and make it seem like Randall was the culprit. Perfect plan, right?
Like so many people over the course of the series, Shane didn’t think Rick had the killer instinct. Well Shane was wrong and on the top of the hill, they confronted each other. The history between them was epic. The issues between them were even more epic. I went back and re-watched this scene. It was beautifully shot. And it all ended with Rick “surrendering” his gun. He got close enough to Shane to take him out with his knife. Carl came upon them and when he saw Zombie Shane rise up and go after Rick, he gunned him down but good. Earlier in the episode, the kid was hating himself for not being able to kill the zombie that ultimately murdered Dale. So there was so much significance in everything that happened. It was an example of great, well written, well acted, well…everything TV.
Honorable Mention #1: “This Sorrowful Life”
In this episode, Glenn asks Hershel for his blessing to marry Maggie. And later he gives her a ring. I love this couple so this was a nice moment for them. But that’s not why “This Sorrowful Life”Â got to me. I had no idea that TWD would be able to redeem Merle even a smidge. I mean, he was Daryl’s son of a bitch, racist boar of a brother.
Merle was right. Rick wasn’t going to be able to fulfill the deal he had madeÂ with The Governor. And that was to turn Michonne over in order to keep their group safe. Merle took it upon himself to do it since he knew Rick would and could never do it. But guess what? He let Michonne go and went after The Governor by himself. He paid for that, of course, with his life. It was pretty brutal the way he went out. But what was even more brutal was when Daryl had to kill his zombie-fied brother. Really great work from Michael Rooker. Norman Reedus, too.
Honorable Mention #2: “Infected”
There was so much going on in this episode. There was lots of blood and gore within the prison. It wasn’t just zombies outside the gate anymore. I had to close my eyes a couple of times. But in the good way. “Infected” set up some of the more quality season four stories as far as I’m concerned. It set up the creepy kid who had such an unnatural affection for zombies she would name them and mourn for them. And while it was the beginning of the so so virus storyline, the episode ended with an ill and quarantined Karen and David dead. They were charred beyond recognition but Tyreese knew his lady love was gone. What he didn’t know was whodunit. The reveal in a later episode was amazing and it resulted in Rick exiling Carol from the camp, which was riveting.
Speaking of Carol, we started to see just how far from the timid, abused wife she had come. She not only coldly taught the kids how to kill, she even asked Carl to keep a secret from his dad. I also loved this episode for the small moments. I wrote aboutÂ them in my recap so I won’t go into detail. There was some great Rick/Daryl stuff; Michonne holding Judith was the most vulnerable we’d ever seen her; and Rick finally came to his senses and put his sheriff’s belt back on and gave Carl his gun back. They couldn’t keep playing farmers anymore. They had to step up and get back into the game. This was definitely a standout season four episode for me. Although, I’m not going to lie. It was difficult to watch Rick sacrifice those pigs.
Favorite Episode: “Save the Last One”
I have a confession to make. Jon Bernthal’s Shane Walsh was my favorite character. Talk about a complicated, conflicted anti-hero. Iâ€™m going to steal from Batman here because Harvey Dent’s words have never been more true. â€œYou either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.â€ Good stuff. I still mourn his (very necessary) death â€“ and at the hands of Carl! Thatâ€™s some great storytelling.
My favorite part of this episode is when Pruitt Taylor Vince‘s Otis is killed. Well, that’s not my favorite part. I like this episode because we see Shane’s transformation. I mean he’s still a hero at the beginning of the episode but when it’s clear that they won’t get away from the horde without a serious distraction, he becomes a villain. It was so surprising to me when I first watched the episode. Shane was someone I rooted for. He was someone I wanted to see survive. But he become unrecognizable and I love that this show reveals these characters to us – warts and all. It shows us the toll of this life. It shows us how the”war” to stay alive changes you. What I also love about this episode is that the characters are asking some big questions about life and death. Andrea wanted to die, but Dale didn’t let her and she’s trying to forgive him for that. Darryl thinks the walker who took his own life should â€œliveâ€ or die by that choice. And Lori isn’t sure she wants Carl to survive his injury to live in this world.
It’s just a great episode on so many levels. It’s high stakes, has some great action and packs a serious emotional punch.
Honorable Mention: “Tell It to the Frogs”
I loved the first season of The Walking Dead. At the time, this show was so original and so visually arresting that it drewÂ me right in. When Rick reunites with his family, itâ€™s a big deal. But for me, the Shane stuff really shines in this episode â€“ seeing how he is with both Lori and Carl, seeing him defend Carol after Lori tells him her family is off-limits. Rick was Shaneâ€™s best friend and he did what he could to take care of his best friendâ€™s family. He considered himself a part of that family, but that changed in an instant. And, of course, we can’t talk about this episode without mentioning Merle. When the guys return to the roof for him and only find his hand? So good. So surprising. So unexpected. When I re-watched this episode what I felt most strongly was nostalgia. They were all babies (and still alive and together and hopeful) back in season 1. So many people have died. So much has changed.Â They were at the beginning of this story. It’s been a fascinating and exhausting and draining journey, but worth it.
Going toÂ Comic-Con this year? The Walking Dead Escape attraction will be back at PETCO Park. It’s a one-of-a-kind immersive zombie obstacle course experience. Check out the detailsÂ here.
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