If you haven’t been tuning in every week to AMC to catch the latest episode of the Walking Dead, you may be wondering what all the hype is about. What started out as a show that had some skeptics asking how long a show about zombies could last now has producer David Alpert planning the zombie drama to Season 12. The Walking Dead garnered 12 million viewers an episode last year and that number continues to climb, as the second half of the fifth season dominates the views every Sunday night. If you are new to the series, it may be better that you start out from the beginning, but if you are looking for some of the best episodes to visit, this list may come in handy.
Days Gone Bye – Season 1 Episode 1
The pivotal jumping off point of the Walking Dead series. Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma after being injured in the line of duty and wakes to find a world that he could have never imagined. He meets Morgan and his son Duane who tell him all about what is going on. They take Rick to the police station where he stocks up on guns, gives Morgan a rifle and a walkie-talkie so that they can keep in touch, and he begins his trip to Atlanta. This is a fantastic introduction to the post-apocalyptic world that the survivors must endure, but the first episode does not reveal the unimaginable devastation that seemingly encompasses the entire country. The incredible practical special effects used on the show (that was considered on a budget) drew in over 5 million viewers and picked a perfect air date: October 31, 2010. It was well received by audiences worldwide and got favorable reviews, including a 9/10 from IGN.
Pretty Much Dead Already – Season 2 Episode 7
For many Walking Dead fans, this was an important episode. After spending a couple episodes watching the group unsuccessfully search for Carol’s missing daughter, Sophia, the viewers learn her true fate. After finding that Hershel has been keeping walkers in his barn, the group release the chains and shoot them as they come out. The last walker out of the barn is little Sophia and the group is stunned. Rick, needing to show that he is still very much in charge of the group, steps up to shoot her and end her misery while Carol collapses, screaming as Daryl tries to comfort her. The scene is emotional and the heartbreaking loss is felt through all the members of the group, eventually helping them to only become stronger instead of breaking them apart.
Better Angels – Season 2 Episode 12
This episode is the culmination of tension between Rick and Shane over Lori and the future of the groups survival. Once best friends now at odds with one another, Rick can see Shane’s slow progression into madness and finally realizes how manipulative he is when he kills Randall, a young man they took hostage in an earlier episode. Rick pieces together that this was Shane’s ploy to lead him out to the woods and execute him, leaving him to lead the group and be with Lori once again. Rick refuses to shoot Shane, offering him his gun instead. But, as Shane takes the gun, Rick pulls out a knife and stabs Shane in the chest, telling his friend that he had brought his demise on himself. He cries once he realizes what he has done and when Carl sees them, it looks like he will shoot his own father but instead, he shoots Shane who had just risen as a walker. This is the first episode where viewers get to see that it does not necessarily take a bite from a walker to turn someone; that Jenner at the CDC was right about saying everyone is already infected, a secret Rick has chosen to keep from the group. This is also another example in what becomes a long list of incredibly hard choices Rick has to make in order to ensure the safety of his family and the group as a whole.
Clear – Season 3 Episode 12
This is one of the many moving episodes in the Walking Dead series, and a look back at a character viewers haven’t seen since the first season: Morgan. Morgan and his son were the two that offered Rick safe haven after waking up from a coma in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Now, Rick meets up with Morgan again who has moved locations, but is a little worse for wear after his son is killed by his undead wife; the only walker that Morgan ever struggled to kill. Rick tries to convince Morgan to come with them, but he says he is too weak and refuses Rick’s invitation to join them. Morgan is a much different character than in the pilot episode; weak, distraught and unstable. This is a clear vision to Rick how strong people can fall when put up against unforgiving odds and how he could have fallen too if he let Lori’s death get to him.
A – Season 4 Episode 16
Rick shows off his animalistic side in this episode of the Walking Dead, proving that he would do anything to save not only his child, but other members of the group as well. When marauders show up and corner Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carl, they make their intentions clear: they are going to beat Daryl to death, sexually assault Carl and Michonne, and kill Rick. As one attacks Carl, Rick acts blindly on instinct, headbutting a man who was keeping him at gunpoint. In the ensuing fight, Rick has his arms pinned down by one of his attackers, and he responds by sinking his teeth into the man’s neck and pulling a chunk of skin with him. The other members of the marauders are so shocked that this gives the survivors the upper hand. They execute them and move on. This scene in particular shows Rick’s willingness to stop at nothing to save the people he cares about, even if his actions could be looked upon as completely deranged.
As the Walking Dead continues to grow, the show gains more exciting characters and different locations. The show is one of the most watched on cable television and the demand for episodes is exceptionally high. So high, in fact, that the finale will be 90 minutes instead of its traditional 60 minutes.
Do you watch the Walking Dead? What are some of your favorite episodes?
[Images via AMC]