We’re currently in the midst of the long and tumultuous stretch between seasons of The Walking Dead, with Season 8 still months away. However, thanks to the wonder of Netflix, most of the series is available for immediate streaming/binging.
As we wait for Season 8, we here at Epicstream decided to look back at the last seven seasons and see which episodes reign supreme. Here are our picks for the 10 best episodes of The Walking Dead:
While this episode was hardly action-packed, it represented a major step in the evolution of Carol from a timid victim of spousal abuse to a merciless, self-reliant renegade. Lizzie had been losing her grip on reality and considered walkers to be not just people, but playthings. To prove her point, Lizzie took her delusion to a whole new level by murdering her younger sister, Mika, and nearly did the same to Judith before Carol intervened. The plot was the culmination of a slow burn setting up Lizzie as insane, and Carol and Tyreese have the impossible task of figuring out what to do with her. Realizing she’s too dangerous to be kept alive, Carol tells Lizzie to “look at the flowers” in one of the show’s most famous lines before she shoots her in the back of the head.Advertisement
The Walking Dead was no stranger to pushing the envelope by the time it hit its fifth season, but cannibalism was certainly a new extreme, as was watching Terminus’ captors being slaughtered like pigs. Thankfully, Carol arrives just in time to save Rick and the rest of the crew, unleashing hell (and walkers) on Terminus in the process. While Season 4 saw Carol’s character undergo a massive transformation, it’s this Season 5 premiere episode that serves as the true vindication for her long journey. Plus, we get a truly heartfelt reunion between Carol and Daryl, as well as Rick and Judith, adding just enough light-heartedness to balance out the blood and gore.
“The Killer Within” is an episode that housed two incredibly epic Walking Dead moments. First is T-Dog’s savage death, which occurs when he attempts to save Carol. Perhaps more significant, though, is that Lori goes into labor as the prison is being attacked. One crude c-section later, and Lori is knocking on heaven’s door, forcing Carl to vanquish his innocence and put a bullet in his mother’s head before she can turn into a walker. Her death would go on to haunt Rick for weeks to come and nearly lead to him suffering a full mental breakdown.
Days Gone By
The Walking Dead may have struggled to find its footing in its youth, but it certainly delivered a powerful pilot episode. After being shot, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes awakes to find the world overrun by the undead, in an episode that mostly features Rick adapting to his new environment. The fact that nearly the entire episode is carried by one character is impressive, but the scenes with Morgan and his son are incredibly poignant in their own right. Plus, Rick hearing Glenn’s voice over the walkie-talkie right as he’s about to kill himself is every bit as enjoyable with each repeated viewing.
Pretty Much Dead Already
It’s always difficult when The Walking Dead attempts to explore the concept of children living, and subsequently dying, in the show’s post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world, which is what makes this episode so impactful. When Shane and company discover that Hershel had been hoarding walkers in his barn, they decide to take matters into their own hands and mow down the small army of the undead. After the dust settles, though, one final, pint-sized walker emerges from the barn, thus ending the months-long search for Sophia, who’d been missing for nearly the entire season. The look on Carol’s face upon seeing what had become of her sweet little girl is absolutely heartbreaking, and watching Rick put his revolver to the child’s head never gets any easier, no matter how many times you see it.
In hindsight, the whole “Glenn’s fake death” thing seems pretty cheap, and the camera angles make it look pretty obvious that he didn’t really die. At the time, though, the sight of Glenn being knocked off the dumpster and seemingly being ripped apart by a herd of walkers was incredibly shocking. It was one of the first times in a while that made you feel like nobody was really safe, and is all the more impactful given Glenn’s decision to spare Nicholas’ life in the previous episode, only to have that be his ultimate (supposed) downfall.
Emotions are running high in Alexandria as Deanna tries to decide what to do with Rick. This, of course, sets up Rick’s eventual position as leader of the community, while Daryl and Aaron’s scouting mission sets up the looming threat of the Wolves for Season 6. Not only that, but we get to see the return of Morgan, who’s become quite the skilled fighter in his time off-screen and a valuable new asset to Rick’s group. Unlike most of the season finales, though, this one offered satisfying resolutions to many of the ongoing conflicts, showing us that despite dealing with walkers, the Governor, and Terminus, our group’s humanity still hadn’t been completely lost.
Too Far Gone
After starting off as a naïve, one-note farmer, Hershel eventually became one of the most likable, hope-inspiring characters on The Walking Dead. However, as is the case with beacons of hope on the show, this episode sees the light that is Herschel brutally extinguished at the hands of the Governor. His death is one of the hardest to watch, as we witness the Governor hack away at the neck of Hershel, swing after swing, until the man’s head is completely severed from his body, while all his friends and his children can do is look on in horror. It’s a powerful, moving episode, but not one that necessarily warrants repeat viewings.
The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be
Overall, Season 7 of The Walking Dead was met with largely mixed reactions, but in general, the season started off strong thanks to “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” Season 6, of course, ended on a cliffhanger that teased Negan massacring a member of Rick’s group with his brutal barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille, and despite a little bit of misdirection, the payoff was achieved with the excruciating deaths of both Abraham and Glenn. It wouldn’t come immediately, though, as we were forced to watch the psychological torture of Rick before returning to the scene of the crimes in flashback sequences. The episode is incredibly tense, and delivers real heartbreak and horror that will surely resonate with viewers for years to come.
No Way Out
Multiple plot threads finally being tied together. Carl losing an eye in a callback to the comics. The Anderson family being devoured by walkers. Daryl decimating the Saviors with an RPG. The people of Alexandria rising up to finally start fighting for their survival. This episode truly has everything, and for the first time, Rick and his group actually manage to score a major win rather than being forced to resume wandering around seeking a safe haven. It meant that the show will no longer be about survival, but rebuilding and war. Yes, the walkers are still a threat, but the group is no longer afraid. “No Way Out” is everything that an episode of The Walking Dead should be, and hopefully when Season 8 comes along, there’ll be plenty more just like it.