To celebrate the upcoming 100th episode of The Walking Dead, Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the series’ Season 8 premiere in October.
Yesterday, we ranked the season premieres. Today, we’re counting down the season finales, from our least fave to the one we consider the best way The Walking Dead has ended a season so far. Got some major beefs with our order? Don’t agree Rick’s brutal confrontation with Claimer Joe was all that? As always, feel free to share your feelings with the group in the comments.
7. “Last Day on Earth,” Season 6
Original Airdate: April 3, 2016
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Written by: Scott Gimple and Matthew Negrete
The Story: The introduction of Negan, drama with Maggie’s pregnancy, nice moments (which ended up being their friendship farewell) between pals Abraham and Eugene… all good stuff. But while we understand the idea behind ending the season with a cliffhanger about who Negan’s victim (victims as it turned out) was, it probably wasn’t realistic to believe the secret would remain unspoiled for the next five months. And indeed, it didn’t, because, Internet. On the other hand, Glenn and Abe’s deaths, as producers had planned, did carry a heftier impact throughout the episodes that followed since they kicked off the action of Season 7, so those who remain angry about the cliffhanger should probably just agree to disagree and hope none of their other favorites meet the business end of Lucille.
6. “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” Season 7
Original Airdate: April 2, 2017
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Written by: Scott Gimple, Angela Kang, and Matthew Negrete
The Story: Twists aplenty marked the most recent season ender, including Jadis and her betrayal of Rick, and Sasha’s selfless decision to sacrifice herself to help save her loved ones in Alexandria. Sasha’s Abraham flashback was a treat for Michael Cudlitz fans (and made us hope Steven Yeun will guest star in a similar Glenn scene with Maggie somewhere down the road), and Dwight’s insistence that he’s ready to defect from the Saviors and join #TeamAlexandria is yet another reason to look forward to Season 8’s “all out war” between #TeamRick and #TeamNegan. But if it all had been boiled down to just one scene — Shiva the tiger’s flying attack on the Saviors (not to mention Ezekiel actor Khary Payton’s deliciously cheeky explanation of how she knew who the bad guys were) — we’d still have been satisfied with this installment.
5. “Welcome to the Tombs,” Season 3
Original Airdate: March 31, 2013
Directed by: Ernest Dickerson
Written by: Glen Mazzara and Scott Gimple
The Story: Farewell, Andrea. She trusted The Governor just a bit too long, and while many of his psychotic efforts were focused on leading his Woodbury people into battle against Rick and the prison dwellers, he had plenty of energy left over to turn on his associate Milton, and girlfriend Andrea, once they determined he was just too far gone to continue leading the Woodbury contingent. The Governor stabbed Milton, and left him to die in a locked room with Andrea, assuming reanimated Milton would take care of her, too. The Governor also attacked the prison (not for the last time), killed many of his own people, and then fled with a few shocked survivors, while Rick and company bid farewell to a dying Andrea in Woodbury and welcomed that town’s abandoned residents to live at the prison in the wake of The Governor’s disappearance. There was much more terror to come via The Governor, but the Season 3 finale was a fitting ending to round one of his war with Rick, and a frightening tease of just what he’d be capable of bringing to the prison in the future.
4. “Conquer,” Season 5
Original Airdate: March 29, 2015
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Written by: Scott Gimple and Seth Hoffman
The Story: At last: Morgan reunited with his early apocalypse friend Rick, but Morgan — who’d befriended supply scouts Daryl and Aaron after helping them escape a horde of walkers set upon them by the Wolves — arrived in Alexandria only to immediately witness his pal murder Pete, the wife-abusing town doctor who had just accidentally killed Alexandria leader Deanna’s husband, Reg. The Morgan and Rick reunion was the long-awaited highlight of the episode, which also provided the Alexandrians with proof of Pete’s dickishness, and a reason to trust the leadership abilities of the Ricktatorship. It also hinted at the trouble the Wolves were going to bring in Season 6, meaning the townsfolk were going to find out just how fortunate they were that the capable survivors of Rick Grimes’s group had become fellow residents of Alexandria.
3. “TS-19,” Season 1
Original Airdate: Dec. 5, 2010
Directed by: Guy Ferland
Written by: Adam Fierro and Frank Darabont
The Story: Rick and his group found a safe haven full of supplies when they gained entrance to the CDC building in Atlanta, but because any relief is always short-lived in the apocalypse, it was soon followed by shockers, namely that the apocalypse was global, that there was no known cure, and that the CDC building was almost out of supplies and would therefore self-destruct to destroy any viruses remaining inside. Despite all those buzzkill reveals, Rick and his people wanted to forge ahead, so he convinced CDC scientist Dr. Jenner to let them escape the building before it blew up… but not until Jenner whispered one more horrifying fact into Rick’s ear. Rick didn’t share the info with the others until the next season: They all already carried the virus that would turn them into walkers upon their deaths.
2. “Beside the Dying Fire,” Season 2
Original Airdate: March 18, 2012
Directed by: Ernest Dickerson
Written by: Robert Kirkman and Glen Mazzara
The Story: After a season that saw him find out about his wife’s affair with his best friend, and then have to kill that best friend, not to mention discovering the MIA Sophia had become a walker he’d also have to shoot down, it was understandable that Rick Grimes was losing patience with those around him. So after getting his group and Hershel and his family off the Greene farm that had been overrun with walkers, Rick finally let his feelings be known, telling all who dared to question his leadership that he’d never asked to be their leader. But he had, in fact, killed his best friend to protect them, while also carrying the burden of being the only one to know Dr. Jenner’s bombshell about everyone carrying the walker virus. Finally, when members of the group became spooked by distant noises while they all camped out around a fire. Rick laid down the new rules of the Ricktatorship: Leave the safety of the group if you want. But, he told them, “if you’re staying, this isn’t a democracy anymore.”
Two more shockers in the second season ender: the introduction of a hooded figure leading two walker “pets” and a final shot that revealed the survivors were very close to the prison that was about to become their home for more than a season.
1. “A,” Season 4
Original Airdate: March 30, 2014
Directed by: Michelle MacLaren
Written by: Scott Gimple and Angela Kang
The Story: Interwoven with flashbacks to Rick’s talks with Hershel at the prison, in which Hershel urged him to focus less on the violent aspects of apocalyptic life and more on bonding with Carl as they raised animals and grew crops in the prison soil, the episode’s present-day scenes found Rick confronted with the inescapable violence that sometimes marked reality in the new world. In one incident that left him bloodied and shaking, Rick was forced to bite a man’s jugular out of his neck to save Michonne and Carl from being raped by the Claimers, who then planned to kill Michonne, Carl, Daryl, and Rick. Later, after the foursome killed the whole Claimer crew, they made their way to Terminus, only to learn the alleged sanctuary was run by a pair of brothers who had taken their friends hostage. They fought Gareth and Alex, but were ultimately tossed into a dark train car with Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Abe, Eugene, Rosita, and Tara. Rick was no longer shaken at this point, however; he told his friends, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” “Find out what?” Abraham asked him.
“They’re screwing with the wrong people,” Rick answered, a statement that would prove to be brutally true on multiple showdowns between Rick’s group and the Terminites in the following season.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres in October on AMC.
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