These aren't my top 5 favorite episodes, they are the ones that I think show that the writers that work on the AMC TV Show can, at times, be just as good as the writers that worked on Telltale's The Walking Dead.
5. S4E9 - After: (Written by Robert Kirkman, Directed by Greg Nicotero) This episode starts off by drawing some fantastic parallels to the beginning of the show, meant to show how the survivors are just as hopeless and lost now as they were when the whole thing started. Their entire world is falling apart. We see these parallels with the walkers swarming the tank(just like in S1E1), and the torn open horse(again, S1E1).
We then see Walkers heading towards the prison, causing it to be overrun once more. We immediately get the idea that it is no one's home once more. At this point, we see Michonne amidst the walkers. She finds Hershel's head, this is something directly out of the comics, and is a final goodbye to Hershel(Besides Dale, the only death anyone has really cared about as of yet). She then leads two walkers into a trap, and she makes them her "pets". Again, bringing us back to the beginning, or at least, to when we first met this particular character.
We then see Rick and Carl, stumbling down the road looking for safe haven. Carl isn't helping his dad, and at first, the majority of people will be angry at him for... Well... Being an asshole. As Rick and Carl's journey continues, they continue to clash, and Rick clearly isn't capable of surviving anymore, at least, not in his current state. Still, he tries to be the one to take care of Carl. The whole point of these scenes are to, one, make us hate Carl even more(which is on purpose), and two, let us know that Rick is borderline helpless now.
Eventually, they get to a house, and decide to stay there. More of Carl trying to alienate himself from Rick, as Rick continues to try and take care of Carl.
Back to Michonne! The highlight of the episode. As she walks with her pets, she finds evidence of other survivors, but ignores it, and continues to walk. Soon, she finds a place to rest, and we are confronted by a dream sequence, showing her past. As time goes on, the dream becomes increasingly surreal and distorted. We see her boyfriend and her friend, but we learn that things are not as they seem when a kitchen knife suddenly turns into her sword. We also learn that she had a child. The city outside becomes increasingly ruined, and it becomes darker. The conversation changes to survival. Her boyfriend Mike, asks her what the point of surviving is, while his friend seems to resent Michonne because she has learned to survive and they have not. Her child goes missing, and we find out that Mike and his friend are her pets.
The whole scene was absolutely brilliant. Incredibly artistic, surreal, well written and acted. I can't praise that scene enough.
We immediately get more Michonne as she continues to walk, and then starts to gather a herd around her. She sees a walker that looks like her, but soon enoguh, the walker disappears, and she goes back to just walking.
I've gone on for a while, so I'll try and hurry it up with this episode, while not skimming over the importance of the scenes.
As night falls, Carl continues to insult Rick, and eventually brings up Shane, the ultimate insult to his father. At this point, most people absolutely hate Carl. Night falls, and when Carl wakes up, Rick is unconscious. Carl hears knocking on the door, and heads out to handle the walkers. There are some complications, but he lives through it.
He comes back, and begins to talk to Rick. Carl blames Rick for the deaths of everyone at the prison, because he stepped back and wanted to be a farmer, rather than protect people. In Carl's mind, Rick is responsible for the deaths of everyone, Rick can't protect anyone. Carl finally says that he could survive if Rick died.
In some ways, this scene garnered more hate for Carl, and in others, we now know why he did these things. also, it's moving him forward as a character. As a whole, the scene was done better than it was in the comics.
Carl goes out again to gather supplies and encounters another walker, this time, one that he can't handle. The fight goes on for a while, with Carl leaving a shoe, and then locking the walker away. He leaves a message warning others about it.
Then he eats pudding. This is more a joke than it is actually important, but I can now confirm that "Pudding" is the "Juice box" of the TV Show.
Back to Michonne, she has now gathered a full herd, and see that walker that looks like her again. This time it is coming at her. For hours, she has just been walking with death, and must now choose to fight it. She does so in the most badass way possible. After coming to her senses, she goes back, and starts to follow the trail she found earlier.
Carl returns to the house, and by the time night falls. Rick is waking up, or possibly reanimating. Carl thinks that his father is a walker, and gets ready to kill him.
The scene shows how Chandler Riggs has evolved as an actor, because I suppose to whole point of Carl's story in this episode was to show how Carl blamed Rick for them losing the prison, trying to survive on his own, realizing he couldn't, and then realizing that he can't kill Rick. By the end, we're supposed to feel sympathy towards Carl... and that scene was so well done, that it worked, at least for me. And even if you can't forgive Carl as a character just yet, you've got to admit, the scene was good.
The episode ends with Rick waking up after a while, Carl forgiving him, and then Michonne finding the two, after finally being able to deal with her inner demons(Mike and Terry).
Now, for the reason why I think this episode is worthy of Telltale levels of writing. Mainly the fact that they've finally managed to fix a lot of the problems with Carl's character, they've finally moved him to being a good character, and they surpassed the scenes that were from the comics in almost every way. Also, the scenes with Michonne are all incredible, and were just overall, great.
It was an end to one story arc, and the beginning of another, and it was executed fantastically well.
4. S2E12 - Better Angels: (Written by Evan Reilly & Glen Mazzara, Directed By Guy Ferland) This is actually one of my favorite episodes, and I do consider it better than the finale itself, Beside the Dying Fire.
This episode takes place immediately after Dale's death, and starts with an amazing written eulogy by Rick. Probably one of the best written moments of the Season, and definitely one of the most touching. Because of Dale's death, the group resolves to try and fix the group, and preserve their humanity. To do this, Rick decides to take their prisoner, Randall, further out than they did before in 18 Miles Out. This time with Daryl rather than Shane.
Shane, of course, questions Rick decision, still believing that they should just kill Randall. Rick prepares to go out and get rid of their prisoner, and it's in this time that Carl goes to shane and tells him that it's his fault that Dale died. Shane tells Rick to go talk to Carl, and eventually convinces him to put Randall off for a little while. Rick does talk to carl, and this leads to yet another touching moment which will come back in S3(unfortunately, in a not so sad death).
I almost don't want to mention Lori, but I guess I should. She goes to talk to Shane, and apparently expresses that she does still care about Shane, just doesn't love him. This gets Shane's hope up, and puts a plan into action. Shane goes to talk to Randall, and ends up freeing him. Saying that he wants Randall to take him to his group. This of course, is just a lie, and soon after, Shane kills Randall, and then runs into a tree. He goes back to the camp and forms a false story about Randall getting the jump on him and trying to escape. The women and children get into the house while Glenn and Daryl, and Shane and Rick go to look for Randall.
Carl doesn't stay in the house. Big surprise.
Glenn and Daryl discover Randall, and a few other curious things. Daryl figures out that Shane was walking with Randall, and also that Randall died from having his neck snapped. Also, he turns even without being bit. This is when they start to piece things together.
Shane leads Rick out into the field from 18 Miles Out, and then pulls a gun on Rick.
From that point on... That is honestly one of my favorite scenes from the show as a whole. Especially some of the lines from Rick. "Have my children, my children, call you Daddy?"
Long story short, Rick ends up killing Shane, who he still considers to be his best friend, and to properly understand how great the scene is, you've got to watch it yourself.
(I couldn't find the whole scene, but this should be enough)
So, now to why I think this is on the level of Telltale's writing. Mainly, having some of the best written scenes of the Season, if not the show. Dale's Eulogy, Rick talking to Carl, Shane's Death. The problems with it are that Carl and Lori at that point weren't that great, and they were fairly important.
3. S4E6 - Live Bait: (Written by Nichole Beattie, Directed By Michael Uppendahl) Live Bait is personally one of my favorite episodes, and the one that convinced a lot of people that S4 would do better than previous seasons. It featured the story of The Governor/Phillip Blake between Seasons 3 and 4. This is probably part of why it was so good, featuring one of the best actors on the show(David Morrissey) playing one of the best written characters.
It also had an amazing intro, featuring "The Last Pale Light in the West" by Ben Nichols, which was a perfect choice for the intro scene that showed The Governor going back to burn Woodbury after his initial defeat at the prison. As The Governor walks aimlessly we hear a conversation between him and a woman, with him saying that he was part of a town, but had to leave when the leader lost it and killed everyone. Just in this one scene, we get the feeling that the Governor may truly be sorry for all that he did.
For months and months, he walked, eventually fining a house with messages for "Brian Heriot" written all over it. The intro sequence ends when he collapses on the ground, but then sees a little girl in the window of an apartment building. He heads up to the apartment to find a group of survivors living there.
The intro may be my favorite in any episode.
The survivors in the apartment are Lilly, her dad David, her sister Tara, and her daughter Meghan. Lilly was the woman in the intro.
Also, just to confirm, Lilly is not Lilly form Telltale's or Lilly from the comics/novels. She is a partially new character who takes the place of a character named April from the novel, "The Rise of the Governor".
The first part of the episode shows The Governor, who introduces himself as Brian Heriot, interacting with these people as he at least decides to rest for a few nights in the same building. He's mostly unresponsive and doesn't talk to anyone. In this episode, we see him actually try to be a good person as he helps David find a board game he can play with his granddaughter Meghan, and later, as he goes to find more oxygen tanks for David, who desperately needs them.
Though not orientated on action, the episode in very good throughout. The dialogue is well written, scenes are well directed, and it's incredibly well acted. At this point, it has stood out mainly with the Governor/Brian's character. I stand by the fact that TV Governor is a significantly better character than Comic Governor, who while he was more brutal, had little development. He was an easily hateable villain, and that was about it. Comic Governor was well-written, but there wasn't much complexity to him if you didn't go out of your way to read the novels, and even then, he still didn't have as much complexity to him as the TV Governor. TV Governor was frightening in that he was a better manipulator, and a better liar. He was still brutal, but not as much, and he actually seemed to love Penny still in Season 3, whereas in the Comics, his relationship with Penny was mainly used to freak out the readers(Ex: kissing her).
I think that throughout S3, TV Governor's development was stronger, but it's this episode that makes people think that he's changed, and in some cases, may have had people sympathising for him.
The rest of the episode shows the former Governor, now Brian, bonding with Meghan, and living with this group of survivors. Things suddenly change when he's forced to use an air tank to kill David after he turns and almost takes a bite out of Tara. This freaks out Meghan, and causes her to become distant to... Everything really.
Not soon after, Lilly convinces Brian that they have to leave and find someplace safer. Whilst on the road, Brian and Lilly have sex(which I personally think is important not only because, once more, it shows us a Governor that can love without seeing it as a means to an end(Andrea), but Lilly survives, and I get the feeling she might be pregnant), and later on, the truck breaks down/runs out of fuel, and they have to continue on foot.
Whilst on foot, they're attacked by walkers, and Brian saves Meghan, they run off into the forest and fall into a hole, one of the holes the residents of Woodbury used to use to capture biters. In fact, there are still biters there, which the Governor kills with his bare hands.
Then, as a cliffhanger, we see Martinez looking at the Governor from above.
I think that this episode is worthy of Telltale levels of writing because it made the viewers feel sympathy for a character like The Governor. It took material from the Novels and did it well. It was altogether an enjoyable episode that featured David Morrissey's acting prowess.
Overall, there were several reasons why I think this is probably the third best episode. Simply put, the intro, a better Governor, good new characters/well adapted material, way above average on all accounts, reaching into incredible levels with some aspects(acting).
2. S3E12 - Clear: (Written by Scott M. Gimple, Directed by Tricia Brock) Clear is generally considered to be one of the best episodes, so it's no wonder that I'd put it here. This episode starts with Rick, Carl, and Michonne going back to Rick's home town to look for weapons to help with the upcoming war against The Governor. They get stuck and then are attacked by zombies. Before getting the car unstuck, they see a man running down the road asking for help, and decide to leave him. This shows how cold most of the characters are becoming, which with Rick and Carl especially, is a theme shown throughout the entire Season.
They get to Rick's police precinct to find that all the guns are gone, and then decide to go look at a couple bars where Rick knows the owners had guns. One their way, they see writing all of the town, as well as many traps and barricades(whoever designed all those traps is amazing). As they make their way through the town, they are stopped by a masked man asking them to drop their weapons, or else he'll kill them. They fight back, and Carl ends up shooting the man, who survives because he's wearing a bulletproof vest. This ends up being a good thing, because it turns out to be Morgan from the first episode.
Rick decides to help Morgan, something that Michonne disagrees with. They carry him up to his bed in the house he's been living in, which it also littered with traps. Again, props to whoever designed them all, because it adds to the atmosphere of the whole episode. Once inside his room, it's clear that Morgan went insane. There's writing all over the wall,s most of which doesn't make any sense. It also happens that Morgan has been stockpiling weapons.
After Rick sees that Morgan's son, Duane, turned, he decides to stay until Morgan wakes up. Carl finds out that their old house burned down, and after a bit of conversation, Carl decides to go for a crib for Judith, Michonne goes to help him.
At this point, the episode is probably my favorite one purely because of the town, the traps, the writing everywhere, etc.
The story with Carl and Michonne is short, which is just the fact that Carl tries to leave Michonne so he can go get something else for Judith, a picture of Rick, Carl, and Lori. He wants Judith to know what her mother looked like. Michonne ends up helped Carl get the picture, and also a colorful cat statue.
This part is to grow Michonne and Carl's character development, and also to show some bonding between Carl and Michonne, as Carl initially doesn't trust Michonne. The best part of the episode is with Rick and Morgan.
Rick takes to Morgan as he thinks Morgan is asleep, he also ties Morgan to the best as he's already shown that he can be dangerous. However, morgan IS awake, and has a knife beneath his bed. Eventually, Morgan escapes and attacks Rick, claiming him to be a "dead man wearing a dead man's face". Morgan stabs Rick, and then Rick puts his gun to Morgan's head, Morgan then starts pleading for rick to kill him.
Rick talks Morgan through what happened, and Morgan eventually recognizes who Rick is, but is more than a little upset about the fact that Rick stopped calling on the radio.
The whole scene is about Rick and Morgan, and as both are played by absolutely fantastic actors(Andrew Lincoln and Lennie James), it ends up being one of the best scenes in the entire show. Morgan explains that he couldn't kill his wife, and eventually, she bit Duane. At that point, Morgan killed her, but it was too late. This marked his descent into madness.
Rick tries to get Morgan to join them, but Morgan refuses, saying he needs time to "clear".
The episode ends with Rick's group taking a lot of the guns, and then Carl telling Rick that Michonne can be trusted.
This is one of the best episodes mainly because of the god-like acting on the parts of Andrew Lincoln, and mainly, Lennie James, as well as the design behind the town, the character development for Carl and Michonne, and just fantastic writing on the part of Scott M. Gimple(who is now the showrunner for Season 4 and 5, so...)