Half way through Season 7 of The Walking Dead, each episode of the eight week run has been vastly different from its predecessor.
What started with Negan bashing in the skulls of two Alexandria survivors, ended with the first signs of hope eight weeks late (though only a couple weeks, maximum, for the characters on the show). Rick Grimes has been bullied, new communities have been introduced, leaders have emerged, and lives have been lost through the first of Season 7 on AMC.
Each episode, varied drastically in storytelling style, received equally drastic responses from critics and fans. Some were beloved and became instant classics while others turned fans off of the show as frustrations built 7 years into the show.
On the following slides, we rank the episodes of The Walking Dead's seventh season from worst to best.
The Tara-centric episode 7x06 may have been the last we ever see of Heath. While the story itself may have been interesting, in this case, it was poorly timed and fell flat as the sixth episode of the season.
At the time of "Swear," fans were more concerned with what Jesus and Carl were up to in the back of the Saviors van (or just about anything else) than what Tara and Heath were up to since having been last seen in Season 6's Not Tomorrow Yet episode.
While Swear may turn out to be a crucial part of The Walking Dead's future from a storytelling standpoint, the relevance is currently unknown. Dedicating an entire hour to introducing a new community which could possibly be irrelevant through the perspective of a non-top tier character frustrated fans who wanted to see Daryl, Rick, Negan, Maggie, Michonne, Carl, Carol, Ezekiel, or just about anyone else they are heavily invested in.
That said, when the Oceanside community becomes a major factor, the Swear haters might end up eating their words.
7. Go Getters
Go Getters, Episode 7x05, was the first episode to see Maggie and Sasha after their husband and boyfriend had their heads bashed in before their very eyes.
Pairing the story of Sasha and Maggie's bounce back and Carl and Enid's little adventure did little for audiences hungry to see Rick or Ezekiel.
Maggie's rise to power at the Hilltop was a quick one. In her first episode back since the community was introduced in the Knots Untie episode in Season 6, she emerged as a more powerful citizen in the group than its leader Gregory. Swiftly, the pregnant widow used a tractor to take out a swarm of zombies sent into the community by way of a burning car courtesy of the Saviors.
The fast-paced action scene did little to satisfy fans bent of vengeance against Negan. It was the final moments of the episode which got fans most excited as Carl and Jesus hopped in the back of a truck for a quick ride to Negan's Sanctuary.
6. The Cell
The Cell, Episode 7x03, was similarly to the Season 7 premiere in that it focused almost entirely on the breaking down of characters fans of The Walking Dead. Specifically, Negan made an effort to destroy Daryl's will to fight him.
However, Daryl triumphantly stood against him even after he was beaten up by a number of Saviors and treated like a dog in a cell for days. The worst blow came when Dwight tossed a photo of Glenn's bashed skull into the mix just days after Daryl witnessed his long time friend and fellow survivor being brutally murdered.
Without Rick, Maggie, Sasha, Carol, Morgan, or Ezekiel, it was easy to get frustrated while watching The Cell. When several storylines built lingering question marks in the previous two episodes, it was easy to become frustrated when no characters appeared outside of the Sanctuary.
Though not a bad episode by any means, The Cell falls to number six on the list as the more prestigiously ranked episodes capitalized on the new world introduced and intriguing storylines more deeply.
Negan's first trip to Alexandria was diabocally fun. Fans might not want to admit it but following the new oppressive bully around town as he claimed half of the Safe-Zone's stuff as his own was a jolly god time.
Of course, seeing Rick broken down and forced to hold the weapon which was used to murder his friends while showing their killer around was a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it we most certainly did.
While Negan's words were often mean, they were also entertaining. Not only did Negan take things but he also manipulated and belittled Alexandria in the process. The message was truly hammered home when he took their guns, food, medicine, and mattresses, leading to Michonne finding the latter burnt and never used.
Not to mention, the episode followed some oof Negan's most twisted and iconic dialogue from Robert Kirkman's comics.
4. Sing Me A Song
Episode 7x07 was ripped straight from issue #111 of The Walking Dead comics. Sing Me A Song realized several iconic moments from the pages while also balancing some of the important storylines happening simultaneously.
In extended episode, we not only saw Carl's exposed eye socket for the first time after the 7x05 cliffhanger finally paid off, but we watched him sing to Negan as the villain swung his bat around as he did when he killed Carl's friends.
In the same Sunday night, Daryl's escape from the Sanctuary was finally in place, Sherry, Negan and Dwight's history was explored in detail, the hot iron punishment was on display and Negan parked at Alexandria with Judith in his hands.
The lingering questions were mostly created in the episode, with Rick and Aaron's location being unknown and Michonne's plan for Negan being introduced for the first time.
3. The Day Will Come When You Won't Be
The Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was a lot to handle. Two beloved characters were killed in the goriest fashion of any on the entire series.
Negan's epic introductory cliffhanger from the Season 6 finale paid off as fans were granted their wish of learning who his victim was. Not only did he kill Abraham to start things off but he also took out Glenn, realizing the character's comic book fate on television.
However, the deaths weren't what made the episode so memorable. It was the presentation and storytelling tied to Rick's breakdown which stuck with us. Not only did Negan push Rick past the point of any possible disobedience but he forced Rick and the audience to realize that a happy ending for these characters was never a possibility. Rick's dream sequence of the group around a Thanksgiving-style table drilled more emotions into fans than anything since Lori died during childbirth.
After 7 years, The Walking Dead still found a way to make itself feel brand new again.
2. The Well
Ezekiel's introduction was even more refreshing than the Season 7 premiere's ability to flip the show on its head.
Episode 7x02, The Well, was originally planned to be the third episode of the season. However, the dark and grim premiere prompted the team at AMC to believe it was time for a touch of levity. Ezekiel and his new Kingdom community provided just that.
Carol and Morgan, seen here for the first time since the Season 6 finale, have had conflicting idealogies for some time now. However, Ezekiel may be the thread which will tie them together.
Furthermor, Ezekiel's reveal of his true self was one of the best moments Season 7 has had to offer. Yes, meeting the Kingdom was fun and their subtle jab at the Saviors by filling their pigs with zombie guts was great, but the real Ezekiel was something The Walking Dead has never seen before.
1. Hearts Still Beating
The midseason finale reminded fans why they love The Walking Dead. What started as a season full of broken characters at the mercy of the merciless finally came full circle when Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Maggie were all together again for the first time in 8 episodes.
Rick's gun is back and so is his will to fight. The stage was set for Alexandria to rise up, rally the surrounding communities, and start to fight the Saviors.
Throughout the episode, we had three notable deaths, as well. Fat Joey, Spencer, and Olivia were all taken out and, surprisingly, the lesser known Olivia and Joey felt like larger impacts than Spencer's iconic "guts" death from the comics being realized on television.
Negan's dialogue was fun. Rick and Aaron's adventure was intense. Michonne's assassination mission continued. Multiple storylines were well balanced throughout.
Hearts Still Beating is the best episode of The Walking Dead Season 7A.