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23 Essential Episodes to Watch and Catch Up on ‘The Walking Dead’

AMC's The Walking Dead

So you’ve finally started drinking the Kool-aid. You want to dive into “The Walking Dead” but the second half of season 4 premieres Sunday night at 8pm on AMC. That’s not enough time to completely catch up! Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

As much as I love “The Walking Dead,” I have been frustrated at times that the show spends too much time “developing characters” and not enough time advancing the story. There are definitely a few episodes you could skip and you won’t really miss anything important. Season 2 is the main culprit. The story of that entire season could have been told in six episodes, not the 13 that were produced. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy all of the episodes. They all have more to them than I initially realized and when I re-watched season 2 before Christmas, I liked it much more. That said, it still moves really slow.

I’m going to tell you which episodes to watch and which ones to skip. Yes, there will be some details you’ll be missing, but it won’t be like jumping from downtown Atlanta to the prison. (That will make sense for you later.) You will be able to figure things out. Here is what I would binge-watch in order to catch up quickly on “The Walking Dead”:

Sign up for Netflix

Even if you don’t want to pay for the service permanently, Netflix has a free 30-day trial. They won’t charge if you cancel your service before the 30 days is up. The first 3 seasons are available on Netflix.

Watch All of Season 1

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) pulls his Colt Python revolver

The debut season was only 6 episodes. AMC didn’t know what they had (that HBO passed on), but it was destined to be the biggest show in cable history. The story moves along great and there isn’t much you could really skip. I still watch the pilot episode for fun because it is so good. But the first 5 minutes of the series premiere will tell you if you be able to handle the intensity of the show (insert joke about how not intense the show can also be).

Season 2, Episodes 1, 3, 7, 8, 12, 13

Zombies in The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 1
Gene Page/AMC

Six episodes is less than half of the season, but I’m cutting it back to bare bones. There is a significant event in some of the episodes, but you can figure it out as you go. Some episodes, like Chupacabra (Ep. 5), do not advance the story at all, they just tell you about a character and their backstory, which doesn’t help you catch up. Episodes 7, 12, and 13 are the best of season 2.

Season 3, Episodes 1, 3, 4, 8, 12, 14, 16

Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) in Season 3, Episode 1
Gene Page/AMC

All of season 3 airs on AMC starting at noon on Saturday February 8. Set it to record on you DVR or keep going on Netflix. It’s tougher to pick and choose which episodes to skip in season 3. As I am working mainly from memory and the episode guide on IMDB (spoilers?), it’s hard to remember every detail from the episodes. But if I remember it as an episode with a lot of standing around and talking and little significant action, I’m telling you to skip it.

Season 4, Episodes 2, 5, 7, 8

Rick and Carl in Season 4, Episode 8
Gene Page/AMC

You can DVR all of these episodes starting at 11:55am on Sunday, or watch them on AMC’s website. This season started slower than the rest. Usually the premieres are not to be missed. This one didn’t have anything really happen until the end, so skip to episode 2. The rest of season 4 is the best so far, but we’re on a time crunch to get you caught up. Once you watch episodes 2, 5, 7 and 8, and watch the second half premiere on Sunday night, then go back and fill in the blanks. Episode 8, entitled “Too Far Gone,” is my favorite episode of the entire series.

So there are 51 episodes of “The Walking Dead” slashed down to the 23 most essential. 23 hours of binge watching is a lot so have a bunch of your favorite caffeinated beverage handy and have fun.

Season 4, Episode 9 Preview

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