The Walking Dead Season 4: Top 5 Best Performances, Ranked By Episode
The Walking DeadSeason 4 ended on March 30, but the good memories live on. There were some great character moments this season — Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) facing his own brutality, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) taming his inner monster, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) breaking our hearts with her “messed up” mind, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) grieving and raging for Karen, Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) going from hopeful romantic to furious lady vengeance, and many more.
As we wait for Season 5 to show up and provide more great moments, here are our picks for the five best performances of the season.
Daryl swung a mighty pendulum this season, but his finest moments came at the moonshine cabin in "Still." Daryl just wanted to give Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) a decent first drink, but being in that place reminded him of his dark past and wasted life before the outbreak. He lashed out at Beth, and she lashed out at him, with both of them landing shots right into open wounds. Daryl ended his fury with a raw admission of guilt. Maybe if he hadn't stopped looking for The Governor, he could've done something. He could’ve stopped the battle and saved lives. He sobbed with anguish and Beth hugged him, a callback to when she hugged him in Episode 1, after suffering her own loss.
You know, it was just one scene — but that one scene was so powerful and told us so much about a character who was mostly a mystery to this point. Michonne was doing crunches in a prison cell as Beth did what Beth used to do — sing to the baby. Beth needed help with Judith and asked Michonne to hold her; initially, Michonne said no way. She eventually relented, and instead of having Michonne just be annoyed with kids, we saw her break down. She cried as she held Judith close, surprising the audience (and Beth, in the background) with her emotion and all the history it told us, while still holding back the details. Just a beautiful, deceptively simple performance that set up so much for later in the season.
We saw a completely different side to The Governor in the first of his two standalone episodes, and the side called "Brian" wasn't a bad guy. He was shut off at first, and wanted nothing to do with Lilly, Tara (Alanna Masterson), and little Meghan (Meyrick Murphy). But Meghan won him over, like Penny 2.0. This ep had a touching bonding scene between Brian and Meghan, when she asked what happened to his eye. First, she pinkie swore that she wouldn't tell anyone. He then told her, “I’m a pirate.” She replied, “No way!” and he laughed. That laugh was probably his first in a long time, and it sounded so refreshing and genuine. The good person in him came out with Meghan, the way so many TWD characters bring out the best in each other (Carl and Michonne, Daryl and Beth, etc.). For a minute there, we sympathized with Brian as a grieving father who just wanted to laugh and joke with his little girl again. Why didn’t he stay this guy?!
Hershel had a great speech in Episode 3 — the one about risking your life — but he owned Episode 5 like a boss. He was the sick ward savior, giving people jobs to do, fighting walkers, cracking jokes about Spaghetti Tuesday, and risking his own life to save others. Every scene in this ep highlights why we miss Hershel, and will always miss Hershel. He was a tough sonofab— indeed.
The woman. The myth. The legend. Melissa stole everything but the lights this episode. Everyone was great in “The Grove” — especially Brighton Sharbino in such a complex role — but Melissa dominated the most powerful episode of the season. Carol had such a huge transition this season, and some of the things Melissa was asked to do as an actress boggle the mind. How do you shoot a little girl and get the audience to sympathize with you? How do you confess that you killed your friend’s loved one and leave people sighing with relief that you were forgiven? Melissa had us feeling a dozen different emotions about Carol from one moment to the next, and she left us anxious for more. She gets the gold star.
Do you agree with these performances or would you have picked a different top five?
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.