My list of favorite episodes each year is usually a combination of things that made me think, and things that just made me really happy. I always like to preface my list with the recognition that these are simply *my* favorite episodes, and not necessarily the best episodes, because I know that there is way too much good TV to make that statement, and that other people have different tastes than me. So, here we go…
1. Game of Thrones “The Winds of Winter”
The previous episode “The Battle of the Bastards” was also fantastic, but this is my favorite because everything starts to come together in the season finale. Cersei refuses to stand trial, and instead blows up the High Sparrow, the Faith Militant, and most of the Tyrell family. Tommen then kills himself, and Cersei takes the Iron Throne. Aria exacts vengeance on House Frey for the Red Wedding. Bran has become the Three-Eyed Raven and learns that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon and Sansa have reclaimed Winterfell for the Starks, and Jon is named the King of the North by the rest of the Northern families, with a little help from Lyanna Mormont. Daenerys makes Tyrion the Hand of the Queen and begins sailing across the Summer Sea with her dragons and her army, aligned with Dorne, Highgarden, and House Greyjoy. Everything seems to have fallen into place, and it set-up what will hopefully be a eventful season seven. I cannot wait to see what happens next.
2. Black Sails “XXVIII”
I had not read a lot about the show before starting to watch, and have never read Treasure Island, so I actually did not know that the show is a prequel to the book until the end of the most recent season. I mostly just like pirates and decided to finally catch up on the whole series this year. In this season finale, there is an epic battle between Flint’s and Rackham’s crews, the Maroons and the British. After the British are handily defeated, with help from Blackbeard, the pirate captains sit down together and begin to figure out a plan to take back Nassau. Meanwhile, Billy Bones and a few select others have been instilling fear in the people of the island, and Silver is finally given the name ‘Long John Silver.’ Lines have been drawn in Nassau, and if you are not with the pirates, you are against them.
3. 12 Monkeys “Blood Washed Away”
For me, this is the best science fiction show on television right now. Every season I think they cannot possibly blow my mind any more, and then they do, over and over again throughout the season. Cole and Cassie are stuck together in 1958, with no way back to the future unless they stop the primary from causing another paradox. When they fail, they FINALLY admit to each other that they are both in love, and they face those feelings head on. Back in 2044, everyone else is searching for Titan so that they can kill The Witness. This is not the season finale, but it ends in such a way that you have no idea how they could possibly go on from here, and yet they do somehow, and it is excellent.
4. Lovesick “Frankie”
This show makes me laugh a lot. This episode in particular made me cry with laughter. The reason this episode has made my list is because of one specific scene where Angus has eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms and somehow manages to get into the freezer at a grocery store. He is enjoying the cold temperature, and tells Dylan that it’s like being in Narnia. When the grocery store employee tells him to get out, he tries to hide by putting a bag of frozen peas over his face. Later, after Dylan’s car gets a flat tire, Angus is afraid that they are being watched so he runs into the woods and climbs a tree. I chuckle just thinking about it.
5. iZombie “Salivation Army”
I am always surprised that more people are not watching this fantastic show. The cast and the writing continue to dazzle me with every episode. Clive now knows that Liv and Major are zombies, and together the three of them need to take down Vaughn Du Clark at a Super Max Rager party. Meanwhile, Peyton and Ravi have to help Blaine with his Mr. Boss problem. This episode is full of so many great scenes, and one-liners, but I think my favorite moment is at the end when one of the Fillmore Graves zombies has eaten the brain of Rob Thomas and is now playing the guitar and singing Matchbox Twenty’s Unwell. Subtle brilliance.
6. Atlanta “B.A.N.”
The whole season was incredible, but this episode in particular was just so wholly original and interesting. Paper Boi is a reluctant guest on the show Montague which airs on the fictional Black American Network. The show within the show even has its own parody commercial breaks around each actual commercial break. It sounds confusing, and threw me off a bit when the episode started, but it was actually a very poignant look at race and gender. If you are not already watching this show, you should start immediately.
7. Outlander “Faith”
Jamie is in prison for dueling, so the majority of this episode centers around Claire and her miscarriage. She is completely destroyed by the loss, and faces down death herself, but gradually pulls herself together just enough to petition the King to release her husband from jail, only to fall apart again telling Jamie of what she went through without him. Caitriona Balfe portrays Claire’s heartbreak beautifully and Sam Heughan’s Jamie shares in her grief as the couple find their way back to each other.
8. Orphan Black “The Collapse of Nature”
I was almost finished writing this post when I realized I had totally forgotten about this amazing episode, so I had to move some things around. The series began with Beth jumping in front of a train, and we never really learned who Beth was or what she was thinking when she took her own life. This episode flashed back to the days leading up to her death, and showed us that final investigation into Maggie Chen’s shooting. We also got to see a few returning characters (including my fave, Paul), and how they interacted with the real Beth, not just Sarah as Beth. We finally got to understand what Beth was feeling when she stepped off that platform, which made it even more devastating.
Honorable Mentions: Agent Carter “A Little Song and Dance,” The Americans “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears,” black-ish “Hope,” Good Girls Revolt “The Newser,” Looking “The Movie,” Mozart in the Jungle “Not Yet Titled,” The Night Of “The Beach,” No Tomorrow “No Doubt,” Shameless “Requiem for a Slut,” Supergirl “Worlds Finest,” and Veep “Kissing Your Sister.”
I could have made another list with just my honorable mentions, there was too much good television this year! I also ended up removing a few shows, and still probably missed a few others. I invite you to share your own favorite series and episodes from the year in the comments.
Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! I look forward to writing for you and hearing from you in 2017! xoxo