Honorable Mentions: The Knick’s “This Is All We Are”, Rick and Morty’s “Total Rickall” (I felt terrible leaving this off), Better Call Saul’s “Five-O”, Parenthood’s “May God Bless and Keep You Always”, Louie’s “Untitled”, Master of None’s “Mornings”, Togetherness’s “Kick the Can”, Marvel’s Jessica Jones’s “AKA WWJD?”, WHAS: First Day of Camp’s “Activities”, Sense8’s “What Is Human?”, Daredevil’s “Nelson v. Murdock”, Veep’s “Election Night”, Orphan Black’s “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”, Parks and Recreation’s “Leslie and Ron”, Shameless’s “Crazy Love”, Mr. Robot’s “eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v”, Bloodline’s “Part 11”, Review’s “Happiness/Pillow Fight/Imaginary Friend”, Penny Dreadful’s “Nightcomers”, UKS’s “Kimmy’s In a Love Triangle”, Please Like Me’s “Pancakes With Faces”, Transparent’s “Man On the Land”
Haven’t Seen: The Flash, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Making a Murderer, F Is For Family, The 100, Casual, Catastrophe, Outlander, Doctor Who, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, American Crime, Fresh Off the Boat, Getting On, Looking, Halt and Catch Fire, Wolf Hall, Agent Carter, Black Sails, Manhattan, Agents of SHIELD, Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, The Jinx
Yup, there’s a lot of great television out there right now, and not enough time to watch it.
15. Fargo-“The Castle”: Just a brilliant hour of sustained tension, one that brings the season’s various storylines together in an explosive bloodbath. Also, it’s home to one of the year’s funniest television moments, courtesy of Kirsten Dunst. Shoutouts: “Loplop”, “Rhinoceros”
14. Banshee-“A Fixer of Sorts”: Every other episode of this season feels like a season finale, so it’s difficult to single one out. However, this one is the perfect showcase of the show’s insane action capabilities. Nola vs. Clay. Enough said. Shoutouts: “Tribal”, “We Were All Someone Else Yesterday”, “You Can’t Hide From the Dead”
13. Justified-“The Promise”: This is the capper to an amazing ending run for an amazing show, and although I wouldn’t call this the best of the season, it’s the one I’ll single out due to its satisfying, moving conclusion. It’s a wonderful finale featuring a beautiful final scene. Shoutouts: The entire season
12. Community-“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”: Here’s another series finale that closes out one of my favorite shows. After season 3, the show takes a serious downturn, but it slowly improves from there and culminates in this perfect finale about moving on and saying goodbye. Also, that end disclaimer.
11. Bojack Horseman-“Escape From LA”: Gut punch doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction to the ending of this episode. It’s half an hour of seeing Bojack fall further and further, and Olivia Wilde’s final line is searing, painful, and masterfully delivered.
10. The Americans-“Stingers”: And just like that, it all comes crashing down. This episode is one of the main reasons why I singled out Holly Taylor on my performances list; she does such a stellar job of conveying the rush of emotions that come with the truth, and Paige’s scenes with her parents here are among the most heartbreaking of the season (the other would be Lois Smith’s scene). Shoutout: “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”
9. Nathan For You-“The Movement”: Jack Garbarino has a book and has appeared on numerous talk shows. He has a book and has appeared on numerous talk shows. Nathan Fielder is a genius. The mention of “jungle children” is perhaps the hardest I’ve laughed all year. Shoutout: “The Hero”
8. Mad Men-“Time & Life”: This remains my favorite episode of season 7b, and it’s just an all around great featuring stellar directing from Jared Harris and a beautiful Stan-Peggy scene. Also, I love how it works as a reverse “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” Shoutouts: “Lost Horizon”, “The Milk and Honey Route”
7. Game of Thrones-“Hardhome”: Season 5 is a very weak season for the show, but it’s clear where all the money went (it’s worth every penny). This is a thrilling, cinematic, and plain awesome episode of television.
6. Hannibal-“Wrath of the Lamb”: Here’s another series finale addition to the list, one for a show that unfortunately is over too soon. It’s bloody, brutal, dark, and yet, also romantic. That’s the beauty of this show. Shoutout: “Digestivo”
5. You’re the Worst-“LCD Soundsystem”: I’d say this is one of the ballsiest episodes of TV this year. And it’s not a unique format just to be unique; it shades in more of Gretchen’s character with devastating detail, and Aya Cash will break your heart. Shoutouts: “There Is Not Currently A Problem”, “The Heart Is a Dumb Dumb”
4. Rectify-“The Source”: I connect with this show on a level unmatched by most others. The season finale is, like all the show’s episodes, full of gorgeous little moments, and it explores the relationship between Janet and Daniel wonderfully. Shoutouts: “Thrill Ride”, “Girl Jesus”, “The Future”
3. Person of Interest-“If-Then-Else”: I’m pretty sure this is the first episode of television I watched this year, and I knew right away it would end up in my top 5 when all was said and done. Lo and behold, it is. It’s just an incredibly badass, creative, compelling, and exciting episode all around, and it’s full of sacrifice and genuine human moments that help make this show one of the most well rounded on TV. Plus, giving us a Machine-centric episode here leads to one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a while (the “simplifying” one). Shoutouts: “Control-Alt-Delete”, “Asylum”, “YHWH”
2. The Leftovers-“International Assassin”: This is a very polarizing episode, but put me in the “love” camp. It’s trippy and entertaining, but it also nicely delves into Kevin Garvey’s character and highlights the show’s thematic underpinnings. It’s incredible. Shoutouts: “Lens”, “I Live Here Now”
1. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia-“Charlie Work”: 2013 brought us “Ozymandias”, 2014 brought us “Mizumono”, and 2015 brings us “Charlie Work”. This is comedy at its peak, which is impressive considering the show is at a point in its run when any reasonable person would expect a decline in quality. “NOPE!” says the show, and “Charlie Work” is an ambitious and hilarious ride that is one of the show’s all time greats. It’s also my favorite episode of TV this year.
Photo credits: HBO, The Leftovers, FXX, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Justified, FX, The Americans, You’re the Worst