December 25, 2014

Top 10 Episodes of 2014

10. “App Development and Condiments”, Community

As a satire of consumer driven society this was a pretty interesting episode of television.  Add to the fact that this was also one of the funniest episodes of the year and featured some great character development for Joel McHale’s Jeff and Yvette Nicole Brown’s Shirley and you’ve got quite a memorable episode.

9. “Two Boats and a Helicopter”, The Leftovers

The first two episodes of The Leftovers revealed it to be a show that had a lot of potential.  This stunning hour was the episode in which the show revealed that it could reach that potential.  With a commanding performance from Christopher Eccleston and a script that turns a simple storyline of a priest trying to find a way to keep his church afloat into a mysterious and mesmerizing tale of morality and fate, this was an episode difficult to forget.

8. “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”, Fargo

Turning a hit film with a style as eccentric as Fargo’s into a television show would seemingly be difficult, but from the get-go Noah Hawley proved that it was possible in his hands.  While it took a while for the heroes to get a foothold among this talented cast, this episode introduced two iconic TV villains in the mysterious Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) and the bumbling but increasingly dangerous Lester (Martin Freeman).

7. “The Mountain and the Viper”, Game of Thrones

The eponymous scene in which Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) and Gregor Clegane (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson) fight to a brutal end was easily one of the best scenes of the year.  Yet this episode featured some fantastic world building and some of the best cinematography this show has ever featured courtesy of Anette Haellmigk.

6. “The Long Bright Dark”, True Detective

True Detective may have reached greater heights in later episodes, but what an introduction we got into a world that felt so unfamiliar from anything we have seen before on television.  This episode was the one that set the foundation for the show to be so captivating and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) to become such an instantly iconic character.

5. “Form and Void”, True Detective

All those complaining about plot threads being left open with this first season finale of True Detective miss the point that this is the perfect closure to the Rust-Marty relationship while also being a pretty strong companion piece to “The Long Bright Dark”.  It will also be pretty hard to come up with as good of a closing line as this finale had as it shockingly ended on a major theme twist whereas most other (and lesser shows) would have ended on a plot twist.

4. “The Sign of Three”, Sherlock

The fact that writers Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Stephen Thompson were able to take a best man’s speech that lasts a near ninety minutes and turn it into one of the most suspenseful and fun episodes of the year is an astounding achievement.  Benedict Cumberbatch (as he normally is when playing Sherlock Holmes) is at the top of his game.

3. “Who Goes There”, True Detective

THAT CLIMACTIC TRACKING SHOT! Yes, a lot of the praise for this episode comes from just one scene, but that scene is easily the most technically impressive scene in television history.  “Who Goes There” has a lot more to offer too as it is an all around effective transition from the quietness of the first three episodes to the more turbulent style of this and future episodes.

2. “Guest”, The Leftovers

In previous episodes Carrie Coon was relegated to a scene or two of screen time as the haunting Nora Durst.  In this episode, she was in every single second of it, and the world was finally introduced to one of our great new talents.  Carrie Coon finds a way to be heartbreaking and fierce as the star of one of the most unique episodes of an already very unique series.

1. “The Secret Fate of All Life”, True Detective

“Who Goes There” ended with one of the all-time great scenes of television.  “The Secret Fate of All Life” somehow found a way to keep the momentum going with a time skipping and thrilling hour of television.  A tense action sequence? Check (the skirmish at the Ledoux compound).  An incredible and instantly iconic monologue? Check. (“Time is a flat circle”)  The introduction of a memorable villain? Check (the Yellow King).  True Detective was already stretching the boundaries of television.  “The Sceret Fate of All Life” only stretched it further.

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