TV

Our Favorite TV Episodes Of 2015

You’ve seen the best television shows and funniest moments of 2015. Now we’re proud to present our favorite episodes. Just like it was last year, these aren’t necessarily the greatest episodes of the past 12 months; they’re the ones we hold most dearest. What’s yours?

The Americans, “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Betrayals already made and betrayals to come made The Americans‘ third season even more unnerving that those that preceded it. Elizabeth and Philip tried to keep bonds based on falsehoods fraying — including the one based on the lifelong lie they’d told their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor, a standout in a season of standouts). In a way, this episode was the season in miniature, showing that intimacy can be deadly and righteousness creates a fog of moral delusion. After breaking into a repair shop they believe to be abandoned, Elizabeth finds herself in deep conversation with the elderly Betty, a bookkeeper who discovers her there. Elizabeth knows she’ll have to kill her and, before long, Betty realizes this too. But on her way out, they enjoy a deep conversation in which Elizabeth tries to explain that she’s working for the greater good of the word. Betty’s reply: “That’s what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things.” — Keith Phipps

Better Call Saul, “Five-0”

Better Call Saul spent the majority of its first season introducing us to the sad sack lawyer who would eventually become Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman. But for one brilliant hour it changed course and basically became The Mike Ehrmantraut Show. Or, more accurately, The Jonathan Banks Show. The performance Banks turned in carried an episode that was both thrilling and heartbreaking as it explained what set Mike on his journey from Philly cop to eventual Gus Fring enforcer. God help you if you made it through his “I broke my boy” speech without feeling anything. — Danger Guerrero

Bloodline, “Part 12”

This episode finalizes the end game for many of the characters in the taut, family drama Bloodline. Danny has endangered the Rayburn clan by inserting their business into a drug smuggling ring that also dabbles in human trafficking. Danny’s nefarious activities have reaped the wrath of several entities, including his own family and his drug employer. Throughout the series, flash-forwards show us just how things end, but the mystery is how we get there. In “Part 12” we finally find out, and despite the payoff being partially reveled in earlier scenes, it’s still potent and shocking. This episode cements Netflix’s stake for the best TV produced in 2015. — Dariel Figueroa

Daredevil, “Daredevil”

If we’re being technical, I consider the entire first season of Netflix’s first Marvel series to be one episode, because short of bathroom breaks and Cheez-It bowl refills I didn’t, couldn’t, and wouldn’t stop watching. It was dark and bloody, unexpected and even shocking, and by all accounts season two will be even bloodier and more intense. As for the Season 1 finale, everything leading up to the violent confrontation between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, from Foggy begging his best friend to use the law to Potter creating a pretty sweet new costume, felt like a well-written TV legal drama that also just so happened to be a comic book story. But even if it was a little cheesy and far-fetched for people who don’t care about a poor blind lawyer moonlighting as a guardian angel, the fighting was well-choreographed and the story was thrilling enough to make you think that Matt would be broken before he could ever get to Wilson. That Wilson would never be touched, not by the NYPD, FBI, or even the Devil himself. That the good guy is a dying breed. That everything was truly hopeless in Hell’s Kitchen. And then… “Not everyone deserves a happy ending.” It certainly wasn’t happy, but it was pretty f*cking awesome. — Ashley Burns

Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent”

Most of this year’s best television episodes were great for many reasons — performances, writing, directing. Yet the penultimate episode of Doctor Who was stellar for just one — Peter Capaldi. Outside of the long-running BBC show, the 57-year-old Scottish actor is best known as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and In the Loop, but his take on the 12th Doctor is phenomenal. Nowhere is this on display more than “Heaven Sent,” in which Capaldi delivers every line of the episode save one. His Doctor is the episode, and it’s better because of it. — Andrew Husband

Fargo, “Loplop”

To quote Peggy Blumquist, “AW GEEZ, THIS EPISODE.” In what Stephen King called “the best thing on TV in the last three years,” “Loplop” saw the Blumquists go into hiding with their active hostage and bargaining chip, the menacing Dodd Gerhart, and sh*t got dark, albeit in the most blackly comedic way ever. While Peggy finally became “actualized” by the rush she got out of being on the lam and tormenting a dangerous criminal, little did she and Ed know that a far more sinister element was playing a game of cat and mouse with them. And it was the shocking ending that fully set in motion the series of events leading to the fabled Sioux Falls Massacre in the penultimate episode. — Stacey Ritzen

Game of Thrones, “Hardhome”

Game of Thrones typically save its best, or at least its most takes-over-Twitter, episode for episode nine. Not in season five. That honor went to episode eight, “Hardhome,” the show’s most technically impressive achievement to date. It turned Jon Snow into an MVP, and an episode of television into a big-budget movie. The Hardhome battle looks like something out of a Lord of the Rings blockbuster, complete with giants, ice-zombies, and deaths by hundreds, if not thousands. All that violence doesn’t make an impact, though, if there’s no one to connect to. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss wisely introduced a new character, the Wilding leader and mother Karsi, which added a human element to all the mythical bloodshed. Meanwhile, across the world, Tyrion and Daenerys sat down for their first long-anticipated chat. “Hardhome” is like a Stefon club: It. Has. Everything. — Josh Kurp

The Leftovers, “Ten Thirteen”

In “Ten Thirteen,” Damon Lindelof did the unthinkable in the internet age: He outsmarted his audience. He set up a compelling mystery, and he delivered with arguably the year’s greatest reveal. What’s even more remarkable is that it made logical sense, the clues were there all along, and over the course of eight episodes, no one figured it out. He busted our yarn walls. Buoyed by a great performance from Liv Tyler, the episode also delivered in terms of great character work and perfectly set the story arc up so that Lindelof could stick the landing in the finale. — Dustin Rowles

Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride”

Parks and Recreation has always managed to walk a fine line between endearing and saccharine. This is especially difficult for a series finale that gave all of its characters a happy ending (even Garry). But every character’s fate felt just right, from Chris and April having a Halloween baby, to Ron enjoying his canoe ride, to (probably) Leslie getting secret service detail. Hitting every note in the final farewell to the Pawneeans we’ve invested so many years in gives easily puts “One Last Ride” among the best episodes (and best series finale) of the year. — Chet Manley

Rick and Morty, “Look Who’s Purging Now”

I still yell out, “Tiny Rick!” to amuse myself in the cold despair of night and I occasionally repeat Morty’s longwinded warning to Summer that she get her “sh*t together,” but I’m not calling out “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” for its greatness even though it ends with Rick taking an ax to several versions of himself in front of his grandchildren. No, I’m not here to do that or figure out a way to bypass this whole “pick a single episode” rule.

Instead, I’m here to talk about “Look Who’s Purging Now.”

Another dark episode (and one with a foreboding ending), “Purging” features Morty going off the rails on a planet where everyone is trying to kill everyone during a “purge” festival. The violence is “gratuitous” and the message at the end is wholly cynical (and accurate), but at its heart, this is an episode that goes further to actively violate the “do no harm” rules of space travel and play on the ethos of Doctor Who than any other episode that this show has done. It’s a glorious sight to see everyone get a bit primal before a very meta reset at episode’s end. On top of that, it’s also the best episode in a season where Rick and Morty ascended to a better class of hyperbolic praise. Great is now astonishing, smart is now genius. Next comes the slow massages and the wine and cheeses. — Jason Tabrys

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