Yesterday, we brought you UPROXX’s greatest shows of the year. Now, as promised, here’s the episode followup with one key difference: these aren’t necessarily the best; they’re 10 of our favorites. Though the dick joke episode from Silicon Valley would have made it either way.
The Blacklist, “The Mombasa Cartel”
The Blacklist is at its best when it’s creating moral quandaries for the millions of people tuning in each week. Front and center is Raymond Reddington, the former Navy officer turned concierge to the world’s greatest criminals, terrorists and all-around scumbags, as we know he’s a terrible human being, mostly looking out for No. 1, but he’s played so wonderfully by James Spader, and he has a tendency for incredible righteousness that it’s hard to not cheer for him. While the series has hardly been the best at shocking us with twists and turns (we knew who was in that cargo hold from the first second, despite the constant “You’ll never believe it!” promos) and some of the buildup has fallen terribly flat (Berlin went from terrifying to pointless in a matter of episodes), “The Mombasa Cartel” was an excellent episode in terms of storytelling, and more specifically showing us that the all-powerful Red was, in fact, human and had a soft spot that exceeded his strange and sometimes creepy relationship with Lizzy*.
Until this episode, Dembe had served no greater purpose than a bodyguard for Red, as we simply knew that he had formerly been a slave for a human trafficking cartel. Now, we learned that his past is so much darker and horrifying, as he suffered unspeakable torture and misery, and it was Red who still saw the value of life in him and gave him something far more valuable and powerful than a second chance. And in the end, it was Dembe who implored Red not to murder the “bad guy*,” while Red reminded us that humanity is one thing, but moral justice is another.
*Remember: If it turns out that Liz is really Red’s daughter, I abandon all praise for this series.
**Also, the hunting humans was plot was pretty awesome and scary, because the taxidermist and his mommy were creepy as hell. I would prefer to never be hunted and stuffed, please and thank you. — Ashley Burns
Broad City, “The Last Supper”
I really could go on at length about any one of the first 10 Broad City episodes/miracle pearls that were handed down from the angels that loiter in the clouds, but “The Last Supper” seems to sum up the overall energy of the show so perfectly.
Abbi and Ilana aren’t on some miraculous odyssey through their 20s, they’re f*ck ups who are feeling their way around in the dark, but they’re also helped along by the strength of their thoroughly f*cked up friendship.
A friendship that is on full display in this episode as Ilana demonstrates her love for Abbi by enduring the tortures of her shellfish allergy while at an uber fancy restaurant where they clearly don’t belong. The scene at the end when Abbi carries her fallen friend out of the restaurant is a tremendous bit of physical comedy, and the whole acidic background relationship between John the waiter and his angry chef wife (Amy Poehler) is also amazing, but nothing tops the lo-fi bullsh*tting that Abbi and Ilana do as they walk home from another calamitous day. — Jason Tabrys
Community, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”
Otherwise known as the Ass Crack Bandit episode, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” was Dan Harmon at his absolute finest. It was a spot-on parody of serial killer dramas, it worked in half a dozen inside jokes, Donald Glover gave a terrific performance as a man traumatized by a cracking, it brought back Alex “Star-Burns” Osbourne and Professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver), and it ended with a heartbreaker: We find out that Pierce has died, which was followed by Neil’s somber eulogy (“and up next on the dial is Dr. Farts!”). There were more jokes, callbacks, allusions, and easter eggs in this 22-minute sitcom episode than you’re likely to find in a full season of a lesser comedy. Hell, it even got its own theme song from Ben Folds. And as typical of a movie like Zodiac, we were left hanging: The identity of the Ass Crack Bandit remains unknown. — Dustin Rowles
Fargo, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”
Lester, is this what you want? It was this question that brought fire and brimstone come raining down on Lester Nygaard, effectively destroying the house of cards he had connived, murdered and manipulated so hard to build — all thanks to his smug, stupid ego. It made him first an accessory to murder, second on the run from a serial killer, and the ensuing cat and mouse game was nothing short of RIVETING. And then, just when you think Lester couldn’t be more of a candidate for the absolute worst human being ever, he makes her PUT ON THE ORANGE COAT. My god. While “Buridan’s Ass” was a likewise excellent and suspenseful episode, I don’t think my heart could have been lodged further in my throat as it was in that moment. — Stacey Ritzen
Essentially, 25 episodes paid off with this; the ultimate confrontation between Hannibal, Will, and Jack. It’s a master class in fiction, because even though Hannibal is a total monster, you can feel his heart break even as he does a straight litany of terrible things in quick succession. Season three can’t come soon enough. — Dan Seitz
Nathan For You: “Daddy’s Watching/Party Planner”
Yes, “Dumb Starbucks” grabbed more headlines, but this effort from the show’s sophomore season was the quintessential Nathan For You episode, featuring Nathan Fielder awkwardly deadpanning his way through three “helpful” endeavors: making a dating service more alluring to female users by installing terrifying methods to negate the dangers they face in the dating world (expertly diagrammed above); developing a guilt-free way to keep unwanted guests away from parties; and demonstrating a tremendous motivational technique that threatens participants with devastating, tangible shame.
The episode also features two bonus treats: Nathan popping out from behind a tree to introduce one of the segments, leading to a playful shrug that’s arguably his only out-of-character moment of the entire series; and series favorite “Bill Gates” returning for an unexpected second appearance on the show. — Ryan Perry
Unlike 2013, when the near-consensus best episode of the year was “Ozymandias,” 2014’s peak-greatness was spread throughout multiple shows. Parks and Recreation (“Moving Up”), The Americans (“New Car”), Justified (“Shot All to Hell”), Mad Men (“The Strategy”), Bob’s Burgers (“Mazel-Tina”), Rick and Morty (“Rixty Minutes”), Louie (“In the Woods”), many more that I’m sure you’ll yell at us for not mentioning in the comments section — all worthy choices, but I’m going with the wonderful season two finale of Rectify, “Unhinged,” because I haven’t felt such a sense of dread while watching TV since, well, “Ozymandias.” I still do, in fact, because so much remains unresolved. “Is Daniel innocent or guilty?” has been there since the pilot, but now we also have, “Will Sheriff Carl keep digging around?” and “can Ted Jr. f*ck things up even more than he already has?” The complex, gorgeous, intelligent, subtly acted and scripted “Unhinged” is everything Rectify does well, and…OH GOD DID DANIEL DO IT. — Josh Kurp
Review, “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes”
Review was my favorite comedy of 2014 by a wide margin. It was heading there after its first two episodes, which featured terrific segments on cocaine and becoming a racist, but its third episode, “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes,” put it on a whole other level. It’s when the show developed an arc. I did not expect that to happen. I was expecting something more like Nathan for You, where our protagonist just kept dropping into various scenarios and squeezing comedy out of them. And it would have been fine if that’s all it was. But as Andy Daly (in character as Forrest MacNeil) was finishing off his 45th pancake of the episode, the show gained stakes. It set the stage for the downward spiral the rest of the season turned into, and the fantastic redemption at the end. It became an actual story. A story about a man who sometimes throws up outside diner parking lots. And it was wonderful. — Danger Guerrero
Silicon Valley, “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”
I thoroughly enjoyed every second of Silicon Valley’s first season, but it wasn’t until the season finale, “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency,” that I fully realized just how transcendent this comedy could be. And yes, it is because the entire episode premise — and arguably the backbone of the entire season — relied on the the most elaborate and scientific dick joke in TV history.
The few minutes below were the most engrossed I was by my television all season. Mike Judge & Co. took what could have been a funny throwaway line about jerking off an entire audience and turned it not only into a thing of comedic beauty, but also the game-changing plot development of the series. I’m still kind of in awe of how brilliant that episode is. — Kris Maske
True Detective, “Who Goes There”
When asked about my favorite episode of the 2014 television season, this was the one I jumped to. It spawned a ton of think pieces and retrospectives on filmmaking technique, but it was just really bad ass at the end of the day. It cemented the show’s place in the spotlight and made tuning in a necessity each week.
It’d be easy to write an entire post about how this episode was a well crafted peek into the make up of our main characters, forcing them to face their own faults and demons for the sake of their careers. It’d also be easy to laud the technical aspects of the episode and the memorable six-minute tracking shot that bumped the tension to extreme highs. I don’t want to do that.
I’d rather talk about how this episode takes all the grime and terror of the underworld, condenses it down to one volatile concoction, and proceeds to inject it right into your eyeballs. It’s full of moments of mayhem and laughter at the other end of the darkness that inhabits this series. From Marty failing his family, Rust’s footlocker full of memories, a robbery gone horribly awry from the start, and the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch. We’re instantly on the trail of the monster from the end of the previous episode and it’s rough from the start. I love it. — Andrew Roberts