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The 5 Best Television Episodes of 2014, So Far

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | July 2, 2014 | Comments ()


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I probably shouldn’t have limited the list to five episodes because so many great ones are going to be left out, but that’s kind of the fun in designing a list like this: Having to leave off otherwise excellent episodes because they weren’t excellent enough. There’s still six months left of the year, so it also felt necessary to limit myself to five. Apologies to “Mizumono” from Hannibal, “”So Did The Fat Lady,” from Louie, the second season premiere of House of Cards, any episode of Orange is the New Black, “Cooperative Polygraphy” from Community, and Justified’s “All Shot to Hell.”

There will be some light spoilering.

5. Rick and Morty, “”Rixty Minutes” — While Community didn’t land in the top five for 2014, Dan Harmon is certainly represented in the best comedy episode of 2014. In a very Doctor Who like installment of the animated series, Rick and Morty’s family get a glimpse into other timelines, allowing them to see how their lives might have turned out if they’d made different choices. The Idiocracy like television shows in other dimensions were hysterical, but unexpected resolution to the alternate timelines subplot removed the heart of Rick and Morty from beneath the layers of cleverness and wit and planted it firmly upon the sleeve, elevating the series from a smart, allusion-heavy animated sitcom into a poignant one, too.

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4. Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper” — Let’s admit that, while it was a great overall fourth season of Game of Thrones, some of the individual episodes were not quite as good as we’d hoped. The Purple Wedding was fantastic, but a relative letdown compared to the Red Wedding. The finale was rushed and messy, and the Battle of the Wall was awesome to watch, but lacking in substance. On the other hand, the Trial by Combat between The Mountain and the Viper lived up to absolutely every expectation both the book readers and non-book readers had. It was a legitimately epic episode of television.

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3. Mad Men, “A Day’s Work” — It’s been a stellar first half of the final season of Mad Men (save for a slightly subpar premiere episode), but “A Day’s Work” was the finest episode this year. It was a turning point for Don Draper, who reconnected with his daughter, Sally, over a Valentine’s Day meeting in a diner. Don made a decision in that episode to finally be honest with his daughter, a decision that would he’d continue to make all season long, leading to his professional and personal rebound. It was not just a great episode for Don, however. It was Peggy’s “Masturbate gloomily” episode, and even better, it was the episode that prominently featured Dawn, who inadvertently helped to revealed Lou Avery as the despicable human being we came to know him as for the rest of the season.

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2. Fargo, “Buridan’s Ass” — It’s tough to pick the best episode of Fargo in its debut season, among so many, but while the pilot was brilliant, and the finale perfect, it was the sixth episode of the season that demonstrated that Fargo was not f**king around. That was the episode where fish fell from the sky, ultimately killing Stavros’ son (it was also the last we saw of Oliver Platt); the episode where Lester set Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton) up to be blown to bits by a SWAT Team; and the episode where a cunning Lester slipped out of the hospital and framed his brother for the murder of Lester’s wife. But the moment that took our breath away and left us shaky was when Colin Hanks’ Gus, in pursuit of Malvo, accidentally shot Molly, knocking our hearts into our stomach, leaving us crippled and fetal. It was the biggest “OH NO” moment of the year, so far.

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1. True Detective, “Locked Room” — True Detective started strong out the gate, buoyed by the performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It has been the series of 2014, so far. And while “The Secret Fate of All Life” might have featured McConaughey’s best monologue — the “Time is a Flat Circle” speech — it was “Locked Room” that transformed True Detective from an interesting experiment into must-fucking-watch television. The “Life is a Dream” speech at the end, which concluded with the mysterious Reggie Ledoux in his underwear wearing a gas mask instantly hooked anyone who watch watching. That’s when everything shifted. That was the moment when True Detective made us its bitch.

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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Thirding "The Grove" from TWD.

    "The Mountain and the Viper" was a terrible episode. The majority knew what was coming, yet we were served this pooly pieced together episode that had exposition that could've waited for the next episode or should've been resolved seasons ago. There was no mourning, no real tension, to the episode's ending because it was like, "OH YEAH. 'EPIC' FIGHT RIGHT NOW. GO GO GO."

  • lakin

    The Grove, in The Walking Dead. A terrific episode with a very taboo topic and great work by Melissa McBride.

  • This this this.

  • Kenny G.

    I'm so glad you included RICK AND MORTY (The best comedy on television).
    "Meeseeks and Destroy" and "Lawnmowerdog" were priceless...hell, the whole first season was priceless. I can't wait for season two.

  • DominaNefret

    This list is incomplete without The Good Wife at 1 and 2.

  • Behemoth

    see my comment above.

  • $108368108

    I thought Rick Potion #9 was a better episode then Rixty Minutes and is easily the most amazing and horrifying thing I've thing I saw on TV in 2014 (and possibly all time).

  • Adrienne Marie

    Rick Potion #9 is one of those episodes that did NOT wind up how I expected it too. Horrifying and hysterical at the same time.

  • Three_nineteen

    "The Mountain and the Viper" had that stupid fucking beetle speech in it, which should disqualify it as a contender for best episode.

  • I'd throw in Orphan Black's sixth episode, "To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings." To refresh: Helena farting in the tent, singing in the car, fighting in the car and wanting babies with the Prolethians. Sarah found Ethan Duncan and learned about the clone's origins. Alison was in rehab. Scott turned the Cosima-Delphine duet into a trio. Mrs. S cemented her badass reputation. A lot of cloney goodness in that hour of TV.
    <img>http://theflounce.com/wp-conte...

  • Rani

    Ummmm.... "The Grove" in The Walking Dead anyone?

    Otherwise, awesome list! Pedro Pascal is the best thing that's happened to TV this year, bar none.

  • Kirre

    I sorta want to put the GoT as number one, but that's only because of Pedro Pascal.

    That man dammit! That. Man.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    I like your choices but I'm sorry, you are all wrong.

    That season finale was Bryan Fuller's "Ozymandias", his "Red Wedding" and quite possibly the best episode of the year, hyperbole be damned. I didn't sign up for Hamlet.

    <img>http://37.media.tumblr.com/790...

  • Joseph Finn

    And we have a winner.

  • Good list. I'd have used episode four (Who Goes There with the tracking shot finale) or five (Secret fate of All Life with the "shootout" and time jump) for the True Detective entry, but ep 3 was pretty dope, too

  • Valhallaback Girl

    Episode 4 blew my goddamn mind. That 6 minute single shot scene...... Holy balls.

  • Theodora K Mullins

    The episode after Will died on the Good Wife was close to a perfect episode of television

  • Behemoth

    Also the NSA episode, the first episode of 2014 (with the song and Alicia changing outfit into the one she wore when Will first banged her ), and the season finale with the conference call dilemma.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Lorne set up Glen Howerton, not Lester.

  • emmalita

    The SWAT team scene in Fargo is one of those scenes that I thought was amazing and will never ever watch again.

  • Kirre

    I love those films/episodes that make you go: Wow, I never seen anything this good and I never ever want to see it again..

  • JustOP

    I'd put GOT where Fargo, but overall agreed. Was weird seeing Dennis getting obliterated though - couldn't help but imagine they existed in the same universe, and this was his sad fate.

    Hope next season of True Detective manages to keep the creepy aesthetic, as it was one of my favourite aspects of the show.

  • aroorda

    As Cali has had some pretty fucked up serial killers in the past, I'd say it should be plenty creepy.

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