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Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Top 10 Best Television Episodes of 2017

10) "Who Rules The Land of Denial" 
Fargo (FX)
Season 3 / Episode 8

Premiere Date: June 7, 2017
Directed By: Mike Barker

Brief Description: I know the general consensus was the season 3 of Fargo is the show's worst season, but considering I wasn't the biggest fan on the sophomore attempt, I quite liked the latest from Noah Hawley and crew starring twins played by Ewan McGregor. What makes the show work so well is Hawley's masterful interpretation of films by the Coen Brothers- filmmakers who can make a straightforward kidnapping-gone-wrong film like Fargo and also an absolutely delightfully bonkers film like The Big Lebowski. What makes "Who Rules The Land of Denial" so great is the show's ability to play off of the Coen Brothers tropes and create a delightfully masterfully opening where Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character can be chased by goons one minute, and then sitting in a bowling alley of purgatory with The Wandering Jew (played by Ray Wise) the next.

9) "Time's Arrow" BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
Season 4 / Episode 11
Premiere Date: September 8, 2017
Directed By: Aaron Long

Brief Description: Season 4 of BoJack Horseman dealt a lot with the titular character coming to grips with his past and his relationship with his negligent mother. The series culminates in a trippy penultimate episode where the Bojack's mother (voiced by Wendie Malick) and her dementia flip between the past and present and your left with a David Lynch-ian experience unlike anything you've seen before. A remarkable episode from one of the best and smartest shows on television.

8) "Hang The DJ" Black Mirror (Netflix)
Season 4 / Episode 4
Premiere Date:  December 29, 2017
Directed By: Tim Van Patten

Brief Description: Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror has generally been a pessimistic show about technology can ruin our past, present, and future. I love many of the bleak dystopic stories to tell. But every once in a while, Black Mirror will decide to be optimistic, and those rays of sunshine generally leads to some of the best episodes. The first time the show decided to not go bleak was Season 3's "San Junipero", an episode I named the best of 2016. The shows second attempt was "Hang The DJ" starring Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole as two star-crossed lovers stuck in village where a machine tells them who they are forced to date and be with. It's ending makes me wanna actually be on Tinder!

7) "The Book of Nora" The Leftovers (HBO)
Season 3 / Episode 8
Premiere Date: June 4, 2017
Directed By: Mimi Leder

Brief Description: Since the demise of Breaking Bad, The Leftovers has been the greatest show on television. But sadly, this show too must end, and it left us with a great series finale with "The Book of Nora". The Leftovers has always been a show about how we deal with grief, but very people in the world had it worse that Nora Dunn (Carrie Coon)- a woman who lost her husband both of her kids when 2% of the world's population just up and vanished. The show ended up being her arc as well as Justin Theroux's character Kevin, and the two arcs come crashing into each at the series last scene, where Nora tells Kevin the tale of being transported to another dimension where the 25 Departed went. It's a crazy emotional scene because the Queen Carrie Coon tells the shit out of it, but is it all real? Did we let the mystery be? Fade to black.

6) "The Spoils of War" Game of Thrones (HBO)
Season 7 / Episode 4
Premiere Date: August 6, 2017
Directed By: Matt Shakman

Brief Description: At the beginning of the seventh season of Game of Thrones, the show was clicking and firing on all cylinders. The show had earned up so much good will that by just existing it was excellent television. The show ended up losing that good will with a silly and nonsensical trip of a small group going north of The Wall to capture a White Walker just to have Dany lose a dragon. But before the bad, we were treated with "The Spoils of War" where Dany and her massive army storm on the Lannisters and just fuck shit up. The win came after a handful of L's thanks to Tyrion's not-so-masterful plans, which made W that much more special. Sometimes you just need Game of Thrones to be the massive blockbuster that it is to get one of the most satisfying hours of television in 2017.

5) "Offred" The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Season 1 / Episode 1
Premiere Date: April 26, 2017
Directed By: Reed Morano

Directed By: The Handmaid's Tale was one of the best television shows of the year, and considering its other nominees, I thought its win for Best Drama Series at the Emmy's was well-deserved. However, a lot of what made the season itself so good was just how well it's first few episodes established the dystopia of Gilead, a world where women solely exist to produce offspring for the wealthy white males. Emmy winner's Reed Moreno's direction establishing this brutal world was nothing short of brilliant, and her Emmy was welcomed for directing the show's pilot. From the first episode of this show I was sucked in and compelled to watch everything horrible that would occur from hereon forward.

4) "Thanksgiving" Master of None (Netflix)
Season 2 / Episode 8

Premiere Date: May 21, 2017
Directed By: Melina Matsoukas

Brief Description: As a whole Master of None is Aziz Ansari's take of love and relationships in today's modern age. We explored his relationship with a series girlfriend played by Noel Wells in season one and his lust after his Italian friend played by the charming Alessandra Mastronardi. But every now and then, the show likes to do a stand alone episode to let Woke Aziz Ansari preach and tout his creativity. By pairing with his co-star Lena Waithe, we get one of the best episodes of 2017 when the show decided to tell one of its stand alone episodes. In "Thanksgiving", we're treated to a series of Thanksgiving dinners where Waithe's character, a lesbian IRL, tells the struggle of coming out to her mom, played by Angela Bassett, who, shall we say, is not so progressive. It's one of the episodes that you know instantly is great, and Waithe's and Anari's Emmy win for Best Screenplay (Comedy) was well-deserved.

3) "Dance Dance Resolution" The Good Place (NBC)
Season 2 / Episode 2
Premiere Date: September 20, 2017
Directed By: Drew Goddard

Brief Description: It's rare when the sophomore episode of any season ends up being the season's best, and ultimately one of the year's best. Normally it's the first episode or the show's penultimate or ultimate episode depending on the show runner. But The Good Place is not like any other show. After revealing the big twist at the end of season one where the gang finds out The Good Place is really The Bad Place, season 2 was dealt a whole new status quo that it had to deal with. As it turns out, that new status quo decided to get blown up as well, thousands of times in fact as the episode sends the entire episode of the demon Michael (Ted Danson) tries to reboot his idea of The Good Place as a means of torture. The episode is also one of the year's best just for the puns alone.

2) "U.S.S. Callister" Black Mirror (Netflix)
Season 4 / Episode 1
Premiere Date: December 29, 2017
Directed By: Toby Haynes

Brief Description: When Netflix first signed a deal with the show's creator Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror has only aired two season, each with three episodes each, and a Christmas episode. What would multiple seasons, each with 6 episode each look like? Would the increase in the order dilute the product? Did Brooker even have any good ideas left? As it turns out, the answer was taking ever wilder swings and exploring all aspects of the science fiction genre. One of the best examples of this was Brooker's take on the Star Trek theme when a socially awkward game developer Robert Daly (Jesse Plemmons) extracts version of his co-workers (played by Jimmi Simpson, Billy Magnussen, and Cristin Milioti) for his Star Trek-esque fantasy where is the vengeful God of everyone and everything.

1) "Chicanery" Better Call Saul (AMC)
Season 3 / Episode 5
Premiere Date: May 8, 2017
Directed By: Daniel Sackheim

Brief Description: Up to this point in the series, the best aspect of the show was the relationship between brothers Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). The show itself was pulling a subtler version of Breaking Bad of turning Mr. Chips into Scarface in that how would lovable, small-time crook, trying-to-do-the-right-thing Jimmy McGill become the malevolent, gives-no-fucks Saul Goodman. The answer lied in the contempt of Chuck McGill towards his brother. This relationship brought itself to the breaking point in "Chicanery" where Jimmy McGill is on trial with the law review board over the fate of his law license when Chick records Jimmy on tape confessing to crimes. In an  episode that's basically the show's version of A Few Good Men, we see the battle of Jimmy vs. Chuck that not only ends up being the best episode of 2017, but one of the best episodes of the century. The show's closing shot still haunts me.