James Cannelos ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
1. Louie – “So Did the Fat Lady”
Is it insulting to not acknowledge someone’s weight? Louie C.K. has never shied away from uncomfortable observations about human behavior, relationships or even drastic situations. Usually it’s C.K. spewing (vulgarly) every pet peeve he has about everything from hecklers to pretty women. But here, he allows his guest star Sarah Baker to shine with a beautiful nearly 8 minute monologue about the struggles overweight women go through. Baker is never as harsh as C.K. tends to be, just purely honest when addressing the sexism that surrounds the overweight, “You can talk into the microphone and say ‘can’t get a date’, you’re overweight and it’s adorable. But if I say it they call the suicide hotline on me. Can I just say it? I’m fat. It sucks to be a fat girl.”. C.K. won the Emmy award for best writing for this episode and it shows why with this scene alone.
2. Game of Thrones: “The Lion and the Rose”
With such a fantastic season it would be easy to include half of the episodes on this list. God knows that there were enough moments that had the internet exploding with reactions. However, this episode doesn’t miss a beat and establishes the story ark of all the characters in King’s Landing. It even offered a shock to the readers who knew exactly what was to become of tyrant Joffery on his over the top wedding day. George R.R. Martin clearly loves weddings and death, as seen at the Red Wedding, here we have the Purple Wedding that offers the end of Joffery’s cruelness. Within minutes of his death, Joffery was behaving as bratty as ever to his uncle Tyrion, up until he was poisoned. With the outcry of fans celebrating the death of this character as his mother grieved, it makes you think how the savage behavior of the program is rubbing off on its viewers.
3. Orange Is the New Black – “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.”
By far the most satisfying season finale on this list. Changing the playing field of the series while maintaining the key factors that made this prison dramedy one of the most well written shows currently on television. After Red gets the living crap beat out of her by old rival Vee, she refuses to say who is responsible, which leads investigators to the most vulnerable suspect. Every character in this perfectly constructed ensemble gets their chance to shine, most noticeably Emmy winner Uzo Aduba’s Suzanne (a.k.a. Crazy Eyes) who is nearly scapegoated by everyone. Writer and creator Jenji Kohan once again offers a beautiful insight to how our security facilities are managed poorly and mishandle situations that could easily be solved with care and patience.
4. True Detective – “The Secret Fate of All Life”
You could go through every list and opinion of the year’s best TV episodes and get dozens of different responses. True Detective’s signature episode remains the most commonly referenced episode on all these lists. With a character like Rust Cohle even if you completely disagree with his agenda on life and human nature it’ll still be some of the most thought provoking dialogue said on television this year. Before Matthew McConaughey was pitching you the newest Lincoln he was telling the world this beautiful “Time is a flat circle” soliloquy. It offers not only the year’s most quotes lines, but some of the best television performances of 2014.
5. Silicon Valley – “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”
With such a stellar first season of this riff on programmers and engineers trying to make it big in the titled Valley, it’s especially hard to pick just one episode. Most notably since this season finale is missing the wonderful Christopher Evan Welch, who unfortunately passed away midway through filming the first season. His memory and presence lives on though as the Pied Piper boys present their programming to the world. The solution to their equation, possibly the most sophisticated and cleverly written penis joke ever displayed in any medium.
6. Fargo – “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”
Adapting a television series from a masterpiece film would make anyone a little skeptical. It didn’t take very long for FX’s Fargo to prove to be the perfect balance of the recent anthology series craze. Not too out there like American Horror Story, yet not too existential like True Detective. Fargo fuses the darkest and most unsettling laughs in with sheer suspense like a tightly knitted sweater. Billy Bob Thornton’s wickedly sinister “dragons” monologue is reason enough to give this perfect Pilot episode a look.
7. House of Card – “Chapter 17”
For a show that thrives best when its characters are moving fast and multitasking a mile a minute, it was surprising that its best episode from season 2 was one where everyone was so still. As Francis is trapped in a room with his political rival due to a terror threat, his equally manipulative wife Claire must do a live interview without him. The end product is Robin Wright’s most spellbinding performance of the series as she fuses truth and fiction together so perfectly that it becomes apparent that in politics no trauma is too sacred to use to your advantage.
8. Family Guy & The Simpsons – “The Simpsons Guy”
The feud of show runners Seth MacFarlane and Matt Groening is one that feels dated and irrelevant. Much like how the public perceives their shows. However, this hoped for crossover reminded viewers that you can always teach an old dog new tricks. After the Griffin family leaves their home of Quahog to lay low due to Peter’s controversial comic strip, they get stranded in none other then the town of Springfield and receive shelter from the Simpsons. At first it appears that this is going to be a stale crossover with some cute references to both the shows finest moments. Until friction between the patriarch’s favorite beers comes into play. What transpires is a hilariously meta moment of the more modern cartoon family clashing with its own inspiration. The result is hilariously honest and almost therapeutic display of all artist’s work being dissected by everyone else who arrived first to the party.
9. The Walking Dead – “The Grove”
Even after four seasons of apocalyptic dread The Walking Dead still asks the hard questions about what makes us human and keeps us from being numb inside. As the large ensemble are in separate packs, this episode focuses on season 1 veteran Carol as she realizes that the hope and innocence of young Lizzie might lead to violence. It’s the toughest episode on this list to watch simply because it really puts a lot into perspective on how desperate someone is to tame the unstable urges of a child.
10. Veep – “Crate”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus proves once more why she is one of the most reliably funny actors working on television ever. She and her loyal right hand man Gary Walsh (Tony Hale) turn a restrained victory into one of the most hysterical scenes of the year. If House of Cards were a comedic television show, the controversy surrounding the titled crate would easily be a topic of debate.