“Justified” being as good as it was (and the first episode of season three is on in the background right now) got me thinking about the best TV I’ve seen. It’s a fun game, so just for kicks here are my top five episodes of any show, in order from best to relatively worst:
- Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall”. Absolutely perfect in every way, it is easily the best episode of any show I’ve ever seen. A remarkable achievement in pretty much every category. Martin Freeman at the top of his game.
- Sherlock, “His Last Vow”. The only thing keeping it out of Reichenbach level is a slightly weaker plot.
- Firefly, “Out of Gas”. Firefly’s origin story, it’s a terrifically directed episode told in three separate timelines that features some of the best character beats of the show.
- Firefly, “Objects in Space”. Ask me tomorrow and I may switch it with “Out of Gas” again. A philosophical masterpiece that also happens to be an excellent character study of River.
- Justified, “Bloody Harlan”. The finale of season two. A virtually perfect episode. The only reason it isn’t higher is because my great fondness for “Firefly” can’t allow me to place those episodes any lower, and “Sherlock” is “Sherlock”. Still, Margo Martindale, who was a revelation the entire season, was at her very best in this episode. The final moment of season two is as perfect a moment as I’ve ever seen in any show, right down to the haunting country ballad played to close things out. An incredible finale to an incredible season.
EDIT: And just to round things out, here were the episodes that barely didn’t make the cut, in no particular order:
- Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias”. It might have made the list if I watched the show more, but as it is I simply didn’t have enough invested in the characters for it to impact me as much as these other episodes did. But it was fantastic.
- Sherlock, “The Hounds of Baskerville”. I loved how clever the updates were. Grimpen Mire turning to Grimpen minefield was a particular stroke of genius.
- Justified, “My Brother’s Keeper”. The episode where everything turns to shit, so naturally it was hugely entertaining. Actually, you can take pretty much every episode from here on and put it on he honorable mention list, with the exception of “Bloody Harlan”, which is in the top five.
- House, “House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart”. A two part episode and an absolute classic in its own right, the entire cast of “House” is at the top of their game in an incredibly tense and emotional pair of episodes. Hugh Laurie was gold, and the conceit used – Wilson’s girlfriend has disappeared after a bus crash and House can’t remember if he was having an affair with her or not – is ingenious. The ending is genuinely heartbreaking.
That’s all I’ve got for now. It just occurred to me that I was leaving out some good stuff and I wanted to make sure they at least got acknowledged.