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Best TV Episodes of 2015 (So Far): Part Three

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Best TV Episodes of 2015 (So Far)

 

Justified, “The Promise”
Written by Graham Yost & Fred Golan & Dave Andron & Benjamin Cavell
Directed by Adam Arkin
Aired April 14th, 2015 on FX

Over the course of its run, Justified established itself as a top tier drama, which meant that expectations were high going into its sixth and final season. The series finale, however, delivered on several fronts, elevating itself into not only a highlight of the show, but a highlight of the television year as a whole to date. The deft manner in which the episode balances its numerous characters is one of the key ways in which it distinguishes itself. While the finale’s most important showdown is the one between Boyd and Raylan, the writers make sure to give the season’s antagonist Avery Markham his due as well, not diminishing the danger he posed by dismissing him easily. The immediate conflict between Boyd and Raylan isn’t shortchanged either, and the fact that the episode takes time to revisit it in the end, drawing the characters into an examination of what keeps their emotions towards each other in conflict, goes a long way towards elevating the episode. The final climactic showdown between Raylan and Boon is another fine example, threading the needle between drawing suspense on its own merit while also working towards advancing the story. The series’ bittersweet ending, and the way it feels earned, only cements this episode’s place on this list. [Deepayan S]

Veep S04

Veep, “Data”
Written by Armando Iannucci & Simon Blackwell & Neil Gibbons & Rob Gibbons
Directed by Becky Martin
Aired April 26th, 2015 on HBO

The fourth season of Veep is essentially a slow spiral of Selina Meyer’s team at their worst and most vulnerable, culminating in the President at her most ridiculous low, that of possibly losing the Presidential Election to her own VP Candidate. The spiral starts in the first episode of the season, but truly gains steam in the magnificent “Data”, in which a small anecdote in one of Meyer’s speeches snowballs until it threatens to bring down the entire administration. Every member of the ensemble is on their game in this episode, elevating the expectedly hilarious dialogue with small looks and twitches perfected after years of acting the fools in a circus-like office environment. Reid Scott specifically shines here as Dan goes from the top of the world to out of a job before he can blink. It’s a sign of greatness when a truckload of political difficulties, hilarious though they may be, take a back seat to the character work happening as a result of those issues. In a season where each episode repeatedly outshone the previous in various ways, “Data” is the pinnacle of what Veep is capable of at its best. [Whitney M]

Louie S05E04

Louie, “Bobby’s House”
Written and Directed by Louis C.K.
Aired April 30th, 2015 on FX

Louie is the American post-modern Pierrot—that is, Louie C.K. is the sad clown, his hopelessness perpetually externalized as a well of humor from which to draw. “Bobby’s House” is the pinnacle of Louie’s shortened fifth season, marking the return of Pamela and forcing Louie once again to examine his own fading sense of masculinity in middle age. He gets beat up by a woman, lets Pamela put make up on him, then gets dumped for being too emotionally invested; sure, this sounds like just another day in the life of Louie, but how “Bobby’s House” manages to juggle both its gender examination and the more personal tale of Louie and Pamela in endlessly satisfying ways, ending on a perfect summation of events when Louie’s brother Bobby laughs hysterically at him over breakfast, is particularly impressive. We didn’t get much Louie in 2015 but as always, what we did get was memorable.  [Randy D]

Mad Men S07E12

Mad Men, “Lost Horizon”
Written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner
Directed by Phil Abraham
Aired May 3rd, 2015 on AMC

After years as one of TV’s most acclaimed dramas, Mad Men concluded its run with confidence, creator Matthew Weiner surprising audiences by taking Don on an extended road trip of self-discovery in the series’ final episodes, rather than keeping the action confined to New York. This starts in “Lost Horizon”, when an overstuffed and soulless meeting pushes Don over his limit, sending him packing. Joan, Roger, and Peggy also have moments of insight, starting new chapters of their life by heading to or leaving McCann Erickson. It’s an episode filled with memorable and beautiful moments, from Joan’s fiery, yet composed exchange with Hobart to Roger and Peggy enjoying one last night at SCP to Don’s realization that finding Diana won’t cure his ennui. The episode is an embarrassment of riches, but frankly, Peggy’s late-episode rock star saunter through the halls of McCann Erickson would have been enough to earn it a place on this list. “Lost Horizon” is a thoughtful, entertaining, and stylish episode, one that could have easily served as a satisfying series finale for Mad Men, the show signing off with one final perfect song choice, “Space Oddity”. [Kate K]

Inside Amy Schumer S03E03

Inside Amy Schumer, “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”
Written by Amy Schumer and the Inside Amy Schumer writing staff
Directed by Ryan McFaul and Amy Schumer
Aired May 5th, 2015 on Comedy Central

“12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” might be the boldest thing we’ve seen on TV in 2015. And not because it’s a half-hour long spoof of the 1957 Henry Fonda film; it’s because, like much of Inside Amy Schumer‘s near-flawless third season, it is a focused criticism of Hollywood, American media, and the public for continuing to judge women on their appearance, a topic Schumer’s explored many times this season, though never quite to this effect. Shot in black and white and employing the talents of John Hawkes, Nick DiPaolo, Jeff Goldblum, and others, “12 Angry Men…” is a melange of gorgeous imagery and dildo jokes—and more importantly, a masterful beat down of the ridiculous debate the American public engages in every single time we see a talented woman on television. [Randy D.]

The Flash S01E23

The Flash, “Fast Enough”
Story by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg
Teleplay by Gabrielle Stanton & Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Dermott Downs
Aired May 19th, 2015 on the CW

Debut seasons are rarely as fun as The Flash’s. An engaging mixture of action, emotional character development, fan service, and thematic intrigue, The Flash came out swinging. More than that, though, it concluded its first season on its highest note. “Fast Enough” moves at breakneck speed, delivering big on the final confrontation between Barry Allen’s Flash and his Reverse-Flash nemesis by allowing the supporting cast to come together in powerful (and sacrificial) ways. Amid the chaos is the series’ most poignant moment, in which Barry travels back in time and speaks to his mother, a devastating and beautiful bit of scriptwriting. And to keep viewers salivating, the finale ends on one of the network season’s most outrageous cliffhangers, promising another riot of a season come October. Special consideration goes to Tom Cavanagh, who makes his Dr. Harrison Wells a thoroughly satisfying counterpart to Barry, grounding the season and “Fast Enough” with a professional and memorable performance. [Sean C]

Game of Thrones S05E08

Game of Thrones, “Hardhome”
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Aired May 31st, 2015 on HBO

Game of Thrones has a history of delivering show-stopping ninth episodes, so when episode eight of this season,”Hardhome”, culminated in an epic, thrilling, 20-minute fight scene, viewers were caught off guard. The sequence at Hardhome, with Jon Snow witnessing the might of the White Walkers’ army in person, is stunning, a breathless action set piece that establishes the stakes for the entire rest of the series. As Jon and the final handful of survivors escape, the Night’s King raises his arms, reviving the dead Wildlings and Night’s Watchmen to join his army, a chilling indicator of the scale of the war that will soon be facing all of Westeros. The spectacle of the battle at Hardhome may be what people most remember, but there are interesting developments throughout the episode: Arya moves to a new stage of her training, Sam gives ill-fated advice to Olly, Sansa discovers that her brothers may still be alive, and talking with Tyrion, Dany promises to break the wheel of the class system holding down the common people of Westeros. Game of Thrones has had a challenging and even at times offensive fifth season, but when it delivers, as it does with “Hardhome”, it earns its place among the best television of the year. [Kate K]

Continue to Part 4 to see our Individual Picks for the Best TV Episodes of 2015 (So Far)


Man Seeking Woman S01E09 Teacup

Best TV Episodes of 2015 (So Far): Part Two

Best TV Episodes of 2015 (So Far): Individual Picks