Monday, July 1, 2013

Best TV Episodes, June 2013

10. Defiance, Season 1 Episode 11 – "The Bride Wore Black"

I'm gonna level with you guys: Despite scratching a certain nostalgic '90s-style cheesy sci-fi itch, Defiance isn't really all that great a show. But the thing about summer is that the ol' TV schedule thins out in a fucking hurry, so suddenly shows like this that wouldn't have made the cut in January through May suddenly find themselves on my "Best TV Episodes" lists while far superior shows like New Girl and Scandal, thanks to their in-season airing schedule, languish unranked. It ain't fair, but it's life. So here's a decent episode of Defiance about the human and alien frontier town of Defiance coming together for a human/alien interspecies wedding. Hooray!

9. Mad Men, Season 6 Episode 11 – "Favors"

As I've discussed before on this blog, on Twitter, on forums and in person with people who know me, I am, to the best of my ability to tell, literally the only person on the planet earth who watches and likes Mad Men but who has never at any point considered it to be one of my favorite shows. And, you know, that's fine. Everyone got their own opinions and shit. This episode probably wouldn't have made my top ten cut any other month this year either, but it was good. Sally discovered some harsh truths about Don, and the jolt it gave her character arc was genuinely engaging stuff.

8. Orphan Black, Season 1 Episode 10 – "Endless Forms Most Beautiful"

Though Orphan Black's finale isn't the season's best episode – that would be episode six, "Variations Under Domestication," which detailed the craziest, clone-iest suburban house party ever – I am glad to find room for this little genre gem, one of the best out-of-nowhere surprises of 2013. Sure, its fans can go a little overboard, but that's just what genre TV fans do. Berating them for it is like berating a dog for barking. The show's debut season ended strongly, bringing simmering Sarah/Helena tensions to a head and of course continuing Tatiana Maslany's unbroken streak of greatness.

7. The Fosters, Season 1 Episode 3 – "Hostile Acts"

Outside of the aberration that is Parenthood over on NBC, ABC Family is (fittingly, given their name) pretty much the only network on television working to keep the classic non-genre, non-life-or-death-stakes family drama alive. First there was Switched at Birth, and it was good. Now there's The Fosters, and I'd say it's pretty damn good too. Granted, part of why I like it is because it presents a Republican's feverish nightmare vision of contemporary American life – lesbian moms with an interracial family, holy shit! – but it's also written with emotional clarity and authenticity that I wish more shows would strive for. (I realize there's little discussion of this specific episode here, but that's because I doubt anyone reading this has seen this show yet. You should, though!)

6. Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 10 – "Mhysa"

Game of Thrones' third season finale had about fifty storylines, as is par for the course with the saga of Westeros, but my favorites would probably be (spoilers, as if everyone doesn't already watch this show) Samwell and Bran meeting up, which has the fun feel of a crossover event, Arya and the Hound getting rough with some Frey men, and one scorcher of a King's Council scene as Tyrion learns about the bloody events of the previous episode. One of the best Tyrion/Tywin scenes of the series, which is saying something.

5. Mad Men, Season 6 Episode 13 – "In Care Of"

This was the best episode of Mad Men's sixth season (and the first episode on this June list that has a shot at making my top fifty TV episodes of the year) mostly because of Don Draper's journey, which is definitely something unusual for me to say as Don's relatively static inner life across six years of television is the main reason I can't really call Mad Men a show I love. But the end of this episode did a surprising and moving job of remedying that, and successfully sets the stage for a very different and very interesting final season next year.

4. Hannibal, Season 1 Episode 12 – "Relevés"

As is the case with many a half-"mythology," half-episodic show, Hannibal dropped the cases of the week and focused in on the big picture as it entered the home stretch, in this case bringing the twisted and oddly emotionally affecting three-way relationship between Will, Hannibal and Abigail Hobbs to the fore. And I daresay they did a surprising and effective job moving towards closure on it, further securing Hannibal's almost inevitable legacy as the greatest new show of 2013.

3. Hannibal, Season 1 Episode 13 – "Savoureux"

Great season finale. I don't want to say much for fear of spoilers, but I have a whole podcast on the subject available to make love to your ears. The one thing I'll say is that I really loved the episode's use of "Vide Cor Meum" from Ridley Scott's Hannibal movie, a use vastly more memorable and effective than in the film it was originally composed for. Hell, creating that song and lending it to Hannibal the show might be Hannibal the film's greatest contribution to popular culture.

2. Hannibal, Season 1 Episode 11 – "Rôti"

One last hurrah for the more episodic side of Hannibal before the myth arc took over in the season's penultimate and finale episodes, "Rôti" is the sequel to the series' sixth episode, "Entrée," bringing Eddie Izzard's Dr. Gideon back into the fold. Gideon may not create corpse totems or cello men or mushroom people, but his unhinged lunatic style has its own charm, and between Columbian neckties and living vivisection and organ harvesting, I doubt "Rôti" left anyone wanting in the gruesome violence department. Will's mental problems deepened and all that good character development stuff, but first and foremost I'd say this episode kicked ass.

1. Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 9 – "The Rains of Castamere"


Man, that felt good to get off my chest. As everyone else on the internet has already discussed and dissected this episode's final ten minutes a million times over, I have nothing else to add to the conversation beyond a good old fashioned holy fucking shit!