(I'm pretty burned out from the collective 14,557 words I wrote for my end-of-2013 lists over the last couple weeks, so I'm gonna keep this month's Best TV Episodes feature short and sweet. I know I said the same thing almost verbatim a year ago, but this time I really mean it! I just need a break from typing, you guys.)
10. Supernatural, Season 9 Episode 9 - "Holy Terror"
I've learned from perusing forums and Tumblr that a lot of Supernatural fans were less than thrilled with the Ezekiel-related shock twist at the end of this midseason finale. But what can I say? I dig it. I love when a show pulls the rug out from under me.
9. Arrow, Season 2 Episode 9 - "Three Ghosts"
Great, emotional, action-packed midseason finale with an awesome final reveal. Seeing Oliver Queen put on the proper Green Arrow mask for the first time gave goosebumps even to me, someone who never gave first fuck about the Green Arrow before watching this show.
8. Bob's Burgers, Season 4 Episode 7 - "Bob and Deliver"
Stories that put Tina and Bob Belcher together almost always delight, as do stories set at Wagstaff School, so making Bob the substitute teacher for Tina's cooking class was unsurprisingly funny and charming.
7. Scandal, Season 3 Episode 10 - "A Door Marked Exit"
This episode is almost entirely ranked this high for Papa Pope's "You are a boy!" monologue to Fitz. The rest of the episode was pretty good; not mind-blowing. But that monologue is some of my favorite TV dialogue of 2013.
6. American Dad, Season 9 Episode 8 - "Minstrel Krampus"
American Dad culled together lesser-known Christmas mythology, imagery and themes from Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, and some good old climactic ultraviolence for what is probably my favorite explicitly Christmas-themed TV episode of 2013.
5. Awkward, Season 3 Episode 20 - "Who I Want to Be"
As a kinda-sorta series finale (Awkward is coming back next year, but showrunner Lauren Iungerich and her very idiosyncratic voice are out, sinking my enthusiasm for the show by about 95%), "Who I Want to Be" put a satisfying emotional button on three years of this warm, witty high school sitcom.
4. Homeland, Season 3 Episode 12 - "The Star"
I actually felt things – emotions, and all that! – during "The Star," which basically by default makes it the best hour of Homeland's third season. I also appreciate that it followed the season's story through to its only logical conclusion and didn't punk out like the show has in the past.
3. The Walking Dead, Season 4 Episode 8 - "Too Far Gone"
Oh, ok, so here's the awesome zombie spectacle the rest of America apparently sees in The Walking Dead every week as to make it TV's highest-rated scripted show, in the form of the big Team Rick vs. Governor battle we never got at the end of season 3. Now if I could only see The Walking Dead deliver such visceral thrills more than once a year. Baby steps!
2. Arrow, Season 2 Episode 8 - "The Scientist"
I put maybe sixty seconds of thought in my entire life towards the existence of superhero the Flash before watching "The Scientist," so it's a big compliment that I came out the other end a big and instant fan of Barry Allen, hopeful to see him more in Arrow in 2014 and already ready for next fall's Flash spinoff. Great, fun character.
1. American Dad, Season 9 Episode 6 - "Independent Movie"
I'll quote myself from my American Dad writeup a few days ago: "For the record, American Dad and Bob's Burgers were neck and neck in these rankings – the latter even a touch ahead – until Dad's December 1st episode "Independent Movie," a sendup of indie coming-of-age flicks and the Fox Searchlight formula that calls to mind Galaxy Quest and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" in how note-perfect a spoof it is." Yep. That's pretty much it!