From auspicious debuts (hey, Jane the Virgin, The Affair and Transparent) to gut-wrenching twists (why, Hannibal, why?), we were spoiled with fantastic hours of television in 2014. TVGuide.com has compiled the top 25 episodes of the year. Which ones made the cut?
Here are Episodes 20-16. (Catch up with Episodes 25-21.)
20. "Chapter 1," Jane the Virgin
With an over-the-top, telenovela-style voiceover and cheesy on-screen graphics, Jane has always known what it was and didn't shy away from it. But what the pilot does so well is wonderfully balance the outlandish with the grounded, incredibly relatable character that is Jane, a twentysomething woman who always did the right thing but ended up with the one thing she tried to avoid: an unwanted pregnancy (via accidental artificial insemination). Aside from Gina Rodriguez's excellent performance, our first introductions to the supporting cast have also left us invested in both sides of Jane's love triangle, as well as her family life with her mom and grandma.
19. "Echo," The Americans
Like any spycraft thriller worth its salt, The Americans built toward an enormously satisfying, riveting Season 2 finale. Hearts are broken (Stan selling out Nina by not giving up the Echo program) and loose ends are tied (Jared confesses that it was he who killed his spy parents — spyrents? — and sister in the season premiere) — but not too neatly, as Philip and Elizabeth are told that, just like with Jared, the Center wants to recruit their defiant daughter Paige to groom into a second-generation spy. It's a reveal that perfectly underscores the remarkable relatability of the Cold War drama despite its high-wire set-up: the fear and inevitability we all feel that we'll grow up to be just like our parents, and their hope that we don't.
18. "Bad Blood," Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow's first season finale is a master juggling act. The fantastical Revolutionary history, the intense relationships and the impending apocalypse come together in exciting, unexpected ways that leave each of the main characters in peril, but never feels cheap. Before Ichabod and Katrina can rescue Abby, who volunteers to stay in purgatory in Katrina's place, Henry reveals himself to not only be their son Jeremy, but the Horseman of War, and then buries his dad alive and gives his mom over to Headless. It's one helluva reveal that we never saw coming until it was too late. "Bad Blood" even makes the previous episodes of the season better in hindsight because it proves the drama's kitchen-sink storytelling actually had a plan all along.
17. "Danny Castellano Is My Personal Trainer," The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling's figure has been a major talking point since her show premiered, and in "Personal Trainer," the showrunner tackles the issue head-on. Unsurprisingly, Mindy eventually hears a Colin Firth-worthy message of body acceptance from Danny, but what's even more romantic is the way Danny demonstrates just how well he understands Mindy during their training sessions. The hypothetical scenarios Danny invents, in which Mindy has to save celebrities using just her strength ("Michael Fassbender's trapped in a well!"), are not merely a novel way to illustrate their growing romance, but a sublime showcase for the type of one-liners the sitcom does best.
16. "So Did the Fat Lady," Louie
So many episodes of the acclaimed FX comedy detail Louie's disastrous love life and more specifically, him getting shot down. But one of the most memorable episodes of Season 4 is about the repercussions and reasoning behind why he turned down a larger waitress named Vanessa. Go On alum Sarah Baker delivers an electric breakthrough performance as a woman who uses her words as weapons and who refuses to take "no" for an answer — or worse, to hear the words "you're not fat." Vanessa's lengthy, cringe-worthy and brutally honest speech about the difficulties of being a bigger single woman hits a particularly hard nerve in this modern selfie era.
Check back Monday to see the rest of the list!
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