From auspicious debuts (hey, Jane the Virgin, The Affair and Transparent) to gut-wrenching finales (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?
5. "The Last Call," The Good Wife
Will and Alicia always had bad timing. That phrase takes on a much darker meaning when Alicia discovers a mysterious voicemail from her just-killed lover. A brutal, beautiful examination of grief, the need for levity (hi, loopy post-op Finn) and the unanswered questions tragedies leave in their wake, the hour includes Alicia letting her rarely seen tears flow in her effort to figure out why Will called. Diane's sadness morphs into anger. Kalinda's despair turns into revenge. Cary (finally) takes charge. Even the icy cold David Lee needs a moment to gather himself. But nothing stands out more than the episode's final moments, in which Alicia imagines Will saying he called her because he wants to be with her forever. As sad as it is, Will's demise allowed the drama to shine in a whole new light.
4. "Crate," Veep
Veep is built on failure and futility. Time and time again, Selina is frustrated and disgruntled at her low-stakes gig and set up to fall. That seems to be the case again in "Crate" when her campaign appears derailed after she's caught on tape dissing a reporter and donors. But then a twist: POTUS is stepping down to care for FLOTUS. What do you do when you find out you're president? In an already iconic scene, Selina holes herself up in a stark bathroom with Gary, and they proceed to completely lose their minds. Massive hysterics, nosebleeds, magnifying glasses and tampons are involved. It's a hilarious, cathartic moment, divinely releasing the tension and anxiety the show has bottled up over three seasons. Selina has waited for a win for a long time; we just didn't realize how much we wanted it for her too until now.
3. "There's Something Else Going On," Homeland
After a so-so Season 3, Homeland is back to firing on (mostly) all cylinders in its fourth season. "There's Something Else Going On" has all the suspense and entertainment as some of the most highly regarded action movies, condensed into a taut hour, while Mandy Patinkin delivers his strongest work on the series to date, spitting out Saul's stubborn death wish even as Carrie and the rest of the CIA are working to negotiate his release. The episode combines everything the show does best: instilling a quiet sense of dread in viewers during a tense prisoner exchange standoff for Saul, lulling the audience into complacency after the switch is made, and then culminating with a literally explosive, game-changing twist at the end that proves the episode title true and, unlike last season's ruse, is wholly earned.
2. "Who Goes There," True Detective
By the midpoint of Season 1 of True Detective, the show had sparked numerous fan theories and close reads as to the motivations of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. But "Who Goes There" is notable for a much more straightforward cinematic reason: a six-minute tracking shot that chronicles Rust's infiltration of a drug gang gone wrong. As disorienting as it is transfixing, the shot allows the audience to get inside Rust's confused mindset about what exactly he's gotten himself into with this case. There's no overt violence or gore, and no bogeymen jumping out from behind corners, but the scene still manages to be terrifying in its own right, and indicates that Rust and Marty may be in pursuit of something more terrifying than either of them can imagine.
1. "Mizumono," Hannibal
Hannibal's Season 2 finale works on numerous levels. It wraps up a complex season by delivering on its season premiere promise (Jack vs. Hannibal FTW!) and also throws in some surprises (Abigail's alive!). And even though Will and Hannibal's twisted game of cat-and-mouse climaxes in a show-stopping bloodbath, it's the emotional cuts that went deepest. Thanks to superb performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, it's impossible not to feel Hannibal's heartbreak as he guts the protégé who betrayed him and leaves him behind to die. The story is so masterfully told to a seemingly logical conclusion (is everybody dead?) that we, too, feel gutted — right up until that sneaky post-credits sequence showing Hannibal on a plane to Europe (with Dr. Du Maurier, no less!) filled us with uncontrollable excitement for whatever comes next.
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