Podcaster Gabriel Urbina asked Twitter users to name the single best TV episode of the decade. There were the usual suspects, and some surprises, and some deep cuts.
Reading these replies—and the heartfelt enthusiasm behind the recommendations—made me want to curl up with a playlist of everything listed here and watch them all, even for shows where I haven’t seen any other episodes. TV is Good. If we’ve gotten one creative gift from this difficult decade, it’s the golden age of television that we live in right now.
Things I Am Not Looking For: Nuanced, clear-headed arguments about how it’s folly to pick one single best episode because every ep needs to be judged within the context of its own show.
Things I AM Looking For: Grandiosity. Hot takes. Controversy. Big swings.
Ready, set, go!
— Gabriel Urbina (@GabrielUrbinaTM) November 24, 2019
As Urbina summarizes, this call returned a host of answers, many of which can be boiled down into Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” and Hannibal’s “Mizumono.” Of course, it was hard for most people to pick just one, though Urbina did try.
Now that we’ve gotten the initial volley of answers:
My Answer: Doctor Who’s Heaven Sent
The One People Mentioned That Gave Me Pause: Hannibal’s Mizumono (It’s so good)
The Ones I Feel Guilty For Not Seeing: Breaking Bad and Twin Peaks
The One That Just Isn’t For Me: Mad Men
— Gabriel Urbina (@GabrielUrbinaTM) November 24, 2019
Urbina’s personal selection was the Peter Capaldi Doctor Who episode “Heaven Sent,” a sentiment several other users agreed with. (There was also a runner-up mention for Capaldi-Who’s “Listen.”) Here are some other brilliant episode choices I saw pop up in the thread again and again:
And the episode she @DarcyCarden plays every character in season 3 😍
— Caroline Cabral (@CCthelibrarian) November 24, 2019
This would be The Good Place’s “Michael’s Gambit” and “Janet(s).” To which I can say, motherforking yes.
Twin Peaks Part 8 – a TV episode that could qualify as the best standalone film of the decade as well
— Joel Bocko (@LostInTheMovies) November 25, 2019
The third season of Twin Peaks’ Part 8, also known as “The Return,” was cited in the thread with great fervor.
I also came to say this! Your taste is GREAT.
— Sophie Bebeau (@awildvulpix) November 25, 2019
This is a fantastic episode of The Magicians. I don’t know about best of the decade, but I could agree with best of The Magicians.
This is hard. My picks: Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias and Hannibal’s Mizumono for drama. Community’s Remedial Chaos Theory and Good Place’s Michael’s Gambit for comedy. Legion – Chp 7 and The Leftovers – The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother) for sci-fi.
— Wil Redd #WilfredoDontCare 📝📖🇵🇷 (@wilredd) November 25, 2019
This Tweet pulled together a lot of the picks found in the myriad replies to Urbina. I have to say, from all of the content praised therein, I’ve been persuaded to watch The Leftovers, which got many shout-outs.
Breaking Bad “Ozymandias”
Doctor Who “Heaven Sent”
The Good Place “Michael’s Gambit”
Steven Universe “A Single Pale Rose”
Adventure Time “Simon and Marcy”
Game of Thrones “The Winds of Winter”
— Mrs H (@MrsHooperSays) November 25, 2019
There was also a lot of admiration for Westworld’s “Kiksuya” alongside some of the episodes we’ve now seen taking the lead.
The Son-Friday Night Lights
The Crash-Mad Men
I live here now-The Leftovers
Two Imposters-Boardwalk Empire
Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?-The American
— Allison (@heyyoallison) November 25, 2019
Not gonna argue with any of these.
Penny Dreadful, “A Blade of Grass” (season 3 episopde 4). Eva Green’s range of emotions and her character’s range of sanity are extraordinary. This show had a following, but I think it’s drifted out of a lot of people’s memories.
— Michael Schumaker 🌎 (@MikeSchumaker) November 25, 2019
PLEASE WATCH PENNY DREADFUL. PLEASE.
— 🍂🎃☕Pumpkin Pat☕🎃🍂 (@rah_ciach) November 24, 2019
Our love for Bill Hader abounds, and this episode of Barry got the most love of all Barry(s).
6. The Americans – S06E10 – START
7. Succession – S02E10 – This Is Not for Tears
8. Mr. Robot – S03E05 – eps3.4_runtime-err0rs.r00
9. Barry – S02E05 – ronny/lilly
10. Game of Thrones – S03E09 – The Rains of Castamere
— Cam Nguyen (@cam_0510) November 24, 2019
While it would make for a strange succession of moods, this list right here could provide the perfect episodic playlist, or a masterclass on writing television across genres. In terms of the long-running Game of Thrones, there were also frequent hat-tips to “The Door,” “Hardhome,” and “The Winds of Winter.”
It is, and always has been, Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias.”
What Vince Gilligan, writer Moira Walley-Beckett, director Rian Johnson, and the entire cast did with this hour of television was nothing short of remarkable. Incredibly tense, superbly acted, and beautifully shot. pic.twitter.com/0qDt7Vzo4Z
— Nick Poulimenakos (@NickMenakos) November 25, 2019
Breaking Bad fans were out in full force to remind us to look upon the works of “Ozymandias” whenever discussion strayed.
“San Junipero” (Black Mirror)
— Aaron Fullerton (@AaronFullerton) November 25, 2019
Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” was in many ways a game-changer for queer representation in science fiction and just a phenomenal episode of television.
Voltron: Legendary Defender “The Black Paladins.” The show overall was decent at best, shirty at worst, but that single episode was a masterpiece that knocked me breathless.
— kieran 🛸 bottom bakugou agenda (@meoqie) November 24, 2019
Bob’s Burgers both Thanks-Hoarding and The Bleakening are perfect. So much of that show is but those two episodes (well 3) are sublime
— Libby Reagan (@Libaliyah) November 24, 2019
These are the two I keep coming back to. Weirdly, both animated shows with episodes that feature clones and a single personality across multiple bodies. 🤷♂️
— Evin Donohoe (@evindonohoe) November 25, 2019
“Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee” pic.twitter.com/segCkiN0XH
— charlotte 👻 (@tambourine) November 24, 2019
Animated shows had an incredible decade, with lots of acclaim going to Rick & Morty, Bob’s Burgers, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, Adventure Time, Attack on Titan, Over the Garden Wall, and many more.
What’s my pick? Thanks for asking. The correct answer is BoJack Horseman’s season five episode “Free Churro.” I’ve never seen anything like it, and I don’t think there will—or can—be anything quite like it again.
free churro – bojack horseman
an absolute masterclass in nuanced writing and dialogue. will arnett’s performance is just astounding. i got emotional when i first watched it cus it was so bloody brilliant. https://t.co/EyeDPCRUaP
— uǝʌǝʇs (@robbersxsteven) November 25, 2019
If you want a Big Swing, “Free Churro” from Bojack Horseman. It is a twenty two minute monologue by the title character delivering a eulogy for his deceased (highly abusive and toxic) mother, with the camera never cutting away. It’s the highlight of Will Arnett’s career.
— Arcane @Daisho Con! (@thearcaneranger) November 24, 2019
Bojack Horseman – ‘Free Churro’ is the only correct answer to this question. https://t.co/YGncen0bYW
— REGISTER TO VOTE. (@AlexJDelaney) November 25, 2019
In recent memory?
“Free Churro” , Bojack Horseman Season 5
— Peter X. Blanco (@pxbart) November 24, 2019
Anything other than Free Churro episode of Bojack Horseman in Season 5 is wrong.
It’s a masterclass.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it for one whole week. Such deeper impact. Till date couldn’t go back and watch that episode again. Cause m not ready to feel all those emo again. https://t.co/WljaHQqkWV
— Amri (@fedefanatic) November 25, 2019
I will not be taking questions at this time.
Erm, I mean, I value your input and opinions too! What wasn’t mentioned here? Which episodes are your best of the decade? And if you had to name just one, what would it be?
(via Gabriel Urbina on Twitter, images: Netflix)
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