Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Ranking the Top 30 Episodes of 2016 (Warning! Spoilers Ahead – if you haven’t seen a featured episode and don’t want to be spoiled avoid reading its review below image):

32. Sense8A Christmas Special

sense8 tina desai as kala and max riemelt as wolfgang1 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

After much controversy with cast and showrunners the long awaited Sense8 Christmas special aired last in December and quite fulfilling. The episode isn’t strong enough to change the opinions of those who didn’t like the first season of Sense8 since it doesn’t feature much plotwise, but that isn’t what this Christmas Special was aiming for. Instead, Sense8 does what it does best, endorsing the idea of love and connectivity. And it does so with style. The best, most jaw-dropping scene of the episode was a dreamy orgy sequence featuring all of the main cast, which was super intense. With this episode I don’t think the series has ever been clearer about what it’s trying to do than this. The specific experiences of the senates are intended to stand in for humanity as a whole. By helping each other, they’re helping everyone.

31. The Young PopeEpisode #1.8

1478816091 theyoungpope skyatlantic - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

After a 5 or so episodes watching a TV show that is mostly set in one location can get a bit tiresome. So it was a bit refreshing to see the series get out of its comfort zone a little with their 8th episode. After the death of his orphan brother, we see our ‘Young Pope’ searching for the grief and pain he believes he should have after the lost of a family member. For the good of all, he finally decides to change direction from the plans he made when he first became pope. On the advice of Sofia, he will make his first papal visit and share in Africa in a country ruled by a dictator where a nun, Sister Antonia is trying to build a haven for the population. But the pope later realizes Sister Antonia is not what she’s made out to be as she is the head of all the corruption in that area. The episode of course is both serious and humorous as the show tends to occasionally switch tones.

30. The Crown – S01E02 – Hyde Park Corner

mv5bmtu0zme3mtetmju4ns00zthllthmnjgtyzmyowq4ntzimddmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjy1ntqwodc  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The is where the story begins. This is where The Crown expresses its gloomy and melancholy tone and this is where The Crown’s best visually fulfilling aspects come into play. The first episode of this monarchy series might hook you without actually doing much storywise, but it was really just a prologue, driven solely by character. In ‘Hyde Park Corner’ the plot felt more like an actual narrative, rather than a series of interconnected character moments. The King’s death about halfway through the episode sets the plot of the series in motion. The scenes following the death of King George were perfect. All the emotions and running, on top of not be able to get in contact with Elizabeth were executed so well. Not to mention those scenes being complimented by a wonderful soundtrack and beautiful cinematography. The gravity of those scenes was pretty remarkable. Commendable acting from Claire Foy too, she came off as quite the formidable figure.

29. Broad City – S03E01 – Two Chainz

mv5bmzi2nzqzmzq5of5bml5banbnxkftztgwotkymzy4nze  v1 sx1777 cr001777999 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

What suddenly causes an unexpected sequence of events for our co-stars Abbi and Ilana, Ilana dropping her bicycle keys down a sewage drain was all it took for things to get wild and crazy. What I’ve always love about Broad City is how it mixes grungy, vulgar and silly all together. Those aspects are what makes Broad City so enduring. It’s exaggerated, but not to the point where nothing is recognizable. It feels all the more intimate and real because all the right parts are emphasized. While portraying an exaggerated depiction of how crazy New York city can get, you have to admit, Broad City’s portrayal isn’t far off reality. From the scene where we see people literally fighting over clothes, to the scene where we see a trucker watching porn while driving, it all felt so surreal but at the same time relatable. Not to mention them doing these scenes in a hilarious fashion. Broad City is definitely one of the funniest and best ongoing TV comedies.

28. Easy – Vegan Cinderella

easy s01e02 11m24s1368f r - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

This may be the first piece of media I’ve ever seen that portrays vegans as more than a just a joke. And it was pretty interesting too. Optimistic, like most ‘Easy’ episodes. The conflict is realistic, and it delighted us with it’s realism and overall depiction of relationships between vegans and non-vegans. But the moral of the story wasn’t just about Vegans. Vegan Cinderella’s endgame was to show that 2 individuals with different likes, opinions and hobbies could make a relationship work without one becoming the other. This was one of the best of 8 fun and optimistic episodes of the Netflix series. In conjunction with Girlfriend Experience, Love and Fleabag it’s been a good year for mumblecores.

27. Scream – S02E05 – Dawn of the Dead

mv5bmwvhn2rkztqtodlkzc00yjbkltkxn2ytyjk4otm4mjmyzjiwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjywnda2mde  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

There’s no arguing the fact that season 2 of Scream the TV Series was way better than it’s first. Though it eventually became predictable, when ‘Dawn of the Dead’ aired it was a complete mystery for most viewers who the killer was since the show had literally made everyone a suspect. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ took advantage of that factor, and it was one of the most wild and dramatic episodes of Scream. It seemed like Jake’s death, and the awareness of another killer being out there just had these characters going crazy. From Emma to Aubrey, everyone was just so on-edge. With this episode Scream’s quality made a jump storytelling wise, and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ just might be the best episode of the series.

26. CrashingEpisode #1.3

crashing 0103 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Crashing is a very fast paced and hilarious show. And no episode in its 6 episode first was more hilarious than the 3rd one. From start to finish this episode was filled with hilarious moments driven its crude dialogue, obscene topics, and diverse but unapologetic characters. The episode’s plot is where our group is having a meal together and having in depth conversations about porn and life. Fred is becoming more trendy and has a date. Kate and Lulu are once again at each other in a subtle way, after an outburst at dinner the pair finally sit down and try to find some common ground, unsuccessfully. Anthony warns Lulu off Sam, and Fred’s dishy boyfriend turns up, Sam seems oddly put out. The evening descends into carnage.

25. Black MirrorNosedive

nosedive - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The episode wasted no time as viewers are immediately introduced to it’s colorful, satire world. But what seemed to be a peaceful contented world at first, quickly turned a brightly chilling one when we realize it’s characters are trapped in a world where society is ran by a rating system. Augmented reality and a single ubiquitous social media platform let users rate all their online and in-person interactions on a five-star scale. Everyone in this brave new world walks around with a user-generated score glowing in front of their faces, and that score determines their value in society, their access to services, and their employability. So basically these ratings are a kind of parallel currency: get above 4.5, and the world is yours; drop much below 3.5, and you’ll be a pariah, unable even to rent certain cars or enter certain buildings. This is one of Black Mirror’s most concurrent concepts and is scarily ‘close to home’. I find this concept very interesting because this system is something that can be easily manipulated in today’s society. Though it may lack the emotion aspect that most Black Mirror episodes tend to have, ‘Nosedive’ is definitely one of the best Black Mirror episodes coming out of series 3.

24. The Girlfriend Experience – S01E13 – Seperation

960 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The season finale of The Girlfriend Experience season 1 titled “Separation”, is where Christine makes a choice between the two lives she has been living. But the final installment of the Starz limited series wasn’t notable for the choice she made. Rather, it stood out because of how bluntly she came to the decision. We watch as Christine enjoys the lavishing, expensive luxuries of being an escort. The later parts of this episode is filled with a sex scene that was quite unique in it’s own way. It was a cuckold/role-playing scene that went on for about 10 minutes towards the closing scene of the episode. The scene was bleak but added much light to Christine’s situation and the world she’s getting involved in. “Separation”  is definitely one of the most bold and daring episodes of 2016. It brought Christine’s story to an end without ever compromising or pulling punches.

23. Quarry – S01E04 – Seldom Realized

qtztgwmdizota5ote  v1 sy1000 sx1500 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Before this episode I was a bit skeptical about it because the show is such a slow-burner. But this was the episode felt like a turning-point and gave much development to its characters. The nuances of the characters in Quarry as well as the authenticity of their emotions and reactions are really where this show shines, even when compared to the beautiful cinematography and skillfully presented historical context. The big surprise of the episode had to be Mac’s and Joni complete confession to each other. After all the cheating and lies it was refreshing watching the couple open up to each other, and at the same time a bit of a relieve that this conflict didn’t drag on through the entire season. Being a ‘Quarry’ episode and all, ‘Seldom Realized’ didn’t just feature romance. The action side of the show also came into play. Of course, it all built to the brief but exciting climax in which a motel owner and Suggs both die and it’s revealed that The Broker had someone watching Mac the whole time, but the real climax of the episode is its beautifully shot final scene. Mac and Joni, separated by the edge of the frame and the bathtub, seem to settle their differences, as Mac admits to her everything that has happened since he came home.

22. Atlanta – S01E07 – B.A.N

mv5bmtu5ody2nji4nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwntg0nzkymdi  v1 sy1000 sx1500 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

I just love how this show can transform and literally be anything it wants to be. ‘B.A.N’ focuses on Alfred aka Paperboi, who appears on Montague, a 60 Minutes-style intellectual talk show (created for the show),  which focuses on topics in the black community. Tackling issues such as Homophobia, Racism and Transgenderism, this episode of Atlanta took a humorous approach and ‘B.A.N’ came off as one of its most hilarious episodes. “B.A.N.” is short for Black American Network, the name of the fictional channel created for the episode. It goes for the broadest pure satire of the show’s run thus far, and succeeds with dazzlingly funny results. The Montague commercials, which include a phenomenal Arizona Ice Tea bit (“The price is on the can though”) and a surreal Mickey”s spot that re-imagines the brand of 40’s in the debonair style of those bizarre Heineken ads. Even the Montague theme music is absurd; it’s strikingly similar to the “We’ll Be Right Back” jingle used during The Eric Andre Show. Along with that the episode also features a person (played by the twitter comedian Niles Stewart aka Retro Spectro) claiming to be a a trans-racial black man. He identifies as a middle-class, white, 35-year-old named Harrison. This bit was just the ‘icing on the cake’ for this surreal, awkward episode episode of Atlanta.

21. Orange is the New Black – S04E13 – Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again

mv5bm2m0zmi4nzmtogy1zc00zjc0lwfindetnju5mtbhztm2mjfkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndywntkznji  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The finale of Orange is the New Black season 4  dealt with the repercussions of a Poussey’s unfortunate death which slowly blossomed into full-on chaos at Litchfield Penitentiary. Poussey’s untimely death was very hard to stomach for many, especially considering she is one of many lesbian TV characters to be killed off in 2016. “Toast Can Never Be Bread Again” is perfect blend of emotions as it features Poussey’s friends and prison mates furiously forming a massive riot against Lithfield’s administrative, and is mixed in with flashbacks of Poussey being lost in New York city, showing just how colorful and cheerful this wonderful character was. I’m not usually a fan of Orange in the New Black’s flashback scenes but this one was very well done.

20. Starnger Things – Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers

mv5bmtuxodezmzawnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwody0ode0ote  v1 sx1777 cr001777887 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Though many might have favored the finale over the premiere, the best thing about binge watching Stranger Things was the nostalgic feel it gave viewers. No other episode expressed that feeling more than the series premiere. This premiere immediately set the 80’s Spielbergian tone, and they pay homage to 80’s sci-fi genre. It possesses a retro-vibe which parallels to Poltergeist (the missing child only able to communicate via technology) and has similarities to ET (dysfunctional family, kids on BMX bikes), as well as numerous references to other genre classics (most noticeably, posters glimpsed on bedroom walls) and a wonderful synthesizer score. The cinematography meanwhile, knocks it out of the park with brilliant camera-work and angle photography. I must say that the Duffer brothers deserve all the praise they get for igniting the perfect mix of nostalgia and entertainment.

19. American Crime Story: The People v O.J. SimpsonMarcia, Marcia, Marcia

e28098american crime story the people v o j simpson  106 marcia marcia marcia 2016 images - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

“The People v. O.J. Simpson” kept us captivated by the way it introduced new depths to its iconic characters every week, and “Marcia Marcia Marcia” was perhaps the pinnacle of this. Putting the spotlight on Sarah Paulson’s fierce and vulnerable portrayal of Marcia Clark, the episode made us confront the virulent sexism that surrounded the media’s treatment of a woman who was just trying to do her job. Not only is Marcia having to prosecute the Crime of the Century but she’s also dealing with her ex-husband trying to get custody of their children as well as being on every magazine cover and television with people making fun of her looks.For those who followed the trial, “Marcia Marcia Marcia” changed the way we thought about not just Marcia Clark, but whether or not things have changed since 1995. The episode works wonders due to Paulson’s excellent and believable performance as well as the script that manages to pack in the embarrassment and damage that personal things reaching the media had on someone who wasn’t used to dealing with the media.

18. The Americans – S04E04 – Chloramphenicol

960 1 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The Americans has never been a series to shy away from making big reveals and killing off main characters in non-finale episodes. ‘Chloramphenicol’ was no different as it features the shocking death of Nina, a character who’s been on the show since season one. It wasn’t the death that was so shocking, but the swift manner in which she was executed. After being engrossed in this sub-plot since season 3 it was very unsettling how quickly it was resolved. Nina’s death came a mere three seconds after she told that the sentence of death would be carried out “shortly”, her demise come somewhat out of nowhere and it gave a very chilling effect. Aside from Nina though, the events that transpired back in D.C. were undoubtedly a standout. Phillip, Elizabeth and William spent almost the entirety of ‘Chloramphenicol’ trapped in Gabriel’s safehouse, having been potentially exposed to the glanders virus. What followed effectively amounted to a bottle episode of sorts, with much of the running time being spent with those three. This was as intense as it was emotional. ‘Chloramphenicol’ is one of The American’s darkest, most chilling episode to date.

17. The Americans – S04E08 – The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears 

9602 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

This is the episode where everything changes on The Americans’ fourth season. “The Magic of David Copperfield V” balances blistering heat and preternatural cool with extraordinary aplomb. In what amounts to an epilogue to Martha’s arc, the turncoat secretary bids near-silent farewell as she flees for the Soviet Union; in what amounts to a prologue to the forthcoming fifth season. Time jumps aren’t always well done, especially for a show like The Americans where every moment matters. So choice to jump forward seven months after a particularly tough stretch for everyone’s favorite secret agents was a brave decision but one that payed off. The series leaped forward seven months, as Paige placates Pastor Tim and his wife, Alice, in order to protect her parents’ secret. In between, suburbanite spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings exhume long-buried resentments, culminating in their most consequential confrontation since the hot tooth of “Open House.” Still, the episode’s daring structure and weighty conceit—to dispel the illusive idealism of Copperfield’s feat—distill, rather than distract from, the elements that make The Americans one of the finest series on television: its crisp writing, sterling performances, and unmannerly formal vigor, in which the depth of field or a well-timed cut can trace the dissolution of a family, a nation, an entire way of understanding the world.

16. Mr. Robot – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme

mv5bzjy4m2u1nmityjk1nc00zde1lwexmjytodk0zdkwoda0mtg5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntg1mja0ota  v1 sx1777 cr001777999 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Mr. Robot is a show that like to keep viewers out-of-loop then shockingly reveal the mysteries they’ve silently created. Season 2  episode 7 of the series did just that. This episode is remembered for its big plot twist, one that changed the nature of everything we’ve seen this season and everything the viewers thought they know. Some may have figured out that Elliott was in prison and not the environment he was portrayed in the first half of season 2, but most were so engrossed into the story they never saw it coming. Like any twist that changes the nature of things we’ve seen, it raised many questions about small detailed things we’ve seen and things we haven’t seen. But many can be more or less solved by just thinking back on the previous episodes through a new lens. The big twist’s reveal was cinematic delight, as always is this show.

15. EasyArt and Life

mv5bmza0otuyyjmtmtiyzi00ntqxltkxnwetmdrlmza4mtizmtk2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

‘Art and Life’ is definitely the best of the 8 ‘Easy’ episodes. It has a clear point of view and leaves the audience with something to think about after the credits roll. Rather than focusing primarily on mundane matters involving parenting and interpersonal relationships, “Art and Life” distinguishes itself from other episodes because it forces us to look at the role of various forms of artistic expression in our lives. It hit a lot of the points about the culture of Art. The concept of ‘hot girl art’, or social media as a commercial vehicle for one’s portfolio (or in Alison’s case, the portfolio itself), or the timelessness of “memoirist” storytelling, about spectacle as publicity, reconciling the gap between the self/personal life/relationships and more public life as a creator. It also shows the different opinions different generations might have on these matters. If you unpack the narratives that weave together in this episode, you’ll see how carefully put-together and well-orchestrated “Art and Life” is as a commentary about the modern state of the small-time (and v. cutthroat) world of nascent artists.

14. Westworld – S01E09 – The Well-Tempered Clavier

mv5bota3mjhkngmtzgnmys00zwq5ltkyzwitytqxyjuwnmi4mzvll2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntc3ntezmdu  v1 sx1777 cr001777999 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Westworld was a brilliant but very complicated show. It left viewers in the dark with it’s many mysteries week after week but what this episode did was reveal it’s most important secrets. This is the best directed episode of the season with Emmy nominated Michelle MacLaren at the helm. Viewers are taken on an expertly written, mind shaking, but well explained visual story, largely while Dolores and Bernard relives their past experiences. The final ten minutes of the episode is a cascade of reveals, twists, and turns. In my opinion, this episode manages to outdo episode 7, which is quite an accomplishment. One truly remarkable thing about the episode (particularly the final sequence) is that there is a real sense that anyone can die, and someone will. Of course, while it is easy to focus on the fantastic closing to the episode, it is important not to forget the rest of the episode. Even without the ending, it’s one of the better instalments so far. It checks in with most every major story-line, smoothly weaving them together and bringing them all to a crisis point.

13. You’re the Worst – S03E05 – Twenty-Two

mv5bmtg2mdawmtc0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotawnzixmdi  v1 sy1000 cr0014971000 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Edgar’s PTSD has been a part of the narrative of You’re the Worst since the very first episode, but until now, it has only been briefly referenced to while the focus has mostly been on Jimmy and Gretchen. Well ‘Twenty-Two’ went a slightly different direction and gave us an Edgar-centric episode. Before this episode you know Edgar is in pain, but you kind of brush it off since you only get to see bits and pieces of it. You don’t see the shaking, you don’t see the paranoia, all you see is a guy who seems a bit fucked up but seems to be generally ok even though he’s pretty fucking far from ok. This episode’s depiction of PTSD was very factual and hard-hitting. One of the more impressive aspects of this episode is how they changed the perceptive from Jimmy and Gretchen, as they both came off as big assholes while watching the show from point-of-view. For a show that usually relies on the antics of its two highly unlikable protagonists to generate laughter, ‘Twenty-Two’ might seem like a big leap. All in all, ‘Twenty-Two’ didn’t feature the kind of humor and laugh-out-loud moments usually found from You’re the Worst and brings to the table something much more serious in a very subtle, yet powerful manner.

12. Girls – S05E06 – The Panic in Central Park

mv5bnmu1yza0ytctnwrlmc00mgeylwjimdytmta5ymy3ngi0yje5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntkwmjywotq  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

“The Panic in Central Park” is unlike any other in the Girls series. The title pays homage to the seminal heroin movie with Al Pacino, ‘Panic In Needle Park’. It’s like a beautiful fever dream that you know from the very beginning is going to turn out badly. But you can’t help but hope it won’t. The episode focuses on the character ‘Marnie’ as she reunites with her former lover Charlie. They went off on a unexpected wild and adventurous night, but when the sun rose many truth came to light which lead Marnie into making some big decisions in her life. For a show that (in my opinion) didn’t get off to a good start, this episode just goes to show how much Girls have grown over the past 2 seasons. This was a very well written and well directed episode.

11. FleabagEpisode #1.6

mv5bndy5mjk2ndazn15bml5banbnxkftztgwntcxntiwmdi  v1 sy1000 cr0013331000 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

While ‘Fleabag’ didn’t seem like nothing much at first. Episode 6 proved that Fleabag’s dark, bleaky attributes were well hidden by some creative, crude humor in the first 5 episodes. So some might say Episode 6 of this BBC Three was a plot twist in it’s entirety. It was a very sad emotional episode based on a hidden mess up no one even thought to make notice of in the previous episodes of the season. It was very heart-wrenching to be hit with the reality that our main character Fleabag (as she’s referred in the credits) was not as innocent as we thought she was.

10. Game of Thrones – S06E10 – Winds of Winter

mv5bmtq3njkxotu0mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtiwntgyote  v1 sx1777 cr001777999 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

“Battle of the Bastards” may have been one of the best directed episodes of 2016. But we also have to commend the season finale that delivered from start to finish. For a show with a very, very long game, we got satisfying movement on many fronts: Jon Snow’s mother was revealed, Arya avenged her family for the Red Wedding, Daenerys finally set sail to Westeros, Sam started at Hogwarts The Citadel, and Cersei’s diabolical plan simultaneously wiped out her enemies and won her a seat on the Iron Throne. In fact, the entire sequence leading up to and through the wildfire conflagration was one of the most stunning in the series, visually and musically. As the show sets us up for the inevitable end, there has been a bit of loss, but the time and precision taken to produce this gorgeous scene is a promise of that the show isn’t necessarily slipping without George R.R. Martin’s words as a guide.

9. Bojack Horseman – S03E04 – Fish Out the Water

mv5bytk0mjnjngetoti4yi00yzyyltg0y2qtyzu3oge5zddmmdlkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdk0odi3oa  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Being a bit similar to the Spongebob Squarepants episode ‘Rock Bottom’, “Fish out the Water” is an ingenious and unique amalgamation of Lost in Translation. Bojack visits travels to the ‘world under the sea’, but being a mammal himself, he has to wear headgear that deprives him of speech (…or so he thinks). There is only brief dialogue in the beginning and the rest of it is silent but for the warbles of underwater speech and a distinctly different soundtrack than usual – ambient synths and smooth electronic timbres complement the beautiful, vibrant visuals of the underwater city. BoJack Horseman has always been a show where the creators have a lot of fun with the whole concept of a world where intelligent animals coexist with humans, and it was very interesting to see how the sea animals are living in this very unique episode.

8. Atlanta – S01E08 – The Club

mv5bndg2nju0mda1nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwotgwntuzmdi  v1 sy1000 cr0014971000 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

One thing to appreciate about Atlanta is how it tackles certain aspects about hip-hop. It pulls the veil back on would-be rap stars, showing us what’s often depicted as the life isn’t always as it’s made out to be, but it does so without feeling preachy, hollow, or stereotypical. In what I believe is the best episode of Atlanta thus far, Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius gets booked for an appearance at the Primal Night Club, and they showed us how frustrating and infuriating the club can be for rappers and their managers. From promoters not willingly wanting to pay up, to rappers not getting the love and respect they think they deserve, this Atlanta episode was as real as they come. The entire episode was very funny, entertaining and fulfilling, which of course also features what Atlanta is already recognized for, hilarious bits. Notably the hilarious, unexpected payoff to the running gag about the invisible car.

7. Black MirrorShut Up and Dance

shutup - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

This is definitely the most bleak episode of the new Black Mirror season, and also it’s most suspenseful. The episode follows Keeny, whose private life soon erupted when he gets hacked and filmed masturbating through his webcam, then gets a series of threatening text messages from an anonymous sender telling him to do exactly as “they” say or the footage will leak to everyone he knows. The episode flows well from start to finish, nothing feels rushed or dragged out, everything given a natural time to breathe. The episode also had some well built tension. “Shut Up and Dance” does not carry an overt message like so many of these other episodes, which made it a bit more refreshing, and able to focus purely on the self-contained story alone. As such, it has one of the best twists in the entire season when we discovered our focus character Kenny, might not be as innocent as we had hoped.

6. The Night OfPart One: The Beach

mv5bmta4nzq2odewmjdeqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdq1ntgwmjkx  v1 sy1000 sx1500 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Adapted from a British TV series, ‘The Beach’ is just the beginning in this deep exploration of New York’s criminal justice system. The entire series did not play out as I hoped but there is no doubt about the fact ‘The Night Of’ series premiere was a fantastic episode. It is brimming with sustained tension ever since our main character Naz gets in the cab to go to a party. This is the reason why the unconventional runtime feels like a fleeting occurrence. Not for one second do you get the notion that you are forcibly sitting through the episode. The story arc of the series is about a young man (wrongfully?) accused of murdering a girl he just met. “The Beach” is largely devoted to exploring the slow, increasingly tense build-up to that act and then the immediate aftermath. This episode allows viewers plenty of time to connect with Naz and follow his journey as what should be a rare, fun night on the town slowly veers out of control and towards its inevitable conclusion. As he makes one questionable decision after another, it’s tough not to shout at the gullible Naz to turn around and drive home while he still has the chance. And that’s not to say the tension deflates after the murder unfolds.

5. Red Oaks – S02E01 – Paris

d63f8988bfc6f735cbf4284c6c39eb5f - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

“Come find me in Paris”. Those were the last words Skye said to David in the season finale of the fantastic first season of Red Oaks. And to my surprise, David actually went to Paris to see the carefree fashionista and self-titled artist he fell in love with in the Red Oaks Country Club, New Jersey. Paris is the land of the romantic films and couples. When the setting is Paris, you know it is all about romance. And that’s exactly what this Red Oaks premiere did as the entire episode was set and filmed in Paris. “Paris” finds our young lovebirds reuniting. Things do get complicated for Skye and David, as it does for most TV couples, but it’s nice that we get to have this moment where we see them fall in love and at a really positive, high moment in their relationship. But there’s also some mild conflict as Skye’s parents unexpectedly appears in Paris to visit her. The 80’s soundtrack complimented the episodes dreamy, artistic tone. And I was quite surprised at how much of 80’s French art and life culture was explored within this 25 minute episode. The episode was quite beautiful, and I very much appreciate the efforts made by Amazon and the show runners to shoot this episode in Paris.

4. Game of Thrones – S06E09 – Battle of the Bastards

mv5bnjnjywrmmzktnwi1mi00n2mwltlhzwytzwm1yjrlyzc2y2qxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynju0njk5nzc  v1  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

Game of Thrones is known for its strong 9th episodes on almost every season. Season 6 is no different with “Battle of the Bastards”. This one hour television episode truly felt like a massive budget blockbuster movie. This episode gives Game of Thrones fans almost one hour spectacle filled with action. However, the action is paced superbly with absolutely wonderfully acted and written dialogue. The episode involves many great changes, twists and turns. But overall the directing was what made it so good. Episode director Miguel Sapochnik (also known for his another masterpiece episode “Hardhome”) proves himself to be once and for all one of the greatest talents in the television and movie industry today. The action coordination combined with the great camera angles make some of the most memorable scenes I have ever seen in television.

3. The Girlfriend Experience – S01E09 – Blindsided

640 - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

“Blindsided” is definitely one of the most intense and nerve-racking episode of 2016. The slow, bleak build-up then the fallout to this episode where our main character’s world collides, to the point where she has to make swift decisions was incredibly well written. After watching the first 8 episodes of this limited series, with it’s emptiness and slow paced storytelling, this nightmare scenario for Christine was something none of us saw coming. This episode definitely transformed The Girlfriend Experience from an average sex show into a psychological thriller. But it also has a bit mystery to it. After emails of Christine’s sex tape was leaked to all her family and friends, one would have to wonder how our main suspect ‘Jack’ got access to her personal info. Not to mention the video camera was pointing directly at Christine….could she have made the video and sent it herself? Or probably she only meant to sent it to her internship boss ‘David’, – who she’s been deceivingly manipulating for a job at the firm – and accidentally sent it to all her contacts? We have to ask our self these questions as the mystery in “Blindsided” sprung much deeper than we expected it it. Even the main character Christine is quite a mystery her self. It’s really hard to tell what’s going on in her head at times, but there’s no doubt about it she’s bold and ambitious.

2. Outlander -S02E13 – Dragonfly in Amber

mv5bmja3ody2ndmwmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotg4mjczote  v1 sy1000 sx1500 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The time-traveling Starz drama ended its second season with the 90-minute finale “Dragonfly in Amber.” While most book-readers will argue whether or not this was even a good episode, I must say from a non-book readers perceptive this episode hit me by surprise as it was way different and more interesting than all the earlier episodes this season. If you are familiar and in love with the book series this show is based on, then S02E07 ‘Faith’ might have been your pick of the lot. But If one is comparing the Outlander TV series to all the others, ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ is the one that is foremost. Despite having a slow-paced  and somewhat boring 2nd season, Outlander managed to pull off this lavishing and heart-rendering episode. In quality, “Dragon Fly in Amber” distanced itself from all other Outlander episodes. Outlander is already known for it’s great costumes and  set designs, but it was the storytelling and writing that made this episode standout. After a season spent barreling towards the Battle of Culloden, it felt like something of a relief to be spared the gory details of that fateful fight, as “Dragonfly in Amber” spent most of its time focusing on what really mattered… Claire and Jamie’s relationship. The time-traveling aspects of the show also came more into play here. The episode also introduces their adult daughter Brianna, and skipped back and forth between the 18th century and Claire’s “present” in 1968 telling the beautify fairy-tail an also exploring Scotland’s history. The episode has fantastic cinematography and well shot scenes, it is controversially Outlander’s best episode to date.

1. Black MirrorSan Junipero

mv5botm1mte3nmutownlny00zjuxlwizzjatyjczn2i3m2m0ywiyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntqymdczmzy  v1 sy1000 cr0014991000 al  - Top 30 TV Episodes of 2016

The build-up before you truly understand what San Junipero is makes for an engaging mystery, and the twists and turns as you realize the true stories behind the residents, and the two women in particular is heart-wrenching. But what sets the episode apart from the rest of Black Mirror’s third season is the way it beautifully balances character revelations with plot and setting revelations. Though the episode, like the others in series 3 of Black Mirror, is over an hour, the pacing is incredible and the episode accomplished all it needed to with its limited time. It’s a love story, after all, one of the very oldest sorts of stories, and it mostly leaves viewers wondering if these two crazy kids will work through their differences and get together. But it’s also complicated, a tale of second chances that behaves like a story of first love.

Every element of San Junipero felt like a strong point. The production Values, the writing, the lighting and especially the music. I’ve known the song “Heaven is a place on Earth” for so long and I’ve never seen it used in any other films or TV the way it was used in this episode. It almost like the episode was inspired by the song and it brought much needed emotion to the ending of the episode. Maybe I’m just a sucker for good endings? But this was one of the best endings for any Black Mirror episode I’ve ever seen. The love story between two old, dying women, living out a “perfect” life in their younger bodies is phenomenal, and features best-in-series performances from both Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis. When it’s all said and done ‘San Junipero’ is one of the greates hours of televson i’ve ever seen. I think this is most definitely one of Black Mirror’s best episode (if not the best), and easily the best TV episode of 2016.