Despite everyone’s claims, the era of Peak TV doesn’t seem to be going away. This has been one of the most varied years for television in my opinion. There were a ton of old shows that delivered high quality, new shows that shook the table, and a few out of nowhere moments. Narrowing down a Best TV Episodes of 2017 list was a pretty big challenge given the sheer volume of episodes of television that there were, but narrow them down I did. The following episodes, presented in alphabetical order by show, represent the best use of the television medium from hilarious comedies to superheroes to living gods. There is something here for every viewer.
Best TV Episodes of 2017
American Gods – “Head Full of Snow”
The first season of this show was an incredibly mixed bag, but Head Full of Snow is just a sterling hour of television. Shadow’s relationship with Mr. Wednesday deepens and his mind becomes aware that some stuff around him might not be normal. More than just making it snow, the show gives us a great understand of how the gods from other cultures can blend, gave us the basic knowledge of how gods move, and showed us one of the most interesting depictions of a gay relationship in recent memory.
Big Little Lies – “You Get What You Need”
It was hard to pick just one episode from this series to highlight cause they are all good to great. The finale of Big Little Lies, finally revealed who died, in super dramatic fashion set against an Audrey Hepburn style party and gave us a truly great ending.
Claws – “Teatro”
Roller coming back into the lives of his family and friends should have been a welcome occassion, but his prior misdeeds come to the forefront at the worst time.
Dark – “Truths”
I won’t say much about this episode because discovering the winding path this show goes on is part of the fun, but this episode effortlessly explains just what is happening in this town, ramps up the human drama, and slaps you in the face at the end.
Friends From College – “Party Bus”
Watching terrible people be terrible can b such delicious fun and this group of friends going wine tasting on a party bus with their significant others and getting increasingly worse is so delightful. It also provides Billy Eichner with one of his best moments as an actor.
Game of Thrones – “The Spoils of War”
One of the best episodes ever from a show with a ton of great episodes, The Spoils of War moved so many pieces around and together that your head was spinning even before Danerys unleashing her DOthraki and Drogon in the Field of Fire. But unleash them she did in an explosive climactic sequence.
Glow – “Maybe It’s All the Disco”
This show is really funny but this episode might be its most melancholy but I loved that it tracked the highs of throwing Sheila a birthday party to the more sobering reality of Ruth going to get an abortion.
My Hero Academia – “Climax”
My Hero Academia is pure joy even when it stresses you the fuck out like Climax did. Our heroes are trying to defeat one of the most evil villains of all time, who can disable them by tasting their blood. It’s a wonderful exercise in tension, as well as a template for superpowered character shows in how heroes should work together as a team.
Insecure – “Hella Perspective”
Capping a really interesting 2nd season, the finale takes 3 different prespectives and blends the storylines together. I like that they extended the episode to allow for us to spend enough time to laugh, hurt, and be frustrated by our favorite characters.
Manhunt: Unabom – “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”
I was truly shook by this miniseries and this episode is one of the reasons why. A brilliant acting showcase for Sam Worthington and Paul Bettany, Fruit of the Poisonous Tree not only sets the stage for the showdown in court but also dramatizes the lengths they had to go to catch the unabomber.
Neo Yokio – “Hamptons Water Magic”
Neo Yokio’s 4th episode is one of the finest half hours of comedy that I have ever seen. Uproariously funny and also incrediblely thematically rich, it’s a brilliant take on gender and sexuality via a pool at a Hamptons estate that turns people into different creatures and genders.
The Punisher – “Virtue of the Vicious”
Much like other Marvel Ntflix, The Punisher is too long, but if you wait, they reward you with a wonderful 10th episode. The first of two Rashomon style episodes on this list, Virtue of the Vicious is not the most shocking Punisher episode but it’s definitely the most meaningful, with all of the characters putting their cards on the table in various ways and wrapping up many storylines.
Star Trek Discovery – “Context is for Kings”
The first two hours of this show were incredibly bland but the third hour of the show really resets the board for the show into a much more adult and interesting show. Michael Burnham’s status as the first mutineer in Star Trek history makes her an underdog to root for, and a great wrench in her plan if she eventually wants to reveal Lorca’s shadier dealings.
Star Trek Discovery – “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”
Double dipping into the Star Trek universe, this Rashomon-esque, time loop episode was incredibly creative plot wise and also a smart character piece. We see Burnham have to wrestle with and use her feelings for Lt. Tyler to save the ship, see Lorca have to deal with mortality and decisions from his past, and Anthony Rapp got a statement episode about trying to convince people to believe him the same week his Buzzfeed piece re: Kevin Spacey came out.
Stranger Things – “Chapter Six: The Spy”
Though the series almost ruined itself by hitting us with a bottle episode, the 6th episode, from the reveal of who the title character was to Steve’s emergence as a great mom to the chilling cliffhanger, it was a brilliant blend of all the elements that make this show successful.
13 Reasons Why – “Tape 3, Side A”
Y’all know I hate everyone on the this show, but none of the characters are as infuriating as Courtney, whose tape is at the center of this episode. Her choice to leave Hannah out a limb, despite having feelings for her and two gay parents, was as raggedy as the other folks. This episode also lets us know just how involved the kids are with the tapes and their legacy.
Trollhunters – “Creepslayerz”
Though Jim, Claire, and Toby make for compelling humans, watching nerdy Eli and jock bully Steve team up to try and figure out what’s happening in Arcadia was one of this season’s most brilliant moves. Their Odd Couple chemistry and outside view of the monsters provided a wonderful new perspective.
Additional Lists to Consider