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SpoilerTV's Top 10 Episodes of 2017



Better late than never!

Every year, hundreds upon thousands of episodes of television grace the small screens to be consumed by the masses. It's one of the most subjective media of our time, so that makes it even harder to qualify which offerings stood among the rest as the absolute best of the year. Well, I put the STV team up to the challenge, with a one episode per show rule, which yielded some interesting results. We had such a tough time narrowing it down that our top 3, 4-7, and 8-10 were all tied. As such, each episode will be listed in alphabetical order and does not actually reflect a ranking of any kind. I have also included some testimonials, because who doesn't love reading about why each episode touched us. Without further ado, let's get to the list! Enjoy!



#10 - "THE MIND FLAYER", STRANGER THINGS (2.08) [5 votes]


DIRECTED BY: MATT DUFFER & ROSS DUFFER
WRITTEN BY: MATT DUFFER & ROSS DUFFER

Laurel: Let’s face it, “The Lost Sister” is not going to go down in history as one of Stranger Things’ strongest episodes, and one of the reasons is that it stops us from getting to “The Mind Flayer” sooner. This was absolutely the episode we needed at this point in the season. Stranger Things’ heart has always been its characters and their warm, honest relationships with each other. Whether it is the delightful combo of Steve and Dustin or the unbreakable bond between Joyce and Will, the show is at its strongest when its showing how these characters argue, support, and collaborate. The most important moment in “The Mind Flayer” comes when all three separate teams meet outside the lab. After spending half a season getting #JusticeforBarb, Jonathan and Nancy become part of the main action. After so many missed connections, the party is reunited. People openly share information and, for the first time in the season, actually understand the true problem plaguing Hawkins. After some great problem-solving scenes involving a possessed Will and the naming of the Mind Flayer, Eleven showing up is just icing on the cake.


Geo: The penultimate episode of Season two of Stranger Things has everything you could want from this breakout Netflix show. The main kids that we have grown to love so much band together with the grown ups in this episode and it makes for one of the best hours of the second season. Coming off of the cliffhanger from previous episodes made the episode even more intense and unforgettable.


Nirat: "The Mind Flayer" was the culmination of all that occurred in Season 2. Having most of our favorite characters working together, helping one another and having personal interactions throughout the episode helped them not only grow but add closure to small plots of their stories. It was not only an action-packed hour but one filled with emotions. To top it all of, Eleven showing up at the end was just right, we'd lost so much time with her on her own quest for identity, that it was about time she reunited with the gang.

Sean Astin’s lovable portrayal of a normal guy with a big heart won over the hearts of so many, that even if you might’ve seen his death coming, you were heartbroken nonetheless. He is worthy of a #JusticeForBob campaign. Bob was incredibly brave, the stakes were so high and the danger, imminent, but it never stopped him, he cared a lot for the Byers family, but more than that, he was a true superhero. I'm glad at the end of the season we see that his bravery was not forgotten but crayoned into something special, a hero.

Dad Steve leading his kids around is probably one of the best things to have come from this season. You cannot deny that Steve Harrington has had some extraordinary character development to go with his amazing hair in less than a handful of episodes.

Noah Schnapp was fantastic, his talent shone brightly during this season, and it was evident in this installment too. Joyce, Mike & Jonathan's attempt to push through to Will was poignant. The reciting of stories only Will knew was heartbreaking, especially the only from Mike. It's something beautiful to find a friend in a time of loneliness, to find someone where you can be yourself, where you can not feel afraid or isolated, and that's the beauty of this show. Showing us how friendship, and family, can overcome so much in the midst of such strange things.





#9 - "QUINCES", ONE DAY AT A TIME (1.13) [5 votes]


DIRECTED BY: PAMELA FRYMAN
WRITTEN BY: GLORIA CALDERÓN KELLETT & MIKE ROYCE

Laura: This show was without a doubt one of the saving graces of 2017. This entire season offered so much goodness, which all came to a head in this finale episode. Finales are always supposed to amp you up and pay off in satisfying natures to what you've been exposed to for the entire season, and this just might be one of the best examples of this, ever. I definitely cried and I definitely wanted Victor to go away and never return again. My heart sunk for Elena and the rest of the family as these are people who you root for and want to see happy and thriving in a world that doesn't always appreciate them. When you watch the family come together at the end it's clear to see that it doesn't matter to them who isn't cheering them on, because when you have each other - a family that loves one another - you can do anything. And if that isn't one of the most important messages for anyone to see...


Bradley: "Quinces" is the culmination of a wonderful arc in the second half of One Day at a Time, a truly impressive end to what was ultimately a very strong first season. It had everything you'd want from getting to know these characters. Plot-wise, Elena's quinceañera wrapped the season but on an emotional level, the conclusion of her coming out arc was fitting and heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. What the episode reinforces was how important the dynamic between the core Alvarez family (and Schneider) is - that shot of the group hugging at the quinceañera is the most memorable from the season - and that the acceptance of Elena being, as Penelope and Lydia would see it, a little different is the most important thing. It matters not that there were few laughs, for the emotional heft was more substantial.


Jamie: "Quinces" was my favorite episode of the season because it really showcased the bonds between the members of the Alvarez family. One Day At A Time is considered a sitcom but by the end of the episode I was crying. The episode had both heartwarming scenes, like Lydia turning Elena's dress into a suit despite her own opinion to make her granddaughter happy, and heartbreaking moments, like when Victor bails on Elena. The final scene where Elena's family steps in is exactly what I love about this show.





#8 - "LEMONS", BLACK-ISH (3.12) [5 votes]


DIRECTED BY: KENYA BARRIS
WRITTEN BY: KENYA BARRIS

Laurel: “Why don’t you care about this country?” Man, Dre’s boss is an idiot. In Black-ish’s post-election episode, he has the gall to ask this of his employee when Dre remains unusually quiet about this surprising turn of events. As the rest of his coworkers register shock, surprise, and some triumph over what the show calls an “upset,” Dre doesn’t. Dre is not surprised. His family, as they struggle to funnel their emotions into lemonade and charitable donations, are not surprised. In one of the most powerful moments in Black-ish’s history, Dre explains this to his coworkers, and Anthony Anderson absolutely knocks it out of the park. “I love this country, even though at times it doesn’t love me back.” Dre’s speech is angry, sorrowful, and strangely hopeful. Maybe the image of Zoey literally making lemonade makes the metaphor a little too obvious, but it’s an important one that the show takes to heart.


Saloni: At a time when most of the people were feeling dejected because of the political climate, with this episode, Black-ish became the voice we needed. It was a powerful and emotional episode that connected with me when I needed it most.


Luana: This episode, of course, got a spot in the best moments of the year with Dre’s speech, and that was the highlight, with Strange Fruit playing in the background (“Southern trees bear strange fruit” “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze”) and one of the most heartbreaking lines coupled with Anthony Anderson’s great performance: “I love this country, even though at times it doesn’t love me back”. But there was so much more to this episode, from the feeling of impending doom to some amount of hope. They show the airing of things left unsaid for so long, racism escalating in Junior’s school and Dre’s workplace, as it does everywhere when a type of behavior that was frowned upon suddenly becomes okay enough to get you the presidency. They show how the crazy news upsets the mood for all of them, Bo saying she feels hated, Dre’s co-workers not being able to get anything done without being at each other’s throats. Black-ish did its best to show every angle of the discussion, even when it was still too fresh to fully appreciate it, and somehow found a way to leave on a positive note, at least now we know how many people feel, we let ourselves be complacent in our bubble, without taking the time to bring everyone else into it, maybe now at least it’s visible and maybe we can all learn something from it (if we survive). Also, Junior and his conversations with his grandfather were very important, not ignoring that there’s more than just a unifying message, that battle cries are usually necessary when things start unraveling, and that, by trying to edit it, they take some of its power away, so ending with the speech from Martin Luther King and Dre saying he loves his country “warts and all” makes for the perfect hopeful note to end on, without negating all the rest.





#7 - "MICHAEL'S GAMBIT", THE GOOD PLACE (1.13) [6 votes]


DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL SCHUR
WRITTEN BY: MICHAEL SCHUR


Laura: There's a reason why this episode is being compared to the twists of the most acclaimed dramas of our time - it surpasses almost all of them in every way. "Michael's Gambit" was the perfect infusion of freshness and excitement that this show so desperately didn't even know it needed at the time. Honestly, I fail to see how the show will ever defeat this achievement. The acting was obviously compelling, otherwise they couldn't have pulled off this feat. You're all probably tired of hearing how great Ted Danson's evil laugh is, and how Kristen Bell's childlike wonder came off so charming, despite Eleanor's often terrible decision-making. What more can I even say about this episode that hasn't already been said? You all already know why it's so wonderful.


klutzy_girl: "Michael's Gambit" was awesome because it was such a game-changer for The Good Place. It was a twist that genuinely shocked me, and we're still dealing with the fall-out. It was an amazing episode of television and gave Ted Danson some fantastic material to work with. Everything we thought we knew had been a lie.


Bradley: Of the four network comedies Michael Schur has been involved in, The Good Place is the most markedly different. But no episode encapsulated just how different like its first season finale, "Michael's Gambit", did. There had always been a quirk to the series, and its serialized nature made it at times an odd thing to watch. Here, The Good Place showed itself to be not just a comedy, but one with real intelligence and desire. Revealing that the world we know is actually the Bad Place, and that Michael is actually torturing our four humans, was a bold move, but one that altered the dynamic of the series for the better. Ted Danson was at his best in the show to then (he has subsequently surpassed that excellent performance during season two). This was a fantastic way to cap a very strong debut run, and it was a twist very much worthy of Eleanor's initial reaction: "Holy motherforking shirtballs."





#6 - "THE RICKLANTIS MIXUP", RICK AND MORTY (3.07) [6 votes]


DIRECTED BY: DOMINIC POLCINO & WES ARCHER
WRITTEN BY: DAN GUTERMAN & RYAN RIDLEY

Laura: I may not have watched as much television as some other people did in 2017, but I was certainly fortunate enough to catch one of the most perfectly crafted episodes ever featured in this medium. This offering was the most compelling piece of Rick and Morty's repertoire. Focusing on several different plots in just under 22 minutes is no easy task for any show to pull off, especially an oddball animated sitcom such as this one. Oh, but they found a way. They found lots of ways. Ricklantis is an episode I will never forget watching. Not just for the twist, but for the way they seamlessly told important, relevant stories in the slick Citadel framework that none of us could have imagined having such creativity. It was like watching art from heaven sculpted into something bigger than ourselves. It transcends a normal TV experience into something undeniably and truly special. This is one for the history books. Give the show a try, if not only for this wholeheartedly spectacular outing.


Louis: Rick & Morty’s third season may have been contentious, but it’s hard to argue the virtues of its crowning achievement, "The Ricklantis Mixup". Fans didn’t even have a clue what to expect, with the trailers and the pre-titles sequence mischievously teasing an adventure in Atlantis with our Rick & Morty, making the episode’s real subject, a look at the society of the Citadel of Ricks, a genuine surprise. And it was just the first in a dizzying array of surprises.

Ricklantis is a masterclass in concise storytelling, laying out half-a-dozen different plotlines and effortlessly setting them up, introducing complications and then throwing out a stunning final twist without ever rushing or oversimplifying its narrative in the process. The broad sweep of the story, which takes in a cross-section of an entire society, only amplifies that achievement, as the separate parts of the narrative coalesce brilliantly into a compelling and rich snapshot of an unequal world. Themes of cultural segregation, hopelessness, police brutality, capitalism and political corruption were seamlessly woven together in a narrative that always prioritises showcasing its ideas over bluntly and didactically stating them.

The kicker is that Ricklantis also constitutes a major leap forward in Rick & Morty’s tangled mythology with a final twist that announces itself with a distinctly memorable piece of music from the show’s past, making the episode far more important than a simple diversion away from the chronicles of the Rick and Morty we know.

"The Ricklantis Mixup" is a truly exceptional episode of TV, accomplishing in 21 minutes what some dramas struggle to match in a ten-hour season, and it stands among the very best of what the small screen could offer in 2017.


Samantha: The evil Morty twist is hands down the best twist an animated show produced in 2017, but the episode on a whole was absolutely tremendous. Which is quite a feat considering the episode wasn't focused on our Rick and Morty, in fact they only featured at the beginning of the episode. It was completely focused on catching up with the other Rick & Morty's on citadel, and they had come a long way from where we'd last left off with them. It was extremely interesting to witness the trials and tribulations of the Ricks & Morty's, and if ever the show decides to do a spin-off just focusing on the citadel? I could quite happily sit through it. Evil Morty twist is obviously the thing that everyone remembers when you talk about this episode, and of course THAT song. But there's also the shoutouts. The school for Morty's who are going to be assigned new Ricks. The Morty pride rally/protest. Jaded cop Morty. Rick J-22 snapping. Honestly if the whole of season 3 had managed to retain the level of quality that this episode had, I wouldn't have such mixed emotions about the whole season.





#5 - "THE SPOILS OF WAR", GAME OF THRONES (7.04) [6 votes]


DIRECTED BY: MATT SHAKMAN
WRITTEN BY: DAVID BENIOFF & D.B. WEISS

Naomi: Wow, where to begin. This episode contained all of the elements that make GOT the block buster it has become. Arya’s long-awaited return to Winterfell, the budding romance of Jon and Daenerys, but most of all the fiery hell that Daenerys unleased on Jamie and the Lannister allies as they take all that is left of the Tyrells. Family, love, and bloody war-what more could us fans ask for!


Bradley: The defining image of Game of Thrones in season seven is not the Night King atop a reanimated dragon burning down the Wall, but the stunning shot of Drogon unleashing all of his might on Lannister wagons. "The Spoils of War" provided us the most intense, epic sequence of the season, notable not only for its technical achievements - of which there were many, yet another superb example of movie-level stunts, helmed very well by Matt Shakman - but its narrative progression; this, the first time Daenerys has made a move against any of our other characters' armies. It was superb to watch. But the episode around that sequence was impressive, too. Arya and Brienne's duel was one of the few really strong moments in Arya's story this season, Bran's conversation with Littlefinger was scary, for want of a better word, for how taken aback he was. A bit of set-up in King's Landing with the mention of the Golden Company and the planting of the seeds of a divide between Dany and Tyrion, and this became a very well-rounded, high-quality hour of Game of Thrones.


Lisa: This episode features the reunion between three of the Starks - Arya and Sansa and Arya and Bran that we've been waiting seasons for. Arya spars with Brienne and it is glorious. Daenerys and Jon grow closer. But the thing that really sets this episode apart is the amazing battle scene as Daenerys finally unleashes Drogon - and the Drothraki - on Cersei's army lead by Jaime.





#4 - "SELF CONTROL", AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (4.15) [6 votes]


DIRECTED BY: JED WHEDON
WRITTEN BY: JED WHEDON

Jamie: "Self Control", was in my opinion, Agents of SHIELD's best episode. It was high paced from start to finish and had really stellar performances by the entire cast. Some of my favorite scenes include Daisy versus the LMD's and Simmons versus LMD!Fitz. That last scene especially had me absolutely captivated.


Aimee: This episode was a brilliant showing of all of the different performers in spectacular fashion. It was a big grand episode that culminated in a big grand showdown. It was also the ultimate story of who is friend and who is foe. One of the best scenes in the episode was when Daisy and Jemma reunited. There was a genuine uncertainty from them both about the true identity of the other. They were both desperate for the other to be real, but afraid to even dare to hope that they weren’t alone. Their embrace at the end of the scene really sold the emotions of the whole episode. But it even went beyond them as LMD May even questioned her own identity to the point she sacrificed her artificial self to give the injured Daisy and Jemma a chance to escape. Plus there was the brilliant LMD Fitz and Jemma confrontation. This entire episode turned things on their heads and setup a dynamic next block of episodes.


Lisa: It's the final episode to an amazing arc of the show, with most of the actors playing very different versions of their usual characters. Elizabeth Henstridge and Chloe Bennet deliver particularly amazing performances.





#3 - "THE BOOK OF NORA", THE LEFTOVERS (3.08) [7 votes]


DIRECTED BY: MIMI LEDER
WRITTEN BY: TOM SPEZIALY & DAMON LINDELOF

Geo: The Leftovers has been known for polarizing fans with it's ambiguity and irresolution. "The Book of Nora" should satisfy all fans of the show with even more ambiguity; Nora's story to Kevin - about what happened to her when zapped with the same radiation that took The Departed in the first place - in the final moments of the episode (and series) gave us the closure we needed for what turned out to be a very artistic television series. The fact that fans can choose for themselves whether or not to believe what happened to Nora and where she went and how she got back is what makes this episode so perfect. We didn't get a precise answer to The Departure, but isn't that what The Leftovers is all about - we don't know what happens in the afterlife - and "The Book of Nora" tells us that the answer is ultimately up to our imagination.

Best.Show.Ever.


Bradley: "The Book of Nora" is a perfect end to the best and most powerful show of the year, and one of the best of the decade. The Leftovers was never about plot, and neither was this episode. Instead, its core focus on Nora's Australian solitude, and Kevin's quest to find her again, was poignant and beautiful. Nora climbing the hill to rescue the goat and take beads and thus the sins passed onto it? Tears. But, more than that, the finale highlighted exactly what made the show so stunning. But don't take it from me - take it from me six months ago: "In its depiction of life, The Leftovers has shown itself to be about all of those things and more, in ways more stunning than possibly imaginable. All of its oddities and its utterly bonkers storylines disguise its true nature. Between the afterlife hotels and a dick scanner and sex boats and God being eaten by a lion is a tale punctuated not by plot but by emotion. Strip away the shell and underneath, close to the surface, is a human story. It may not be one that any and every viewer can relate to in its entirety, but there is value for all - no matter your history, no matter what you’ve lost or what you’ve gained.

That is the true genius of The Leftovers."


Milo: This was an instant classic, acting as a perfect finale for one of the all-time best shows on television. Carrie Coon concluded one of the best performances of the decade in style, as the show wrapped up its run with a fantastic final outing for Nora and Kevin, delivering a powerful and emotionally satisfying conclusion to their adventure. This show may have never answered the mystery, but the mystery was merely a backdrop to some incredibly brilliant human stories that left an unforgettable impression on the audience.





#2 - "GAME NIGHT", BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (5.10) [7 votes]


DIRECTED BY: TRISTRAM SHAPEERO
WRITTEN BY: JUSTIN NOBLE & CARLY HALLAM TOSH

Laura: Well, this wasn't quite "Moo Moo", a complete shift in formatting as Terry was the lead and he was the one to anchor the a-plot to serious and critical acclaim. It wasn't "HalloVeen", the latest installment in the heist series - only, this time, having a proposal in the heart of it all. And it wasn't "99", the milestone ensemble piece serving as an excellent precursor to the stories we saw in the first part of the mid-season finale, the episode in question.

So...what was it?

On the surface, it could seem like any other episode of Brooklyn. It's a two-plot story; one focuses on Rosa and her bisexuality and the other on re-integrating Gina into the squad. That already seems more exciting than the norm, no? It was, it really, really was. Everything having to do with Rosa was flawless. This is the best we've ever seen from Stephanie Beatriz as her and Jake deal with coming out to her parents (and the squad, first). When her parents refuse to accept this part of her life, her father strongholds her into putting off their family game nights. This is when the outing shines; Jake and the rest of the family (because that's what they are now - a family) bring game nights to her house. Holt and Rosa share a deeply profound and utterly tearjerking moment, and they acknowledge Rosa/Gina shippers in a, "I see you", respectful sort of way. And then, bringing Gina back to the squad was just the bit of freshness the show needed at the time. It was doing 'fine' without her, I guess, but the lengths they went to in order to get her back made me laugh out loud several times. All of this, and more, is why this episode stood out among the rest as the best that Brooklyn had for us this year. In a year that had SO MANY bests, this one is my forever choice.

Thank you, show.


Samantha: "Game Night" may just be the most important episode, not to mention emotionally heavy, that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has produced. I seriously didn't think the show could top "Moo Moo" but I was wrong. It was the shows landmark episode and what did they choose to celebrate the landmark? Rosa coming out to her parents as bisexual. From Rosa so casually revealing her sexuality to the rest of the team and them being so welcoming, to Jake helping her to practice her coming out speech, Rosa's disdain and calling her parents out for the fact they'd rather she be having an affair with Jake than bisexual, the picture drawings during game-night where Rosa let rip at her parents, her father coming to see her and of course Jake bringing the team over for their own game night where Captain Holt offered Rosa words of thought and comfort, "Game Night" is as close to a perfect episode as you're ever likely to get, and I will never understand how on earth Brooklyn Nine-Nine is so under-rated and the cast aren't sweeping award season every year.


Antonia: "Game Night" showcases Brooklyn Nine-Nine's uncanny ability to blend heart and humor. The writers handled Rosa's storyline in such a realistic, yet hopeful way. I loved how despite her biological family's reluctance to accept her, it was made extremely clear how loved she was by her nine-nine family. That, in addition to the actual use of the word "bisexual", could (and did) change the lives of young viewers who see themselves in Rosa. What was especially great was how the episode didn't feel like a Very Special Episode. The jokes were there in full force; the funny B-Plot was a great way to bring Gina back into the fold, and Jake's increasing nervousness at dinner with Rosa's parents was amazing. Game Night was a great addition to an already stellar season!





#1 - "YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED", BIG LITTLE LIES (1.07) [7 votes]


DIRECTED BY: JEAN-MARC VALLÉE
WRITTEN BY: DAVID E. KELLEY

Luana: The whole season was building up to this episode, the tension was almost unbearable, and they played on it well, with the score (or lack thereof) and the timing of every single scene, Celeste’s brutal beating in completely silent flashbacks, Perry’s quiet threat by casually letting her know he knew she was leaving him, the fight in the car, Jane’s face when she realized Perry was her rapist, the look on her friends’ faces as they realized it too, the women fighting him and finally Bonnie pushing him down the stairs. This is how you do great TV, the acting, the writing, the directing, it was all phenomenal and it touched upon subjects that need to be addressed, especially when it’s paired with this level of quality. “You can’t always get what you want…”


Saloni: The season-long build up to the mystery paid off brilliantly. The episode was paced well, which was the best part. The actors, as is well-established, were stunning. Watching all the ladies just power through was pivotal and made for great TV.


Milo: Wow! That is how you end a fantastic first season. The incredible cast really brought their A-game to the table in the final hour, wrapping up the storyline in a superb way that showcased the acting talent of everyone involved. The ending song choice of The Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want was a perfect way to end too, as it really fit the tone of the show.



As always, feel free to share your thoughts and personal picks down in the comments below. Thanks for reading and we'll see you next time with ten new picks for 2018!

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