Top 10 TV Episodes of 2012

Photo Credit:

You got our best TV shows of the year yesterday, now you’re getting our favorite episodes of the year. All three of the writers here at The Filtered Lens have our own tastes and therefore, even when we agree on a show like say, Girls, we don’t have the same favorite episode. So check out our favorite episodes of the year!



Matt’s Take:

When shows like Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation and Breaking Bad only keep getting better, it becomes difficult to say what hour or half hour was best. The same goes for newcomers that blew me away like Girls and The Legend of Korra. But after all the sifting, these ten episodes are the ones that I’ll still be thinking about when writing 2013’s list. Again, full disclosure: I do not watch Homeland, therefore making me the worst person on the planet and banned from Twitter. But I do watch just about everything else.


Photo Credit: 30 Rock– “Mozel Tov, Dummies!” (Season 7, Episodes 7)-

Wedding episodes are tough to pull off. Especially when your main character wants to get married in jeans at town hall. But Liz Lemon never realized that despite her feminist views, she still wants to be a princess on her wedding day. So she finds the only white outfit in her closet, a Princess Leia costume, and wears it as her wedding dress for an appropriately quiet ceremony. Just try to hold back a smile during the closing minutes of one of the strangest TV weddings ever. Only 30 Rock. (Aired Nov. 29)


Photo Credit: Girls– “All Adventurous Women Do” (Season 1, Episode 3)-

My favorite thing about Girls can be summed up by the last few minutes of the episode that made you fall in love with the characters. But before that, Hannah has to tell her ex-boyfriend, Elijah, that she has HPV. She gets thrown for a loop when Elijah reveals that he is gay. Then he calls her dad gay. Meanwhile, Marnie has a strangely erotic encounter with an artist. In the end, the two come together and dance away their problems to Robyn in the best moment of television all year. (Aired Apr. 29)


Photo Credit: South Park– “Butterballs” (Season 16, Episode 5)-

Yes, South Park has seriously gone downhill the last few years. But in 2012, we got a classic that did what this show does best, send a message that should be obvious with absurd humor and sharp whit. The episode sees Butters getting bullied by his grandma, and South Park Elementary making an anti-bullying video telling bullying to go kill itself. In the vein of the 2011 documentary Bully, this episode reminds us that bullying will never go away and is actually a major part of growing up. (Aired Apr. 11)


Photo Credit: The Newsroom– “5/1” (Season 1, Episode 7)-

The Newsroom came under a lot of criticism when it premiered over the summer, but there is one episode most critics will agree is brilliant television. Since the show uses hindsight as a remarkable tool for drama, we get an episode about the killing of Osama bin Laden just over a year after it actually happened. It is a reminder of how significant that day was for our country. Oh, and Will McAvoy is high live on the air. That is the kind of episode this is. (Aired Aug. 5)


Photo Credit: Mad Men– “The Other Woman” (Season 5, Episode 11)-

Christina Hendrick’s does her best work on AMC’s veteran series in season five. After breaking things off with her physically and verbally abusive husband, Joan finds a new opportunity within Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, becoming a partner. The catch? She has to sleep with a client. The shocking reveal that she does it after Don’s kind words was polarizing. Don’s disappointment when he realizes what happened is even worse. To top it off Peggy announces that she’s leaving, giving us the hardest goodbye in TV this year. (Aired May 27)


Photo Credit: Breaking Bad– “Dead Freight” (Season 5, Episode 5)-

Breaking Bad has always kind of had a Western spin to it. Never had it been fully embraced until Walter White and Jesse Pinkman decided to steal methylamine from a train. Strangely enough, it totally works. When so few things go as planned on this show I couldn’t help but cheer for Jesse as he ran down to Walter calling the train a “bitch”. But then, their third party, Todd, kills a child who rode in on his dirt bike and may have seen something. Everything was suddenly for nothing. It is the single most heartbreaking moment of TV this year. (Aired Aug. 12)


Photo Credit: The Legend of Korra– “Endgame” (Season 1, Episode 12)-

Some fans cried out that Korra had no place to go after the finale seemingly resolved everything, but what does it matter? This finale is a perfect ending to these 12 episodes. Korra airbends. Tarrlok murders his brother. Aang finally reaches out to the new avatar. It is an action packed episode full of emotions you never thought a Nickelodeon cartoon could make you feel. Yeah, the story may be complete to a point, but I am more than willing to give the creators a chance on the three more seasons they received. (Aired Jun. 23)


Photo Credit: Parks and Recreation– “Win, Lose, or Draw” (Season 4, Episode 22)-

The creators have said that multiple endings were shot for this episode with different outcomes of the election for Leslie. How? The one we got was so perfect! Parks and Rec closed out its most plot driven, and therefore best, season with the results of the election for city council. After being told she lost and demanding a recount, Ann comes to tell Leslie that she had won. Amy Poehler deserves just about every award for the moment she realizes and the heartfelt acceptance speech she delivers. Make sure your tissue box is nearby. (Aired May 8 )


Photo Credit: Girls– “Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident” (Season 1, Episode 7)-

This was the most fun episode of television we got this year. Our favorite foursome decides to go to a party in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and each of them has a fun adventure. Hannah is trying to avoid Adam, but the two end up becoming exclusive by the end. Marnie forces herself to say hi to Charlie and ends up talking to Elijah. Jessa has an awkward encounter with the father of the children she babysits. But it is Shoshanna, who accidentally smokes crack, that has the best episode as she runs free through Brooklyn yapping about kick-boxing and takes off her pants. Classic. (Aired May 27)


Photo Credit: Game of Thrones– “Blackwater” (Season 2, Episode 9)-

You’ve never seen anything like this on television. This groundbreaking climax to the second season of Thrones is a Lord of the Rings scale battle that required the creators to ask HBO for more money. Tyrion and the Lannisters must defend King’s Landing from Stannis’ fleet. Meanwhile, Cersie drunkenly tries to protect her son from the battle. Dropping the usual number of characters and stories from other episodes, Blackwater just focuses on this one patch of characters. The best part, no one side feels morally correct, leaving you rooting for everyone involved. (Aired May 27)




Meg’s Take:

Picking my top ten favorite TV episodes of 2012 was no easy task. It might have been easier just to list the entire first season of Girls. But I couldn’t do that, as many other shows delivered standout episodes as well. This is my compilation of those defining episodes from some series that truly shined this year.



Photo Credit: Suits– “Asterisk” (Season 2, Episode 9)-

A perfect set-up for the mid-season finale, emotions ran high. For one thing, the show’s most lovable character, Donna, makes an adorable return. And the competition between Jessica and Daniel comes to a head, and ends up revolving around the most unlikely character: Louis. What really stole the show was Mike prepping the apartment that he’s buying his grandmother, only to be told by Rachel that she’s died. This episode struck a great balance between emotion and law firm politics. (Aired Aug. 16)


Photo Credit: The Office– “The Whale” (Season 9, Episode 7)-

There is not a single Office fan who wasn’t wondering if Jan would return in the final season. I can think of no better execution for this than what they pulled off in The Whale. The thing I loved about this episode overall is that it was the first episode in a long time that truly felt like vintage Office, without making me miss Michael Scott. A feat I did not think could be accomplished. (Aired Nov. 15)


Photo Credit: Parks and Recreation– “Win, Lose, Or Draw” (Season 4, Episode 22)-

The fourth season finale had me in tears, and cemented everything I’ve loved about this show since its beginning. After a recount, we learn that Leslie has won her bid for City Council. Honestly, even now just thinking about her acceptance speech is bringing tears to my eyes. I know that there were a few different ways they thought about ending the season, but I can’t imagine a better ending. (Aired May 8 )


Photo Credit: The Mindy Project– “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)-

Mindy Kaling showed off her comedy chops, and made us fall in love with her character, in the pilot episode for her new show. Everything about Mindy: her love of romantic comedies, her career drive, her mess of a love life, her relationships with her co-workers, were all neatly folded into this one half hour, setting up what has been a truly fantastic premiere season so far. (Aired Sept. 25)


Photo Credit: South Park– “Butterballs” (Season 16, Episode 5)

It had been a while since a truly culturally relevant episode ofSouth Park, but the way they addressed not only the bullying phenomenon, but also the Jason Russell/KONY2012 scandal was pretty incredible. I’ll admit to being partial to Butters-centric episodes of South Park in general, but this one was particularly hilarious. I not only think that Butterballs was the strongest episode of the season, I think it may be one of the strongest of the series to date. (Aired Apr. 11)


Photo Credit: Girls– “The Return” (Season 1, Episode 6)-

For a show that revolves so much around the relationships between its four main characters to veer away and feature only one character is a risky move, especially in a freshman season. Girls took the risk, and Hannah returning to her childhood home made literally me squirm it felt so true to life. This episode is well written, beautifully shot, and nothing short of perfect. (Aired May 20)


Photo Credit: Veep– “Chung” (Season 1, Episode 4)-

Seeing just how much a simple slip-up in an appearance on Meet the Press can send a political office into a frenzy made this episode the best of the season ofVeep. Watching the Veep and her staff dive head first into damage control mode was hilarious, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus was absolutely at her best in this episode. (Aired May 13)


Photo Credit: Justified– “Slaughterhouse” (Season 3, Episode 13)-

Justified has never failed to deliver an unforgettable season finale. In the third, the tense storylines of the season were wrapped up, but not very neatly. Everything that went down in Limehouse’s slaughterhouse left me speechless, especially the way they got rid of the show’s most evil Quarles. Raylan’s dysfunctional relationship with his father and captivating relationship with Boyd take center stage again, and set a perfect stage for season four. (Aired Apr. 10)


Photo Credit: The Newsroom– “5/1” (Season 1, Episode 7)-

This was the most emotional episode of The Newsroom about what might be the most emotional news story of our lifetime. The behind the scenes reporting on the death of Bin Laden brought out the best in every single character in this huge and talented ensemble. I get choked up every time I watch Will McAvoy finally report the news, leading into the president’s actual address to the nation. This episode was Aaron Sorkin at his finest. (Aired Aug. 5)


Photo Credit: Girls– “All Adventurous Women Do” (Season 1, Episode 3)-

All season long I laughed and cried along with “the girls”, but I don’t think there was any finer example of Lena Dunham’s talents than in this episode. Being introduced to Elijah was enough to make the episode, as his and Hannah’s dynamic is hysterical, but it’s the final scene that makes it the most iconic in my mind, watching Hannah trying to decide what to tweet after a roller coaster day, and then dance around with her best friend Marnie. This show is the first I’ve ever felt truly understands its target audience (me), and this episode is the epitome of why. (Aired Apr. 29)




Mike’s Take:

Every season, there’s usually one episode in a series that is able to fully encompass why that show is so great in the first place.  Whether it features a major twist, some excellent writing, or just goofy characters being their goofy selves, these episodes are the ones that have people talking at the water cooler the next morning.  This year, TV has been lucky enough to be graced with a number of such episodes.  Here are my top 10:


Photo Credit: Nashville– “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)-

Never before have I seen the premiere episode of a series be so sure of itself and its characters.  Callie Khouri’s country music drama debuted with a smart and refreshing episode that was further bolstered by its talented cast—I’m looking at you Connie Britton!  Though the show has struggled to find its footing in weeks since, it seems to finally be heading in the pilot’s intended direction. (Aired Oct. 10)


Photo Credit: The L.A. Complex– “Don’t Say Goodbye” (Season 2, Episode 13)-

A lot of things happen to the gang at The Lux in the second half of the two-part season finale.  The episode centers on faded actress Raquel’s fundraiser for her indie movie, but the finest moment comes with rapper Kaldrick’s strikingly candid confession about his homosexuality.  Andra Fuller turns in an emotionally potent performance as he unleashes his best-kept secret to the millions of followers on his blog. (Aired Sept. 24)


Photo Credit: New Girl– “Parents” (Season 2, Episode 8)-

Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner guest star as Jess’ parents in this winning Thanksgiving episode.  Though her parents have been divorced since she was a kid, Jess still hopes they will rekindle their romance, and uses the holiday as an opportunity to “Parent Trap” them into getting back together.  Full of hilarious moments—including an excellent dinner table argument—this episode is definitely one of New Girl’s best. (Aired Nov. 20)


Photo Credit: Parenthood– “I’ll Be Right Here” (Season 4, Episode 6)

This episode revolves around Kristina’s tumor removal surgery and how it affects the rest of her family.  It’s great to watch as the other Braverman siblings rally around her husband Adam in the hospital waiting room, each having their own unique interaction with him.  Meanwhile, Max gives a poignant speech about his Asperger’s Syndrome that wins him his class election.  I dare you not to get choked up. (Aired Oct. 23)


Photo Credit: The Legend of Korra– “Turning the Tides” (Season 1, Episode 10)-

The stakes ran high in this action-packed episode as Korra’s freshman season started to come to a head.  The new Team Avatar takes to the city streets to fight Amon’s mechanized warriors, while Lin defends the home front on Air Temple Island.  The tough-as-nails police chief is a powerful bender, which makes it all the more shocking when her abilities are stripped away.  With all the intensity this episode brings, it’s this ending moment that really strikes a chord. (Aired Jun. 16)


Photo Credit: Parks and Recreation– “Win, Lose, Or Draw” (Season 4, Episode 22)-

The cherry on top of Parks and Rec’s stellar fourth season was this excellent finale episode, when the moment of truth arrives for Leslie and the City Council elections.  The producers have stated that they shot an alternate ending to this episode, but after seeing Leslie’s perfect reaction to the news of her win, I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way. Knope 2012! (Aired May 8 )


Photo Credit: Game of Thrones– “Blackwater” (Season 2, Episode 9)-

After getting a considerable boost in funds from HBO, the Thrones creators were able to create a masterpiece of a battle sequence between the Lannisters and the Baratheons.  Putting characters that we care about in the center of the action made it difficult to decide whom to root for.  Meanwhile Lena Headey gives a particularly good performance as Cersei, drunkenly spouting some shocking truths while war wages outside her window.  I’ve never seen anything on TV quite like it. (Aired May 27)


Photo Credit: Girls– “She Did” (Season 1, Episode 10)-

What better way to end an excellent first season than with a surprise, impromptu wedding?  The episode is full of great lines—“Hi J.Lo at the Grammys!”—and allows for Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna to each have their own sort of resolution to the ups and downs they’ve been dealt with all year. Though Adam lashes out at Hanna, the tranquil ending shot of her eating cake on Coney Island made me feel as though everything was going to be just fine.  (Aired Jun. 17)


Photo Credit: Homeland– “Q&A” (Season 2, Episode 5)-

The jaw-dropping episode that shattered typical TV plot structure actually aired the week before this one.  Still, it’s how Homeland dealt with the aftermath of their big reveal that really defined the season.  With Brody in CIA captivity, Carrie is finally able to talk one-on-one with the man who screwed up her life so royally.  What unfolds is an unflinching and emotionally honest interrogation, with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis delivering the year’s best-acted scene on TV. (Aired Oct. 28)


Photo Credit: Breaking Bad– “Fifty-One” (Season 5, Episode 4)-

This episode highlighted two of the best things about the series for me: its surprising amount of splendor between all the gritty action, and the way it examines a marriage in turmoil. Though alarming, there is a hauntingly beautiful quality to the way Skyler’s pool-jumping scene was shot.  Subsequently, the argument between her and Walt that follows feels both real and intensely terrifying.  It is dramatic writing at its finest. (Aired Aug. 5)


What were your favorite episodes of the year? Are we dead wrong? Who has the best list? Tell us what you think below!



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