As 2022 draws to a close, it offers a bittersweet opportunity to take stock of some of the best TV episodes we’ve seen this year. In a streaming landscape where even the creators of the shows themselves don’t know if they’ll disappear without warning, this kind of thinking is unlike any other.
While this is still a celebration of great work, it also serves as a farewell to many shows that were canceled too soon or may be the next to be sent into the unknowns of streaming limbo. We hope that will not be the case, but the act of appreciation is even more important as a means of keeping what we have while it is still there. So, here are the best TV episodes of 2022 that not only entertained us, but often deeply moved us in small ways.
“Chapter Seven”, Pachinko
No list would be complete without recognizing one of the most sublime shows of the year. While Pachinkobased on the remarkable novel of the same name by Min Jin Lee, was wrongly snubbed by the Emmys, he will always hold a place in our hearts when we look back on this year-long mess. The episode simply titled “Chapter Seven” is one of the reasons why, as it centers around the character of Hansu (Lee Min-ho) and brought his own harrowing contact with death to the forefront of the story. Under the direction of the visionary Gonadadait was an absolutely heartbreaking part of a season that never lacked such moments.
“The Thing Lay Still”, Anne Rice’s interview with the vampire
Another adaptation that completely blew us away, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire has proven to be one of the most engaging television works of this year or any other. Taking familiar source material in interesting new directions, everything was built up to the finale, “The Thing Lay Still,” which laid bare how Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) couldn’t run away from the pain of his past, no matter how hard he tried to rewrite them in his memory. It was a tragic yet triumphant conclusion that was bloody, brutal, and beautiful like no other show this year. Not only did he stick the landing even as he ripped through flesh and bone, he shattered the world Louis had built for himself in a delicate but devastating way.
“John and Sun-Hee”, The Boys Presents: Devilish
While the main series of The boys itself has a strong run this year is the animated spin-off Diabolical which really marked us because of a particular episode. “John and Sun-Hee” is a short film about an elderly man willing to do whatever it takes to save his wife from terminal cancer. However, his actions soon put them both in even greater danger. It’s not only one of the best animated shorts of the bunch in the way it strikes both awe and terror, but also the one that leaves the most impact. This culminates in a series of gorgeous final images that manage to be so melancholic yet mesmerizing that they’re well worth seeking out.
“Saul Gone”, Better Call Saul Season 6
This year we also had to say goodbye to our favorite peddler with a heart of gold who was Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkerk) or Jimmy McGill to those who loved him. The last season of You better call Saul was not only one of the best prequels, but even surpassed the original series to become one of the best shows of all time. At the center of it is not just Odenkirk, but an utterly amazing Rhea Seehorn who does more with just one look than most actors do in the entire series. It all culminates in the unexpected but no less spectacular “Saul Gone”, a finale that will go down in history as one of television’s greatest.
“The us that we are”, separation
One of the biggest surprises of the year was Breakup, a kind of science fiction series about the exploitation of labor and the overwhelming forces of capitalism. One can only wonder why that resonated. It centered on a group of employees who “severe” each day, meaning they can’t remember what they did at work and the version of themselves at work is trapped there. That gruesome premise was driven home in another jaw-dropping final episode, “The We We Are,” which brought them all together to find a collective power that has the potential to reshape their world forever. While this has us eagerly anticipating what’s next for these characters, it still all fell into place with a painful poetry that we can’t help but appreciate.
“Go Turn Around”, What We Do In The Shadows Season 4
Now we enter the dumbest entry on this list that has made this season of What we do in the shadows one of his best to date. The story of a group of vampires living in present-day Staten Island had been building on “Go Flip Yourself” for a while, but it was worth the payoff for its ridiculousness. An extended storyline that was a parody of reality TV but still filled with the same sharp humor, it’s packed with jokes galore to be the funniest episode of the year. You’ve probably seen some of the many memes that have emerged from it since, but nothing can compare to seeing the entire episode itself in all its glory.
“Decolonization”, Reservation Dogs Season 2
If you haven’t watched Reservation dogs, so you better get on it now because it’s one of the most refreshing and hilarious shows out there. Featuring a group of teenagers trying to make their way through the world, it’s hilariously funny and emotionally resonating without missing a beat. Nowhere was that truer than in “Decolonativization,” an episode that blurred the superficiality of influencers while never losing sight of its characters along the way.
“The Eclipse”, The Spookys Season 2
Now we get into some of the sad entries of shows that are no more. The Spookies returned for a wonderful second season after a long hiatus and was recently canceled when it deserved so much better. This makes the show’s dispatch, “El Eclipse,” one we will cherish even more as it is now the last we will see from this group. In particular, it is worth seeing for the glorious absurdism of Ana Fabrega like Tati alone. As their latest plan comes to fruition, it’s her performance that rockets the show to the moon.
“Adirondack S3”, Rutherford Falls Season 2
Why do we have to keep canceling the best comedies? The second season of Rutherford Falls was more focused and funny than the first, although it also ended far too soon. If there’s one episode that proves it more than others, it’s the sneaky one. Yellowstone parody that is “Adirondack S3”, where Jana Schmieding and Michael Greyeyes are joyous in the way they poke fun at the failures of other shows depicting Native life. While there are many standout performances and episodes in the show, it’s their work that makes them the best of the best.
“More Than You’ll Ever Know” Let In The Good
While the series as a whole isn’t quite on the same level as the original films, Leave the one on the right in was yet another vampire show that managed to leave a mark. The reason for all of this goes back to the flashback episode, “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” which takes its time to establish the fault lines that tear a family apart in a patient yet profound way all its own.
“Nostalgia Patrol”, season 4 of Doom Patrol
Now we have another silly one with the culmination of what we saw from Season 4 of Doom Patrol so far. While the show has always been willing to lean into the clunky, this episode played with time and form in a way that managed to top anything that came before. While still very vulgar, there was a cleverness among the rudeness that just makes it fun to get lost with all the perpetually troubled characters.
“Unbroken Circle”, Station Eleven
You bet we include the masterpiece of an adaptation that is station eleven on this list, even though much of it was released in 2021. That’s not even bending the rules because “Unbroken Circle,” the series finale, aired in 2022. So put away your torches and pitchforks to appreciate just how The incredible point of a show is in how it managed to drastically deviate from the original novel to come up with one of the most thoughtful resolutions we’ve really had the chance to see.
“The Lord of the Tides”, House of the Dragon
After the experience of game of thronesthere was a lot of pressure to Dragon House come out of doors hard. Not only did it do this by creating a portrait of how power can corrupt even the best-intentioned, but it also surpassed its predecessor in many ways. Foremost among these was the performance of Paddy Considine as King Viserys desperately trying to cling to peace and life itself as he grew increasingly worn down by his many ailments. It comes to a head in this episode where he brings the man to life in all his complexities as we’re about to see his painful final moments as he slips away.
“The West”, Outer Range
What, you’re putting on an episode of Outdoor beach on this list? You are damn right. Not only does the series remain the best western of the year, but the way it mixes with science fiction makes it something very special. When you have a riveting Josh Brolin as the gruff but troubled patriarch and giving him monologues about faith that take on a poetic rage, well, we’re still going to be in the tank to see it all come together. It threw us for many loops, but the way it all settled into the season finale, “The West,” made it something we couldn’t ignore.
“III”, The Old Man
Last, but not least, was another one that surprised us. The old man not only seen Jeff Bridges in great shape, but he avoided common action restraints by embracing vulnerability. The one that stood out the most was the third episode, where we got to see a flight scene Alia Shawkat deliver a monologue that captures the thematic and narrative heart of the show. If there was ever a performance we slept on this year, it’s her subtle but brilliant turn.