The best TV episodes of 2013: 'Scandal' softens Mellie, plus 'Masters of Sex,' 'Breaking Bad' and more
'Scandal' - 'Everything's Coming Up Mellie'
The center of "Scandal" is and always will be Olivia Pope, but for one hour this fall, Shonda Rhimes shifted focus to Mellie Grant and it was as if I was seeing the character through new eyes. With Bellamy Young's Emmy-worthy acting, we were reminded of just who gets hurt every time we root for Liv and Fitz to work it out. Mellie may not always be the most sympathetic, but by flashing back to the early days of the Grant marriage, we learned just how much of herself she's given up in support of Fitz. There's nothing she won't do to stand by her man -- who can't seem to stand by her.
'Orange Is the New Black' - 'The Chickening'
For much of its first, brilliant season, "Orange Is the New Black" straddled the line between comedy and drama pretty deftly, without ever declaring what it truly thinks it is. "The Chickening," the Netflix series' fifth episode, is a perfect example of this. There's the broad comedy of the hunt for the mythical chicken who may or may not be full of drugs (and may or may not even exist) that manages to be hysterical, while still allowing for moments like the conversations about faith between Sophia and Sister Ingalls. It's a bold show that can attempt something like that, and "OItNB" pulled it off in spades.
'Masters of Sex' - 'All Together Now'
This being the story of Masters and Johnson, who knew that Allison Janney would come in and steal the show as Margaret Scully? In this, the seventh episode of Season 1, Janney's turn as too-little-loved wife of closeted Provost Scully opened up to soaring new heights. Her joy over her sexual reawakening with Austin, combined with her intense sadness over her loveless marriage, was beyond palpable. Janney may have been starring on "Mom" at the same time, but she was quietly doing the work of her career over on Showtime.
'The Good Wife' - 'Hitting The Fan'
Nearly every episode from Season 5 of a reinvigorated "The Good Wife" would make a fine choice, but this episode was the one we were all waiting for. From that closing shot of Season 4, with Alicia agreeing to defect with Cary, we were waiting for everything to come to light and for the show to deliver. And boy did it. Every moment between Alicia and Will felt electric, beginning with that dramatic destruction of everything on her desk. It was an episode of TV made as all should be: With the intent to have you on the edge of your seat from start to close.
'Breaking Bad' - 'Blood Money'
As with "The Good Wife," there isn't a poor choice to make when it comes to the devastating, electrifying final run of "Breaking Bad." My favorite episode would have to be the one that kicked off the last bit of Season 9. After leaving us hanging last September with the reality that Hank was on to Walt, we returned to the show this August wondering just how quickly everything would progress. There were only seven episodes left, after all. The show wasted no time in letting the final showdown between Walt and Hank begin, leaving us to anxiously anticipate where it would go from here as that now-legendary warning rang in our ears: "If you don't know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly."
'Parks and Recreation' - 'Recall Vote'
A brokenhearted Leslie Knope isn't something I hope for on a regular basis, but watching her react to her town ejecting her from office led to some stellar comedy from Amy Poehler and created new roads for the show to travel down. It was an episode that allowed for "Parks" to shake up its status quo, something most show in their sixth season tend to shy away from, while still being monstrously funny. Any show that riffs on Gwyneth Paltrow and her GOOP nonsense (please bring Erinn Hayes as Annabel Porter back, quickly!) is a winner in my book.
What were your favorite TV episodes of 2013?