Best of 2022 TV Episodes features spoilers from various shows. Please be advised if there’s something you don’t want to know.
We might say this year, but this has been the best year of television. There’s so much we still can’t catch up with — plenty we’re still thinking about, and make no mistake in thinking any of these were easy to choose. This year, like the previous, the Best of 2022 TV Episodes are the ones we couldn’t stop thinking about it. The episodes that made it clear why we love the shows that we do and why television can be a healing balm or a distressing conundrum.
For more end-of-the-year coverage, be sure to check out our Best of 2022: Romance Novels, the Best of 2022: Scene-Stealers, the Best of 2022: Performances, the Best of 2022: Characters, the Best of 2022: Found Families, and the Best of 2022: Romantic Relationships.
1. “Rix Road”
It’s nearly impossible to pick a single episode to highlight from Andor’s first season, but the finale, “Rix Road,” will haunt us for a long, long time. The nearly hour-long episode packs one emotional gut punch after another while concurrently providing some of the rawest, most humane action sequences. The rebellion began long before Maarva demanded the people of Ferrix fight against The Empire’s darkness. Still, in those staggering final moments, the weight of this battle comes to life with chilling actuality. Like the stark truth that Rogue One presented the audience with, Andor’s Season 1 finale makes a clear statement about what it means to fight against the root of domination and corruption.
The words, “there is a wound that won’t heal at the center of the galaxy,” echo with such reverence through Fiona Shaw’s delivery, coupled with the truth that words will never adequately describe. Fight the empire figuratively kicks the battle against the ever-growing darkness into full motion, reminding the audience of the characters who carved a path for Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo. Where we end and begin with this store will be on a beach, but there’s nothing more apparent in the structure of this episode than the importance of these characters and their ongoing fight. “Rix Road” is brilliantly directed, acted, and produced to showcase quiet, subdued combat that’ll leave a haunting deposit in our minds. It’s the kind of somber conclusion that moves so much forward while evoking a battlefield of emotions in the viewers long after the credits role. Andor’s “Rix Road” is, without question, the Best of 2022 TV Episode. And we’ll be here championing it for as long as we have to.
2. “Saul Gone”
Better Call Saul
When trying to explain why Breaking Bad didn’t have as visceral of an effect on me as it did on others I know, words escaped me. I couldn’t put my finger on it as a rookie critic who’s also not a fan of storylines that revolve around drugs. But then I finally waited long enough and watched Better Call Saul, instantly hit with the realization that the lack of an emotional, truly complex dynamic was the spark missing all along. And with the same corrupt, gritty crux that the show began, it took its brilliant bow with “Saul Gone.” Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn are and will always be the heart of this series, thereby choosing to end the show with the quiet, meticulously compelling scene with Jimmy and Kim made the episode a masterclass in drawing on the memorable beats that matter.
Beyond this detail, the series finale takes the audience through a distinctly designed time capsule made to make us think and question. Through flashback returns of Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Michael McKean’s Chuck McGill, the episode harps on its title with a melancholic symphony brimming with lulling highs and lows. It made you second guess where its ending would go and admirably subverted expectations by cementing the detail that despite his grifting nature, all versions of the man would fight to ensure one woman’s happiness. In the end, Jimmy’s return and Kim’s freedom are directly aligned with the metaphorical death of Saul Goodman—though irredeemable on multiple counts, transparent in showcasing that somewhere along the way, the best parts of him were all because of her. Saul, Jimmy, and Gene each pay the price Walter White should’ve, making the show’s predecessor and every subsequent story that follows much more nuanced because of this narrative’s carefully-encompassing structure.
3. “The We We Are”
Severance is the year’s greatest, most stupefying accomplishment. We still have more questions than answers after the finale, but through a quiet, anxiety-inducing episode, a clock ticking inside of us all after every millisecond that passed. Every shot, every slight, natural sound mixed with Theodore Shapiro’s methodic score, and every single performance made the episode an epic masterpiece for which words won’t do justice. It’s the kind of episode that, if presented on the big screen with a large audience, would result in unbearably noteworthy reactions like audible gasps and beats of silence that you can feel lingering in the air.
It starts quietly, where we’re thrust into a world questioning whether it all worked, and pushes itself toward daunting montages that answer nothing yet allow us to feel everything. “The We We Are” is peacefully daunting and yet loudly tormenting. Scenes like Dylan agonizing over the mechanics, shots panning quickly through Mark, Helly, and Irving, from the penultimate loom over like a shadow, terrorizing about what’s still to come. What discoveries will they make? Who are they outside of Lumon? It all comes tumbling down in the final few seconds in a jaw-dropping way, leaving us checking every day to see when Season 2 will return to give us the answers we’re desperately looking for.
4. “Saving Grace”
The Bad Sisters Season 1 finale “Saving Grace” is a quietly explosive masterclass for writing, acting, and directing. It takes everything we’ve gathered so far and sets it all on the table, then flips it around completely to conclude who killed John Paul Williams. The end result is not only surprising, but the execution of the crime scene, how the sisters find out, how Matt learns, and the moment of laughter which the series ends with makes it an episode that will stick with viewers for a long, long time.
Grace stepping out of the shadows, showing her face and everything she stands for, was a masterful display of what it looks like to push a woman over the edge—to doubt her and to patronize her until there’s nowhere left to turn. It was an homage to sisterhoods and what it truly means to be someone’s ride or die. The Garvey sisters would kill for each other; it’s a fact, not a sentiment. It’s the cold, hard truth. They’ll put everything on the line to fight for each other and protect one another in every way necessary and without complaints. Thus, ending the episode with the five of them laughing in the water, absolving themselves from the justified crimes—starting over was ingenious. There’s no form of a finale that could have been more satisfying. It’s a love story to sisters in every way, and “Saving Grace” showcases that idea through every beat.
5. “Babylon’s Ashes”
In the perfectly balanced, explosively filled, and quietly reflective series finale, The Expanse concludes its run with “Babylon’s Ashes.” It’s a conclusion that you’d expect this show to deliver on, considering its final season is essentially an homage to the characters and their stories, both together and apart. “Babylon’s Ashes” sees the end of the Free Navy’s reign, a hope for a peaceful future with the Belt and the Inners, and the kind of character arcs that rightfully draw out what it means to honor the people who deserve it. Camina Drummer is President of the Transport Union, and everyone we know and adore makes it out alive—what more can we ask from a sci-fi finale?
“Babylon’s Ashes” is about taking the chances that will matter, protecting those in our corner, and the quiet moments with the family through a shared meal and bouts of laughter. But more importantly, it’s about the fact that all that remains through everything is hope and knowing that despite the outcome, the best a person can honestly do is ensure that the world is a little bit better than when they left it. It’s about believing that people can do the right thing, and running on compassion is a far better output than running on rage.
6. “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Season 4 finale, “How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?” is one Best of 2022 TV Episodes I’m still pinching myself about. Maybe we should go on Amazon Prime and double-check to make sure it’s still there—it’s still canon, still real. When we initially got the press screeners, I was terrified the actual cut would somehow be different, waking me up from the most glorious dream I’d ever had. And very rarely does a season finale pay off the way this does, where it’s so satisfying yet simultaneously heartbreaking. But it’s entirely because the episode puts Lenny Bruce and Midge Maisel front and center, allowing them to dig into the feelings that’ve consistently instigated between them. (Writers realize that the Lenny Bruce-centric episodes are the best ones, right? The same thing happened with “It’s Comedy or Cabbage” in 2019.)
That said, “How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall” is the kind of episode that chains its characters while simultaneously setting them free as it plays with convoluting emotions in a way that’s so inherently human it hits like a ton of bricks, a snowstorm, and a hurricane all at once. Where Midge and Lenny begin and end are on two completely different emotional wavelengths—how they get there, where they’ll go afterward, it’s all tied to the perils of humor and legacy. It’s an all-encompassing love story that crashes and burns, changing both characters in a way from which there’s no going back.
The White Lotus
No series makes us indulge in our desire to travel quite like The White Lotus. Where the first season got the ball rolling to the idyllic resort on Maui, Season 2’s trek to Sicily sealed the series as appointment television. With the exception of Tanya McQuoid-Hunt, played by the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge, the new cast feels fresh yet feeds into the chaos we’ve come to enjoy. The storylines got messier (and even more mysterious), the performances were next level, and the commentary about the privileged still managed to twist the knife. For all the beauty on display, the second season of The White Lotus tackled fidelity, paranoia, and generational shortcomings.
If that’s not enough, the real stars of this Sicilian tale are the women; I can’t say enough about Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, Meghann Fahy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Sabrina Impacciatore bringing depth and pathos to their characters in every episode. Come for the fun escapism; stay for Portia’s insane fashion choices, Daphne’s depth, Harper’s (much-needed) snark, and Tanya’s delivery of “these gays, they’re trying to murder me.” One needs to only look through Twitter reactions to the final episode to understand why it needed to be included in lists like this. –Meredith Loftus
8. “I Know Who Did It”
Only Murders in the Building
Written by John Hoffman, Robb Turosky, and Matteo Borghese, the Only Murders In The Building Season 2 finale, “I Know Who Did It,” ensures that the audience stays on their toes until the very end, even after we think we have all the answers. It’s the kind of finale that feels like an outstanding achievement in what it accomplishes while simultaneously giving each of the actors moments to shine through delirious monologues that contribute to the plot while advancing their characters forward. Sure, the killer’s motives are a bit cliché, but the execution is so well done that none of that even matters.
The episode harnesses empathy from viewers by tugging on storylines that center around characters who should technically be in the right even when they’re wrong. Mabel, Oliver, and Charles are better than ever as their unique banter contributes to keeping our attention glued to the screens while we laugh at their quirks amid trying to solve the crime for ourselves. And in the final few moments, it throws in our faces the kind of cliffhanger that only this show could master, making the wait until Season 3 feel too long.
9. “The Train”
This Is Us
This Is Us somewhat fell out of our orbits after the constant drama, but when the time came to bid farewell to Mandy Moore’s Rebecca Pearson, we had to resume viewing. “The Train” is a carefully crafted, brilliantly written, and gorgeously thoughtful episode that allows a person’s life to be celebrated during their final few moments on earth. “The Train” delivers on every emotional beat it sets out to evoke by quietly allowing us to witness Rebecca Pearson’s final moments as she patiently waits for someone while accompanied through her final journey with Ron Cephas-Jones’ William. No living human knows what happens in the end. We don’t know what happens in those last moments, and we all believe in various forms of an afterlife based on the religion we follow or how we choose to imagine it. And the show’s rendition of those final few moments are beautifully symbolic of the kind of journey with a set destination that’s a mosaic of memories.
It’s an emotional hour, but one that feels incredibly thought-provoking in what it’s trying to accomplish. This isn’t drama for the sake of drama. This isn’t killing off a character to subvert expectations. It’s allowing a character, and thus, Mandy Moore as an actress, to celebrate a legacy that will leave a mark because love consistently fueled every journey she went on.
10. Part VI
The final installment of Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most rewarding hours of television. It’s action-packed, emotionally moving, and bursting with some of the most nuanced performances in any Star Wars film or series. This series encapsulated grief and guilt in a way that’s still so indescribable because it took the one character we were all supposed to look to as almost all-knowing, and it crushed him. It drove him to places we weren’t sure he’d come back from, yet the final episode is a perfect reminder that everyone in a galaxy far, far away has as much choice as we all do.
In our review, I said: “Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6 is about atonement in light of facing our own choices and fighting to improve the future. The series stands on a perfect high ground through solid, brilliantly thought-provoking writing, unparalleled visionary directing, and a compelling case study on the relationships that shape us.” Between every heartwarming conversation, gut-wrenching battle, and painful goodbye until we see these characters again in A New Hope, the story adds to the lore in a way that makes every win feel earned.
11. “The Piggyback”
Stranger Things‘ Season 4 finale, “The Piggybank,” is a melancholic, gut-wrenching episode that you sit with for a while and still can’t find the right words for. So much of it hurts—it strains and breaks the audience as we watch with uncertainties, doubtful about where our characters will end up in the show’s final season when it returns. Max Mayfield is in a coma, Eddie Munson is presumed dead, and Hawkins, as we know it, is destroyed. “The Piggyback” hurts because no one wants to believe the wretchedness of what we’re watching. At the same time, it’s the type of episode that does an acutely brilliant job of reminding us that it aches so much because we care so deeply about the characters whose stories it’s telling us.
“The Piggyback” takes everything we’re shown throughout the first season and flips it upside down. It thrusts characters toward one of the greatest fights of their lives while simultaneously reuniting those who’ve been separated. It heightens the state of every ones’ emotions by revealing to the audience where it all began and where it could go, placing Eleven front and center to cement the truth behind her story and the connections with the upside down. It answers all our questions while bringing forth more uncertainties in an organic, understandable manner. For a series’ penultimate finale, it meets all the marks in making it memorable, moving, and the kind that we’re still talking about months later.
12. Season 3, Episode 7
From the beginning, Derry Girls has been a masterclass in performances, distinct humor, and an unwavering friendship as its overarching theme. And in its series finale, Lisa McGee proves why the show deserves to be on every Best of 2022 (and ever) list. This show is special, and this final episode is proof of the detail that great character journeys that are earned often serve as the most extraordinary spectacle.
While there are quite a few series finales on this list, Derry Girls Episode 7 touches the parts of us many of us didn’t think we’d get to visit again—the pieces of our hearts that sting as we remember how we got here to the future. It’s a quiet episode that focuses on the power of using one’s voice and the critical moments that make a teen’s journey into adulthood significant and memorable. Erin, Orla, Michelle, Claire, and James each go through a pivotal moment as the writing allows them to look back on everything they’ve accomplished while simultaneously cementing that despite the ambiguity, their future is bright, beautiful, and full of potential. It’s a poignant, beautifully moving conclusion that showcases what freedom looks like and how crucial it is to follow our instincts.
13. “Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe”
Netflix’s Wednesday is the best kind of surprise as a series brimming with fantasy themes far and wide. Jenna Ortega dims the stage brilliantly as the titular character, and every personality beside her is the perfect opposite. While all the episodes are a fantastic blend of deliciously wicked and worthwhile, the series’ Pilot is undoubtedly one of the most memorable Best of 2022 TV Episodes. “Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe” is aptly titled to showcase to the audience where the character is going and how the series will be established by setting the stage with a searing mystery, riveting characters, and tone.
While many times a season finale tends to be the strongest episode of the season, on Wednesday, it’s the opening for how much it accomplishes—quite literally, as it begins with Édith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien.” The first episode shows the audience what kind of a series the show will be, and it allows us to understand which details we should hold onto for the endgame that’ll feel more rewarding. It’s deliciously sinister, surprisingly charming, and indeed full of woe.
If you’re a fan of Prime Video’s The Boys, then it’s no surprise to you that “Herogasm” has made it to our Best of 2022 TV Episodes list. Fans were highly anticipating the episode, and for a good reason. Season 3, Episode 6, was the show’s most graphic display yet, as “Herogasm” is quite literally one big orgy of superheroes. But while you may think a massive sex party/gathering of superheroes would be the brightest spotlight of an episode, viewers finally got to see a defining shift in the dynamic between “Supes” and the “regular folk.”
“Herogasm” also finally displays Homelander’s first encounter with physical vulnerability during the epic showdown between the leader of The Seven and Soldier Boy and Butcher (and eventually a naked Hughie). Any viewer of the series will tell you how purely terrifying Homelander is, which is why it makes this action-packed sequence all the better and highly satisfying. We also see a turning point between Butcher/Hughie and Annie/Mother’s Milk, with the latter being against Butcher and Hughie taking Temp V to take down the Supes. We finally see Annie bring Homelander’s true persona out to the public, changing the battleground from behind the scenes to the public eye. –Alice S.
15. “This is Christmas?”
Hawkeye’s season finale, “This Is Christmas?” intrinsically combines the best parts of the story through a holiday episode that can be viewed year-round as both an entertaining feature and a hopeful one amidst the sadness it encapsulates. In bringing a sense of closure to Yelena Belova’s grief with Natasha’s death, the series brings front and center the importance of serene conversations once again by honoring the sacrificial choice Natasha made throughout her time as an Avenger. And that very choice serves as an ongoing theme throughout the episode for all characters, Kate Bishop included, who chooses to do the right thing by sending her mother to prison.
It’s about Clint Barton’s choice not only to admit that Kate Bishop is now officially his partner but to ensure that she has a decent Christmas by taking her home to his family, where at least for a moment, a glimmer of joy could be experienced. As a series, Hawkeye not only livens Clint as a character, but it makes it clear that the Avenger’s heart for those in need of a home has always been an even more vital part of him than his archery skills. “This Is Christmas?” kicks into motion what Kate’s time as Hawkeye will look like in the future and sets up the perfect kind of potential sequel should the series decide to move forward to further storytelling.
Honorable Mentions: “Alloyed” (The Rings of Power), “Holiday Hookah“ (Abbott Elementary), “Across The Universe” (Mythic Quest), “Gods and Monsters” (Moon Knight), and “Home“ (Trying)