Homeland: ‘The Weekend’
by Staff | The Independent | April 8, 2023
Television shows are, inevitably, made up of parts. On the surface, there’s the great, overarching story that begins with the first shot and ends with the last. But, within that narrative, there are small parts: the series, and the episode. It is the smallest of these sub-divisions, the episode, that is most intriguing. A truly brilliant episode can bridge the gap between cinema and TV. It can refine the essence of the best shows into a single, self-contained moment. At its most potent, a perfect episode is like mainlining all the myriad ingredients of prestige television in a single sitting.
But great TV shows do not necessarily beget great episodes and, conversely, great episodes are not always the sign of a great show. The start of 2023 has been dominated by discussions about The Last of Us, a perfectly good series including one stunning episode. In it, two supporting characters tell us the story of humanity’s endurance at the end of the world. It is an episode that any show would be proud of. This list contains lots of excellent shows and a few mediocre ones, but what matters here is how they tell a story over one single broadcast. Whether that’s an hour of prestige drama or a 20-minute sitcom, these are the moments when television transcends its format and becomes an art form.