Episodes is a column in which senior contributor Valerie Ettenhofer digs into the singular chapters of television that make the medium great.

If you’re new to reading this column, we suggest starting with these:

Explore the entire Episodes archive below

The Leftovers I Live Here Now

‘The Leftovers’ and the Many Miracles of “I Live Here Now”


The profound, emotionally devastating series closed out its second season with an all-time-great hour of television.

Haunting Of Hill House Two Storms

When ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ Performed a Cinematic Magic Trick


With “Two Storms,” the series high point pushes the Crains to their emotional breaking point with the help of an unrelenting camera.

Friday Night Lights Mud Bowl Tami Coach

“Mud Bowl” is One of the Sweetest ‘Friday Night Lights’ Victories


The beloved cult drama was never just about football, but episodes like this make us love the game — and the team playing it — more than ever.

The Sopranos Employee Of The Month Melfi

Reliving the Toughest Episode of ‘The Sopranos’


“Employee of the Month” is a masterful hour of television, but it’s also a brutal, emotional viewing experience.

Seinfeld Junior Mint

The Morbid Hilarity of “The Junior Mint”


One of the best episodes of ‘Seinfeld’ shows off the classic sitcom series’ still-unparalleled sense of humor.

Avatar The Last Airbender Finale Lion Turtle

The Perfect Payoff of The ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Finale


A decade after it first aired and a few months after its Netflix drop brought it a second life, we’re looking back at Avatar: The Last Airbender’s epic four-part finale.

Lost Through the Looking Glass Dominic Monaghan

We Have to Go Back to the ‘Lost’ Episode “Through the Looking Glass”


The emotional, surprising midpoint of the series is, by all definitions, a game-changer.

Breaking Bad Dead Freight Train Coming

How ‘Breaking Bad’ Delivered an Iconic Heist with “Dead Freight”


No episode of the acclaimed series made our pulses pound quite like this one.

Community Conspiracy Theories

We Just Really Love This Episode of ‘Community’


Community’s second season hot streak includes a fast-paced, complex thriller homage that’s also funny as hell.