Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “The Pontiac Bandit Returns” (A)
Two stunners in a row. Craig Robinson absolutely kills it in his return as the Pontiac Bandit, but it’s the sight of Rosa smiling for real that warms my heart. And it’s a great Christmas episode to boot.
The Newsroom – “Oh, Shenandoah” (B)
So, look, Aaron Sorkin is ill-suited to tackle a topic as sensitive as rape. But removing that whole subplot (in which Don lectures a rape victim about the right way to confront her attacker — yeah, I know), this is a fine episode, even if it’s shocking twist isn’t completely earned. But it’s still moving Let’s call it the benefit of the doubt and hope the ending is great.
The Mindy Project – “Christmas” (A)
A highlight of a consistently winning season. It shakes things up for the back half of Season 3 and deepens my love for Danny, gives Morgan something more interesting to do, removes Tamra AND features a Ken Burns cameo. Totally earned it.
The Simpsons (Season 8) – “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer” (A)
By far the most visually inventive episode the show has ever done, it’s arguably the best of the Homer & Marge Re-evaluate Their Marriage episodes. That last act gives it an emotional depth that makes the first two seem even richer.
The Wire (Season 2) – “Stray Rounds” (B)
Aside from the tragic opening, this is kind of a dull episode that just shifts the pieces moving into the final episodes of Season 2.