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The Best TV Episodes of August 2017, Ranked

As the summer winds down, TV is heating up. These are the best episodes of a surprisingly strong month.

Best August TV - Twin Peaks, Rick & Morty, Halt and Catch Fire

Showtime/Adult Swim/AMC

5. “Comrade Detective”

Season 1, Episode 2, “No Exit”
Directed by Rhys Thomas
Written by Brian Gatewood & Alessandro Tanaka

Not to just blatantly rip-off Channing Tatum, but it’s hard to stop thinking about Monopoly after the second episode of “Comrade Detective.” The Amazon original series about two detectives out to find the man who killed their partner sets itself up as a recovered communist propaganda series from the ’80s, but it’s actually a new show spoofing propaganda in general. In doing so, it takes aim at the classic Hasbro board game, describing it as a “useful tool to indoctrinate young children into the capitalist system.”

The example ideally illustrates how the series flips viewers’ accepted perspectives. Just because you grew up with something doesn’t mean you fully understand it, just like understanding the accusation doesn’t mean you believe it. There’s another side to every story, and there’s a great deal of value in seeing both sides. That way, you can decide for yourself.

4. “Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 5 The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

Season 3, Episode 5, “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy”
Directed by Juan Jose Meza-Leon & Wesley Archer
Written by Ryan Ridley

“Rick and Morty” is at its best when delving into untrodden territory; when it decides to make you laugh at something you know better than to laugh at, but can’t help but chuckle anyway. Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s fearless approach to a premise with endless creative options is what gives the animated comedy its extra zip, and Episode 5 is the first of the new season to twist its audience into knots in order to get a laugh.

By traveling to a planet without the life-and-death consequences of Earth, the episode engages with the messy middle ground where things get complicated. Jerry and Rick have to come to terms with repressed feelings in order to move forward with their relationship, and those relegated to earthbound adventures face tangential repercussions of familial trauma. It’s an inventive half-hour of television as unafraid to dig deep as it to take a crazy visual trip just for the hell of it. (Hell-o wormhole vision!)

Most importantly, it’s not reliant on the past, be it pop culture or the show’s own history. “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” ventures out on its own to an immortal planet, to the very edge viewers want to see “Rick and Morty” live.

3. “Episodes”

Episodes Season 5 Matt LeBlanc

Season 5, Episode 2, “Episode 502”
Directed by Jeffrey Klarik
Written by David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik

Matt LeBlanc… exposed! Basically, this sums up everything great about the second episode of “Episodes'” final season. It’s not just that Matt LeBlanc, the character played by Matt LeBlanc, is caught masturbating on tape. Nor is it the hysterical glee found in watching the entire cast of “Episodes” discover it online. The real tipping point comes in the consequences for his vulgar actions. Only a show so in tune with Hollywood’s bottom line mentality could make this twist work, and — best yet — creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik don’t even slam down the hilarious final act punctuation point. It’s just another day in show business, where a viral video of Matt LeBlanc having sex with a woman in a glass cube can be a good thing.

2. “Halt and Catch Fire”

Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe - Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 4, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Erika Doss/AMC

Season 4, Episode 2, “Signal to Noise”
Directed by Meera Menon
Written by Mark Lafferty

The romance of “Halt and Catch Fire” is as delicately handled as the rest of the understated series. While viewers certainly have their rooting interests (Gordon + Donna forever), the relationships are complex, drawn out, and an ongoing process. Never are the pairings as simple as in other shows, where a kiss can mean a long-term commitment.

Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and Joe (Lee Pace) have had a “thing” going on since the first episode. Over the years, their relationship has fractured, mended, and been broken all over again, but each new development only adds history to a relationship that’s permanent, romantic or not. “Signal to Noise” takes full advantage of that history in an episode-long phone call between two people who haven’t spoken — who haven’t really talked — in far too long. There are intimate gestures and honest confessions, but their connection is beautiful. Living in it for as long as we do is an intimate experience for all involved, viewers included.

1. “Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan Naomi Watts Season 3 Episode 16 Part 16

Season 3, Episode 16, “Part 16”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch

“I am the FBI.”

The wait is over. Dale Cooper has left Dougie’s life behind. He’s back on the case, and with one voice, “Twin Peaks” nation responded to Cooper’s instantly iconic line with, “You’re gosh darn right you are, Agent Cooper!”

But “Part 16” wasn’t solely about Kyle MacLachlan assuming what’s basically his fourth role of “The Return” (Mr. C, Dougie, Cooper Trapped as Dougie, and now Original Cooper). Mark Frost and David Lynch brought the action and sent theorists into overdrive with a number of integral revelations and haunting teases. With only two hours left, there’s so much “Twin Peaks” left to explore, and yet the control illustrated over every facet of “Part 16” is sound assurance viewers are in good hands.

“Twin Peaks” may be ending, but its hero is ready to save the day.

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