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The best sci-fi and horror TV episodes of 2022
SYFY WIRE's choices for the best of the best in genre storytelling in 2022.
Another stellar year of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror TV storytelling is drawing to a close, and there's a lot to celebrate about 2022's offerings. There was an abundance of genre series to choose from, with plenty swinging for the fences creatively. There were no less than three big-budget high fantasy series launched, a Star Wars series that had critics raving and more horror choices than ever before. Plus, there were multiple space exploration series and new Marvel Studios' series out the wazoo. Sufficed to say, it was a tough year to pick just 20 exceptional episodes. But we did. And now SYFY WIRE presents our picks for the best sci-fi, fantasy, and horror TV episodes of 2022... in no particular order.
Yellowjackets, "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi"
Episode written by Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson
The first season finale of Yellowjackets aired way back in January, but it was so great, we're still thinking about it. "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" gave us craziness back in the 1996 storyline that matched the insanity going on in 2021. We got Antler Queen Lottie, the altar in Taissa's basement, the abduction of adult Natalie, and the death of Jackie in the past. It served up genuine emotion, shocks, and twists that we really didn't see coming.
What We Do in the Shadows, “Go Flip Yourself”
Episode written by Marika Sawyer
"Go Flip Yourself" not only paid off the joke of Laszlo's reality TV show obsession, which had been foreshadowed from the first episode of this season, but it landed a bunch of twists too. The episode broke the standard format of What We Do in the Shadows and recreated an episode of the fictional series-within-a-series Go Flip Yourself featuring our Staten Island's vampire's house as the guests of the week. One would think killing a host and glamouring the other would be nutty enough for an episode, but then we get a call back to Simon the Devious, the witch hat and a tip-up to what's been happening with Colin Robinson all season long. Also, there's the added bonus of Laszlo's line reading of "New York sit-aaaaaay."
Stranger Things, “Chapter Four: Dear Billy”
Episode written by Paul Dichter
Season 4 of Stranger Things was super-sized in all ways, but "Dear Billy" was the perfect balance of epic mythology and heartbreaking emotion. There's a lot going on with the Hopper storyline in Russia and the attack by rogue agents on Jonathan, Mike, and Will. But the real meat of this episode revolves around the revelations about Victor Creel's past, which ties directly to Vecna trying to kill Max. Sadie Sink is utterly convincing in portraying Max's palpable fear, guilt, and regret the closer she gets to what she perceives will be her ultimate end. She had us sobbing with her letter to Billy and gasping when she levitates in the graveyard. The episode also made Kate Bush's 37-year-old classic, "Running Up That Hill" the song of the summer.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “A Quality of Mercy”
Episode written by Henry Alonso Myers & Akiva Goldsman
There's nothing like a great "what if?" Star Trek story. When they're written well, they're often in the running for instant classics. With Star Trek: Strange New Worlds purposefully aiming to reproduce the tone and spirit of The Original Series, "A Quality of Mercy" proves they're capable of doing just that. The episode lets Captain Pike (Anson Mount) see the repercussions of a decision he makes seven years into the future. Witnessing the dire consequences ends in him making a new choice. But then the peace he sought is vanquished anyway with the arrest of Number One (Rebecca Romijn). A great morality tale and cliffhanger to end Season 1.
The Sandman, “The Sound of Her Wings”
Episode written by Lauren Bello. Adapted from The Sandman #8 & #13
A standout episode that pairs siblings Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Morpheus/Dream (Tom Sturridge) bond over how to find purpose. We also get a flashback that provides the origin story of Dream and Hob's (Ferdinand Kingsley) long-time friendship. Howell-Baptiste is particularly great in this episode showing the compassion and care of her character in regard to her heartbreaking job.
The Resort, “A History of Forgetting”
Episode written by Manuel Alcalá
One of the most original mystery series out there, Peacock's The Resort is ostensibly about a cold case disappearance that married vacationers, Emma (Cristin Milioti) and Noah (William Jackson Harper) take it upon themselves to investigate. But the show is really about how people deal with regret, disappointment, and grieving. Believe us, it's not a bummer show as evidenced in this exceptional episode, "A History of Forgetting" which tells the incredible story of Resort Head of Security Baltasar Frías (Luis Gerardo Méndez). Funny, poignant, and bizarre, this is the show at its best.
Primal, “Echoes of Eternity”
Episode written by Darrick Bachman & Genndy Tartakovsky
We're lucky we got two seasons of Adult Swim's Primal because this is a show that would never get made in 2022. Genndy Tartakovsky pairs a caveman, Spear, with a dinosaur, Fang, and follows their violent travels for 20 episodes. Essentially a series told without dialogue, Season 2 ushered in the use of a few words but the storytelling was most powerful when the action and the character's faces were allowed to tell what was needed. The series finale "Echoes of Eternity" embraced that in a sequence where Spear reflects on his turbulent life via shadow puppets and wall drawings. It sums up the power of the series and lays the groundwork for a bittersweet finale.
Evil, “The Demon of the End”
Episode written by Rockne S. O'Bannon
Leave it to Robert & Michelle King to knock out the smartest, weirdest, sexiest horror show on TV right now with Evil. Season 3 continues to rip stories about everyday evil from the headlines and turn them into wickedly clever episodes. But they also moved forward their complicated mythology involving Kristen's (Katja Herbers) possible demon seed daughter, her possessed mother, and the trials of newly ordained Father David Acosta (Mike Colter). The Season 3 finale gave us an unexpected death for a recurring character, Kristen's husband crashing a demon party, Leland announcing his impending fatherhood, and David seeing visions again. It's bonkers but it works beautifully.
Andor, "Rix Road"
Episode written by Tony Gilroy
Andor Season 1 was chock full of fantastic episodes, but the season finale "Rix Road" managed to tie together a season's worth of storylines and characters into a climax that surprised, inspired, and finally placed Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) on the path to rebellion. His performance in the last moment is haunting.
Severance, “The We We Are”
Episode written by Dan Erickson
There's nothing quite like Severance anywhere else on TV. A series about the dangerous intersection of technology and what humans will do to avoid dealing with their emotional baggage, the first series slow-rolled a whole series of mysteries about Lumon Industries and its memory-bifurcated worker bees. In the first season finale, "The We We Are" we got some corker revelations about Helly (Britt Lower), Ms. Casey (Dichen Lachman), and Burt (Christopher Walken). And then, we get a reset! A great cliffhanger that gives just enough answers while seeding more questions.
The Orville, "Twice in a Lifetime"
Episode written by Seth MacFarlane
"Twice in a Lifetime" is The Orville doing their best riff on the best Star Trek storytelling. Using accidental time travel, Gordon (Scott Grimes) gets to back in time to 2015, with his crew traveling to 2025 to see the "what if" of his alternate life. We get to see him fight for a life that he wants, not returning to The Orville, which forces Ed and Kelly to make a heartbreaking decision that earns its poignant ending.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, "Alloyed"
Episode written by Gennifer Hutchison and J. D. Payne & Patrick McKay
The first season finale for The Rings of Power stuck its landing and paid off several major reveals that lay the groundwork for the stories in Season 2. The truth about Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) and The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) are truly gasp-worthy moments, but we also get the sob-inducing goodbye of Nori (Markella Kavenagh) from her Harfoot family when she decides to embark on an awfully big adventure.
Resident Alien, "The Ghost of Bobby Smallwood"
Episode written by Christian Taylor
Resident Alien is a lot of things: funny, ridiculous, heartfelt, and ever-surprising. But "The Ghost of Bobby Smallwood" proved the show could also be a heartbreaker as Harry (Alan Tudyk) struggles with his abject fear of dying. When he visits a terminal patient requesting end-of-life care, Harry sits with the man and has a heartfelt talk about death in a way that most shows rarely do. Plus there was great character progression for Asta (Sara Tomko) and D'Arcy (Alice Wetterlund).
The Boys, "The Instant White-Hot Wild"
Episode written by Logan Ritchey & David Reed
Usually, at the end of a The Boys season everything goes to hell for our heroes Billy (Karl Urban), Hughie (Jack Quaid), and Annie (Erin Moriarty). But "The Instant White-Hot Wild" actually leaves us with a moment where everything isn't awful for the good guys. Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) gets put back on ice to perhaps return again while Maeve gets her life back. Of course, there's the foreboding scene of Homelander (Antony Starr) now parenting poor Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) and more emboldened than ever. Gulp.
House of the Dragon, "The Lord of the Tides"
Episode written by Eileen Shim
The swan song episode of Paddy Considine's King Viserys, "The Lord of the Tides" lets him go out in twisty, deformed infamy. There's enough familial backstabbing, literal and figurative, in this episode to fill a season. It's a dizzying array of power grabs and ugly revelations that sets up the events in the final two episodes.
Interview With the Vampire, "In Throes of Increasing Wonder..."
Episode written by Rolin Jones
When AMC announced a series adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire, a lot of fans asked, "Do we really need that?" And the pilot episode, "In Throes of Increasing Wonder..." proved that we do. Smart, richly produced, and perfectly acted, we get a fresh take and an updating of Rice's book and mythology that honors her world but also in some ways makes it better.
Moon Knight, "Asylum"
Episode written by Rebecca Kirsch and Matthew Orton
In the first four episodes of Marvel Studios' Moon Knight, it was pretty clear something wasn't right with Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), and "Asylum" finally revealed what's been going on with Steven/Marc Spector/Moon Knight. Egyptian goddess Taweret was an excellent exposition dump character in an episode where we get a whole lot of answers. The two sides of his personality try to find balance, which sets up the jam-packed finale.
Legends of Tomorrow, "Knocked Down, Knocked Up"
Episode written by Phil Klemmer & Keto Shimizu
After seven seasons and 110 episodes, Legends of Tomorrow said goodbye with a deeply appreciated epic rant by Captain Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) that reflected our own frustration with the cancellation of the show. Gratefully, no one died (even if some were decommissioned from their powers) and the Legends just ended up in jail. Hopefully, their story will be finished in some way in the future. But there's also something fitting knowing that the Legends are out there continuing to do their thing in perpetuity, resolution or not.
Chucky, "Chucky Actually"
Episode written by Alex Delyle & Mallory Westfall & Don Mancini
Chucky creator Don Mancini gleefully skewed religion and sacred cows throughout the second season of the SYFY series. And then he kicked it up a notch by ending the season with a Christmas episode that found time to mend some fraught relationships and brought Tiffany's (Jennifer Tilly) story to an outlandish conclusion (perhaps?).
Shining Girls, "30"
Episode written by Silka Luisa
The Apple TV+ adaptation of Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls novel went under the radar this spring but it deserves more eyes as one of the smartest time-traveling thrillers we've seen in a while. In particular, "30" tied up the serial killer mystery and provided an emotional resolution that wasn't afraid to go full sci-fi to do so. Kudos to Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Moura for giving us two of the most interesting, yet flawed characters on TV this year.
Stream The Resort, Resident Alien, and Chucky on Peacock.