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Digital Spy's Best TV Episodes of 2012 (5-1)

By and Morgan Jeffery
We love to celebrate the very finest moments of TV at Tube Talk so this year we've done a countdown of our favourite TV episodes of the year. The single instalments of TV action and entertainment that had us hooked, moved us and possibly even made us shed a tear.

Our countdown concludes today with our pick of the Top 5 episodes of the year below:

> Best TV Episodes 10-6

5. The Thick Of It - 'Inquiry'
The Thick of It S04E06: 'Goolding Inquiry'

© BBC


"Je ne remember rien." Malcolm Tucker finally came unstuck in The Thick Of It's fourth series as the show's Goolding Inquiry special finally created an event that the show's leading man couldn't spin or swear his way out of.

Switching to an hour in length and moving all the action to a bone dry inquiry-style presentation, the penultimate episode of Armando Iannucci's political satire was a brave and bold piece of television. Gone were the rants, the farce and the incredible swearing. In its place came a gripping hour of subtle, sober reflection that skewered some rather well-known recent political events.

Tucker's total demise would come one episode later in the finale, but the unravelling of the king of spin and the rest of the political institution was the finest moment of the series - and possibly even the show's history. It was so good, so smart and so pin-point accurate with its gags that it will probably be used by historians in years to come to teach students about our political age. [AF]

4. The Walking Dead - 'Killer Within'
The Walking Dead S03E04: 'Killer Within'

© AMC


The Walking Dead's third season has been exceptional, but 'Killer Within' was a shocking, unforgettable hour of television. Action-packed, tense and emotional, it's one of the best episodes in the entirety of the show's run so far.

T-Dog (Irone Singleton) had been getting more screen time recently - evening arguing back at Rick (Andrew Lincoln) - which perhaps might have raised suspicions of his imminent fate, but he went out heroically, saving Carol (Melissa McBride). Him getting initially bit fairly early in the episode was shocking, and really raised the suspense. The group really is in danger, not only from the walkers but also from whoever set up the undead ambush.

Oscar proving himself to Rick was one of the rare euphoric moments here. It's awesome that Rick has someone else he can rely on. But then you had Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies)'s demise - unexpected because this is only episode four, and heartbreaking because of her farewell with Carl and how she went out.

It was a gripping instalment that was unrelenting and refused to hold back. We waved farewell to two characters who were with us from the beginning, and it was capped off by Rick's affecting breakdown outside. [BL]

3. Mad Men - 'Commissions & Fees'
Mad Men S05E12: 'Commissions and Fees'

© AMC


Again, we were torn here - the fifth season of AMC's stylish and powerful '60s drama was another strong run, but ultimately Lane Pryce's exit in 'Commissions and Fees' won out over Joan's sad dilemma in preceding episode 'The Other Woman'.

Many had predicted that a deflated Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) would be the one to depart this mortal coil, but in the end, Peter bounced back - sort of - and it was tragic Lane (Jared Harris) who took his own life in the Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce office, after his embezzling was uncovered and his livelihood and pride were crushed in one fell swoop by Don Draper (Jon Hamm).

Lane's suicide would've been surprising in and of itself, but the grisly manner in which it was portrayed - his neck horribly bruised, his face gruesomely swollen - marks his departure out as one of Mad Man's most shocking moments. The harrowing scenes that follow - particularly Don's frantic reaction to his colleague's death - likewise mark 'Commissions & Fees' out as one of the show's best ever episodes. [MJ]

2. Sherlock - 'Reichenbach Fall'
Sherlock S02E03: 'The Reichenbach Fall'

© BBC / Hartswood


We were certain that Sherlock couldn't top its visually dynamic, action-packed and romantic series two premiere 'A Scandal in Belgravia' - but we should have known better than to underestimate the show that recently won the accolade of Tube Talk's best show of 2012.

'The Reichenbach Fall' was engaging, emotional, fiendishly complex and endlessly surprising. At the time, we called it "one of the best pieces of television we've seen in quite a few years - superbly written, acted and produced" - and we'll happily stand by that glowing evaluation.

In the spotlight at last, Andrew Scott gave a simply mind-blowing performance as Moriarty - who didn't suffer a flicker of doubt when the master-villain posed as actor Rich Brook? And Benedict Cumberbatch was never better as Sherlock - we know that Benny can do cool, cold and calculating in his sleep, but 'Reichenbach' finally cracked his resolve to show a little of the man underneath the bravado.

And Martin Freeman - oh, Martin Freeman. Who would've thought that the man who once seemed doomed to be forever known as "Tim from The Office" could reduce us to tears with a heart-wrenching performance like this?

On every level, 'The Reichenbach Fall' was sensational - but we now know well enough not to suggest that the Sherlock dream team can't top it in 2013. [MJ]

1. Homeland - 'New Car Smell'
Homeland S02E04: 'New Car Smell'

© Showtime


The first few episodes of Homeland's second season were stunning, full of surprises - who on Earth would have predicted that Saul would discover Brody's fateful video in the second episode? But fourth instalment 'New Car Smell' was on another level.

After a pretty decent episode all round - we meet Quinn, Brody is put under surveillance, Jess kicks Brody out - the final scenes were stunning and worthy of a place in this list by themselves. Carrie and Brody have always been brilliant to watch, and everything that's great about their relationship was distilled here - the spicy mix of sexual tension and suspicion.

The climactic moment when Carrie goes rogue in a moment of panic and arrests Brody is horrifying, their shouting match full of passion and anguish. As Brody was led away, hooded, we couldn't help but think of this as a truly game-changing moment for Homeland - after this, everything would be different. [CW]

[Additional reporting from Catriona Wightman and Ben Lee]

[Top 10 TV Episodes of 2012 - Pictures]


What was your favourite TV episode of 2012? Let us know below!

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