I'm using Emmy rules for cutoff dates, which unfortunately disqualifies the most recent seasons of "Westworld" and "The Expanse," as well as the end of "The Americans." However, there's been plenty of other good television between summer of 2018 and spring of 2019.
Keep in mind that, unlike with films, I'm not trying to be remotely comprehensive about what I watch, and my tastes tend toward genre media, and away from comedies. I've limited my picks to one episode per show, with one cheat. Entries are unranked below. Minor spoilers ahead.
The Good Place, "Jeremy Bearimy" - Season three of "The Good Place" felt like a step down, with a lot of the show's usual high concept ideas not really clicking with the characters stuck on Earth. However, a big exception was the Megan Amram scripted reveal of Michael and Janet's shenanigans to the humans. Michael's explanation on how time works in the afterlife is a wonderful piece of absurdity. And William Jackson playing Chidi going off the deep end was my favorite thing they've ever done with the character.
The Haunting of Hill House, "The Bent-Neck Lady" - This was easily the best episode in an otherwise fun, but pretty middling horror series. It's one of the only installments I found legitimately scary and upsetting, and its twists and turns are set up very well. Delving into the sad history of the youngest Crain sibling, Nell, the show pays off elements set up in the previous episodes, and shows off the nicer side of Hill House's supernatural nature before pulling the rug out from under everyone's feet.
True Detective, "Now Am Found" - The latest season of "True Detective" is worth watching for the performances of Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff. The plot is a messy and infuriating thing, leading to a resolution in the final episode that isn't very satisfying. However, the way that the show handles the character arcs, and the way that our heroes finally find peace with themselves and the outcome of the investigation is perfect. I much prefer this conclusion to the way the first season played out.
Chernobyl, "Please Remain Calm" - The scope of the disaster comes into sharper focus with the second episode of this miniseries, where our main characters finally start getting some answers. I love the performances from Skarsgaard and Harris, the depiction of the Soviet bureaucracy, and the way that the events unfold more like a genre film than a historical drama. The previous episode made the ingrained system of blame avoidance the real enemy, and this episode is all about the inevitable consequences.
Sharp Objects, "Milk" - I'm generally not a fan of those endings that put so much emphasis on a big twist, but the one in "Sharp Objects" is so well done and packs such a visceral punch. I don't even mind that a good portion of the reveal actually takes place during the credits, neatly filling in blanks and recontextualizing much of what we saw come before. "Sharp Objects" struck me as a little too atmospheric and amorphous for its own good, but I think it's worth a watch for the finale alone.
Counterpart, "Two Cities" - A beautiful piece of science fiction that gives us vital backstory for the rest of the series. Following the early days of the Office of Interchange, we see how the initial wonder of discovery was corrupted by the human weakness of our protagonist. The episode features one of the more gutting examples of the butterfly effect I've seen in fiction, as well as a great double performance by Samuel Roukin. And it works perfectly well as a stand alone piece, without the rest of the series.
American Gods, "Treasure of the Sun" - The second season of "American Gods" was a terrible mess, but it did produce the best episode of the series to date, a profile on the character of Mad Sweeney. Pablo Schreiber was always one of the show's MVPs, and there could be no better showcase for his performance than this. We flash back and forth through Sweeney's history as a Gaelic god-king and Wednesday's minion, finally leading up to one of the more satisfying face-offs of the series.
The Venture Bros., "The Bellicose Proxy" - This has been my favorite season of "The Venture Brothers." I love the way the Monarch and 24 have been developed, and the way they've been evolving in their villainy. I love the Monarch's relationship with his wife. I love the way that the show managed to repurpose a middling minor villain and set up an ongoing arc for Pete and Billy. I love the bureaucracy and the regulations and everyone rolling their eyes at how lame it all is. It's ridiculous and amazing.
Fosse/Verdon, "Who's Got the Pain" and "Where am I Going?" - In the end I couldn't decide between the episode where Gwen and Bob first meet and experience their halcyon days together, or the one where a weekend getaway ends up setting Bob on a course for self-destruction. They're both so different too, one full of theatrical pizzazz and taking place over two different eras, and the other a fairly somber affair, with the drama being hashed out in one location over a few hours like a stage play. The fact that they're both so strong reflects the quality of the miniseries, one of my favorites of the year.
Game of Thrones, "The Bells" - While there were clearly some flaws in the final season's storytelling, it did deliver some feats of spectacle that I've never seen the like of on television. One was the destruction of King's Landing. I kept comparing it to the Minas Tirith battle from "The Return of the King," except this battle focused on all the carnage and terror experienced by the people caught in the crossfire. Having Arya as the POV character was a good choice, and watching her fumble through the chaos turned out to be far more affecting than the episodes' more hyped up clashes.
Russian Doll - A fantastic, weird, idiosyncratic little mindbender of a series, that was unexpectedly one of the best things I saw over the past season. And I found it impossible to single out an episode to praise, so I guess this entry will just have to be for all of them.