TV dramas normally achieve iconic status by consistently airing great episodes but even the best small-screen projects have duds. Once in a while, the writers and actors fail to deliver the same magic and this is something fans easily note. Not willing to let things slide, the viewers often air out their frustrations on IMDb.
Even so, these low ratings don’t necessarily mean the episodes are unwatchable. It’s only that they don’t match up to the standard that had been previously set. Though they fall short when weighed against other chapters of the story, their quality is still better than what’s on offer in numerous other TV shows.
10 “Ebb Tide” (The Wire) – 7.8
Season 2, Episode 1
“Ebb Tide” underwhelms by ignoring the Barksdale Organization, which is the heart and soul of the show. The Baltimore criminal organization hardly features in the proceedings. Instead, events mostly revolve around crimes at the port because Jimmy McNutty had been assigned to Baltimore PD’s marine unit a few months earlier.
The episode thus feels like it belongs to some of the popular TV police procedurals rather than in the brutal and complex fictional world of The Wire. Furthermore, there are plenty of unnecessary additions, since the majority of the characters that get introduced don’t go on to have any major impact in the series.
9 “Ladies Room” (Mad Men) – 7.5
Season 1, Episode 2
The excessive levels of misogyny in “Ladies Room” make it the hardest Mad Men episode to watch. With remarks such as “Do you belong to another man?”—said by Paul to Peggy when she rejects him—viewers are frequently left baffled. In addition to that, important characters such as Betty and Joan are kept on the sidelines for most of the running time.
“Ladies Room” also threatens to ruin the protagonist after making him shine in the pilot. Just as everything appears to be going well for Don Draper, questions about his past emerge. There are a couple of hints that he might have lied about his past and because of this, fans start seeing him as sinister. Thankfully, things become clearer in the following episode.
8 “The Iron Throne” (Game Of Thrones) – 4.0
Season 8. Episode 6
The final season of Game Of Thrones is generally abhorred by fans and “The Iron Throne” is its nadir. It’s not a shocker that the episode is considered one of the worst series finales of all time as it is unsatisfactory in many ways. For example, there is no proper explanation as to why Daenerys burns King’s Landing.
Numerous other plot threats get tied up in a hurried and unconvincing manner, which is expected considering that the season is shorter than the rest. If there had been a few extra episodes before it, “The Iron Throne” would probably have turned out much better. Sadly, fans will forever be forced to rue about a terrible ending to a rather great show.
7 “Lifeboats” (Succession) – 7.6
Season 1, Episode 3
Succession is now regarded as one of the best HBO shows but it takes some time to find its footing in Season 1. The third episode even threatens to ruin the finance drama by putting Kendall Roy in charge of Waystar Royco and making him appear very incompetent while at it.
There’s hardly anything admirable about watching Kendall insult the manager of the bank that lent the company money or drive the company’s stock to the dangerously low levels of 130. The character interactions are also all discouraging. Logan is very hostile to Kendall and his gym trainer whereas Marcia is shown to be very abrasive towards other members of the Roy family.
6 “Diverged” (The Walking Dead) – 4.0
Season 10, Episode 21
Like Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead ran out of steam in the final season and the penultimate episode serves as a perfect confirmation of that. Despite time running out, “Diverged” is a slow burn, only exploring the complicated friendship between Carol and Daryl.
No one reflects on the major events that have happened before. Surprisingly, there is a major plot surrounding a rat that’s proving to be a nuisance in Carol’s house. In the end, there is no twist where the rat is shown to be infected or something of the sort. It simply runs away.
5 “Fly” (Breaking Bad) – 7.8
Season 3, Episode 10
“Fly” is undoubtedly one of the most notable TV filler episodes since it only involves Walter White and Jesse Pinkman chasing a fly around the meth lab to prevent it from contaminating the equipment. It adds no value to the overall plot and to staunch Breaking Bad fans, its existence is unjustifiable.
Apart from underscoring Walter and Jesse’s meticulousness through their frantic attempts to punish the insect, “Fly” places both characters in a reflective mood. They both analyze details about their past, but the introspection lacks the one-liners or banter that normally make the dialogue memorable.
4 “Access” (The West Wing) – 7.1
Season 5, Episode 18
“Access” mostly avoids dealing with political quagmires and instead focuses on painting a single individual in a good light. The CJ-centric episode adopts a day-in-the-life-of formula and follows the press secretary CJ Cregg as she does her job in the White House.
Instead of achieving its purpose of making CJ look like a political rockstar, “Access” comes off as dull because everything that’s disclosed about her is something fans are already familiar with. A refresher clearly wasn’t needed for one of The West Wing‘s fan-favorite characters and what’s worse is that she gets to interact with White House staffers that viewers never get to see again.
3 “The Key” (Vikings) – 6.8
Season 6, Episode 5
“The Key” feels unrealistic because democracy is its main theme. In a Viking Age where leaders conquered other lands and took power by force, Bjorn advocates for an election to be conducted so that there may be a legitimate King of Norway. Why any of the other leaders would accept such a move remains a mystery.
There are several other examples of out-of-character behavior throughout the episode. Lagertha, for instance, suddenly exhibits fear and a lack of desire by claiming she isn’t sure of a victory against White Hair and his bandits. It’s also in “The Key” where the most confusing Vikingscharacter gets introduced: the Freydis lookalike, Princess Katia.
2 “Pilot” (Peaky Blinders) – 8.1
Season 1, Episode 1
The Peaky Blinders series premiere is undoubtedly the most decent in the “worst episodes” category since most viewers gave it a higher rating. Its only major flaw stems from the fact that most details about the antihero Tommy Shelby are a mystery. Viewers neither get to realize how good a leader he is nor how great his business acumen is.
Other Peaky Blinders members and associates don’t appear strong either. Arthur Shelby gets easily captured by the Royal Irish Constabulary lawman, Inspector Campbell whereas Danny Whizzbang gets bullied by the Italian mob to the point where he is forced to disappear.
1 “Christopher” (The Sopranos) – 7.8
Season 4, Episode 3
In “Christopher” The Sopranos finally gets to explore racial tensions by having Italian-Americans clash with Native Americans. Tony and his fellow mobsters feel the Native Americans are disrespecting their culture by protesting against the Columbus Day parade, so they try to sabotage their efforts.
It’s a good angle, but the episode abandons it midway and then goes on to focus on the usual mob adventures. The title, which is a reference to Christopher Columbus, rather than the mobster Christopher Moltisanti, thus stops making sense.
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