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Breaking Bad The Vampire Diaries and more Zap2its favorite dramatic episodes of 2011

12/30/2011 01:12:44 AM

We've told you about our favorite guilty TV pleasures of 2011, and we've highlighted some of the underrated performances of the year. But what about the the stuff we just flat-out liked?

The episodes on this list -- which encompasses everything from "Breaking Bad" to "The X Factor" -- represent Zap2it's favorite dramatic episodes of 2011. Tell us yours in the comments.

Jean Bentley

"The Vampire Diaries" - "Klaus": It took the better part of Season 2 to meet the ultimate bad guy threatening our favorite Mystic Falls residents, but it was so worth the wait. In "Klaus," we finally met the evil half-vampire, half-werewolf hybrid played by sexy Brit Joseph Morgan. And since the introduction happened via flashback, there was plenty of long, luxurious medieval hair to go around. Plus: Clueless Aunt Jenna finally (FINALLY) found out about the vampires in her midst. Although it wasn't as sensational as some of the series' other episodes, "Klaus" was supremely satisfying and set plenty of wheels in motion for future shenanigans.

"Terra Nova" - "Genesis": So, the later episodes of FOX's dino-drama weren't that great. But the pilot introduced us to a thrilling, fascinating world set between an environmentally devastated future Earth and a lush, prehistoric past in an alternate timeline. "Terra Nova" looked more like a movie than a prime-time TV series -- if only the story had lived up to the promise of this epic two-hour premiere.

Elizabeth Brady

"Breaking Bad" - "Salud": I'll probably always think twice about drinking special reserve tequila after watching this episode. At this point in Season 4, viewers understood Gustavo Fring to be a brilliant, callous and cruel meth kingpin, as well as a clear threat to Walter White and his family. And while the audience is of course on Team Walt, the moment in "Salud" when Gus exacts his revenge south of the border on Don Eladio was unbelievably shocking, cathartic, and a legendary "Breaking Bad" scene. Between the mass poisoning of the cartel, Walt's emotional, borderline breakdown into his "remember your father" talk with Walter Jr., and Skyler's predicament with Ted and the IRS, the suspense in "Salud" was outrageously thick. This episode is a perfect demonstration of why the series is so well-received: It leaves viewers thrilled, shaken and constantly taken to where they'd least expect.

"Boardwalk Empire" - "Georgia Peaches": The final three episodes from "Boardwalk Empire"'s second season were densely packed with horrifying jaw-droppers, and the conclusion to the "Georgia Peaches" episode led that journey into the dark. It's important for a series focused on organized crime and corruption to be blunt about the risks and unromantic nature of that world, even if it breaks the audience's heart now and then. Viewers sensed a storm on the horizon, with Margaret siphoning Nucky's money into the church, and race tension (and tension between Jimmy and ... nearly everybody) escalating. But Angela's murder was a bold move. Reminiscent of Adriana's murder in "The Sopranos" before it, "Boardwalk Empire's" writers ripped the naive Angela from our screens while she sobbed on the ground. It was upsetting, but it also marked a bold point of no return for the show -- the unexpected death of a major character -- and ultimately made the Oedipally-charged murder spree and downfall of Jimmy Darmody in the following episodes somewhat easier to stomach. 

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