2. "Not Fade Away," Angel
If there was ever a more powerful show about redemption than Buffy, it was its spin-off, Angel. After Angel and the gang took over the Los Angeles branch of evil law firm Wolfram & Hart at the end of the fourth season, attempting to defeat the enemy from within, they soon realized that it would be all too easy for them to be tainted by corruption. But for this lesson to finally take hold, they had to lose Fred to a demon goddess resurrected by employee Knox. From then, Angel became hellbent on destroying Wolfram & Hart by any means possible, seemingly allying himself with the Circle of the Black Thorn to get the job done. And in "Not Fade Away," everything comes to a head: Angel, Spike, Wesley, Gunn, Lorne, and Illyria all spend one final day before assassinating every member of the Circle in one of the most kick-ass action sequences ever put together.
What each of them does on their last day is touching, and telling. Angel spends time with Connor, the son he couldn't raise. Spike goes to a bar and, in a lovely shout-out to longtime fans, reads aloud poetry he wrote way back in the 1800s when he was just the meek William. Gunn helps Anne (who, if you were paying attention, is the same character that started out as Chantarelle in the season two Buffy episode "Lie to Me") pack up shop. Lorne sings karaoke. And Wesley...well, Wesley cares for Illyria, who resides in the body of his beloved Fred. Wesley's eventual death is a scene poignant beyond all reason; as he lies dying in Illyria's arms, she asks him, "Would you like me to lie to you now?" Then she changes her appearance to Fred, and I honestly can't think of a television moment that's made me cry harder. As what remains of the group gathers in the alley for a final showdown, a series that was never meant to end this soon charges to the finish line as Angel declares, "Let's go to work." Fighting to the last.
1. "Everyone's Waiting," Six Feet Under
This is, quite simply, a perfect episode of television. After five long, stressful, and depressing seasons that saw each episode open with a death, Six Feet Under's finale opens with a birth. Brenda gives birth to she and Nate's child, only of course the recently departed Nate isn't there to see it. Plus, the baby's premature, and requires an extended hospital stay, which shakes Brenda to the core. Ruth, of all people, is the one who comforts her. And that seems to be a running theme in this episode, as well as in the series as a whole: People struggle with overwhelming problems, only to find them solved in the most unlikely of ways. Rico and Vanessa want to buy a funeral home, but can't afford it; David and Keith then buy Rico's 25% of Fisher & Sons so that not only can Rico get his own funeral home, but David can keep his. Claire's doubts about her artistic ability are cured by Ted, the lighthearted right-winger she can't believe she's falling for.