Tags: 12 Monkeys, Gilmore Girls revival, Mr. Robot, Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful, Stranger Things, Suits, the x-files
It’s that time of the year again when most entertainment news sites round up the best and worst shows on TV this year. As a self-confessed TV addict myself, I watch a lot of shows every year. And while I don’t watch some of the most popular and well-loved shows out there (yes, I have my own unique taste), I have compiled a list of TV series I regularly watch that made an impact on my viewing experience this year. Some made it on the list for the shocking, did-not-see-that-coming twists in the story while a few were notable for their delightful surprise.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the latest episodes of any of these shows and don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest you look away now.
- Mr. Robot
While I have read a few fan theories about the second season of Mr. Robot, I was still surprised to find out that Elliot Alderson was in prison all along and not living with his mother. This was the first big reveal in season 2. I always suspected that he was in a mental institution because of his rigid daily routine but surprisingly, that was not the case. After watching the “h4ndshake” episode, it now made a lot of sense.
The second big reveal came at the end of season 2 where viewers found out that Tyrell was alive after all and not a figment of Elliot’s imagination. It was a pretty intense season 2 finale as Elliot came to learn that his alter ego Mr. Robot and Tyrell were in cahoots with the Dark Army and planning something big. I cannot wait for season 3 to find out what happens next.
- Penny Dreadful
I have a bone to pick when it comes to Penny Dreadful. For me, this show pulled the most shocking reveal this year. This was one of my favorite shows to date and I had high expectations of its third season. Unfortunately, the show abruptly ended its run when it revealed after the season 3 finale that the show was over – as in, it will never come back for a fourth season. It has been cancelled. My initial reaction to this revelation was utter confusion. Surely, they could not end the show like that. There was no prior announcement of the show’s cancellation. There was no warning at all. The story arc of the third season felt like there was going to be another season. And yet, they pulled the plug. And all because the show creator John Logan wanted it that way.
There was a lot of backlash after Penny Dreadful got cancelled. Many fans were outraged and felt betrayed as I was. In fact, I wrote an article about the series finale on this site where I expressed my utter disappointment with the show. To this day, I cannot bear to rewatch old episodes of the show because I still could not shake my disbelief of its cancellation. We were blindsided big time.
- 12 Monkeys
The second season of 12 Monkeys also pulled some surprising twists. For the most part of season 2, viewers were curious to know the real identity of The Witness. The Witness has always been a mysterious figure that wears a mask and a dark robe. Cole, Cassie and Ramse want to kill him because he, along with the Army of the 12 Monkeys, is hell-bent in destroying time.
In the season 2 finale, it was finally revealed that The Witness was the unborn child of Cole and Cassie. Apparently, he was conceived when Cole and Cassie were stuck in 1959. After this cliffhanger, I’m really curious to see what Cole and Cassie will do about this revelation. Will they attempt to travel back in time again to prevent his conception?
I’m also hoping that Madeleine Stowe will return as a guest character for the third season. It’s a delight to see her play another character in the show contrary to the role she played in the original movie. I also wish to see Brad Pitt make an appearance in the show in the future.
- Orphan Black
One of the things I liked about season 4 of Orphan Black was the fact that it finally showed the back story of the last days of Beth Childs. It was gut-wrenching to see her struggles with work and her personal life, especially her deteriorating relationship with Paul. But one of the most memorable scenes for me was in “The Scandal of Altruism” episode when Evie Cho told Cosima that Delphine was dead. Tatiana Maslany, who plays the different clones in the show, was so fantastic as Cosima in this scene. You can just see and feel the pain and devastation on her face when she found out about Delphine. She displayed such raw emotions. And I’m just glad that Tatiana finally won an Emmy award this year for her performance in the show.
Of course, Tatiana’s performance as Krystal was also one the best this season. Her scenes with Donnie at the fertility clinic and at Sarah and Felix’s hideout in the comic book store were really hilarious. The season had the perfect balance of drama and comedy which not many shows could effectively deliver.
- Stranger Things
This was the breakout show of 2016. Stranger Things came out of nowhere and it became so big and popular by word of mouth. It was because of the major buzz it made and through the recommendation of a friend of mine that I decided to check out this show. And it instantly became my favorite.
There were so many memorable scenes in season 1. But perhaps one of the many that stood out for me was when Eleven disguised herself in a pink dress and a blond wig and went along with Mike, Dustin and Lucas to their school to help them locate Will. Another memorable moment for me was when Joyce Byers hung that now-famous Christmas lights on the wall of her living room and scrawled it with big letters of the alphabet in an attempt to communicate with her missing son Will. The scene where Nancy and Jonathan set up a trap for the monster was pretty intense, too.
- Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
The last four words spoken in the final scene was the most surprising moment in the Gilmore Girls revival. Those words sort of summed up what became of Rory Gilmore’s life after college. Her poor choices when it comes to her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend as well as her career were surprising for me, not to mention disappointing.
But I think most fans including myself were also surprised at how Emily Gilmore turned out in this revival. It was indeed a delightful surprise to see the softer and vulnerable side of Emily. She became more likeable in this revival.
- The X-Files
The mytharc episodes in The X-Files revival were a big disappointment for me. It’s a shame really since I’ve always wanted to see the return of Mulder and Scully for a long time and I was expecting so much in the revival. But show creator Chris Carter has lost his spark when it comes to writing gripping mytharc story lines.
For me, the only memorable episode in the revival that I truly loved was “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which was written by Darin Morgan. This was a stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episode that was littered with Easter eggs for the hardcore X-philes. The dialogues were just witty and humorous. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were great in this episode as well with their usual banter and comedic timing, which was reminiscent of the old funny episodes of the show.
If ever there would be season 11, I hope the mytharc episodes would improve. It’s also time to introduce new villains in the show. While fans love to hate the Cigarette Smoking Man, I think it’s time for him to be killed off for good.
Most of season 6 of Suits was forgettable. The show’s writers stretched the prison story arc for too long that I got bored quickly. It was also a waste of time watching guest characters got more screen time instead of the six main characters, especially Donna (read my season 6 review here).
What saved the season for me was the midseason finale where it was more about Jessica and her back story, and of course that Donna and Harvey scene at the end. It was a major surprise to see Jessica leave the firm. But fans of the show came to learn after the midseason finale that Jessica was intentionally written off because Gina Torres who played the character wanted to leave the show. Jessica’s farewell scene was a truly touching moment.
The scene at the end between Harvey and Donna was also memorable for me. After seeing Harvey as a tough, uber confident and emotionally unavailable guy in previous seasons, it’s so good to see that he’s finally breaking down his walls. He’s finally willing to be open and show his vulnerability. And he showed that when he told Donna that he doesn’t want to be alone at that time when he realized that Jessica is gone and left the firm in his hands.
When Donna reached for his hand and he held her hand and they stood wordlessly by the window, it was a pivotal moment for Harvey and in their relationship. It’s a sign that their relationship might finally progress towards a romantic one. And it’s about time that they do.
Tags: Gilmore Girls revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major spoilers of the Gilmore Girls revival, including the last four words. If you don’t want to know about the last four words or anything that happened in the revival, stop reading now.
When I first learned that Netflix would be rebooting Gilmore Girls, I was skeptical. In fact, my initial reaction was that there’s no need to revive the series. Don’t get me wrong but I’m a big fan of Gilmore Girls. I watched the show until the very end. But for me, season 7 delivered the proper ending to the series. I was satisfied with it and did not wish for a continuation.
But as the build-up for the revival became bigger and the Netflix premiere loomed closer, I got caught in the fans’ excitement and decided to check it out after all. While some fans were eager to see more of the romance between Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes, I was more interested to see the rapport again between Lorelai and her daughter Rory. After all, the main premise of the show is about the relationship between these two characters.
I just love the mother-and-daughter tandem of Lorelai and Rory and their humor. Add to that are their witty and pop culture-ridden dialogues that make for so much fun and entertainment.
So last weekend, I binge-watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life to see if it would deliver and justify its revival. What I got from the revival was mostly a tribute to Edward Herrmann, the actor who played the patriarch Richard Gilmore in the show who died in 2014, and sheer nostalgia.
Three Generations of Gilmore: Where They Are Now
And it is indeed a beautiful and fitting tribute to the late actor because it is woven into the story seamlessly across the four episodes. Each of the three Gilmore women – Lorelai, Rory and Emily – deals with Richard’s death in their own way.
The revival picks up nine years after season 7 ended. In the revival, it has been a few months since Richard Gilmore passed away. His widow, Emily, is devastated with her loss. She’s bereft with grief and sadness and coping with the loss by de-cluttering and redecorating her Hartford, Connecticut home.
We also see Lorelai still together and living with Luke. They may be together but they’re not married. Luke still has his diner where he now gives his WiFi password easily to customers. Lorelai still manages the Dragonfly Inn with Michel but without Sookie.
Rory, on the other hand, made a career of herself working as a freelance journalist. She had notable articles published on several noteworthy publications. She just left her Brooklyn apartment and is sort of living a vagabond life, staying from place to place. She goes back to Stars Hollow in Connecticut where her mother lives.
The Other Side of Rory Gilmore
Career wise, Rory is in a rut. She struggles getting freelance assignments and is in the process of bagging a book deal and getting an article published for Condé Nast. Now this is where it doesn’t make sense to me. As a writer myself who previously worked at a couple of book publishing companies, I really find it hard to believe that Rory could not hold on to a decent, stable job as journalist. I mean, seriously?! She is smart, steadfast and level headed. Given her talent and caliber as a writer, she should have at least landed a full-time job at a publication. It may not be in The New York Times or Huffington Post, but at least somewhere prestigious and established. I would have thought that at 32, she should have been professionally successful and accomplished by now.
Heck, her high school frenemy Paris Geller is even more successful than her. In the revival, Paris is now managing her own fertility clinic. Her ex Doyle now writes for Hollywood filmmakers such as Michael Bay. If they’re successful, why can’t she be?
Relationship wise, Rory is also in a mess. She has a boyfriend named Paul but she is also secretly sleeping with her ex-boyfriend Logan Huntzberger. Logan, on the other hand, is engaged with a French woman named Odette. Rory and Logan have a no-strings-attached relationship. She frequently visits him in London where he lives.
I just don’t understand Rory in the revival. What has happened to her? Why is she with Logan when she knows full well he could never marry her? She is not the Rory I know in the old series.
Lorelai has her own struggles to deal with. She has a communication problem with Luke. Michel is threatening to leave Dragonfly Inn and Sookie is nowhere to be found. Her relationship with her mother Emily has always been strained and the death of Richard seems to have stirred old feelings from within from both of them. The therapy scenes between Lorelai and Emily are really interesting and amusing to watch. For me, the fourth episode titled “Fall” is the best of the bunch. It brings both Lorelai and Emily front and center as they deal with their strained relationship after Richard’s death. Lauren Graham’s acting is just superb in this episode. As Lorelai, her emotional scenes with Kelly Bishop are raw and heartbreaking.
The same goes for Kelly Bishop who just nails her character scene after scene. The series revival is a time for her character to shine and she does so in all four episodes, from “Winter, “Spring,” to “Summer” and “Fall.” In the end, Lorelai and Emily have come to terms with their relationship and their grief for the man they both loved – as a father and as a husband.
As for Rory, how she copes with her grandfather’s death seems to have been downplayed. Rory’s story arc is more focused on her career and her relationship with her three ex-boyfriends Logan, Jess and Dean.
Which brings me to the infamous and rather controversial last four words spoken between Rory and Lorelai.
The Last Four Words
Rory: “I’m pregnant.”
Practically the entire Gilmore Girls fandom went wild with these last four words spoken at the very end of the “Fall” episode. While some fans who ship Rory with Logan are happy with these last four words as everyone assumes Logan is the father of the baby, others are pissed that Rory doesn’t end up with Jess or Dean. I have my own misgivings on these last four words myself.
First of all, I don’t ship Rory with anyone on the show so these words don’t really affect me in that way. However, I would have preferred that there were no last four words at all. Like I said before, I was satisfied with the way season 7 ended. Second, I really don’t like the idea of Rory getting pregnant while her career is still unstable and her personal relationships remain messy.
I would have preferred to see Rory making it big in her career. That was what’s been hinted at the end of season 7. She was full of promise. Rory’s pregnancy in the revival, however, means that she’s following her mother footsteps. Lorelai got pregnant with her at sixteen and she had a lot of hurdles to overcome before she made it through. This means that Rory would have to put her writing career on hold to make way for the baby. Not what I envisioned for her.
For me, Gilmore Girls has always been the type of show where most of the characters live in a peachy keen world and life is viewed in rose-colored glasses. The show has quirky characters in hilarious situations and while there are some drama thrown in, most of the time, it’s light and fluffy. However, the cliffhanger at the end of the revival changed the dynamic. A lot of questions now hang for fans to figure out.
So was Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life worth it at all? Did it bring closure to fans? The answer to that would be yes and no. For me, there were good parts and there were bad parts. I liked that Lorelai’s life has been good and she patched things up with her mother. I liked that the fast dialogue and pop culture references were still there. I liked that I was able to see the vulnerable side of Emily. But I felt like Rory got nowhere at this point. It’s truly disappointing to see her that way. She may be working on her own book but that’s not a guarantee that she’ll be successful. She still has to pitch that book to agents and publishers and who knows where she’s going to end up, especially now that she’s having a baby.
The way I see it, the revival is mainly fan service and closure for show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. All four episodes were jam-packed with beloved characters from the old series, including long-forgotten characters I barely remember. For fans of the show, it’s common knowledge that Sherman-Palladino left the old series before season 7 ended. So she wasn’t able to write the last four words she’s been meaning to write for the series finale. The Netflix revival gave her that opportunity.
Scene Stealers and Noteworthy Moments
- Paris Geller being Paris Geller. She stole the scenes from Rory when they went to Chilton, their old high school;
- Lorelai calling Emily on the phone and telling her about the best birthday she ever had with her father;
- Emily Gilmore in jeans! At that point, Emily was a wreck because she’s still mourning the death of her husband;
- Emily Gilmore with the women of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) interviewing a potential member. It was refreshing to see Emily spouting a foul word for once;
- The return of the Life and Death Brigade. Even though those scenes were unrealistic, I still enjoyed every minute of it;
- Lorelai and Michel at the secret bar and how the customers scrambled to hide when Taylor walked by.
- The Stars Hollow musical. It was awful and I had the same expression as Lorelai’s while I was watching it;
- Rory taking over the Stars Hollow Gazette. She took out the poem for no reason then put it back again after getting pressured from the townsfolk. What was the point of all her work in that publication anyway?
- Rory and her article piece about people waiting in lines. That was lame. No wonder Condé Nast rejected it;
- Sookie appeared very briefly in the fourth episode and she’s not even present at Luke and Lorelai’s wedding;
- There were unnecessary scenes and dialogues in the episodes (e.g. Rory and Lorelai at the pool, stretched performance of Lane’s band, Kirk’s short film, etc.). The episodes would do better if they were 60 minutes long instead of 90 minutes each.