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: Downton Abbey, Hannibal, horror, Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful, sci-fi, sitcom, Suits, The Big Bang Theory, TV drama
As 2015 draws to a close, let me just list the top five shows that made my TV viewing experience memorable this year. While some of these shows ended the season in a cliffhanger, there were those that left me either in tears, extremely pleased or with puzzling questions. The episodes I listed below are what I consider to be the most memorable ones for me.
Suits (Season 4, episodes: “Intent” and “Not Just a Pretty Face”)
As a Darvey shipper, I consider these two episodes to be the defining moments of Donna and Harvey’s (Darvey) complicated relationship. For many seasons, Suits‘ showrunners have teased the viewers with hints of a possible romantic relationship between these two characters. On the surface, they had an existing and solid working relationship. Harvey was a hotshot lawyer while Donna was his loyal secretary. But aside from that professional relationship, they were also best friends. They had a bond so tight and knew each other so well that Harvey even considered themselves as one. But all of that changed in the “Intent” episode when Donna was in trouble with the law and Harvey had to help her. It showed how much Harvey cared for her and the measures he was willing to take just to protect her. Then it happened. After winning the case, Harvey finally admitted to her that he loved her. The only problem was, he couldn’t tell her how he loved her. Did he love her as a friend, as a loyal employee or like a sister? But he refused to explain when she asked him. And this story arc ended in “Not Just a Pretty Face” with Donna eventually leaving him to work for another lawyer. That final scene in the episode where Donna walked away just brought me to tears.
The Big Bang Theory (Season 10, episode: “The Opening Night Excitation”)
Where can you find a show where an episode is a mash-up of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the sexual awakening of a brilliant, adult male scientist? Only this show! This is the episode where Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farah Fowler finally did it. Sheldon – being a germaphobe that he was and generally disinterested in sex but worship science – finally decided to “have coitus” with his long-time girlfriend, Amy. When I heard the news that this was going to happen, I was delighted. It was a long time coming. Sheldon and Amy are my favorite couple on The Big Bang Theory and I’ve watched them through the years never expecting that they would finally consummate their chaste relationship. But they did – and it was hilarious!
Orphan Black (Season 3, episode: “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”)
“It was never Beth I loved.” These were the last words spoken by Paul to Sarah before he died. I was heartbroken when I saw this episode. For one, Paul sacrificed himself so that he could save Sarah and possibly eradicate the threat that Project Castor posed on the Leda clones. Secondly, the episode’s flashback scene with Beth Childs was just riddled with emotions. It was emotionally crushing to see Beth with her heart broken after she found out about Paul’s real motive for being with her. Like many fans, I was also curious about Beth’s background and this episode finally shed some light on her, albeit short. But where there’s heartbreak, there was also humor in this episode. Who could forget that twerking scene between Allison and Donnie? That was completely fun and hilarious to watch! It really made my day. I mean, Allison has always been the prim and proper clone compared with Sarah, Helena and Rachel. But that twerking scene just proved that there’s more to Allison than just being a soccer mom.
Downton Abbey (Season 6, Christmas special episode/series finale)
I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and despite the fact that the show lost some of its luster beginning the fourth season, I stayed with it until the very end of the series. Season 6 ended in a happy note with everyone getting their own happy ending. Anna gave birth to a healthy baby with Mr. Bates as a proud father. Thomas was rehired and came back to the abbey after a short and miserable stint in another aristocratic house. What’s more, Lord Grantham appointed him as the succeeding butler after Mr. Carson resigned. Branson returned from America as well with little Sybie in tow. And can we talk about Lady Mary? Oh my God, I think she just outdid herself this season! She got so bitter and mean to Lady Edith and the two feuding sisters had a big catfight. Now I know Lady Mary had always been haughty and snob but for some reason I loved that about her. But I think she mellowed down a bit after she married Henry Talbot. And I’m so glad she apologized to Lady Edith after their fight and took the effort to make it up to her. As for Lady Edith – the one person who badly needed a happy ending – finally got hers. She married the man she loved with a little help from Lady Mary. I shed a tear when the servants downstairs sang “Auld Lang Syne” at the end. It was so heartfelt and touching. What a fitting way to end the series.
Hannibal (Season 3, episode: “The Wrath of the Lamb”)
This show had its main characters literally went off a cliff after the end of the final episode. Talk about a cliffhanger! In this episode, Will Graham enlisted the help of Hannibal Lecter in luring a serial killer that the FBI had been wanting to get their hands on. The scene on the cliff was beautifully and masterfully done with Will and Hannibal both fighting and eventually killing the serial killer, Francis Dolarhyde, a.k.a the Red Dragon in slow motion. I admit it wasn’t as great as the “Mizumono” episode from season two, but it’s good enough. In this scene from season three, the Will and Hannibal bromance was shown in full glory as Will hugged Hannibal after they successfully killed Francis Dolarhyde. Their chemistry in that scene was electric. Bloody and wounded, they just held each other for a few moments at the edge of the cliff before Will eventually hurled himself over the cliff along with Hannibal. And of course there’s that extra scene at the end where Bedelia du Murier, Hannibal’s psychiatrist, sat on a dinner table alone with her leg cut off – the severed leg being on the table cooked and ready to be served to her guest. My interpretation of that scene was that Bedelia cut her own leg off for Hannibal to eat. I presumed Hannibal managed to avoid death and was still alive after that scene on the cliff. However, other fans suggested that it was Hannibal himself who cut off Bedelia’s leg. We could never know for sure since the show ended already.
Penny Dreadful (Season 2, episode: “And They Were Enemies”)
Vanessa Ives had finally beaten Evelyn Poole and the witches in a creepy showdown of dark incantations between her and Lucifer. Vanessa is my favorite character in Penny Dreadful since the pilot episode. It’s amazing to watch her fight the forces of evil despite her troubled, traumatic past. Her will to be on the good side despite several temptations took tremendous courage and that was clearly manifested in this episode where she chose to confront Evelyn’s master herself and rejected his offer of joining him. I was at the edge of my seat while watching this episode. I hated Evelyn and her witch daughters and I was so glad when they finally got killed – well except for Hecate. The scene where Sir Malcolm and Victor were tormented about their past was also compelling. I was fearful that the two men would eventually succumbed to the apparitions’ urgings and kill themselves. Thank goodness Ethan came just in time. Speaking of Ethan, I was glad that Vanessa finally knew the truth about him being the Wolfman. Knowing the truth about him would better help them in battling whatever evil forces may come their way. I was left hanging by the end of the episode as I wanted to know what would happen to Ethan now that he surrendered to the police. Well I’ll just have to wait and see next season.