2015 Year-End Review

Best of Television

It’s truly been one of the strongest and most inspirational years of Television and because of this, we’ve decided the best way to pay homage to it, is to reflect on the scenes that are now perpetually engraved in our memories. These are the scenes that have not only inspired us, but they’ve moved us beyond words leaving us with hope and wonder.

1. Girl Meets Rileytown” | Girl Meets World

 “Girl Meets Rileytown” is what we’d actually like to formally call: episode of the year. In case you missed it, after its release, I wrote a very special review of the entire thing you can find here. It covers not only my thoughts on the episode’s sublime theme, but the remarkable performances by young actresses that’ve left me in awe. “Girl Meets Rileytown” took on the task of showcasing the horrors of bullying in a way that’s so appropriate to our time — it’s not always physical torture, sometimes, it’s someone hiding behind an anonymous name mocking the person we are. The choice not to give the bully a face was perfect thereby, having Riley stand up to essentially anyone that’s trying to change her. And this takes more courage than molding into a vision crafted by another. “No man is a failure who has friends” Riley not only has exemplary friends, but she has immeasurable strength within her — we all do. Let us all try to remember that being cool doesn’t mean being indifferent or full of hate, it means being brave enough to be yourself in a world that’s trying to change you. And if you haven’t found your passion yet, the one thing that keeps inspiring you to pull forward in the midst of troubling times, keep searching because it’s waiting for you.

2. Nimue” | Once Upon A Time

“Nimue” is an episode we’ve talked about probably way too many times this year, and we’ll definitely continue talking about it for years to come. Emma Swan is a hero in countless ways, but perhaps the most inspiring trait in her character is the constant fight against negative voices. “Nimue” challenged Emma in a way she’s ever been before and when she bellowed “I am not nothing, I’ve never been nothing!”, surely we weren’t the only ones in tears. It was an extraordinarily powerful moment authenticating the fact that each of us have a choice — we choose who to be and when the negative voices attempt to take away our agency, we have the power to remind them and ourselves of the greatness that’s inside. We’re all uniquely and wonderfully created — our individual quirks make us special and it’s key to always remember that we are so much more than we can even imagine. Emma’s choice to continuously remind herself and the audience the importance of pushing back is truly what makes her such an iconic character. 5A was anything but easy for Emma, and through perseverance, she conquered the darkest curse in a way no other person ever has — she was brave enough to choose light by loving and respecting herself.

3. Swan Song” | Once Upon A Time

Just as Emma was brave enough to fight back against the darkness in “Nimue”, Killian was brave enough to choose what kind of a man he wants to be and in doing so, he tapped into the strength that’s always been within him. He may have dabbled in darkness a bit, but when it came down to the ultimate test, he chose love. He chose to show the darkness the meaning of bravery — the choice to love. And in order to truly give into to love, he had to forgive himself and he had to sacrifice his happiness, but such an act only made him a braver figure. Killian once said that “a man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets”, and in a single moment, he illustrated the quote exquisitely. He chose to be brave enough to fight for what his heart truly desired despite the darkness’ goal to tarnish every bit of humanity in him.

4. Leslie and Ron” | Parks and Recreation

After its premiere date, Parks and Recreation’s “Ron and Leslie” quickly became one of my highest-ranking episodes and a definite go-to when I need a pick me up. The entire episode is an outstanding little gem, but if I have to choose a single scene, I can’t help but choose the montage of the Leslie and Ron redecorating the office with Willie Nelson’s “Buddy” playing. For as great as the other scenes were, this moment not only represented their now undoubtedly unbreakable reunion, but the lyrics of the song showcase their friendship in a nutshell. Watching them bring the spirit of their office back with drinks and photographs of breakfast were heartwarming — it felt like coming home again. When the final season of Parks and Recreation aired, it didn’t feel like the beautiful series we’d all fallen in love with because Leslie and Ron weren’t friends, but their reunion made everything right again. And in the most gorgeous way possible.

5. One Last Ride” | Parks and Recreation

“When we worked here together, we fought, scratched, and clawed to make people’s lives a tiny bit better. That’s what public service is all about: small, incremental change every day. Teddy Roosevelt once said ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ And I would add that what makes work worth doing is getting to do it with people that you love. I started my career more than thirty years ago in the Parks and Recreation department right here in Pawnee, Indiana. I had a lot of different jobs, including two terms as your governor. And soon, a new, unknown challenge awaits me which to me, even now, is thrilling because I love the work. Not to say that public service isn’t sexy because it definitely is, but that’s not why we do it. We do it because we get the chance to work hard at work worth doing, alongside a team of people who we love. So I thank those people who walked with me and I thank you for this honor. Now, go find your team and get to work.”

I had an extremely difficult time reviewing the episode when it aired, and thankfully, I didn’t do it alone. I had my friends to help. Truthfully, there are no words for Parks and Recreation and especially this scene, perhaps one day I’ll be able to find them, but today’s not the day. All I know is that this scene and this series has changed my life in a way I never expected a series too — it is because of Leslie Knope that I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’m passionate. It is because of this quote that I’m determined to make my dreams a reality, and it is also because of this quote that I’m okay with asking for help.

6. “Valediction” | Agent Carter

“Valediction” was an exceptional episode for all Agent Carter fans, for it’s the one that delivered an epic, inspirational line defining Peggy Carter beautifully. This is the episode where “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion of me doesn’t matter” was born. The quote represents the faultless valuable message that for each and every individual, there’s nothing more profound than our own perceptions of who we are. For little girls everywhere, it’s brilliant to have a female icon state this in response to her male coworkers taking credit for something they haven’t done. At the end of the day, when one knows their own value, truly, they’re happier and they’re strong. To know and love all that makes us who we are: the strengths and the weaknesses is a gift we must all cease for there’s no lesson quite as important in life. As a series, Agent Carter does a superlative job of representing women as real, complex figures. It allows viewers to see that while Peggy Carter is fiercely independent and physically strong, she’s someone who often allows her heart to do the talking. She gives in to vulnerability, she cries, she gets angry, she laughs, she fights and she loves. Peggy Carter validates that she’s a woman who will fight for herself and thereby reveal there is nothing more treasurable than self-love.

7. Valediction” | Agent Carter

If you ever want to make me cry just remind me of the fact that Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers never got their happy ending. That’s bound to bring on waterworks. And the scene chosen to represent their gorgeous love in this story is what’s actually inspired the best thing I’ve ever written in our full episode review.

“Surely everyone’s caught the importance of the Brooklyn Bridge – the symbolic art of Peggy Carter bringing Steve Rogers home. When it comes to describing the insignias of rivers, in this scene especially, treasuring is the only word that comes close – there are endless promises hidden beyond the depths of crystal water. With “The Way You Look Tonight” playing in the background and Peggy whispering “Bye, my darling” fans of the duo can experience a sense of serenity with her. Letting go of someone that was deeply beloved is without a doubt the most difficult task anyone can partially complete – and yes, only partially because it’s the one thing that cannot be done entirely. Somewhere in time and perhaps in the depths of the East River, some elemental parts of their being could move on together. The symbolic meaning of rivers is one of the more ambiguous ones in the world of literature, but this scene represents the reflective intimacy in a quiet moment of closure where stillness equates to eternity – where Steve Rogers’ prominence is treasured most delicately and honorably. The beauty in this scene lies in the everlasting presence of true love – the detail, in which Peggy Carter chooses to set Steve Rogers free in a place that’s truly immaculate. A place where science, money, malevolent eyes, and impure hands cannot get ahold of what’s left of him. To the world, he may have been a soldier, the legendary Captain America, but to Peggy Carter, he was just Steve Rogers – the kid from Brooklyn who’d captivated her heart through interminable kindness and pure adoration.”

8. Bluebell” | Hart of Dixie

“Bluebell” was the perfect finale for a series like Hart of Dixie — it was happy, energetic, and it even featured a cheesy musical number. Zoe and Wade tied the not just as their baby was about to be born and Lemon got her dream, outdoor wedding with Lavon. It’s the kind of scene that distracts you from reality so much, when you’re back, you’re left wishing and dreaming “Bluebell” was real. It all fit so beautifully this series. It made sense for it to be this ridiculously cheesy. It made sense for Zoe to want to marry Wade right away. It made sense for them to name their baby T.B.D. Kinsella. Of all the shows that have been cancelled too quickly, this ending satisfied in a way I’d never imagine. At least we bid Bluebell farewell in a heartwarming way that’ll always feel like home.

9. Episode 4” | Poldark

Poldark is a series I quickly fell in love with, and while Demelza was easily adored, Ross needed to prove himself. And in the untitled fourth episode, he did just that in the most marvelously gorgeous way — he admitted to being redeemed because of Demelza. He vowed to be her humble servant and essentially not only showcased bountiful respect for his wife, but he revealed the profound love within him in a promising manner. It then felt like the perfect moment for Demelza to reveal her pregnancy creating an incredible scene where two people who’d never imagined falling so hard for one another find home in the other’s hearts. Sometimes the unexpected love affairs are the most beautiful. Sometimes the person you least expect, changes your life in all the best ways.

10. New Captain” | Brooklyn Nine Nine

Brooklyn Nine Nine is filled with memorable moments that make it so incredibly difficult to solely choose one, but I suppose because this is the moment Jake and Amy felt like a real couple, it’s worthy of being mentioned. Amy’s choice to go over to Jake’s house because she wanted to talk to someone about her day was lovely. It felt appropriate of her to be the one who says “screw light and breezy”. She needed to reveal that she wants this just as bad as Jake does in order for them to really get the ball rolling and I loved every moment of it. More about this particular scene has actually been written here. Along with an article focused on their love story from day one here.

11. The Man Who Saved Central City” | The Flash

Henry Allen’s homecoming on The Flash was an incredible little scene. It’s surely no surprise to most readers on here that I’m an easy crier, but I mean c’mon, I couldn’t have been the only one swimming in tears during this scene? Stunning montages are one thing, but when a scene this anticipated ends up being so beautiful, you can’t help but tear up. What an excellent choice to have X Ambassadors’ “Renegades” playing as everyone elatedly embraced Henry and Cisco finally got a police badge from Joe. And then there’s Dr. Stein’s simple yet profound speech that remarkably connected everyone in the room as it reminded viewers of just how far this group has come. And although Henry makes the choice not to stay, it’s the fact that they’ve all decided to move forward that’s incredible. Each of them has altruistically decided to save lives and this was one of those sweet and cheesy TV moments that reminds viewers who are willing to be encouraged that with the right army by your side, nothing is impossible. And we could all use this reminder every now and then. Grant Gustin does a wonderful job of constantly delivering a full range of emotions and he conveyed Barry’s heartbreak in such an exceptional matter it made everything that much more saddening. From the moment he hugged his dad outside of the prison, to the unparalleled bliss he showcased as his life finally felt complete again, Gustin had already done some beautiful work. However, the way he played Barry’s perplexity and acceptance of his dad’s decision made the separation as heartrending as it was. Barry knows he’s got family with the Wests and his friends at Star Labs, but his dad’s presence would’ve made it better. And the perpetual selflessness he exhibits continues to be the sincerest aspect of the series. Barry Allen has so much love to give and he doesn’t even know what to do with it all. It was great to see him come full circle from the decision to be alone in order to protect those he cares for to finally accepting that he can’t do it all on his own. It set things in motion for the second season beautifully.

12. Halloween III” | Brooklyn Nine Nine

This is another scene we’ve discussed in the past, but it’s one we can’t help but add into this list because again, Brooklyn Nine Nine can do no wrong. This year, Captain Holt and Jake decide that by midnight, whoever manages to steal the crown will be king of the precinct. They then each choose team members to help them excluding Amy because neither are sure she’d be loyal to them. While at first, I was pretty upset Jake wouldn’t choose his girlfriend for the sake of winning something, I had a feeling something great was bound to come out of it. And it did. Amy Santiago proved to both of them that she’s in fact Queen. In the midst of competition, things tend to get tricky, but what Amy’s done is proven that at the end of the day, a person should never be judged as anything other than an individual. “I’m my own person. Capable of making my own decisions, and I decided to humiliate you both.” Is anyone else ridiculously thrilled by the fact that she took their unkindness towards her and taught them a lesson!? Brooklyn Nine Nine does such a beautiful job of treating its female characters like equals, and this was one of those extraordinary moments that’ll be treasured for a very long time. It’s also worth mentioning that while Amy was telling them about how she did everything, Rosa was lighting up with pride. She doesn’t smile often, so when she does, you know it’s huge — ladies supporting ladies is always remarkable to watch.

13. “Nimue”Once Upon A Time

It’s always adorable to watch Killian and Emma melt around each other. It doesn’t matter that he was yelling a few minutes ago because when he’s with her, it’s easier to be at peace. It doesn’t matter that fears weigh them both down at the moment because they’ll find ways to exhibit just how much they treasure each other. Emma throwing around modern phrases and references Killian doesn’t understand is an absolute delight to witness especially now that she’s revealed she does it purposely to see his reaction. And even though he doesn’t understand it, the fact that he never judges her for it is so telling. Perfection is a nonexistent concept, but the reality is, when you love someone completely, they’re as immaculate as can be. You cherish the little things they do, you let them have it their way, and you can’t help but constantly see the best in them. When you truly love someone, you let their love inspire you and fuel you.  When it’s everything, love is enough. Whether or not the ring actually possesses magical abilities to keep a person alive, Killian’s choice to give it to Emma is a selflessly beautiful gesture. He knows the dark one is immortal, but the woman he loves isn’t. At the end of the day, Emma’s well being is his priority. Essentially, although he makes it very clear he’s not proposing, the ring is still a symbolic representation of the fact that she’s got a smoldering pirate who loves her. It’s a representation of the fact that she’s his home and he’ll be there to remind her of the fact that she’s deeply loved while always seeing the best in her. She’s more vital to him than his own life thereby authenticating that the love he feels for is the strongest thing he’s ever known. And it’s the strongest thing she’s ever known too. It was gorgeous to see the outpouring of light in Emma as she told Killian she loved him too. Killian’s ring around her neck is what ultimately showcases she’s found a home. He’s brought her walls down, he’s healed the wounds that have been left in her heart, and he’s played a role in making Storybrooke her home. He’s inspired her to understand that there’s no need to run anymore because no matter she goes to, Killian, Henry, and her parents anchor her heart to a place that’s safe. A place where the lost little girl isn’t alone but rather ceaselessly cherished and fought for. True love is what’s shown Emma the meaning of home. No matter where she winds up in the world, she knows a safe place she can always run to.

14. Written in the Stone” | Heartland

Everything about Ty and Amy’s wedding was perfect — everything. Literally. I cried from beginning to end even though it’s the exact wedding I had imagined for the two. The simplicity felt right for it’s always just been about the two of them. It’s been about Ty becoming a valued and treasured member of the Flemings, and that also means a stone on the well. If it’s written in stone, it’s eternal. Right? And there’s nothing more faultlessly beautiful than this moment on the series. The idea that this is the final thing that binds them as one is downright uniquely breathtaking. There’s a warmth to the scene that can only be found in Heartland, and it’s the kind that feels like coming home. Discussing the beautiful duo more, they were featured in our #25LoveStories portion of #100DaysofFanFavorites.

15. Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” | Orphan Black

There weren’t a lot of happy moments during Orphan Black’s third season, but the scene with Cal, Sarah, and Kira playing hockey in the new house’s living room was most memorable. And it was the happiest, real moment. If only the scene of Helena’s baby shower was real. (Sigh.) Orphan Black characters don’t get a lot of happy moments, but this was one that revealed just how gorgeous the bond between the three family members are. Sarah and Kira are safe with Cal — they’re loved. He’s easily a trustworthy character (don’t betray me, writers), but it’s the fact that for a single moment, they can forget that the world outside is so tragic. They can forget things aren’t perfect because this little family time is.

 

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7 Responses to 2015 Year-End Review

  1. Pingback: Best of 2015: Moments | TVexamined

  2. Katie says:

    This is such a perfect list! Reading through all of these again reminded me of how wonderful the shows I watched were this year (because I’m pretty sure we watch about 95% of the same shows). This is why I watch TV—for episodes and moments like the ones you wrote about here. Thank you so much for sharing this list with us. Thank you for always choosing to write about what makes you feel hopeful and inspired, and here’s to another year of beautiful writing!

    Like

  3. bingebox says:

    Episode Four of Poldark was definitely my favourite and this season arc of OUAT has been surprisingly brilliant this year. Great list! 🙂

    Like

  4. Marianne says:

    This list is so wonderful. Of the shows I watch I could not agree more and you have such a way of captured their essence with exquisite grace. Love your writing so much!!

    Like

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