2019 Year-End Reviews: Episodes

This isn’t a critical review of what makes an episode flawless, it’s a list of the TV episodes I found myself either revisiting after completion or the ones that I couldn’t look back on  that continued to haunt me long after the credits stopped rolling. These are the episodes that left me in complete and utter awe. They’re the episodes filled with the most evocative performances and the most beautifully moving moments that touched my heart in a way I won’t forget easily.

1. “Pandemonium”
The Good Place 

One year later, and I still think about this episode at least a few times a month. It is without a doubt my favorite episode of The Good Place and the one I could potentially write an entire thesis on. “Pandemonium”, and especially the final few moments of the episode were utter chaos. “Embrace the pandemonium, find happiness in the unique insanity of being here, now.” There’s a great amount of happening in this episode like Michael panicking and then freaking out when he sees the soul squad together. There’s beauty in the montage created for Chidi and Eleanor. There’s beauty in Jason promising he won’t let Eleanor down. There’s beauty in Eleanor taking charge even while she’s afraid.There’s beauty in Tahani realizing what she’ll have to do when face to face with the person who’ll bring out the worst in her. There’s beauty in the humanity that’s found its way into Janet’s life. And there’s beauty in Michael’s faith in his Soul Squad.

The episode is simply put, special. It forces us to look within ourselves and confront the whys. It forces us to question existence, life, and even the afterlife. But it’s the perfect, most unique way of saying, smile because it happened. And I feel it’s safe to assume that we all know that’s nearly impossible to do, anything but the words we actually want to hear in a moment of sheer of frustration; however, it is what it is. Life is pure, unbelievably unfair chaos sometimes, and the only way to get through it is to embrace what’s bound to make us better. As mere mortals who are incapable of understanding what the afterlife entails, it’s also easy to just believe that we’d grow just fine without trials in our life, but the reality is, we don’t know that. We don’t know why life has to be the way that it is, but we’re here because of it, and there’s a whole lot of beautiful in between those tragic moments, which The Good Place captures perfectly in “Pandemonium”. While it is without question one of the saddest episodes on The Good Place, it succeeds in also being the most hopeful.

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2019 Year-End Reviews: Romantic Relationships

In the words of Louisa May Alcott: “Love is a great beautifier.” Whether it’s platonic or romantic, the love we share with others plays a vast role in making us better humans. Some of the couples on this list were tragically set for an unhappy ending, but that doesn’t change the fact that what’s happened between them is still moving and magnanimous. The stories were healing, beautifully sincere, and some of the best written romantic arcs I’ve seen in a while.

1. Sidney Parker and Charlotte Heywood
Sanditon

sidlotte

The slow progression of this stunning relationship is the kind of romance dreams are made of, and with further progression, I’m almost certain they might become my favorite Austen couple. (No one tell Emma and Knightley.) There’s so much I could say about Sidney and Charlotte, and the unyielding, beautifully touching love they have for one another. There’s something so achingly immaculate about a man whose heart was shattered and darkened opening up to a woman whose innocence brought him back to life. Sidney wasn’t unkind out of malicious intent, but because the cruelty and rejection he faced stripped him bare and broke him at his core, it took the parts of him that felt entirely too much and instead awakened an anger in him. The past took no pity on him, and as a result, his instincts resulted in, attack first, explain later because that’s easier than to unveiling his heart and risking pain all over again. Then, in came a woman with an innocence that tore him to shreds not because she’d broken him further, but because she’d taken the parts of him that had been darkened and restored light into them. A restoration that took time because the severity of the damages done were viscous, and an awakening that opened up parts of him no other human had ever gotten close to. That’s why “I’ve never wanted to put myself in someone else’s before” is so profoundly poignant as a declaration because it bares him more than the afternoon at the coves ever did. It’s Sidney Parker at his most vulnerable, promising that in spite of what lies ahead, the all-consuming adoration Charlotte’s awakened in him will be the governing force behind his every act.

Charlotte doesn’t get to tell him just how much she adores him, but we know as viewers that his flawed, incomparably quiet tenderness is something she’s completely grateful for. He challenges her ideals, breaks down her walls, and most importantly, he listens to her. He respects and values her good opinion, and in the same way, she values his. When given the chance, she’d do anything in her power, go above and beyond just to adore him. If the events of the finale indicate one thing, it’s that both Charlotte and Sidney have never known pain greater than the parting they faced. She’d never be so selfish to tell him to stay and inspired by her scolding, he’s doing the very thing she once told him, too. (Look after his family.) They’re each other’s everything. (I think about Sidney’s inability to respond to Charlotte’s: “Is that all that I am to you? A source of amusement?” To which it’s so clear, he wants to say that she’s in fact, everything. It’s written all over his face and it’s heard in his breathless stutter.) Come what may they’ll find their way back to each other, anchored at sea is their unceasing love for one another that’s stronger and deeper than anything they’ll ever experience, and a love like that withstands all sorts of trials.

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2019 Year-End Reviews: Performers

We don’t all agree on everything, but I feel it’s safe to assume that the majority of us in this community of writers are under the rightful belief that this has been a stupendous year for performances. Especially where limited series are concerned. Vulnerability isn’t an easy emotion to master when acting, but the people who’ve excelled this year mastered it with impeccable and inimitable nuances. Some of these names are familiar ones, but a large majority of the performers in this category are new faces to Marvelous Geeks. Their performances have stood out beautifully throughout the year making my absolute honor to write about them.

The Actresses

1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Fleabag

fleabag
I’ll be frank, I didn’t see the appeal in Fleabag while watching the first season, but the moment season two began, I was floored and ready to give every single award to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge is simply put, a mastermind — the brilliant meticulous decisions in her performances throughout the year have been strikingly moving and filled with flawless range. We see prodigious growth in Fleabag throughout the season, while Waller-Bridge ensures that her charm is stapled inflexibly and rightfully in every corner. The work she does in “Episode Four” alone is unparalleled and should stand as the very example of what it means to find the balance between comedy and drama. In Fleabag’s ways of breaking the fourth wall, Waller-Bridge enlightens viewers with brilliant ease that connects us further to the unbelievably relatable chaos inside her mind. It’s in her eccentric mannerisms and potent transparency that make her such a vulnerable character we’ve all found ways to connect to. Fleabag isn’t perfect, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performances surely are and her expressive features deserve a category on their own, for the breakdown of every compelling look could result in a full length novel. Waller-Bridge leads the audience towards captivating profundities and astonishing pinnacles throughout the course of six episodes, which alone deserves continuous praise for its exclusivity in the world of television.

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