2018 Best of the Year Reviews: 10 Episodes

This is always the hardest category to write about but simultaneously my absolute favorite. The best part of it is remembering the very first time I watch the episode and think, “Yup, I need to talk about this for year-end reviews.” But it’s interesting because I was a little stumped this year. I didn’t want to repeat episodes from shows and I wanted a wide variety. We can thank Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place for making my choices so hard with a ton of amazing episodes. Oh how I adore the comedies on TV right now.

For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Characters, and 10 Relationships.

  1. “Start”
    The Americans

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I don’t know how Katie (Nerdy Girl Notes) would cover this show weekly because I could never find the right words. And I especially can’t find the words for “Start.” The final episode of The Americans needs to be seen by every single TV enthusiast in the world. I can understand that the genre may not be everyone’s cup of tea, in all honesty, at times, it was even too heavy for me, but I’m grateful to know that I’ve seen the best thing on TV. (This sentence was not meant to rhyme, but we’re sticking to it.) “Start” was the perfect conclusion. It wrapped the series up in the most finely crafted bow I’ve ever seen, tying loose ends so wondrously not many before it have mastered. It gave its audience some of the most haunting images to hold onto and I’m sure, without even trying, rendering many of us utterly speechless. Maybe eight years from now when I’m less distraught over “They’ll remember us. They’re not kids anymore.” I’ll be able to talk about just how encompassing “Start” was, but today’s not that day. Or maybe when I’ve finally gotten Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s meticulously somber expressions and the stoic, yet crumbling physicality out of my mind, I’ll be able to talk about it more. But for now, let this just serve as my plea to get you all to watch The Americans because it’s truly unmatched. There are no words that could rightfully encapsulate the magnitude of this finale’s greatness.

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2018 Best of the Year Reviews: 10 Relationships

After I’ve found characters whose lives I’m invested in, my brain then automatically goes towards intricately analyzing the relationships they’ve got — both platonic and romantic because I’m a big believer in the fact that no one should ever be alone in this world. No one can accomplish anything alone. And ultimately, we as people aren’t meant to be alone. Each of the relationships chosen for this category are ones that have done an exemplary job of teaching viewers what it means to compromise, to trust, to believe, and to love deeply. Each, in their own unique ways, have effortlessly made people better. Heck, Marvel’s T’Challa wouldn’t be as successful as Black Panther if he didn’t have such a loving team on his side.  Relationships shape us, break us, and teach us some of the greatest things we could ever learn in the world. And to love with a profound intensity in our hearts often does the trick in bringing our souls to ease even when nothing else is going our way.

For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Characters, and 10 Episodes.

  1. Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop
    A Discovery of Witches

A witch and a vampire walk into a library. . .If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here today writing about a fantasy romance between a witch and vampire, utterly compelled by their story I would’ve told you you’re crazy. But yet here we are, wine in hand, crying into the glass over the relationship I didn’t know I needed in my life. Matthew and Diana are magic together. (I kid you not, friends, the show’s theme song just came on shuffle. Magic.) Personally, a brooding man who hasn’t known love for centuries finding light and wonder in a woman is right up my alley of tropes, for it tells the all-consuming story of what it truly means to be destined for someone, bound by an unseen but potent line that’s been fortified through time and continues to grow beautifully when it begins to intertwine with adoration. There’s so much that could be said about how beautifully their meeting plays a significant, inspiring role in their lives, specifically, at this point in time, Matthew’s love for Diana, which has brought out the magic in her. And in retrospect, how effortlessly she’s brought light back into his life. The laughter, the sincerity, and the unshakeable belief in one another continues to stun me. Matthew and Diana have found something powerful with each other that’s helped them both not only see the greatness in themselves, but the resilience, too. Belief from another person can serve as unparalleled strength and inspiration, thereby, the tireless choices they each make to hearten and challenge one another has made their story that much more captivating. I can’t conclude this without paying homage to Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer’s exquisite chemistry with one another, each playing on the other’s emotions beautifully in a poetic rhythm, which results in each moment, even the quiet, most delicate spectacles of intimacy feel like a work of art.

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2018 Best of the Year Reviews: 10 Characters

For the past few years, this category’s been the most difficult — trying to pick through my favorites without too much repetition from past years and the desire to give other characters the opportunity to be on here as well. But my inability to choose could’ve been due to the fact that there just weren’t that many options in the first place. And this year’s special — in both the TV verse and cinematic. And these ten characters are ones I’m certain I could not love more even if I tried. Some old with exceptional growth and some new pushing me into a state of gratitude for just how great TV’s been this year.

For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.

 

The Ladies

  1. Lucy Preston
    Timeless
Timeless - Season 2

Source: NBC

I don’t think there’s ever been a character as adored as quickly as Timeless’ Lucy Preston. And season two pulled the darling historian through the darkest of revelations only to have her come out of it even more generous than before. Lucy’s heart is inexpressible –there hasn’t been a character like her in a while, and it’s been a stunning ride watching her continuously open her heart despite the fact that the one person she trusted most in her life turned out to be the villain in her story. Whether it was fighting alongside the women who were to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials, standing with Suffragette Alice Paul, or welcoming Jessica to the team despite her feelings for Wyatt — Lucy’s benevolence is selflessness in its most evident form. She is nobility personified, for even when she could be choosing for herself, fighting for her own future, the other person’s effect is always taken into deep consideration, too. But the thing I appreciate most about Lucy is that even with all the compassion running in her veins, she’s not one to allow anyone to take advantage of her — she understands that goodness and naiveté aren’t the same thing. She’s fought back when she needs to. She’s cried when she’s been in pain. She’s doubted. She’s believed. She’s gotten excited. She’s shown viewers a wide range of emotions authenticating the fact that women are beautifully complex. She’s many things, but above all, she’s a woman who’s walked through fire and instead of letting it burn her, she’s used it to fuel the good fight instead. She’s walked out with the flames as phoenix feathers — stronger, wiser, and even more compassionate than before.

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2018 Best of the Year Reviews: 10 Performers

There’s nothing I appreciate more every year than performances that make me want to ramble and scream about over rooftops. Performances that are so well done, words suddenly become nonexistent. And this year especially, the top performers were so fascinating, I couldn’t even choose as easily as I often do. I almost added more than I could write for because there were a far more than 10 of them I wanted to talk about. 

For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Characters, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.

The Actors

  1. Matthew Rhys
    The Americans

The Emmy winning performance of the year. (It gives me unbelievable pride and joy to say that, as if I know Rhys myself and he is some distant uncle of mine.) But truly. There’s been nothing quite like this year’s most intensely gripping performance that I’ve yet to find the words for. Phillip caught a bit of a break from the spy life this season, but that meant a lot more work for Rhys in order to show us sides of him that we’d not known in the last five years. And while Phillip was seemingly calmer, Rhys was actually showing us a more frantic angle, especially when it came down no longer understanding his wife or being able to converse with her. It was during the simplest, most quiet moments that Rhys was reminding us of just how much is at stake and just how fleeting this new life of his would be. But then the final few moments of the series happened and just when you think Rhys has probably outdone himself, the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for takes place, and the greatest mic drop in TV history occurs. The Americans excels in a number of ways, but its strongest suit has been the carefully nuanced performances, and although this was the scene we’ve long waited for, I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined the vulnerability it would’ve been filled with. Vulnerability we should’ve probably been prepared for, but at the end of the day, we could never — or rather, at least I couldn’t have. The sheer pain and utter shame Rhys projected while they “confessed” everything to Stan was nothing short of brilliant. The faint break as he states “I finally got caught” or the most sincere reveal throughout the confrontation, “You were my only friend in my, in my whole shitty life” shattered me. Finales in the espionage genre often have their actors go out with a bang, but with The Americans, the bang surprisingly doesn’t involve a gunshot, instead, “Start” concluded with a man and a woman on a bridge, in a country they can no longer call theirs, trying to remain hopeful. And hope is an emotion The Americans has had a special way of revealing. Rhys’ tensed jawline, the palpable dejection in his eyes, and the damaged, hollowed spirit that stood before us was the very paradigm of greatness. Matthew Rhys (And Keri Russell) have always spoken far more in silence than they have with words, and such robust silence can only be described with so few words, it demands to be felt. And it was. 

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