As 2013 winds down, I take a look back at some of my favorite TV moments. It was a great year of television and I couldn’t watch everything, but here’s what I came up with.
This post contains spoilers.
5. Bob Benson on Mad Men
Wasn’t all the guessing surrounding the mysterious Bob Benson fun? He practically comes out of nowhere and begins working in accounts and slowly climbs the ladder until Pete Campbell gets in his way. But it was impressive, and very conniving (like Pete), how he went out of his way to impress those above him. Whether it was sending a deli platter to Roger’s mom’s wake or personally assisting Joan during her ovarian cyst scare, Benson was always around with a smile and a helping hand. But seriously, what was his deal?
Was he a serial killer? A secret spy for some agency? Would Mad Men insert an outrageous character like that into their story? Fortunately, those theories hold no truth to who Benson really is (or is he Draper’s son?!). He happens to be a chameleon of sorts, pretending to be a number of things and lying through his teeth all the way until he’s ready to leave behind that identity. Yes, it’s Don Draper style, but Benson’s season-long story is quite impressive the way he slithers in and out of the office, all the way to carving the turkey at Joan’s apartment. What’s left of Bob Benson? We’ll find out soon enough.
4. The Office Finale
On May 16, 2013, The Office finally came to an end after nine seasons. The episode consisted of one last prank from Jim on Dwight that brought back Michael Scott to be Dwight’s best man. During Dwight and Angela’s wedding, Michael Scott comments, “I feel like all my kids grew up and then they married each other. It’s every parent’s dream.” Classic Michael Scott.
Pam sells the house so Jim can pursue his dream in sports marketing. Could there be a cuter TV-couple than Jim and Pam? But it was Jim with the best line of the night, giving thanks to his time at Dunder Mifflin with, “Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring amazing job.”
One of the most memorable sitcoms of the past decade has come to an end. Goodbye Michael Scott, Dwight, Jim, Pam, Andy, Angela, Oscar, Kelly, Ryan, Toby, Creed, Erin, Phyllis, Meredith, Stanley, and whoever else. It’s been fun.
3. The Returned
The biggest surprise to me (and best kept secret) was this French hororr-drama series on the Sundance Channel. A small town in France has a number of people returning from the dead that impacts the town unlike they could ever imagine. Sure, technically they’re zombies, but they’re not your typical flesh-eating, slow-walking undead. Those back from the dead look normal and talk fine. They just can’t remember everything, can’t sleep, and they’re always hungry.
The complicated stories that make up the first season of The Returned present plenty of questions and not enough answers. That doesn’t take away from the haunting eight episodes though, as it tackled situations and difficult decisions thought impossible to those involved. How would you deal with a beloved one coming back from the dead? All those years it took to move on would be useless to seeing them again. But how long are they going to stay? And why haven’t others come back from the dead with them? Hopefully, this is only the beginning.
2. The Red Wedding
For those who read the novels, they knew this was coming, but for people like me who didn’t, this was a jaw-dropping episode. Game of Thrones has never shied away from killing off main characters (characters who we love nonetheless), so I guess this shouldn’t have come to such a surprise, but hell, it still did! “The Rains of Castamere” was easily the most powerfully emotional episode of television in 2013, as well as the most shocking.
Following Robb Stark since the beginning of the series, he’s grown to be a wise, powerful leader who we all would be happy to see as King. Well, Robb made some mistakes along his way and he paid for them during this episode. Robb, along with his pregnant wife and his mother, Catelyn, were all murdered during Catelyn’s brother’s wedding. And just like that in those few brief minutes, their story-lines are over. I just remember sitting in my room for minutes after the episode concluded, unable to move from the shock that my body and mind was going through after. It was twice as powerful as when Ned Stark was beheaded in season one. I felt confused, angry, and sadness all at once. When a television show can make me feel this way, then you know it’s a great show.
1. Breaking Bad Finale
Arguably the greatest television series to go down in history, Breaking Bad gave a superb (yet predictable) series finale on September 29, 2013. “Felina” didn’t shock us or leave us hanging with questions we demanded answers to. It was just simply what we wanted to happen before saying goodbye to the series. We watch Walter White get his revenge on Lydia, Jack and his gang. We’re sure Walt’s money will get to his family once he’s gone and we see him say goodbye to Skylar, finally admitting the truth that he did it all for himself. We see Jesse kill Todd and speed away alive. And we see Walt lying in the middle of the meth lab bleeding out as the camera widens.
Breaking Bad is an extreme success for television. I remember laughing at the premise of the show when it first aired, but like all great shows it evolved to something that became must-watch-TV. The odd-couple between Walt and Jesse provided more than enough of the show’s comedy as they started cooking meth. Slowly, they climbed the ranks to drug lord, or as Walt said it, he became the one who knocks. Meanwhile, Hank and his investigation to bring down the mysterious and powerful Heisenberg. Everything about this show was top notch cable programming. Creator Vince Gilligan always had shows like The Wire and X-Files (which he wrote and produced) to live up to. Now, every show in the future will have to live up to the iconic Breaking Bad.