There were plenty of great television moments of 2014, but unfortunately I’m only one person and simply couldn’t watch everything that I wanted to. So in this post I’m going to count down my favorite eight television moments from the past year.
Warning: There will be plenty of spoilers!
8. The Americans – “Echo” (Finale)
The finale of the second season was one to remember. The Americans has always been an underrated show without enough recognition since day one, but as long as they keep renewing it then I don’t care how many people watch it. In “Echo” we lose Fred during an undercover mission, and Larrick in a battle after he kidnaps the Jennings. Most importantly, we learn that Jared was the one who killed his family and that he was recruited as a KGB agent, and now Claudia wants Paige to be recruited as well. Of course Philip and Elizabeth say no, but I can’t wait to see this conversation run deeper in season three.
7. Orphan Black – “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” (Finale)
The second season of Orphan Black had its ups and downs, but the show still remains an incredibly gripping science fiction series with the amazing Tatiana Maslany at the center of all the action. The big reveal during the finale was that Project Castor is a line of male clones in the military. So they just keep on piling on the clones and to be honest, I don’t know how I feel about it but I’ll give the writers a chance to weave another season full of twists and surprises. Also, the second season showed my favorite clone, Cosima, get weaker. She shares an intimate moment with Kira during the finale as they go through The Island of Dr. Moreau, and the touching scene winds up being uber important when we see that’s where Duncan’s cipher is! Finally, if there is any image to remember from the second season, it’s the one with all the clones dancing in Felix’ loft. What a fantastic scene that was for Orphan Black. Through all the stress every clone is going through, they’re able to let go, be silly, and just dance when they’re all together.
6. The Leftovers – “Guest” (S01E06)
The Leftovers was a strange, new show on the HBO lineup that many couldn’t make the jump into. The premise was how two percent of the world’s population disappeared, and viewers wanted to know why. But The Leftovers wasn’t about why’s, it was about what next. My favorite episode of the riveting first season was “Guest” and featured Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, a young widow when her whole family disappeared. The Leftovers has always been strongest when it explores the mindset of its troubled characters, and in “Guest” we’re able to watch Nora as she attempts to not only heal from her wounds, but finally move on. We do see this after she meets with Wayne and embarks on her involvement with Kevin. It’s a minor triumph, but any of the kind should be considered a miracle in her situation.
5. True Detective – “Who Goes There” (S01E04)
One of the finest new dramas was seen on HBO that involved star actors: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. True Detective was an exhausting and winding murder investigation that was able to stimulate your mind as much as any other show this year. The spacy and cynical thoughts of Rust Cohle with the troubled Marty Hart made up one of the best combos I’ve ever seen on television. And the highlight of the season took place at the end of the fourth episode when Rust goes undercover with the Iron Crusaders and how Rust stays close to Ginger until finally turning on him and dragging him away through the violent neighborhood until Marty picks them up. It was one of the most suspenseful scenes from the whole year and more impressively, it was done as a tracking shot! Brilliant!
4. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
One of the most pleasant surprises of 2014 was John Oliver’s once-a-week Daily Show-type of program on HBO. I had my doubts along with plenty of others, but realized that this format was brilliant. While The Daily show is great, Last Week Tonight was able to do a much better job at researching and pressing deep into an issue, exploiting problems and offering solutions (though many were silly). And the main strength of this show was Oliver’s ability to deconstruct a complicated issue and explain it to the public with such clarity. He also is able to make the most boring subjects hilarious, keeping our attention the entire time. While it looks easy for him to accomplish, I assure you it’s not and that’s why he’s one of the biggest stories of the year.
3. Game of Thrones – “The Mountain and the Viper” (S04E08)
Game of Thrones has always been consistent at keeping you guessing, and have always had a knack at surprising the Hell out of you. This is no different. Earlier on in the season King Joffrey dies due to poison and naturally Tyrion is accused. So to leave his fate in the hands of the Gods, there is a battle to the death between The Mountain and Oberyn Martell, and things don’t end well for Martell (seriously, that scene still haunts my nightmares).
For the show, Season Four was a great one for Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. He continued to give great performance after great performance from his speech on trial to the conversation in the dungeon with Jaime, to the final sequence of the finale. And while there is a whole lot more going on with the show, Dinklage keeps on stealing every scene. As Khaleesi marches on with her army, Snow fights alongside his brothers, Brann follows the raven, and so on, Tyrion is ranked as my favorite character.
2. Mad Men – “Waterloo” (S07E07)
One of my favorite shows ever is coming to an end this year, and in 2014 AMC rolled out the first half of the final season (Breaking Bad style). Things have completely turned upside-down since the beginning of Mad Men and now Don Draper is working for Peggy, something I never would’ve imagined would happen. Another huge event that happened was Bert Cooper’s death, which affected everyone in the company. But his death represents how the agency is moving forward and leaving behind the past in a rapidly-changing world. The same goes for its characters, especially Don Draper, who has to deal with leaving everything behind and working on what matters right now at the moment.
The finale had a great scene were Peggy pitches to Burger Chef and there are a lot of similarities that can be drawn to Don Draper and the way he pitches to clients. There is a lot that Peggy has learned from Don throughout the years and she nails it! Everything has changed and as we’re gearing up for the final episodes of Mad Men, it’s the change that seems to stick out the most on the show. And we’re sent off by a dancing Bert Cooper in Draper’s head, telling him to find that place of happiness and bliss inside. It was a great end to the beginning, and now it’s time for the beginning to the end.
1. Fargo – “Buridan’s Ass” (S01E06)
My favorite television moment of 2014 takes place in a cold and snowy area in the United States. Fargo was my favorite TV season of the year for the reason that I just feel it was closer to being flawless than any other show. And “Buridan’s Ass” was the stand-out episode of the mini-series. This is the episode when things begin to break down, and it does so instantly one after the other. When watching a show that we can somewhat get behind the villain, there are morals we can agree with, such as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Sure, he’s a murderer but he does allow his victims a flip of a coin to stay alive. But this balance that exists goes haywire for the characters of Fargo in “Buridan’s Ass.”
The scene that stole all the spotlight here was the whiteout scene when Molly and Gus chase after Malvo. They’re so close to him yet so far since you can’t see past a few feet in a whiteout like that. There is so much tension in this scene, it’s like you’re with them in the significant storm. And up to this point, Molly and Gus have been slowly putting together the case against Malvo. Now that they might finally have him, the good guy Gus accidentally shoots Molly. It’s devastating and even more so when you really aren’t sure if she’s going to live or not. Just a brutal event from the universe tipping its side to evil.
In addition, Malvo kills Chumph (a character that we really shouldn’t have liked at all but somehow cared for especially when he gets shot up by the police), and Stavros’ son and bodyguard die from a fall of fish from the sky. “Buridan’s Ass” is just one cruel event after another, and really loosens the reigns from what the audience thought they knew about the show. That seems to be the point of the episode, named after the paradox where a donkey that is hungry and thirsty is put equidistant from hay and water. He’s so caught up between the two options that the donkey can’t make up its mind and dies instead of choosing one over the other. Plenty of characters make tough decisions in this episode, but would they have been better off not picking a side at all? Nonetheless, “Buridan’s Ass” is the finest TV moment of the year.