Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite TV Episodes of 2013 Part I

2013 has been a great year for television and as we head into 2014 we here at BeyondFandom wish to put the spotlight on some of our personal favorite TV episodes of the year. 

American Horror Story:Asylum- 2.11 "Spilt Milk" (January 9th)

Thanks to the final episodes of Asylum airing at the start of the new year my list gets to include this fantastic chapter. All season long Sarah Paulson's trapped reporter Lana Winters was put through the wringer both physically and emotionally--there was even a hashtag from it (#prayforlana). But this was the ep where Lana fought back, and it went on to state definitely that as long as American Horror Story continues, Sarah Paulson better damn well be part of it. Lana's determination, courage, and yes vulnerability made her character a worthy heroine of Asylum. It also provided any Heroes fans out there with a depraved reunion between former cast mates Zachary Quinto and Clea Duvall (Sylar and FBI Agent Audrey Hanson). You know the scene I mean. 

Once Upon A Time: 2.12 "In the Name of the Brother" (January 20th)

This entry is really where favorite is stressed as the title of this year-end list. Yes, there's a bias shown toward David Anders whom I've adored since he rocked it out on ABC's Alias years back, but that's not entirely why this episode is a favorite of the year. It wasn't long after this aired that season two went into Charming-Mills-Rumple overdrive along with the random new outside threat of Greg and Tamara. 'In the Name of the Brother' actually fulfills the season one promise of the show to illuminate the lives of more than a handful of fairytale characters that found themselves in Storybrooke. It's also worth nothing that Victor's connections to previously known characters (Jefferson and Regina) had nothing to do with blood relation, a trope that the writers of OUAT have become far too dependent on as of late. This episode also plunged us into an entirely different world--that of science over magic, a tantalizingly hued world that many fans were excited to get back to. Too bad we probably never will. The loss of Anders' lively steampunk Doctor Frankenstein is sadly just another sign of a show that doesn't really have its priorities straight. 

Being Human UK: 5.06 "The Last Broadcast " (March 10th)

We lost many excellent British genre offerings this past year but Being Human went out with a real bang. There's hardly a better way to close out on the lives of Hal, Tom, and Alex than to have them face off with the devil himself. Each of their struggles was a heartbreaking reminder of the central theme of the show: three supernatural beings desperately trying to hold onto and discover their own humanity in their changed world. But this show wouldn't have felt right with a purely sunny ending and the fake out of the trio getting to believe they won whilst still being trapped in an illusion was pretty ballsy stuff indeed. Especially considering that we'd only had a couple years with this version of a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf so the writers were hoping it was enough to make us feel the gut-punch of the ending shot. I know I did. 

Breaking Bad: 5.14 "Ozymandias" (September 15th)

We all know the poem by now and the connotations it has with the episode of the same name; this is the episode where Walter's true devastation of all around him occurred. It was Heisenberg's last gasp as Walt cast the dice on the fates of Jesse, Hank, and the rest of his family. The confrontation in the desert is still hard to watch even now that I know every last beat of the story as it unfolds. But seeing Jesse Pinkman's life on the line, while an awful sight to behold, wasn't what makes this episode so memorable for me. Breaking Bad is notorious for inducing a range of emotions and reactions from its viewers and this show can proudly hold the distinction as the only one I've ever watched that made me dry-heave. Not from a scene of blood and gore, hell I can eat the sauciest of pastas while watching those scenes. No, it was the final confrontation between Walt, Skyler, and Walt Jr. that did it. It was pure chaos on the screen and though the actors tumbled around violently with a blade poised to cause harm it was never more clear that no weapon could do to this family what their own patriarch had in his attempt to try to save them from the ruin that he brought to their doorstep Truly engrossing and excruciatingly fearless television the likes of which I doubt I'll ever be fortunate enough to have come around twice in a lifetime. 

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: 9.04 "Flowers for Charlie" (October 23rd)

Though I've never yet posted about such shows on this blog, I'm a massive It's Always Sunny fan. I've been there with the show since day one, and now in their ninth season something magical has happened where they've produced a nearly perfect season of comedy television. It was a close call in choosing this one over 'Mac Day', another standout from season nine, but 'Flowers for Charlie' is instant classic material. Written by guest writers Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, this parody of Flowers for Algernon was the perfect spotlight on the comedic range of Charlie Day. While every member of the show's cast has gotten a chance to try and show more of their character's inner self over the years, to me what Charlie Day has done with his character deserves far more praise than he gets. Look back at old episodes of the show and it's clear that Day has put so much more heart and depth into Charlie Kelly since then, and that's why the twist of this episode hurts us as much as it initially hurts him. D&D proved that they understood these characters when the gang banded together for their embarrassed friend and turned the situation around against all the 'science guys' (one of whom was played by Day's Pacific Rim cast mate Burn Gorman, another big reason why this episode is on my list). 

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