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.
Utopia: '1.01' (Jan. 15th)
This end of year list features a great deal of 'genre' fare, but Utopia to me is the cream of the crop. If this were a ranked list it would be number one with a bullet as to me it's the brightest gem out there right now and is far too unnoticed. Utopia is a gorgeously colored living comic book of intrigue, suspense, and horrific violence that will leave you breathless throughout its first six episodes. The story starts simply enough with a group of forum members coming together to meet in real life when suddenly their favorite fiction becomes all too real. I love any show that doesn't treat its characters as too precious to put through harm and no one could ever accuse Utopia of that from the first episode's infamous torture scene. The words 'I like the eyes' will forever make me shudder at their connotation.
Supernatural: 8.12 'As Time Goes By' (Jan. 30th)
Like many day one Supernatural fans, I lost interest during the misfire of season seven. There are too numerous an amount of offenses to mention but suffice it to say I was basically done with the show. It was only on a lark I decided to try season 8 and I haven't looked back since. The term 'Season gr8' is completely accurate as this season gave hardcore SPN fans much to love including the introduction of the Men of Letters into canon. I chose 'As Time Goes By' for its exploration into the Men of Letters, our first meeting with Henry Winchester, John Winchester's thought to be absentee father, and it's the first episode of the demoness who is the best, Abadon (the lovely and vicious Alaina Huffman). One thing that the Men of Letters provides for the show is a real chance for Sam Winchester's talents to have historical context--his keen knack for research is no longer a 'nerdy' quirk that differs him from Dean's kill it and ask questions later mode of operating. Introducing Henry Winchester (charmingly played by Gil McKinney) allowed the boys to see this part of their heritage in action and fully embrace it in future episodes. It was also a sad look at a very loving father who would never have abandoned John of his own volition--can you imagine what John would have been like without the trust issues and with full-fledged membership into the Men of Letters? Oh what a very different show it would be.
Elementary: 1.23/1.24 'The Woman/Heroine' (May 16th)
It started off bogged down a bit by its more procedural moments despite excellent performances by both Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and Watson respectively. But something started to happen throughout the first season of Elementary, little differences from the traditional canon started to take place and the overall show became stronger for it. When Natalie Dormer's Irene Adler appeared it was as a damaged and vulnerable version of a woman, the woman, that captured Sherlock's heart like none other had before. That would have been fine enough but the writers went even further by turning Holmes' love into the very same person as his mortal enemy. It was the perfect dagger in the heart for the ever observant Holmes to be blind-sided by Irene Adler truly being Moriarty and the effects of that reveal have still been felt throughout season two. I've been a fan of Dormer's work on The Tudors and Game of Thrones but Jamie Moriarty is one of her finest roles yet, and she clearly loves playing the spider on the edge of the web awaiting her fly. While the classic Sherlock/Moriarty interplay was all well and good, Elementary knew that to truly stand out they would let Joan Watson become Moriarty's match instead of Holmes himself. Joan took control and she took Moriarty down. It would have rang false to have Joan be a victim, her Watson doesn't take shit and she's proven herself worthy of being Sherlock's comrade several times throughout season one--this was just her crowning achievement so far.
Sleepy Hollow: 1.01 'Pilot' (Sept. 16th)
There were a handful of episodes of this series that could have been included but I figured let's start at the beginning because without a strong pilot this show would have been DOA like so many other of Fox's past genre attempts. Okay, forget its current level of Tumblr fame and remember back to the summer when those cheesy Sleepy Hollow ads were everywhere. If you were like me, you only tuned into the pilot at all out of a sort of morbid curiosity and the glimmer of hope that maybe it wouldn't be bad after all. After all, Arrow had some of the worst season one promos ever and that show rose above to become one of the best genre series on any network. If you were on Twitter during the premiere of the pilot episode something happened where half-way through people stopped being snide and started getting really excited. The chemistry between leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison was undeniable, the effects were creepy and it was clear early on that the writers of the show had a plan and an interesting mythology to unfold along the way. But they weren't afraid to be a bit cheeky either as they actually had the balls to have the Headless Horseman wield an AK-47 at one point during the episode. These elements and the fact that Clancy Brown (Carnivale's Brother Justin) would play an important part in this story despite the fact that he didn't make it through the pilot alive had me more than eager to tune in next week.
The Good Wife: 5.05 'Hitting the Fan' (Oct. 27th)
Pretty much everyone has put this on their best of list for the end of the year and so it's a no-brainer choice. This episode took the status quo of The Good Wife and smashed it up in a manner that opened up our well-known characters and the relationships they had with one another to new levels of exploration. Everything old was new as former lovers Alicia and Will became bitter combatants, sides were declared, and war began between Florrick, Agos, and Associates and Lockhart Gardner (no one's ever going to call it LG, sorry Will). Every single confrontation is charged with so much emotion that the dialog crackles in a way it never has before and you never learn more about the depths someone will really go to as a person until they're cornered. Not only did Alicia engage in her 'warrior princess' mode but Will Gardner finally got to embrace the ambitious underhanded bastard we've seen hints of throughout the years. Josh Charles has never had better material to work with and this new level of writing is allowing him to shine each week alongside the much-lauded Julianna Marguiles.