Whether it be the climax of a series, the point where the plot thickens, a heartbreaking twist, the moment where we feel genuine empathy for a character, or a season finale cliffhanger that has us counting the days until the next season premiere airs; there is no denying that the TV series we love the most provide us with some moments that we will never forget. As we are now less than a week away from 2018, let’s take a look at some of television’s greatest moments.
In no particular order….
Cheryl hits her breaking point at Sweetwater River and Archie redeems himself- Riverdale
I have had a whole lot of love for Riverdale since it aired back in early 2017- and it’s phenomenal and a testament to the creative power of the shows’ producers and writers that a series which aires in January of this year already has an internationally dedicated and invested fan base. Whilst I have yet to ever miss an episode and wish the show nothing short of success, I believe the writers struggle to create consistency in the show’s tone- the editing can come off rather choppy, the tone can switch dramatically from an episode of One Tree Hill to Twin Peaks. However, let’s not forget that this is still rather a freshmen series trying to find it’s way, and it’s sudden demand for a higher episode count in season 2 probably meant the writers had to cut back on creative fluidity and consistency.
However, in the course of less than a year Riverdale has produced some astounding memorable moments that have resonated with the viewer on an emotional and visual level. The season one finale succeeded in that more than ever- and no, I’m not talking about the moment we discover that Papa Blossom killed his own son, or the moment shortly after where Cheryl and her mom discover that he hung himself- I’m talking about Cheryl’s heartbreaking moment in Sweetwater River and Archie’s redemption.
Cheryl had a hell of a season (some might say quite literally)- losing her brother and best friend to murder, Cheryl never knew who she could trust and it was all the more painful to have to deal with her grief whilst living with her less than sympathetic and controlling parents. Wanting to take the pain away, Cheryl attempts suicide by drowning at Sweetwater River. Before she attempts this, she texts Veronica to say that she’s ‘going to be with Jason now’. Veronica fortunately quickly picks up the location as Jason’s body was found in Sweetwater River. As Veronica, Archie, Bughead, and Betty all rush to the frozen river to stop Cheryl, they see her attempting to break the ice and looking completely broken and defeated- it was an incredibly raw, vulnerable and real side to Cheryl the viewer had yet to see. As Veronica attempts to persuade Cheryl to come back to shore and talk everything out, Cheryl falls through the ice, and Archie and the gang all run through the snow and breaking ice to urgently rescue Cheryl. The music, the genuine urge to save Cheryl, and the cinematography of this moment alone was breathtaking and thrilling. The gang all spread out and try to find where Cheryl is as the current has taken her, but the real standout from the gang in this moment is no one other than Archie.
As Archie finds Cheryl, he starts punching through the ice with his bear hand which quickly starts excessively bleeding and breaking due to the impact of the ice, but he does not stop until he breaks it enough to retrieve Cheryl from the water. In the midst of all this, we see Cheryl open her eyes underwater and hallucinate a zombie looking Jason reaching out for her, at which point she screams under water (another chilling and visually stunning moment). Once Archie takes Cheryl out of the water, he starts performing CPR until she coughs water out and starts breathing, a relieving moment for everyone involved including the viewer as the whole scene felt so tense.
So why did Archie redeem himself, you ask? Well, throughout the season Archie had become the least developed and relatable character on the series. For tv show standards, especially one where the majority of the characters face real struggles whether it be due to family life or battling inner demons, Archie came off as rather normal. He was the hot quarterback whose biggest struggles were choosing between football or music, and having multiple women swoon (including his music teacher) over him at once. His parents may be divorced, but he has a loving and hardworking dad who quite frankly seems to be the most sane adult from the Riverdale bunch. That’s why the moment Archie saved Cheryl was all the more powerful and it redeemed Archie as a character- in that moment the viewer truly knew that Archie would do anything to protect those in his life and he no longer came off as the simple-minded Hollywood high school quarterback stereotype.
Also, fun fact, KJ Aja (the actor who portrays Archie) legit broke his hand while filming this scene- talk about being committed to your craft!
William passes away while his son holds his face- This is Us
To single out one memorable moment from This is Us, especially a heartbreaking one, is a real hair-pulling moment as I find myself reaching for a tissue in nearly every episode. Every episode either drops in a massive or subtle but equally impactful plot twist, plenty to cry about, plenty to laugh about, and plenty to just plain love about this brilliant series.
However, no moment made me a complete waterworks mess more than when the time had some to say goodbye to Randall’s father, William. Randall never grew up with his father, as he left him in the fire station (it was for his own good, we discover that William was good-hearted even in his weakest moments) and was soon adopted by the Pearsons. Randall does not develop a relationship with his father until he’s 36, a point at which William is already combatting an aggressive cancer that isn’t getting any better. However, Randall comes into William’s life at a time that you could call divine intervention as William was about to relapse into drug use as he finds out his cancer is terminal.
What comes next is the viewer witnessing the blossoming relationship between a father and son who are essentially strangers to each other (with plenty of bumps and hiccups along the way). The viewer always knew that William was going to die from the get-go, but it didn’t make it any less painful when it actually happened. In fact, at the point, we had become highly emotionally invested in William as he was such a loveable character, and he had formed a wonderful relationship with Randall. Before he passes, Randall and William travel to Memphis (where William grew up) and bonded more than they ever had before, we also discover that William knew it was his time to go and he wanted his last memories to be cherished in Memphis.
When William is taken to the hospital as he is feeling severely unwell, Randall discovers from the doctor that his father isn’t going to make it any longer (a painful realisation for Randall). If you weren’t flooded in enough tears at this point, the real heartbreak comes at the moment where Randall and William start saying goodbye, and William says he’s scared. This was absolutely devastating, and I must admit something that really tore at my heart as I have a lot of anxiety over the thought of death and what happens afterwards. We often see characters die on television, but I feel that it is rare to see such an honest reaction to thought of death. On the programs I’ve seen, especially when death has been a near possibility for a character for a while, the concept of fear hardly ever seems touched on. William had made peace with the course of his life but that didn’t mean he wasn’t fearful of what was going to happen next, at which point Randall cups his father’s face between his hands and asks him to breath in sync with him. Randall put his sadness and fear away at that moment to be strong for his father, and to take his father’s fear away. It was such a beautifully wonderful moment in a very tragic scene.
The Good Place is Actually The Bad Place- The Good Place
On a much lighter but equally impactful note, 2017 brought back the hilariously clever sitcom, The Good Place. This premise has always been brilliant for a sitcom- a young woman dies and wakes up in the afterlife, The Good Place. A place that was built to reward the world’s ‘best’ members of societies who all committed nothing short of wonderful actions. The issue is that this woman, Eleanor, shouldn’t really be there because she’s made a fair amount of morally questionable choices in life. She isn’t by any means the worst of the worst but she’s what you’d call a douche and an asshole, and by those means is in no way worthy of a ticket into The Good Place (although we never feel like she belongs in The Bad Place either).
The whole of the first season we see Eleanor struggle with hiding the fact that she’s not meant to be in The Good Place, and when her act’s finally up and she confesses the truth, it would appear that everyone on her side (including neighbourhood’s creator Michael) in order to keep her from going to The Bad Place.
Except, shocker, The Good Place has always been in fact The Bad Place! A fact we discover in early 2017 during the season one finale and figured out by Eleanor, Michael created The Bad Place to look like the Good Place in order to torture Eleanor and crew (his sick twist on fun).
Before you completely can drop your jaw, the viewer then realises that Tahini and Chidi (Jason is not included in this as we quickly found out he was also not meant to be in The Good Place because of his life’s choices) are also not worthy of The Good Place standards. Why? Well, Tahini’s charitable actions were always self-serving and merely reactionary to the envy she had for her sister. Chidi, on the other hand, constant need to morally question the consequences of every choice became incredibly frustrating for everyone in his life and severely impacted his relationships.
Who would have thought that a half-an-hour sitcom could provide one of the biggest plot twists of the year?
The ‘shadow monster’ catches up to Will- Stranger Things 2
Okay, so I’ve managed to finish both series of Stranger Things across 2 days. However, we’re accolading the most memorable moments of 2017 here so for those purposes, I will strictly be focusing on Stranger Things 2.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I enjoyed the second series more than I had the first one from this science-fiction horror thriller. The viewer quickly discovers in season 2 (actually from the season 1 finale) that Will is still ver much connected to the upside down place. In the first few episodes of the second series, Will appears to keep switching from ‘reality’ to the upside down place and viewing a much scarier demon than the Demigorgon from season one (which is still present in season 2)- this time it’s a massive black tornado/spider looking figure with lots of legs that’s described as a shadow monster. Originally, some are convinced that Will is merely having hallucination episodes due to PTSD from the upside down world, but these episodes are actually Will entering the real upside down place and that Shadow Monster is to be taken very seriously.
Even Will is convinced the Shadow Monster may be a form of hallucination, so taking his mother’s boyfriend’s (Bob) advice on overcome nightmare monsters, her screams at the shadow monster to ‘go away’. Except the issue is that Will’s not dreaming, and as he bravely stands his ground hoping that the monster will disappear, he realises too late that he is not hallucinating as the shadow monster ‘takes’ Will by possessing his body. This scene is absolutely terrifying, visually thrilling, and the point at which you can prepare for all hell to break lose.
Will’s definitely gotten the short end of the stick during his time on Stranger Things, I do hope the third series gives him a break!
Laurel’s dad orchestrated Wes’s Death- How to Get Away With Murder
The first half of season 3 and the second half of 2016 had us questioning who was ‘under the sheet’- only to discover that HTGAWM killed off one it’s Keating Five, Wes, which was probably the year’s most shocking and devastating discovery (but equally gave the show a new lease of life).
The second half of season 3 and first half of 2017 then had us furiously questioning the ‘whodunnit’. No one was more determined than Laurel, Wes’s girlfriend and baby mama (or maybe not, as it’s not really clear if Frank could be the father at this point). There were the obvious suspects, like the Mahoney’s as they would have it out for Wes for getting their son in prison. However, HTGAWM doesn’t do obvious and even when you think you have it figured out, a revelation comes out of the blue that you never even considered but perfectly makes sense when you put all the pieces together (no other show out there does an epic WTF plot twist like HTGAWM).
Just when we thought that AD Denver had killed Wes ( a fact that would still have been painfully shocking), we discover that it was no one other than Laurel’s father, Jorge Castillo! We always knew that Papa Castillo was a dodgy man that didn’t shy away from the legal grey and very clearly illegal areas, but as a fairly insignificant background character, no one could have seen him being the man responsible for killing Wes, his daughter’s boyfriend. We find out the why later on in season 4, but purely focusing on the revelation was enough to get this moment a top nod in 2017’s most memorable television moments.
Rebecca attempts suicide- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
This musical dramedy has never shied away from tackling mental health (something very close to my heart and a daily struggle) and it has always achieved to do so tastefully and realistically.
For the first two seasons of the show, the viewer may find themselves laughing at Rebecca’s antics or becoming frustrated with her self-destructive patterns. Season three continues to see Rebecca commit the same patterns of questionable decisions, but now more than ever tackles the state of her mental health and sees her tragically spiral to a point of self-loathing and believing that she has no one left in West Covina. Rebecca leaves West Covina to be with her mother, whom she has a very strained relationship with due to feeling she doesn’t meet her mother’s expectations. However, they appear to bond and Rebecca’s mom seems to take a much more relaxed approach towards Rebecca and she evokes genuine care, empathy, and love for her daughter. The turbulence between the two start again when Rebecca’s mom snoops on her laptop out of concern to find a page open advising on the most painless ways to commit suicide. She then starts spiking Rebecca’s milkshakes with her anti-anxiety medication- something incredibly inappropriate albeit well-intentioned. Although Rebecca appears to be in better spirits as she feels she is finally bonding with her mother, she rightfully becomes infuriated when she discover her mom has spiked her milkshake with medicine. Rebecca at this point has felt like she really has hit rock bottom and has no where else to turn, and leaves her mom a devastating note saying ‘I know you did your best. Don’t worry about me. I’m ok’.
However, Rebecca is far from okay, and we then see her on a plane looking emotionally lifeless and numb. She then precedes to take the rest of the bottle with pills and mix it with alcohol. This is heartbreaking, but as Rebecca begins to lose consciousness, she finds hope and asks the stewardess for help. This scene was very difficult to watch, but proved that this show was willing to get very real about mental illness despite the comical and light-hearted tone the program often carries.
Mike Sandoval gets slashed away, and Angela finally gets justice for Greg- Power
‘Esto fue por Greg’- This is for Greg
Those were the final words Angela Valdez spoke to Sandoval as she croucher over his dead body, whilst it was still drenched in a pool of his own blood. Angela, the federal agent heading the fight against one of the countries most notorious drug cartels whilst simultaneously having an again-off-again affair with the one of the ring leaders from said cartel, has always walked a very wobbly rope that tends to sway towards side of ethically and morally corrupt. That being said, you can’t deny that Angela’s choices are always in the name of justice.
When Greg was killed, her on-off again boyfriend turned stalker turned default mole scapegoat was murdered by Sandoval as Greg found out he was the real mole, Angela became convinced that Ghost had committed it (based on all of Ghost’s actions it’s a fair assumption). However, when the truth comes out about Sandoval being the mole, Angela convinces him to testify against everything he knows about the cartel and the people involved, which would guarantee him protective custody. It would seem this advice Angela’s handing out is due to concern for Sandoval, but actually, it’s because Angela knows that someone’s going to murder Sandoval before he can speak as he knows too much.
Angela got her justice for Greg without having to get her hands red.
Jake and Amy are engaged- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Not all of TV’s most memorable moments this year need to automatically be death or plot twisted to relate this show, 2017 also had plenty of lovely and wonderful moments that managed to make us happy and shed nothing short of happy tears.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is full of feel good moments, and five seasons in, you better believe viewers are rooting for the success and happiness of the show’s main ensemble. Jake and Amy, in particular, are characters viewers have always shipped from the beginning. Since season 3, the two have been in a loving and stable relationship with very few but always comical hiccups.
In season 5, we are treated to Jake proposing to Amy in the most Jake way possible- completely flustered, genuine, and simultaneously making a very romantic moment hilarious. Amy has a very sweet and similarly hilarious reaction to all of this, even managing to quip in a ‘title of your sex tape’- a running gag between the two over the years. Jake’s proposal, while hilarious, is also incredibly respectful and very 2017 as he admits to asking Amy’s dad for his blessing while also making the point that he doesn’t need Amy’s dad’s permission as it’s an outdated sexist tradition but he also respects Amy’s father and cares about his opinion whilst mainly caring about Amy’s opinion first and foremost.
Also, when Boyle finds out he passes out from excitement and happiness, proving then more then ever that Boyle is the fandom.