Best insanity: ‘Orphan Black,’ ‘Variations Under Domestication’
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a show that goes off the rails like some safety-challenged thrill ride. On “Orphan Black,” that happened on the day Alison decided to tie up and torture her husband during a neighborhood potluck party. Sarah, Felix and even Hot Paul get in on the action, creating a microcosm for the combination of energy, comedy and danger that made “Orphan Black” 2013’s best new show.
Best pilot: ‘The Americans’
Narrowly beating out “The Blacklist” for this honor, “The Americans” wins for introducing a tricky concept (deep-cover Soviet spies during the Cold War), relatable anti-heroes and a time period previously honored only by “That ’70s Show.” Also, one word: “Tusk!”
Best setups for the future: ‘Arrow,’ ‘Three Ghosts’
The winter finale of “Arrow” Season 2 provided the following:
- A full setup for a “Flash” spinoff series
- New direction and importance given to a secondary character (Roy Harper, injected with superman juice)
- An explanation for what happened to two characters on the island
- A new and only partially expected villain to carry the second half of the season
Oliver also defeated bad guys and stuff in a “Christmas Carol”-inspired hour.
Best subtle discussion of the Second Amendment: ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘Article Two’
Did you catch the references to the gun-control debate? It would be forgivable if you missed them in the hilarious wake of Patton Oswalt (and his “Star Wars” filibuster, the uncut version of which is below). But everything from the title of the episode to the discussion of how laws need to reflect the changing times also worked as a brilliant look at one of our society’s biggest controversies.
Best family reunion: ‘Castle,’ ‘Hunt’
Richard Castle never knew his father, never knew anything about the man.
That is explained clearly in “Hunt,” when dear old Dad appears out-of-the-blue to help save Alexis from kidnappers: He’s an international spy and assassin with constantly changing identities and terrifying enemies. The explanation is both fantastic and fitting for this underrated procedural.
Best introduction of a villain: ‘Haven,’ ‘William’
Although audiences had already met Colin Ferguson‘s character, William, he was seen as a benevolent helper until this episode. That was wrong. That was very, very wrong. William turned out to be a smiling, sociopathic villain perfectly happy — and able — to burn the world in order to get back the woman he once lost.
How do you choose between a long-awaited wedding and one of the most romantic, GIF-able kisses in recent television history. The answer is: You don’t.
Jess and Nick’s surprise kiss at the end of “Cooler” set in motion a ‘shipper-desired romance that is still going strong almost a year later. The episode leading up to that moment was pretty excellent too — True American! — but the kiss really was the best thing ever.
And then there was the wedding eight-and-a-half seasons in the making on “Bones.” After a bit of an “oh no, the wedding is off” fake-out, the actual ceremony was touching, a gift to fans (referencing the first Gravedigger episode) and appropriately funny. In a word, it was perfect.
Best bloodbath: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Rains of Castamere’
A lot of viewers knew the Red Wedding was coming. But no one could have expected the sheer visceral impact that came when Walder Frey and his people slaughtered the Starks. The death of Lady Catelyn alone means that none of us will ever be able to see Michelle Fairley the same way again.