This week in television was jam-packed with excellent episodes and memorable moments. Sunday’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine featured fun bonding experiences for every member of the team at the 99, especially Gina and Captain Holt. There was nothing fun about the police work that took place on Monday’s episode of Castle, as Jerry Tyson and Kelly Neiman were back to torment the team at the 12th precinct. On Tuesday, Peggy’s sneaking around finally caught up with her on Agent Carter—despite some wonderful help from Angie. And Tuesday’s comedies were at the top of their game, with Parks and Recreation brilliantly balancing sincerity and satire and The Mindy Project featuring one of its best and most emotional endings ever. On Wednesday, Louis and Mike finally reached an understanding on Suits; family drama was everywhere on Nashville; and The Americans continued to explore the idea of finding intimacy in the most unexpected situations after Elizabeth faced another very close call. Finally, NBC gave us the perfect precursor to tonight’s celebration of Saturday Night Live‘s 40th anniversary by re-airing the first episode of the show on Saturday night.
There were so many standout scenes on television this week that I wanted list all of my runners-up for the best moment, because in any other week, any of these would have probably have been the best thing I saw:
- Castle confronting Jerry Tyson alone in the interrogation room on Castle, which featured some of Nathan Fillion’s best work on the show to date.
- Leslie and Ben perfectly bringing to light the ridiculously sexist questions asked of women in politics and working mothers in general on Parks and Rec.
- Danny discovering he’s going to be a father and then rushing through New York City to find Mindy as Beyonce’s “XO” played on The Mindy Project.
- Louis telling Mike he’s not a fraud on Suits.
While all of these moments were incredible, and many of them made me cry or cheer, there’s one scene that aired this week that I’d consider one of the best scenes I’ve ever watched on television—and that was the tooth extraction scene (and the hug that came before it) on The Americans.
This scene could have been memorable for its gruesome nature, and for some that’s probably how it will always be remembered. However, the reason I think it’s one of the best TV scenes I’ve ever watched is because it took what could have been a disturbing moment of pain and turned it into a moving moment of trust because of the care the director brought to the scene and the emotional depth Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys brought to it. It’s always risky to film scenes with no dialogue, and this scene’s content was risky to begin with. However, this moment was all about trust—the trust the director had in his actors, the trust the actors had in each other, and the trust the characters displayed onscreen. That trust created a moment of startling intimacy the likes of which I’ve never seen before—a love scene that only The Americans could give us.
Due to the brutal nature of this scene, I’m going to post some links to it instead of embedding a video of it here:
- This is Vulture’s video of the full extraction sequence.
- This is Slate’s video the full scene with commentary by the show’s creators. (I highly recommend watching this one!)
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
The best thing every week is on Castle!
It was a fantastic episode!
So I have finally caught up on the week that was and can completely understand why you selected this scene in a sea of really strong TV this week. You expressed why so perfectly. On the heals of a scene of sheer brutality from last week that spoke to the cold, detachment that is a necessity not only for these characters work, but for their sheer survival we are given a really nice off set to that calculated scene with the suitcase by seeing what could be equally brutal come off as an act of tenderness. The world that Elizabeth and Philip navigate is merciless. As they grapple with the issues surrounding Paige the last couple of episodes and this scene in particular give us the full breadth of why that issue is so deep for both characters.
For me two moments stood out. The first a surprise and the latter the expected still managing to surprise. In Jane the Virgin, we are given a wonderful moment within a series of comedic beats that was a complete surprise both to the characters and to the audience. It’s a wonderful blend of endearment and character development that you don’t see coming given who Jane is and who Rogelio is at this point in the series. It passes by in a flash but caused me an immediate rewind to relish in it. There is much farce in Jane the Virgin, but it’s heart and willingness to wear it with fierce confidence makes these characters infectious.
Finally, my moment is definitely Castle. The confrontation between Castle and Tyson had a lot stacked against it. It had a subplot of questioning (convincingly by Michael Moseley) if this was in fact Jerry Tyson, the anticipated build up of three years in the making and claustrophobia of Bill Roe’s direction in the interrogation room. This story has always brought out the very best in Fillion, but honestly I don’t remember a character chess match I have enjoyed more than the one between Rick and 3XK. Rick’s ability to lay out the psychology of Jerry Tyson with the confidence of a man holding all the cards only to have Jerry not only bluff, but successfully take Rick’s hand out of play in the form of Gates not being able to match the DNA. It’s a terrific bait and switch that sets the table for last night’s finale. It is also one of the most exhilarating scenes Castle has ever produced.
I had a feeling you were going to pick the interrogation scene. 😉 And your beautifully stated words about it did not disappoint. It’s always a thrill to watch two actors square off and bring out the best in one another, and Mosley and Fillion do that for one another every time they’ve shared the screen.
I also have to add a big YES to your statement about the contrast between the suitcase scene on The Americans and this scene. Both were shocking, but the first was done to highlight the detachment these characters need to have from their work while this scene highlighted the fact that they can’t detach themselves from each other. In the middle of the cold world they inhabit, they’ve found some measure of warmth and comfort with each other.