This week in television started with a night of great twists on Sunday, as Once Upon a Time‘s Robin Hood-centric episode brought a major player from last season back into the game and The Good Wife upped the tension in the home stretch by bringing desperate decisions from the start of the season back to haunt Cary, Diane, and Kalinda, while Alicia was devastated by a game-changing political move. Sunday also gave us a strong season premiere for Game of Thrones, during which I was reminded again and again of the brilliance of Lena Headey. On Monday, Disney Night inspired some fantastic performances on Dancing with the Stars. Wednesday featured an episode of Nashville full of emotional moments (especially a realistically heartfelt one between Deacon and Luke) and an episode of The Americans that ended on one of the most shocking reveals in a season full of them. Finally Saturday’s season premiere of Orphan Black reminded me of all the reasons why I love Sarah Manning (and have always been wary of Delphine), and Outlander swept me away with its most romantic hour yet.
I haven’t talked much about Outlander here yet (On Twitter it’s a different story…), but Saturday’s episode was far and away my favorite thing I watched on television this week. It had the sweeping feel of a truly epic romance, and almost all of that was because of the absolutely beautiful performances by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. The achingly vulnerable work both actors brought to the table this week deserves all the recognition it can get.
While I loved everything about the trial at the beginning of the episode (including quite possibly the coolest twist in a week full of great plot twists), the last 20 minutes are what I can’t stop watching today. (Literally—I’ve watched them 6 times, and I’m sure I’ll watch them again after I finish writing this.) Those final scenes—from Claire revealing the truth to Jamie through their final kiss—were the kind of romantic scenes that make you put your hands over your heart as tears spring to your eyes, and I firmly believe that kind of reaction to media does the body and soul a world of good. There was such love and tenderness in every moment: Jamie stroking Claire’s hair as she cried in his arms; the way he smiled as he watched her and kissed her in their scene by the fire (especially knowing after the fact that this moment of giving her pleasure and watching her enjoy it was his way of saying goodbye); the rush of emotions as he pulled her back from the stones and held her one last time; and the beautiful, overwhelming joy in his expression when she came back. It was such a perfect showcase for the depth of the chemistry between Heughan and Balfe, which I believe is the best chemistry on television right now.
If you need me, I’ll be on my couch watching those last 20 minutes again and again for the rest of my life—and probably still crying every time.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
Yeah for the return to civilization and nodding along to your adept summary of weekly television. After much marathon watching to catch up on my TV shows (and adding Outlander to my summer list) I was ready to give my moment to Jane the Virgin, sentimentally because it was the episode I got to watch in LA this past week, but ultimately I found myself able to catch up with Justified and doing so there was simply no other choice for the best thing I saw this week.
Justified is a show for people who love dialogue and who love language. The show’s cast has always been stellar but what set this show apart time and again was the conversations and observations it provided. It was a modern day Cain and Abel story told through the prism of Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. While Breaking Bad was earning (well deserved) acclaim, Justified provided arguably the better duo in nuanced, intricate performances from Timothy Olyphant and Walter Goggins. These two not only breathed life into their characters, they made a lifetime of regret and agitated desire to escape their roots of Kentucky coal mines riveting television. The finale of this series held true to the quiet and intentional nature of the show. It provided a satisfying and justifiable ending for these characters who I will deeply miss. There were gasp-worthy moments and questions throughout the hour as to who would survive and where our main characters would ultimately land. That the show understood its strengths well enough to go all in on them resulted in a payoff of a final scene that lingered like a hot day in September – unexpected, relishing and somber all at the same time. It was a great credit to everyone involved in this terrific series and especially a great tribute to the shows ultimate source – the great Elmore Leonard. It is a show I missed the second credits rolled and in many ways it was a love letter to what made Leonard one of a kind. Similarly, I think time will look back on Justified the same way, uniquely one of a kind.
You’re back!!! And of course you would come back with the kind of thoughtful, passionate comment that made me add another show to my to-watch list. 😉
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Justified for a while now, and I’m so happy its finale gave you the kind of wonderful feelings all series finales should inspire in their fans.
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