The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (11/2 – 11/9)

This week in television started off with a deeper look into Belle’s past (and a deeper look at the Snow Queen’s plan) on Once Upon a Time; the uncovering of Boyle and Gina’s secret on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; and more drama in Cary’s case on The Good Wife. Tuesday saw very strong returns of New Girl and The Mindy Project, and Thursday featured some big developments on both Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.

There were some great acting moments this week—from Elizabeth Mitchell’s captivating work on Once Upon a Time to Jake Johnson’s hilarious work in the latest episode of New Girl. However, no performance this week could top what Darby Stanchfield did on Scandal. She made me feel every single emotion raging through Abby as her abusive ex-husband found his way back into her life. Stanchfield made Abby’s fear, shock, anger, and desperation feel so visceral and so heartbreakingly honest. When she told Olivia that she threw up on her dress upon discovering her ex-husband in the Oval Office, I marveled at the honesty of that moment. It was such a human, relatable moment on a show where so many characters react to situations in ways no one ever would in reality. And I also marveled at the beauty of Olivia genuinely being there for Abby through such a difficult time. It was a stunning scene of real depth and support between two women. And that made me feel good, even as the scene itself made me cry.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Grading the Season Finales 2014: Scandal


Title The Price of Free and Fair Election (3.18)

Written By Shonda Rhimes and Mark Wilding

What Happens? Jake tells Fitz about the bomb Maya Pope planted in the church (which Cyrus was still not going to tell him about), prompting an evacuation of the church just as the bomb goes off. As Fitz delivers a speech, Sally is shown helping the wounded among the rubble of the church, and it becomes clear that Fitz is about to lose the election.

Olivia confides in her father that she doesn’t want Fitz to lose and that she was scared Rowan was going to die when her mother stabbed him. With Maya still on the loose and the election all but lost, tensions are running high in the White House. Things only get more complicated when Olivia tells Fitz about his father raping Mellie. Fitz goes to his wife, and both he and Olivia understand that he can’t leave her with this new knowledge. Instead, he and his family make an appearance together, but while Fitz is delivering his speech, his son Jerry collapses and later dies from bacterial meningitis.

Jerry’s death is revealed to be no accident: A vial containing a strain of the disease was stolen, and all signs point to Maya. A grieving Fitz gives Rowan permission to do whatever he has to do to bring her down, which means reinstating himself as Command of B-613.

As Fitz and Mellie mourn together, Olivia and Cyrus contemplate their humanity: Were they always monsters whose first thoughts are winning elections, which they know will happen now with the public support thrown behind Fitz after Jerry’s death? Olivia is confronted with a way to rediscover her humanity when Huck reveals Quinn found his family. While he ultimately decides to see them again, his words about disappearing inspire Olivia to take her father up on his offer of putting her on a plane to disappear forever—and she takes Jake with her.

With Olivia gone just like her father wanted, Harrison puts the pieces together to see that it wasn’t Maya who killed Jerry—it was Rowan. Olivia wanted Fitz to be president, so he made Fitz president, while taking away his son like Fitz took away Rowan’s daughter. Rowan then orders Harrison to be shot, and we see that he’s keeping Maya locked up once again.

As Olivia and Jake fly towards their new life, David receives boxes of files on B-613, and Olivia receives a phone call from the White House. It’s Mellie calling for Fitz, who has broken down under the weight of everything the presidency has cost him just before he’s set to deliver his victory speech. But Olivia chooses not to pick up.

Game-Changing Moment Scandal is famous for packing multiple game-changing moments into each episode—not just its finales. With so many shocking scenes in its short history, it’s rare that a Scandal twist can be genuinely upsetting anymore, but that’s exactly what young Fitzgerald Grant IV’s death was—upsetting. When none of the major characters in the church died in the bombing, I’m sure most people expected someone to die in a different way in this episode, but I’m not sure anyone expected the teenage son of the president to die in such a sudden and brutal manner. Jerry’s death was a horrifying moment, and it’s more even horrifying after discovering why he died. His death led to so many more game-changing moments in this finale: Rowan being reinstated as Command by Fitz; Fitz winning the election; Maya being recaptured; and, ultimately, the reveal that Rowan was the one who set up the boy’s death (which led to Harrison’s possible death as well). This twist also led to many of the episode’s most important moments of character growth: Olivia and Cyrus talking about becoming monsters; Mellie and Fitz softening towards each other in their grief; and Fitz breaking down in the Oval Office. It’s always a risk to kill off a kid (or in this case, a teenager), but Scandal made it a moment of huge importance while grounding it in very realistic grief.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (12/8 – 12/15)

This was a slower week than usual in the world of television, as many shows had already begun their winter hiatuses. However, there are still some shows that are getting into the home stretch for this first half of the season, and they’re approaching these last few weeks with great dramatic flair. For example, Sunday’s Once Upon a Time set up a winter finale that is sure to be emotionally gripping and filled with intriguing twists. Wednesday’s Nashville put tears in my eyes with a beautiful but heartbreaking near-confession of love from Juliette to Avery, and it made me gasp in its final moments. Thursday featured two excellent winter finales: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ended with a twist I never saw coming, and Scandal was an intense as ever, allowing the most seasoned acting veterans among its cast to do what they do best.

The incredible acting talent on display in this week’s episode of Scandal made that winter finale the best thing I saw on television this week. From Kate Burton’s incredible work in the episode’s horrifyingly tense opening scene to Jeff Perry’s tortured performance throughout, this episode showcased the way great actors can make even the craziest stories feel compelling. But the MVP of this episode has to go to Joe Morton. Rowan’s complete and total verbal smackdown of Fitz was the most satisfying thing I’ve seen on television in a long time. The writing was perfect (“You disappoint me as a suitor for my daughter’s hand.”), but Morton’s delivery made those excellent lines feel even more pointed. (Every time he called Fitz a boy, it was like you could feel the condemnation dripping from his mouth.) Never has brutal honesty been so brilliant.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/29 – 10/6)

Another fantastic week in television has come and gone, and with it came some excellent season premieres and episodes that continue to have me hopeful for this entire TV season as a whole.

Last Sunday’s Once Upon a Time premiere had me on the edge of my seat and completely buying into the idea that this season will give me the emotional content and character development that last season often lacked. That hopeful feeling extended into my viewing of the season premiere of The Good Wife, which also reminded me of all of the things I first fell in love with about the show.

Monday’s Dancing with the Stars episode made my love for Bill Engvall only grow stronger, and Castle was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Tuesday’s TV lineup included an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring the cameo I’d been waiting for since I’d heard about the show, as well as episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project that packed quite the emotional punch.

Wednesday’s Nashville episode was a great followup to a fantastic season premiere, even though the scene between Rayna and Deacon broke my heart. Thursday reminded me of all the ways TV can make me laugh (Ron Swanson’s accidental Vine on Parks and Recreation) and all the ways it can make me feel (the entirety of Scandal‘s breathtaking season premiere).

I only started watching Scandal with this week’s recap show and season premiere (besides YouTube clips of the most talked-about scenes and about 3/4 of last season’s finale), but I’m so happy I decided to tune in when I did—because it was the best thing I saw in a great week of television. Everything about that premiere was smart—the twists, the dialogue, and even the wardrobe choices (that white trench coat!). And it all culminated in one phenomenal scene between Fitz, Olivia, and Mellie in a secret bunker. My favorite thing about that scene was the way there were so many things being said without words between all of the characters, especially between Fitz and Olivia. It’s a brave thing for a network drama to have a scene so long featuring nothing but three people talking, but when the acting is this good, it’s hard to believe anyone would be able to turn away.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?