Fangirl Thursday: The End of an Era

OUAT

“Now we get to do what’s next…”

After this season’s finale of Once Upon a Time, I had to ask myself, what’s next? The show isn’t ending (Although it is moving to a new night—Fridays.), and the glimpse we were given into what the next season might look like—featuring an adult, unbelieving Henry and his young daughter—was promising. However, the version of the show that drew me to my TV every Sunday and drew me to my computer every Monday to write about it for years—Emma Swan’s story—has ended. It’s the end of an era for “Oncers,” and it’s caused many of us—especially those of us who have been inspired to write, draw, create videos, or participate in fandom at any level—to evaluate our relationship with the show now and going forward.

I’m still planning on watching Once Upon a Time (as long as its message of hope and optimism is still present). And maybe the next season will still inspire me to write about it from time to time. But as far as weekly posts are concerned, I think it’s time for me to do what’s next.

This season’s finale post will be my last Once Upon a Time episode analysis for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping to fill that gap in my posting schedule with analysis of another television show (the identity of which has yet to be determined), and if you find yourself missing NGN television discussions, you can always catch up on The Americans and visit our discussions of its episodes until the show airs its final season next year. There will always be plenty of nerdy fun to be had here at NGN, and I hope those of you who first came here because of my Once Upon a Time posts stick around to see what comes next.

Once Upon a Time will always hold a special place in my heart. It was one of the building blocks of NGN in this website’s earliest days. It’s the show I’ve written about the most in terms of years and word counts, and it was the show I watched for the first time the day I decided to start this site. There would be no NGN—at least not as we know it today—without Once Upon a Time. And that’s why I can’t walk away from my weekly posts about it without saying thank you.

Thank you, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, for creating a show that spoke to a lost girl in her 20s who was looking for something positive to believe in. Thank you for never losing sight of your vision and for never letting go of your belief that hopeful media still matters. Thank you for creating a story about complex, flawed, relatable women who find strength through many different kinds of love—a new set of fairytales women in today’s world can be inspired and empowered by.

Thank you to all the writers who took their vision and made it your own, and thank you to the most underrated cast on television for bringing these fairytales to life with depth, charm, and sincerity; this show could never have worked without the right cast. But even more than bringing these stories to life, thank you for caring so deeply about those who care so deeply about the show. The kindness and enthusiasm this entire cast has shown toward their fans is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in all my years in various fandoms. We have been truly lucky to have our favorite characters be played not only by talented actors but also by genuinely good people who truly believed in what they were doing. That makes all the difference in the world.

This show has changed my life. It was the reason I attended my first major fan convention. It was the inspiration behind some of my best and bravest writing. It introduced me to people I would never have known without it who have now become close friends of mine, and it helped strengthen my relationships with friends and family members by watching and talking about this special show together. And thanks to the incredibly encouraging corner of the fandom that I was a part of as well as the support and kindness I was shown by the incomparably thoughtful Jennifer Morrison, it gave me the confidence that I needed not just to make NGN the best it can be but also to push myself forward in my career as a writer and editor.

Once Upon a Time is a true light in the darkness. It has reminded me to never give up hope, that it’s never too late to be the best version of yourself, and that there is no darkness so powerful that it can’t be overcome by belief in yourself and the love of those around you. It has helped me learn to define myself on my own terms—to punch back and say “No, this is who I am.” And it has given me the courage to believe and to keep believing at a time in my life when it is all too easy to become cynical and apathetic.

More than anything, though, the most precious thing Once Upon a Time has given me is a place to belong. I’ve had different fandom “homes” before, but I’ve never stayed in one this long. And along the way, I have met so many incredible people—all because this show about fairytales brought us together. I feel honored to be a part of a close-knit community of fan writers who have written about every episode of this show for years and have formed our own support group to offer encouragement to each other in hard times and to celebrate with each other when things are good. To be surrounded by such positive, enthusiastic women and to be part of a group of ladies supporting ladies the way we have for as long as we have is a true joy and a gift that I don’t take for granted. I can’t wait to see what all of them do next.

Finally, when I look back on the years I spent writing about Once Upon a Time, I will think about the growth of the NGN Family during this time. I will think about the incredible discussions we had in the comments, the words of support I cherish to this day, the friendships I watched form with smiles on my face and tears in my eyes, and the reminders in a million tiny ways that I have the most beautiful chosen family on the Internet—a group of people who always has my back, who makes me want to be a better writer and a better woman because they deserve the very best of me, and who has shown me the true meaning of love being strength. It’s been an honor talking about this show and the journeys of these incredible characters with all of you, and I hope you know how much I value your readership and, more importantly, your friendship.

So let’s raise our Doctoberfest mugs to the show that brought us together. Cheers, Oncers!

ouat cheers

TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.21/6.22

JENNIFER MORRISON

Source: ew.com

Title The Final Battle: Part 1/The Final Battle: Part 2

Two-Sentence Summary After the Black Fairy casts her curse, Henry has to try to get Emma to believe the truth about herself and her family, who are trapped in an Enchanted Forest that is rapidly disappearing along with her belief. Meanwhile, flash-forwards reveal the next generation’s Truest Believer and her skeptical parent.

Favorite Line “Now we get to do what’s next. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing, but living with that kind of belief—that’s the most powerful thing of all. That’s hope. So you ask ‘What now?’ Now, we get to keep going on. We get to keep doing what we love with people we love. An ending isn’t happiness. Being together is.” (Snow White)

My Thoughts
“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.”

Once Upon a Time has always been a show for believers and for those who want once again to believe. It’s a show that reminds its viewers that there is power in believing—in magic, in your loved ones, and in yourself. Belief—and the hope that comes from living out that belief even when others try to tell you that you’re crazy for it—is a saving grace in a world that all too often has forgotten that being hopeful isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

This chapter of Once Upon a Time was the story of a woman’s journey to believe in the face of incredible obstacles, and it was also the story of the boy who helped her find that belief. This chapter taught its viewers many lessons, but one of its most lasting messages , which was reflected in an important way in this finale, was that it’s okay to need help sometimes; you don’t have to do everything on your own—including believing in yourself.

The power of belief was at the center of “The Final Battle,” to the point where the titular battle wasn’t really referring to the swordfight that occurred near the end of the episode but was actually the battle for Emma’s belief, which began—as Rumplestiltskin predicted it would—when Henry brought Emma to Storybrooke on her 28th birthday with the goal of getting her to believe in her true self.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/11 – 9/18)

Welcome back, fellow TV addicts; I hope you had a wonderful summer! Now that the fall television season is upon us, it’s time for the return of our weekly breakdown of the best television moments! 

This was a warmup week in the world of television before things return to normal in the coming days (and weeks). However, even with a short list of shows airing new episodes, there were still some standout moments. Sunday saw the return of NFL games for most teams, which is either the best news ever or cause for another year of disappointment. (Can you tell I’m a Buffalo Bills fan?) On Monday, the new season of Dancing with the Stars premiered with some unexpected drama (protestors charging at Ryan Lochte on live TV) and some fantastic dancing. (Let’s just give Laurie Hernandez the Mirror Ball trophy now; she’s that good—and that much fun to watch.) Wednesday’s season finale of Suits was one of the show’s best episodes in recent memory, reminding us all why Jessica Pearson (and Gina Torres, by extension) is the queen of all she surveys only the break our hearts with her departure in its closing moments. Finally, Friday’s new episode of Girl Meets World touched on some incredibly deep and painful topics (the Holocaust, slavery) while never losing sight of the good in the world as shown through friendship, the diversity that makes America beautiful, and the belief that human connection—being part of something—is something to treasure and respect.

This is a week earlier than I’d planned to bring these posts back, but as soon as I watched the Suits finale, I knew I had to write about it. In a season where I found myself bored more often than usual (I actually missed a few episodes and discovered I didn’t really miss anything plot-wise.), Jessica was still a highlight every time she was on screen. And this finale—with its tight focus on Jessica and her backstory—was the finest episode of the season and one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. Watching Jessica own a courtroom was something I’d always wanted to see, and when Torres was given the chance to show this side of her character, she didn’t disappoint. But it was the way show peeled back Jessica’s layers to reveal her motivation behind what she did in that courtroom that really resonated with me.

Jessica Pearson’s father sacrificed his family at the altar of his career, but he believed he was doing something for the greater good. And even though Jessica chose a different career path (law instead of medicine), she did so as a young woman believing she would also serve the greater good. She became a lawyer to help people, but somewhere along the way, the relentless pursuit of power and prestige blinded her to the reason why she became a lawyer in the first place.Like her father before her, she chose her career over personal relationships, but her career choices didn’t offer her much comfort in the end. She’d stopped helping people who needed help and instead became so focused on protecting her firm that she lost her way. And that’s easy to do as a woman in a position of power (and probably even easier as a woman of color in that position, but that’s an experience I can’t personally speak to). You have to work so hard for the smallest victories that it becomes easy to lose yourself and your ideals in the fight to protect what you’ve earned.

But this death row case helped Jessica find herself again. It allowed her to reconnect with the young woman she once was, and in doing so, she learned a scary truth: She didn’t want to keep living the life she’d been living. She wanted to be better; she wanted to be happy. It was clear in the scene in which she told Harvey and Louis she was leaving: Jessica couldn’t keep fighting these battles to protect the firm; it was crushing her spirit. She’d fought for so long, but what was it all for? And as such, she chose to walk away from the firm she’d sacrificed so many things to protect.

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TV Time: The Americans 4.13

the americans s4 finale

Source: ign.com

Title: Persona Non Grata

Episode M.V.P.: Everyone
This might seem like a copout, but “Persona Non Grata” was a total team effort. Each actor was given their time to shine, and each performance worked with and added to the others. Masterpieces generally aren’t painted using only one color, and symphonies don’t work with only one instrument. In the same way, this powerful finale was the sum of all of its talented parts.

What impressed me the most about this episode was the way it balanced its stories so well, giving every character we’ve come to care about an important story to tell. This allowed every actor in this brilliant ensemble a chance to do something special, and they ran with it.

Of course, there were the big moments: Dylan Baker’s heartbreaking work as William died a horrible death—made even more horrible by the fact that he was alone; Matthew Rhys’s stunning monologue about feeling sick every day before going to work; Costa Ronin’s poignant farewell scenes; and Holly Taylor’s masterfully ambiguous performance as Paige and Matthew grew closer.

But I also found myself entranced by the smaller beats in this episode, the silent moments that reminded me of the trust this show places in its actors to convey so much without words. I was spellbound watching Noah Emmerich’s face as Stan took in William’s words about loneliness, the sad understanding creeping across his features. I found myself close to tears as Taylor’s face changed from joy to longing to hopeless sorrow as she held Pastor Tim and Alice’s baby and was suddenly confronted with the reality of her own journey from childhood to the awful grownup world she’s found herself in—a world that could jeopardize the future of this little girl. I was devastated by the exhaustion and hopelessness in Lev Gordon’s posture as Arkady processed the fact that he was being sent back to Russia. I even found myself getting emotional over Tatiana, as Vera Cherny sold her sincere sadness over Oleg’s departure in a way I wasn’t expecting.

And that’s not even including the incredibly charged silences between Rhys and Keri Russell throughout the episode. Russell didn’t speak much in “Persona Non Grata,” especially compared to some of the other episodes this season, but she still delivered a knockout performance. The entire sequence of moments between Philip and Elizabeth after Gabriel suggested they return to Russia was a master class in using silence to your advantage as an actor. You could almost see the wheels turning in Elizabeth’s head as she processed what it might mean to return “home” after building a real home in America with her family. The war between officer and mother was raging inside Elizabeth, and the only evidence we saw of it was in Russell’s intense eyes. Watching her and Rhys in those scenes made me feel afraid to blink because I might miss something, and that’s when this show is at its very best.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.22/5.23

OUAT S5 finale

Source: spoilertv.com

I apologize for the delay in getting this post to you, fellow Oncers! I spent the last two weeks finding some magic of my own in Walt Disney World, which I will be writing about in great detail very soon. But for now, we have a finale to discuss!

Title Only You/An Untold Story

Two-Sentence Summary Growing weary of the pain magic has caused his family, Henry sets out with Violet on a quest to destroy all of Storybrooke’s magic, which brings both of his mothers and Rumplestiltskin to New York City to find him before he can put his plan in motion. Meanwhile, a portal gone awry sends Snow, Charming, Zelena, and Killian into the Land of Untold Stories, where they meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, whose separation tempts Regina to separate herself from her own dark side.

Favorite Line “I know how crazy it sounds, but magic is real. It’s all around us. You just have to be willing to see it. You have to be willing to believe.” (Henry)

My Thoughts

At some point in your life, every one of you was once a believer. And at some point, you left that part of you behind. But you can go back to it—if you believe.

Once Upon a Time isn’t a show for everyone. It’s a show for believers. It’s a show that asks you to watch with an open heart and your cynicism checked at the door. And for those of us not-so-grown-up grownups who love it, it’s a show that called out to the part of us we left behind and reignited in us what it means to believe.

A lot of things happened in this two-hour finale event. New characters were introduced, new lands were visited, kisses were shared, conflicts were established, and families were separated and reunited. But for as important as the plot setup might have felt for next season or for as rich as the character development was, it all paled in comparison to the words of the Truest Believer reminding all of us why Once Upon a Time has touched so many of our hearts.

This is a show about hope, but I wouldn’t blame you if you’d forgotten that after the events of this season. Between Emma becoming a Dark One (and also making Killian one against his wishes), Killian dying more than once, and Robin being obliterated without the hope of his soul ever moving on, it’s been a pretty bleak season of a show that preaches the value of optimism. And that’s why Henry’s speech was so important—not just for Henry and the other characters, but for those of us who are fans of theirs, too. That speech was like a ray of sunshine breaking through the swirling vortex of sadness that this season has been. It was a reminder that even when things look hopeless, you can’t stop believing that something good can happen. Because there is power in optimism. There is strength in hope. And that was a bright, positive message that was sorely needed after such a dark stretch of episodes.

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Fangirl Thursday: Change Is Good

I’m not normally someone who likes change, but sometimes change can be great.

Some of you have known this for a couple of weeks now (if you follow me on Twitter): I was promoted to an Associate Editorial Director position within the children’s publishing company I’ve worked for since I graduated from college. This is an incredibly exciting (and just a little bit anxiety-inducing) change in my life, allowing me to take on new responsibilities and grow not just as an editor but as a leader, which is what I’ve always wanted from a job.

What does that mean for NGN? Hopefully not much. But I do want to prepare you for the fact that it might mean posts showing up later than usual as I deal with my new workload. However, I promise to keep producing the kind of content that’s brought you to this site in the first place. It might just take a little longer than before for that content to be produced.

For a long time I wrestled with the idea of doing what I do here at NGN professionally, but over the last week or so I’ve done a lot of soul-searching. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I like things the way they are now. Would it be great to get paid for running NGN? Of course. Who wouldn’t like making money writing exactly what they want to write how they want to write it. But I’m not sure I’d love it this much if it were my actual job. So for now, I’m going to enjoy the fact that I have a paying job doing something I like and a website I run for my own enjoyment that by some miracle of the Internet has become something other people enjoy, too.

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Agent Carter Life Lesson of the Week: Hollywood Ending

Agent Carter s2

“Dwelling on what might have been is no way to live.”

We can’t change the past, and we can’t control the future. But we can choose how we deal with the present. A life lived as a slave to the hypothetical is a life half-lived, so it’s up to us to make the present the best it can be. Peggy Carter’s journey this season has been about moving away from the hypothetical—her longing over what might have been and her fears of what could be—and allowing herself to find a place in the present where she belongs and feels happy. That journey created a season of Agent Carter that was allowed to grow with its heroine and a finale that showcased the power of choosing to live in the present and forge a path without regrets.

As a Catholic schoolgirl, I learned a prayer when I was younger that I still use as a mantra today:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s in that balance between serenity, courage, and wisdom that we find happiness in the present. And “Hollywood Ending” highlighted the ways all of this season’s major players worked to find that balance.

Naturally, the character who struggled the most with that balance was Whitney Frost. If I had one major complaint about “Hollywood Ending,” it was that Whitney’s defeat felt anticlimactic and not worthy of the complexity of her character. I would have loved for her to have been the reason the rift stayed open instead of her playing no real role in that life-or-death situation. However, the scenes before and after the Zero Matter was taken from her were much more interesting.

Watching the madness take hold of Whitney was fascinating, and Wynn Everett was once again at the top of her game. Whitney believed this was her way of making the most of the present, of choosing her happiness. She’d spent so many years listening to what other people told her to do and living the life she thought she was supposed to live, but it broke my heart to see that all she was doing now was listening to another voice telling her what to do—the voice of Zero Matter.

Whitney’s desire to grow more powerful on her own set up another excellent parallel between her and Peggy. While Peggy learned that she could achieve more by allowing others to fight alongside her, Whitney chose to push everyone else away. Peggy entered that final showdown with a whole team beside her, but Whitney entered it alone.

However, there was one person who was still fighting for Whitney over the voices of Zero Matter—and that was the man who loved her. Yes, Joseph Manfredi is a villain in his own right, but I’m a sucker for a man who loves a strong woman—and that’s who Joseph turned out to be. He knew a life with Whitney—the real Whitney—was worth fighting for. Even if it meant working with Team Carter to save the woman he loved (which gave us that fantastic scene of him holding Jarvis at gunpoint).

It broke my heart to see Joseph visit Whitney at the episode’s end, only to discover that she’d lost the one thing she valued above all others: her mind. She was now a slave to what might have been—desperately trying to get back to a place of power by any means necessary, including clawing at her own face to open it up. It was a chilling final moment that was worthy of such a great character, and that final scene made up for the fact that the actual climax of her story was a bit underwhelming.

Unlike Whitney, Jason Wilkes refused to be controlled by Zero Matter. He chose a different path for himself—a hero’s path. And while it felt a little convenient for his explosion to take away all his Zero Matter, I wasn’t complaining, because it was nice to see him join Team Carter as himself. Jason is a fundamentally good man who made desperate choices when faced with an impossible situation, and I liked that no one held that against him. What mattered weren’t the choices he made in the past but the choices he was making in the present. And in the end, he found where he belonged.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (5/24 – 5/31)

Sorry for the delay in posting this, friends! I had a lot of emotions to work through first. (Warning: This post centers around an episode that dealt with rape and torture, so if those topics upset you, it’s probably best to stop reading now.)

This week in television included the first week of dates on The Bachelorette, the start of The CW’s excellent plan to re-air its most popular new shows this summer (I loved the pilot of The Flash!), and a typically tense and exciting episode of Orphan Black that featured the wonderful first meeting of Mrs. S. and Helena, as well as plenty of fun new twists and turns for Allison.

However, the best thing I saw on TV this week didn’t come from any of those shows. In fact, it came from an hour of television that left audiences very divided: the Outlander season finale.

While there is no denying that this finale (which featured incredibly graphic sequences of rape and physical/emotional torture) was the most disturbing hour of television I’ve ever watched, I find myself firmly in the camp of viewers who were impressed with the way this episode handled the trauma of rape and the emotional/psychological ramifications of it,  beyond using it as a mere plot device. This wasn’t darkness for the sake of darkness or horror for the sake of shock value; it was a harrowing exploration of the effects of brutal sadism on a human being and the impact of rape and torture both on the survivor and those who care for them. This was an episode that cared about what the victim was going through on an emotional and psychological level, and, as such, it brought out the kind of intensely haunting and raw performance in Sam Heughan that I really hope earns him consideration when it’s time to announce Emmy nominations.

In an episode so dark and disturbing, it was important to have something to balance out the sense of despair that could have dominated the hour. And in order for that balance to be achieved against scenes as horrible as the flashbacks to Jamie being repeatedly raped and psychologically tormented, we needed to feel the depth of Claire’s love for Jamie more strongly than ever before. Thankfully, Caitriona Balfe was more than up to the task, turning in a stunningly vulnerable performance of her own.

While some might name the episode’s ending as its most beautiful scene because of its pure sense of hope and light after so much time spent in darkness, my favorite scene came before it, when Claire got through to Jamie by reminding him that—no matter what happened to him or how damaged or shamed he feels—he is her husband, and she has chosen to love him always. I’ve watched a lot of television shows with married couples in them, but I’ve never seen a moment that got to the heart of the vows to love each other “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” like this moment did. This moment was what a strong marriage is all about: two people who made a promise to choose to love each other—even when it’s not easy—and honor that promise always, because they believe what they have together is worth fighting for.

Sometimes it’s not easy to believe you’re worth fighting for, which is exactly what Jamie went through in that scene. He couldn’t believe Claire would still want him after what happened to him. But Claire doesn’t see Jamie as someone to be ashamed of or someone to pity; she never has. She sees him as someone to love. She sees a survivor rather than a victim, and that’s so important in a story about trauma. There are few fictional characters I know of who need healing more than Jamie Fraser, so I have always appreciated the beauty in the fact that he fell in love with and married a healer who is just as good at healing his physical wounds as she is at helping him begin to mend his emotional ones. Claire was right in this scene when she said everything worked out as it did in order for them to be together, and that’s the stuff of epic love stories that don’t come around every day.

Love can’t erase the scars of traumatic experiences. But it can be enough to help that same person learn to live with their own scars. Love can be a flicker of strength and hope where there once was only darkness, and the love between Jamie and Claire—and the way it was shown through the performances by Heughan and Balfe—provided moments of true beauty in an episode that could have been unwatchable in its bleakness.

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

Grading the Season Finales 2015: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

Title Johnny and Dora (2.23)

Written By Luke Del Tredici

Two-Sentence Summary When Jake and Amy have to pose as an engaged couple to track an identity thief, their ability to separate their personal feelings from their professional partnership is put to the test. Meanwhile, Terry and Gina try to help Captain Holt find a way out of his new position, and Boyle helps Marcus plan a surprise for Rosa’s birthday.

Game-Changing Moment Changes were happening all over the 99th precinct at the end of this episode. Captain Holt decided to take the job with NYPD Public Relations rather than letting his team fall into the hands of Madeline Wuntch, and that decision sent shockwaves through the precinct, even more so when Gina decided to leave with him. Having Holt and Gina work separately from the rest of the characters broadened the scope for Season Three and shook up some of the show’s best dynamics—Jake and Holt, Amy and Gina, Terry and Gina, Amy and Holt, etc. I’m sure the show will find a way to believably (or at least entertainingly) bring those two characters back to the precinct soon enough, but until that happens, Brooklyn Nine-Nine will certainly feel different.

Captain Holt’s departure and the sense of change it brought with it also seemed to inspire Jake and Amy to change the game in their own way—with a real kiss after a pair of undercover ones earlier in the episode. While the fallout from that kiss wasn’t addressed yet (thanks to the arrival of the new captain), it was clear from both of their expressions after pulling away that this isn’t going to be something they try to ignore or excuse away because they regret it. Instead, this has the potential to be a major turning point in their relationship, and, as such, a major turning point in the show.

“Johnny and Dora” ended with a sense of confidence in terms of where the show is going and how it’s getting there. It swung for the fences on not just one but two major changes, and I think both of those swings will lead to big hits. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that has yet to let me down thus far. That makes it easy for me to watch large-scale changes unfold, because I have every faith that those changes will be handled with care.

Finale M.V.P. How do we start a campaign to get Andre Braugher an Emmy for playing Captain Holt? Because I want to lead the charge. This finale started with a typical “Holt vs. Wuntch” plot, which always brings fun things out of Braugher as an actor. From his description of her as a succubus to his face as she checked to see if he was wearing a wire, I loved every moment. However, it was when Holt actually had to leave the precinct that Braugher really got a chance to stretch this character’s range and tug at all our heartstrings in the process. I loved that he started his farewell speech with his usual unemotional demeanor, but then the emotions he felt became so overwhelming that they started to peek through. And best part was that the dominant emotions were pride and love for the family he’s become the leader of. That scene could have been played for laughs and nothing else, with him finally showing emotion by breaking down and crying, but the show instead chose to have him genuinely smile, which was a thousand times more affecting (for the audience and for the other characters). “Warm” is not an adjective usually used to describe this character, but that’s exactly what he was in that last scene. And the fact that Braugher managed to make Holt’s rare display of genuine affection feel so grounded, earned, and believable speaks to his ability to make what could have been a robotic, one-dimensional character always feel human and complex. I love when unexpected characters make me cry, and that’s exactly what Braugher was able to achieve with his performance in this finale.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (5/10 – 5/17)

This was a truly fantastic week of television, which is usually what happens when May sweeps time is in full swing and finales are airing all over the place. On Sunday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine set up its season finale with a great cliffhanger, and Game of Thrones aired another strong hour. However, it was a pair of season finales which made Sunday truly memorable. On The Good Wife, Kalinda said her final farewell and a surprise visitor showed up at Alicia’s door in the closing seconds. Also on on Sunday, Once Upon a Time‘s season finale gave us a fun trip into an alternate reality, but it also gave us a heart-wrenching sacrifice made out of hope, love, and true bravery. Monday continued the trend of strong season finales, with an episode of Castle so good it could have served as the perfect ending to the whole series. And Wednesday’s season finale of Nashville was as emotional as it gets, with moments of pain and pride that moved me deeply. Finally, Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black was a breathless thrill ride, and Outlander aired an episode that shook all of its fans to their core (an episode I still can’t think about without my hands starting to shake). In a week filled with some episodes that might end up as all-time favorites of mine in their respective series, choosing the best moment felt like a nearly impossible task. Was it Emma’s incredible moment of bravery or the emotional sacrifices in the alternate reality which inspired her sacrifice on Once Upon a Time (or even the very sexy sword fighting lesson between Emma and Hook)? Was it Mrs. S. welcoming Gracie as her guest on Orphan Black? Or was it Will finally learning to love himself and love someone else openly and proudly on Nashville? All of those were great moments, but only one moment I saw on television this week has made me cry happy tears every time I’ve re-watched it, and that’s the ending of Monday’s Castle finale. There was such love in that scene—between the characters, the actors, and the writers. Every word of Castle’s speech was beautiful. And the sight of the entire cast together in one room for the first time was incredibly moving, highlighting the sense of family this show has built over the last seven years. Nothing I saw on television this week made me happier than those final minutes of this season of Castle. They were a true gift to fans of this show, and I will treasure them. Always. What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?