29 December 2016

My Top TV episodes of 2016

2016 hasn't been the best year but it has had it's moments, specifically in TV. I've been a little behind on some tv this year, with some shows I've been meaning to binge-watch but just haven't been able to yet! (I will get round to watching West World and Peaky Blinders, I promise!) However I thought I'd put together a list of my top TV Episodes of 2016 from some of the shows I watch faithfully! Needless to say some of these short reviews may contain big spoilers so beware!

  1. SUPERNATURAL 12x04American Nightmare

How does a tv show stay fresh after 12 seasons? The writers of this CW show have delivered some truly incredible episodes in the past two seasons, such as the 1967 Chevy Impala POV episode Baby & the return of Sam's imaginary childhood friend in Just My Imagination. Now that the show is past the mid-season-finale point, we can reflect on the direction of this 12th season. With the British Men Of Letters & parental figure plots looming, it was a 'filler' episode that stands out the most so far. American Nightmare, an episode centered around several mysterious deaths that lead Sam & Dean to a religious family living off the grid. This episode had a true 'early seasons' feel to it, with a rather dark opening scene in which a woman wanders into a church, being whipped by an invisible source and chanting a strange verse in a foreign tongue. This episode allowed us to get another glimpse into Sam's opinions on God. As someone who is constantly being targeted and used as a pawn by biblical figures in both Heaven & Hell, Sam has always managed to surpass their expectations of him and prove himself as the hero he doesn't even admit he is (most recently in which he held the doors open against the strength of the most powerful angel). In American Nightmare, Sam drops his usual professional guard to speak his mind to a religious woman who solidly believes that 'God has a plan for us all'. Sam knows better than anyone that the latter is far from true, and he expresses this with zero sugar-coating. Needless to say Jared Padalecki's outstanding acting gives the scene such depth and emotion that you can't help but recall all the times that Sam has suffered because of his own expectations of God in the past.

       2. PENNY DREADFUL 3X04 - A Blade Of Grass

Season 3 of Penny Dreadful introduced a familiar face as a new character. Patti LuPone returns not as the witch Joan Clayton but as a distant relative of hers, a psychiatrist named Dr. Seward. Vanessa Ives, alone in London after the departure of Sir Malcolm & Ethan, is struggling living by herself and thanks to Mr Lyle starts seeing a psychiatrist. The resemblance between Dr Seward and Joan has a profound effect on Vanessa, who quickly establishes her as trustworthy. After several sessions, Dr Seward puts Vanessa in a hypnotic state, to help her remember a rather traumatizing part of her life spent in a mental institution. The episode centers around the friendship that forms between Vanessa and her 'carer', played by Rory Kinnear who as you may know is also the captivating John Clare. The entire episode is set in one room, white and padded with minimal furniture. reminiscent of a theater stage. Eva Green & Rory Kinnear work so beautifully together, that an entire episode of just them in one room seems too good to be true. With the simplistic setting we are able to truly cherish the moving dialogue and incredible acting. Although A Blade Of Grass was important in terms of plot development, it was the heartfelt and tragic moments between Vanessa & John that resonated the most.

   3. STRANGER THINGS 1x08 - The Upside Down

With only 8 episodes, the incredibly successful and popular Stranger Things was very well paced. It managed not only to establish characters but embed character arcs (for pretty much everyone) within the plot, which can be difficult to do with so few episodes and without it feeling cramped or rushed. The Upside Down saw all the characters come together in order to find Will Byers, the boy who went missing at the start of the season. This episode was filled with heart-felt and emotional moments, and saw towards the end some pretty awesome team ups. The most satisfying one being Nancy, Jonathan & Steve, the unlikely badass trio who take on the 'demigorgon' monster. Not only was Steve not-as-much-of-an-asshole-as-he-could-have-been, but him coming to Nancy & Jonathan's aid despite having no clue whatsoever to what was happening brought a smile to everyone's faces. The iron will & determination of Joyce and Hopper to locate Will and bring him home was incredibly touching, and when they succeed in doing so you can't help but be moved. Eleven's bravery was without a doubt the most emotional part of the episode, as she illustrates her love for her friends by taking on the 'demigorgon'. This end of this episode clearly sets the scene for season 2, with Hopper being driven away by the suits before placing a little package in the woods and Will suffering with what we could call 'after effects' from his time in the Upside Down.

    4. Game Of Thrones 6x09 - Battle Of The Bastards

After a rather disappointing season 5 due to out-of-character moments and poor writing, which we can only assume was the result of the showrunners running out of book material to work with, season 6 left the books behind entirely (with The Winds Of Winter not yet released). As a huge fan of George RR Martin's books, I was a little apprehensive about this 6th season. Yet, I believe the show continuing despite having no more written material to go on was the best decision. They could finally move forward without having to pace out the various book plot lines. I read somewhere that GRRM gave D&D the major events that are yet to happen in the books, so although the paths in the show are different than the ones we will read in the books, we can (hopefully) assume that the end will be the same. First of all, Battle of The Bastards began with a spectacular sequence featuring Daenerys Targaryen riding Drogon alongside Rhaegal and Viserion, dealing with the Masters attacking Meereen. Needless to say the visual effects of Game Of Thrones have elevated the standard of modern day television, with the CGI equaling that of high budget hollywood blockbusters. It was also a pivotal moment for Daenerys, as she lived up to her name and upheld the Targaryen dynasty. The rest of the episode centered around Sansa Stark & Jon Snow, certified fantasy hero, meeting the villainous Ramsey Bolton on the battlefield. The battle of Winterfell was truly gruesome, depicting the true horror and cruelty of war. The battle concluded with Jon Snow almost savagely punch Ramsey to a pulp, stopping only at the sight of Sansa who is the one who ends his life. Battle of The Bastards was a critical episode for both the Starks and the Targaryens, with the Starks reclaiming their home from the clutches of the Boltons and Daenerys showcasing her power. Without a doubt one of the most tension-filled episode of television in recent history, and a truly cinematic-like episode with breathtaking art direction and imagery.

   5. The Walking Dead 7x07 - Sing Me A Song

We've known for several seasons now that walkers aren't the real baddies in the world of The Walking Dead, but the humans are. The apocalypse brings out the best and worst in everyone. TWD has provided us with some truly evil humans, like the Governor. However they've set the bar even higher this season with the introduction of Negan. Sing Me A Song offers us a more in depth glimpse into Negan's domain, after Carl, rather bigheadedly decides to venture into his territory armed with a machine gun and only one goal: to kill Negan. Needless to say his plan soon fails, and he is left utterly defenseless surrounded by The Saviors. Negan decides to take Carl on a little tour around The Sanctuary, proving his level of power & influence: the Saviors bow before him, follow his every command - those who don't, as Carl witnesses, are punished. The title of the episode, Sing Me A Song, alludes to the torment Negan puts Carl through. He begins by making Carl remove his eyepatch, revealing for the first time the result of his gunshot injury, bringing Carl to tears. However, Negan doesn't stop there - he forces Carl to sing him a song, while he practices swinging Lucille in the background. Negan brings so much tension to the show that it's difficult to see how TWD could possibly come up with a better baddie than the one played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The following episode is equally as good if not better, with Negan visiting Alexandria and making himself at home whilst waiting for Rick to return home. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's portrayal of Negan is the most compelling part of the episode. He's just too darn good at being bad.

These are among my favorite episodes of this year - but there are many others! I watch a lot of shows, and there were some good plots this year. I loved the Artificial Intelligence plot in The 100, the season 3 finale of The Originals. I've surprisingly enjoyed the latest season of Once Upon A Time, and The Flash once again remains one of my top shows - I was really impressed with the DC Week 4 episode crossover event! I also really enjoyed season 2 of Daredevil, specifically The Punisher centered episodes which were insanely good. If we could have more Matt/Frank scenes that would be great as I loved the dialogue between the two. There are so many shows I haven't started (or up to date with), such as Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders, West World and more. What are your top episodes of 2016? Let me know!


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