The Top 10 TV Moments Of 2014: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Homeland, Hannibal and More!
2014 was a fantastic year for television, one that kept topping itself and introducing is to things we didn't know the medium was capable of. From new shows like The Knick and True Detective to veteran dramas rebounding to become great in the post-Breaking Bad world like The Walking Dead and Homeland, there was so much to live about TV. We've tried to encapsulate it all in our Top TV Moments of the year.
After two parts, we're ready to give you what we thought were the 10 best moments all year, so check that out below and be aware of potential SPOILERS!
Here's the list so far:
30. How I Met Your Mother's terrible finale
29. Germany embarrasses Brazil at the World Cup
28. Alan Alda explodes off of The Blacklist
27. John Travolta introduces us to Adele Dazeem at the Oscars
26. Josh Charles' surprise exit on The Good Wife
25. Dumb Starbucks on Nathan For You
24. The Legend of Korra's uplifting series finale
23. Masters of Sex flashes forward following a great bottle episode
22. Vee gets her comeuppance on Orange Is The New Black
21. The Flash fights Multiplex
20. Troy leaves community
19. Veep's primary debate
18. The Guilty Remnant ups its game on The Leftovers
17. Too Many Cooks (toooo many cooks!)
16. Dennis Reynolds' journey through Fargo
15. Silicon Valley's scientifically accurate dick joke
14. Jack Bauer takes no prisoners in 24: Live Another Day
13. Forrest MacNeil eats 15 pancakes in Review
12. Best Late Night Moment of 2014: John Oliver's Dog Court
11. Louie's 'Fat Lady' speech.
And now the Top 10!
10. BEST NEW SHOW OF 2014: 'THE KNICK'
Also Read: The Best New Shows of 2014
We've already talked about a few great new shows on this list (and, spoiler alert, there's at least one more to come below in terms of moments), but we always reserve a spot for the top of the heap, which was, in this case, The Knick. Forget that it was a serious drama on Cinemax, or that it had Steven Soderbergh behind it and Clive Owe leading it on camera, all of those things aside, The Knick is just a great drama about a turn-of-the-century hospital struggling to find balance between the rapidly advancing technology with the dangerous diseases plaguing New York City at the time, not to mention issues like racism and religious. The Knick paints a perfect picture of New York City in and around the year 1900, but also offers a great character drama thanks to some fantastic acting, writing and directing that stands up with any other show on TV. All of this, again, on Cinemax.
If we had to choose one singular moment from the show that particularly wowed us though, it would have to be the final moments of the premiere, when Bono's daughter injects Clive Owen with cocaine through a vein on his dick (now you know you want to watch this show).
9. PARKS & REC FLASHES FORWARD 3 YEARS
Show: Parks and Recreation S06E21 - 'Moving Up'
Over six seasons, Parks & Recreation has consistently been one of the funniest sweetest sitcoms on television. Which is why it’s bittersweet that it has to come to an end early in 2015 with its seventh season. But in true Parks fashion, the show has decided to go out with a bang by moving forward three years, thanks to the twist at the end of the 6th season this past spring. To suddenly see the characters age three years was (and still is) jarring in and of itself, but it was also a bold statement from the show and star Amy Poehler, who refused to do a season where Leslie Knope has to go through pregnancy tropes or any episodes about raising babies. Instead, it’s just three years later, she has triplets with Ben (Adam Scott) and she’s even been promoted. As a viewer, you have absolutely no trouble believing that they would totally make it work in those 3 years, and that leaves more opportunity for better television over those 13 episodes, even though we wish it didn't have to end.
8. HANNIBAL'S JAW-DROPPING BLOODBATH
Show: Hannibal S02E13 - 'Mizumono'
By Rob Cote
There isn't enough space on the internet to describe how fantastic Hannibal is (although we try in our reviews and when we named it our best new show of 2013), and the second season really went above and beyond. Finally, after all he was put through, Will Graham managed to clear his name, and get Jack to suspect Hannibal as being the ruthless mastermind that had framed Will for the death of Abigail Hobbs and murdered dozens besides. And yet he couldn’t quite escape Hannibal’s mind games, and so we were left to wonder whose side Will was really on. Jack’s, or Hannibal’s?
None of it mattered. By the end of the finale, Hannibal had gutted Will, stabbed Jack in the neck, and revealed that he had brainwashed Abigail into servitude – before stabbing her too. You could have seen it all coming (especially since the show ,teased it in the season premiere), but chances are slim that you did, at least not to this extent. We were left watching Hannibal, victorious but now on the run, remorseless and alone in a ferocious downpour as everyone around him laid in a pool of each other's blood, and our jaws have remained dropped ever since.
7. SAUL'S FAILED ESCAPE FROM PAKISTAN
Show: Homeland S04E08 - 'Halfway To A Donut'
Homeland gets its fair share of hate, but I think people mistake it for a gritty, realistic drama, as opposed to something more along the lines of a Shakespearean tragedy that just so happens to have politics and terrorism in it. In season 4, they re-embrace this idea and it pays heavy dividends, leading to a big resurgence for a drama most had already written off. Complaints about seasons 2 and 3 aside, Homeland's season 4 mini-reboot, with Brody (mostly) out of the equation, grew into exactly what it needed to be after a somewhat rocky start; an exciting, flamboyant, well-produced and fantastically acted action show, basically a more realistic 24 with better character development. If you can accept it for being that and not the "prestige" drama people were acclimated to in season 1, then Homeland easily becomes one of the best shows on TV once again.
The best such example of this is in "Halfway To A Donut". Saul's been captured by Haqqani's the season's Big Bad government-aided Taliban terrorist, in an attempt to use the former CIA director as bait for a prisoner exchange and eventual distraction. Saul, of course, is a CIA veteran, so he mounts an escape to a small Pakistani town, where he's soon surrounded by more terrorists. Using drones and an active cell line, Carrie talks him around each corner, but eventually has to talk him out of of shooting himself, as Saul refuses to go back into Haqqani's clutches or be a pawn for his schemes. But Carrie knows they can't lose another CIA director to terrorism, so she talks him down and into the waiting arms of Haqqani's men, where he's safest. It's tense, and for a time, you truly believe Saul might pull the trigger. Instead, they barter that to put another layer between Carrie and Saul, which comes back in a big way at the end of the season. It's
6. THE RED VIPER VS. THE MOUNTAIN
Show: Game of Thrones S04E08 - 'The Mountain and The Viper
By Rob Cote
Every time, we tell ourselves it won’t happen again. We won’t get attached - we just can’t anymore. And then George comes along and writes up this badass with stand-up morals and we forget what happened before and we watch and cheer and are inevitably horrified when our new hero is annihilated in the most brutal way possible. Yeah. We’re talking about the Red Viper. The dude had it all; charisma, cunning, enough sex appeal to bag men and women alike. And then when he faced down the Mountain at Tyrion’s trial he danced his way around the colossal brute and brought him to the ground with a spear. Unfortunately for us, he got cocky. If you don’t know what happened next, go ahead and watch.
See, the show’s other shocking deaths we could kind of see coming, but this guy was just getting started! Now we really know that nobody is safe. No more getting attached. For real this time. Right?
5. AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. MAKES ITS MARK ON THE MCU
Show: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S02E10 - 'What They Become'
Despite its rocky start last year, SHIELD has managed to make the most of every opportunity it's been given in 2014. First, it took Captain America: The Winter Soldier's big Hydra twist and made it its central arc throughout the rest of the year, putting our Agent Coulson-led troupes on the run from just about everyone. And until early December, that was going to be the moment that made this list.
Then Skye went ahead and became Quake from the comics. In the show's midseason finale, SHIELD ended months of speculation and rumors by officially introducing the Inhumans, a group of superpowered individuals enhanced by alien technology. The group will be the subject of a 2018 Marvel movie, making SHIELD and inherent and essential part of the MCU through that point, as opposed to simply coasting along as an extension of it. With Skye becoming essentially a superhero on her own, having to deal with her new powers while everyone around her understands what that means as they learn about the Inhumans, it's a 4-year long origin story that we couldn't be more excited about, capping off what may have been Marvel's best cinematic year yet.
4. TRUE DETECTIVE'S NEXT-LEVEL TRACKING SHOT
Show: True Detective S01E04 - 'Who Goes There'
2014 may have been the year of the tracking shot, between Gravity's Oscar-winning cinematic marvels, Alejandro Inarritu play-like Birdman and even Louie getting in on the fun as previously mentioned, but my favorite of the year may have come in True Detective, possibly because it was so unexpected and such a departure for a show that was already unorthodox in every sense of the word. In "Who Goes There", Rust goes undercover to track a lead and winds up in the middle of a gang war. In the 6-minute long-take, he must protect himself and his witness before Marty can pick them up, a sequence so mesmerizing that I keep going back to it repeatedly even months after the luster of True Detective seemingly wore off. Between season 2 casting rumors and the ridiculous year for new shows that followed, True Detective seemed to fall slightly off the map of cultural relevance, but the last 6 minutes of its fourth episode are still one of the best things that happened on TV all year, winning director Cary Fukunaga an Emmy this past summer.
Watch the sequence again on Youtube by clicking here.
3. FRANK UNDERWOOD DOES THE UNTHINKABLE TO ZOE BARNES
Show: House of Cards S02E01 - 'Chapter 14'
Kate Mara did press for House of Cards season 2. She was advertised as a series regular, as she was in the first season, with her character Zoe continuing her quest to take down Frank Underwood. We forget, though, that as crafty as she’s been against him, this is Frank fucking Underwood we’re talking about, willing to do anything to get his way. But we never expected him to go as far as he did in the second season premiere, and that cemented his inevitable path to the Oval Office, conveniently via speeding train. Unexpectedly and shockingly, Frank decided to rid himself of his biggest problem once and for all by pushing it in front of a moving subway train. It's the perfect metaphor for everything that happens in season 2, proving Frank to be one of the most ruthless villains in television history as he proceeds to conquer the US presidency like a monarch would, systematically and almost easily, ring-tapping the desk in the White House to close the season.
2. THE WALKING DEAD'S PATH TO BEING A HIGH-QUALITY DRAMA
Show: The Walking Dead Season 5
This year, The Walking Dead went from your favorite zombie show to one of our favorite shows period. Hard-hitting action and gore wasn't enough for showrunner Scott Gimple and creator Robert Kirkman, and over 2014, they transformed TWD into something more than that with important character development, layered and meaningful themes, and much more. This may be cheating, but that transformation wasn't just through one moment, it was through several. All while jumping to the peak of its popularity, TWD gave us these following, fantastic moments even the best dramas often only dream of putting together. Be forewarned, I basically spoil everything that happened on The Walking Dead below:
- Carol’s hard choice in ”The Grove“ , when she has to put a bullet through Lizzie after the young sociopath kills her sister Mika to prove that she won’t turn into a zombie, bringing a lot of what’s happened to Carol since her daughter’s death in season 2 full circle.
- Similarly, the character development for both Carol and Darryl in season 5’s ”Consumed” is phenomenal, further cementing them as the show’s two best characters and people who actually matter in this universe.
- Maybe the best episode of The Walking Dead since season 3’s “Clear”, ”Four Walls and a Roof” , which found the perfect balance between the kind of themes mentioned above and jaw-dropping acton and twists that such a large audience demands, as Rick and the gang unceremoniously murder the Terminites after they dismember Bob and threaten their group, the result of a masterful plan which is only one example of the fact that ruthless Rick is always right.
And that's just to name a few, not include Beth's death or Eugene's lies about Washington, just to make sure you're mad at me for spoiling everything. Week after week, The Walking Dead has been improving and providing more and more reasons why the little AMC zombie show that could should be taken seriously, proving that TV's most popular shows can also be among its best.
1. PERSON OF INTEREST MAKES 'NON-STOP' BETTER THAN LIAM NEESON
Show: Person Of Interest S03E13 - '4C'
Person Of Interest is the best kept secret on television, and we’ll gladly be one of the only places to put it at the top of our Best Of lists. Season 3, which began in 2013 and gave us one of our top TV moment last year only weeks before this one, was highlighted by two major arcs, the first of which led to the death of a major character at the end of an epic 10-episode storyline that took down the show's top villains. It reshuffled the deck for what was to come (that is, an all-out war between dueling Super AIs whic led to a lot of perfect 10 reviews and moments which just as easily could have been in this spot), but before POI moved on to the next thing, it took a moment to not only make a Liam Neeson movie that would come out soon thereafter better than Liam Neeson did (and I fucking love Liam Neeson), but also took great care in delivering a story that mattered to the mythology of the show, introducing us to the Machine's "relevant" side and giving Jim Caviezel's Reese some much needed character development.
The wounds from Carter’s death are still fresh and Reese is taking it the hardest, mad at the Machine for not doing more to prevent it as it had so many deaths before, so he leaves on a plane to Istanbul, only to stumble into another murder conspiracy thanks to the Machine's manipulations. He tries to ignore it, but the Machine opens up to him and shows him the other side of what it does and the lives it tries to save under its "relevant" parameters.
Despite its huge implications, what I especially loved about 4C was that it was just a fantastic standalone episode where Reese gets to be his Reese-iest after a very Carter-heavy first half of the season. POI has become more of an ensemble now with Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi having joined the cast, and both of them being just as badass as Reese has led to the once central character to the show often being left on the sidelines. 4C is all Reese though, as he reluctantly works to save the plane from cartel hitmen who want a computer hacker dead. In the process, he renders literally a dozen people (I counted) unconscious before Finch is able to land the plane remotely.
If you’ve never seen Person of Interest, I implore you to watch it from the beginning to see why we’ve grown to love it so much, but 4C is pretty might the height of all that affection that I have for it. And in a year where True Detective couldn't hold my interest 8 months later and TV kept topping itself, it's amazing that an episode that aired in January remained this memorable. (And by the way, they might do the same thing again in 2015 with this week's "If-Then-Else").
What's your favorite TV moment of 2014? Let us know in the comments below, and have a great 2015!