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Just to warn you again: massive, massive spoilers ahead.
1. The Red Wedding – Game of Thrones
Indisputably the most shocking moment in television this year, The Red Wedding ended any hope for a Stark victory in the war against the Lannisters. The Starks have been the side of morality in the war – fighting to avenge the death of their patriarch – and the brutal end of Robb’s surprisingly successful campaign also signified the end of a chance for a righteous victory. The show has never been about enforcing consequences for terrible deeds, and the Red Wedding was the moment at which it became harrowingly obvious that a character’s death was far more likely to be caused by trying to be honourable than by being deceitful and underhanded. The scene itself is a master class in building tension, slowly increasing from the ‘Rains of Castamere’ playing through the hall, to the quiet confirmation of betrayal in Bolton’s chainmail. Ultimately the horrible death of characters we have known and (generally) rooted for since the first season serves to finally crush any hope for a ‘happy ending’. That was never going to happen though, was it?
2. Hank’s Death – Breaking Bad
If Hank had to die then this was the way for him to go. We knew that a climax was building since Hank’s realisation of his brother in law’s true identity, and ‘Ozymandias’ was that climax. As the scene unfolds we see Walter completely collapse, abandoning any sort of end game or plan, and offer Jack the entirety of his underground fortune. Hank’s quiet comprehension of his fate contrasts miserably with Walt’s frantic begging for his life, leaving the audience in no doubt that the wrong man is dying. The moment itself is brutal, lacking any ceremony or build up, with Hank’s final words obscured by the gunshot that ends his life. His refusal to beg or barter for his life, however, allows the character to depart with honour, something Hank surely earned.
3. The Return of Michael Scott – The Office (US)
Since Michael’s departure at the end of the seventh season, The Office had undeniably been on a downward trajectory, uncertain of who could fill the vacancy in the show’s centre. It was a problem that the show never really solved, as Dwight, Jim and Pam were all primarily reactionary characters rather than true protagonists. It was, therefore, a beautiful moment in television to see Michael return, in however small a capacity, to perform best man duties at Dwight and Angela’s wedding. It was the peak of an otherwise lacklustre series to hear Michael, merrily standing in the doorway of Dwight’s dressing room, say ‘That’s what she said’ one last time.
4. When George Michael punches Michael – Arrested Development
The return of Arrested Development after a seven year absence was never going to live up to the hype. Named one of the all time great comedies, it came back, courtesy of Netflix, with a run of episodes, each focusing specifically on one member of the family, all building to the climax that takes place on Cinco de Mayo. The most memorable moment comes in the form of George Michael Bluth’s fist to his father’s face. It’s a well earned, fulfilling, catalytic punch — an important moment for George Michael as a character and for the development of the father-son relationship between him and Michael.
5. The Devil’s Revelation – Being Human (UK)
Being Human was finally cancelled this year after surviving a complete cast change and a previous attempted cancellation. While this in itself is an enormous shame, for there are few shows out there that are this consistently inventive, at least it went out with a suitably excellent ending. Having escaped from the Devil’s hallucinations and saved the world, Hal, Tom and Alex find themselves human. Truly human. It’s a lovely moment, watching their realisation of their mortality and subsequent delight. For a show about the attempt to become human, it seems that this was the only satisfying ending it could have offered (let’s just brush that pesky origami wolf under the carpet. It’s also worth noting that Toby Whithouse’s idea of the definitive human activity is watching the Antiques Roadshow with a cup of tea.
Made in Chelsea isn’t quite up there with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones (controversial opinion to hold, I know) but Mark Francis Vandelli’s line mid way through the current season warrants a mention, simply because it sums up the show so perfectly:
“I once knew someone who had a sleeping bag and when I found out, that friendship was over”.