10. Homeland–President Keane Resigns…This season of “Homeland” was arguably the best in years, dealing with Russia, a weakened Presidency, and the corrupting influence of propaganda, both foreign and domestic. Yet no moment served as wish fulfillment better than President Elizabeth Keane (a wide-awake Elizabeth Marvel, showing how paranoia can destroy idealism) resigning for the good of the country. We could only be so lucky.
9. The Americans–Phillip deciding to betray Elizabeth…Elizabeth and Phillip haven’t (idealogically or morally) seen eye-t0-eye for some time now, and the audience has mostly sided with Phillip as we’ve seen Elizabeth become violentally opposed to any changes for mother Russia (which, in typical fashion, she hasn’t lived in for decades). When Costa Ronin’s change agent secretly recruited Phillip to spy on his wife (to protect some of the changes happening back in Russia), it felt like the first time Phillip has ever been able to follow his own beliefs in the service of spying.
8. The Walking Dead–Daryl’s Reaction to Rick Grims “Dying”…Sure, reports of Rick Grimes’s death may have been grossly exaggerated, but there was no denying the gut wrenching emotion of Daryl’s wordless tears when his longtime best friend “died” before his eyes. He just bowed his head, as if to say “of course, someone I care about is dead.” It reminds you of just how justified Daryl’s distance often is in a world where everything you love can be taken away on any given day.
7. Who is America?–Cohen’s uber-liberal wants to bring a mega-mosque to your town…What was your favorite moment of Cohen’s bananas experimental series? Mine was his take on an uber-liberal NPR host trying to “create jobs” in a small Arizona town (the kind-of not-quite-tolerant place that gave birth to Timothy McVeigh) by building the world’s largest mosque there. The absolutely horrified reactions of the residents and his oblivious character’s confusion at why they wouldn’t love this plan was an expert explanation of why our country is so very divided right now.
6. House of Cards–Claire Underwood’s all female cabinet…Nobody puts Claire Underwood in a corner, as if the series finale (where even a very pregnant Claire is capable of killing a man in the Oval Office as she prevents a coup and possibly starts WWIII) didn’t make that clear enough, we have a great example in the middle of the season. Claire has just prevented a 25th Amendment-led quasi-impeachment and set up her scheming VP, when she reveals to her real enemy (one half of a Koch siblings-like ultra-conservative duo) who she’s replaced them with: an all-female cabinet. It literally takes her opponent’s breath away and proves that Claire gives zero fucks, now and forever. I’d like to think every Hillary fan could live vicariously in that moment.
5. Kidding–Jeff Pickles runs down his competition…For the entire first season of “Kidding,” Jim Carrey’s Jeff Pickles has struggled to keep the real him (a man desperate to put his family back together despite boiling with repressed rage following the death of his young son) from “ruining” the children’s television show version of him. Even after a televised speech that may cost him his show (where he accurately paints the parents of America as out-to-lunch while he raises their children for them), Jeff never does anything too unforgivable…until he finally confronts his anger at the man standing him between him and a reconciliation with his estranged wife. By running over his competition (a smarmy, possibly corrupting Justin Kirk), Jeff is finally dealing with his true feelings, ending the season with one hilarious word “oops.”
4. Escape from Dannemora–David Sweat (Paul Dano) Finally Breaks Out…Before Sweat and his partner-in-escape (the great Benicio Del Toro) actually break out, he does a trial run to see if it works, beginning the fifth episode of the miniseries with a seemingly endless tracking shot that shows just how hard he’s worked to get there. Del Toro’s Richard Matt may be the brains, and Patricia Arquette’s Tilly may be the mule (both were included in my “Best Characters of 2018” list), but David is the, well, sweat of the operation. He snakes through nooks, crannies, concrete walls, one long pipe, and a sewer system before finally opening that faithful manhole to freedom.
3. Better Call Saul–“Saul Goodman” is finally born…We’ve spent four looong seasons waiting for Bob Odenkirk’s conflicted Jimmy McGill to finally become lovable, amoral “criminal” lawyer Saul Goodman. When he finally does in the fourth season finale, it was hard not to feel relieved. At long last, we may get the series we were promised. [Also, in the same episode, quasi-hitman Mike finally embraces his destiny as a ruthless killer.]
2. The Good Place–The Entire “Janet(s)” Episode…Just watch this episode. There’s really nothing I can describe here that will do it justice. So many great things happen that I’ll just tell you my top three favorites: 1. Janet’s speech to Michael that there’s no calvary that can fix all the problems they’ve encountered except him. “You have to do it. You’re the only one who can.” 2. Their final arrival in the actual Good Place. 3. And especially Eleanor and Chidi finally confessing their love for each other in one of the year’s most romantic moments.
1. The Terror–Captain Crozier Finally Taking Down that Damn Polar Bear…I can fill an entire list with moments from “The Terror” (and have before), but my favorite one of this excellent, underrated series’s first season is Captain Crozier (a never-better Jared Harris) finally taking down his two main enemies: the mutinous bastard Hickey that’s killed some of his top men, and the seemingly unstoppable polar bear monster that’s killed many more. What better metaphor than choking that beast from hell on tainted meat, the gnarly soul of the murdering Hickey, and a literal chain of bondage. Captain Crozier, you are now free, and fully deserving of it.