A selection of the most poignant, touching, open and honest character moments on TV — and a few massive plot twists.
By Alexander B. Huls
MINOR SPOILER WARNINGS FOR: Entourage and Lost
HUGE SPOILER WARNINGS FOR: The Office, Battlestar Galactica, and Dexter
The super-huge spoilers, i.e. season-finale major twists, are all at the very bottom of the article for your own safety. If you are not up to date with these shows, don’t read below. Seriously!
Entourage: Ari gets his groove back
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated the Entourage creators’ effort to humanize Ari after getting fired by Vince. I enjoyed the emotional poignancy in his desperation to remain friends with Vince, his rescuing Llyod from an indecent proposal, and his spiraling self-doubt. But in a lot of ways it was like watching a lion that had been taken from the savannah, declawed, and stuck in a cage. You know it’s not the lion’s natural state, and so you feel kind of bad, and part of you wishes it could get out of its cage and wreak some havoc. Thankfully, Ari did. Watching the sheer childish and energetic delight he takes in rediscovering himself, as well as the glee with which he fires an employee he took pity on earlier, was just bliss to watch (largely due to the always phenomenal Jeremy Piven). Because the thing is, as much as Ari is enjoying himself, we’re enjoying it even more because the Ari we have come to know and love has finally come back to us.
Lost: Charlie’s #1 Greatest Hit
Charlie has long been a difficult and even controversial character on Lost, most notably in Season 2 where he … well… started acting like a creepy, irritating idiot. In Season 3, however, the Lost creators began the long process of making Charlie a likeable character again. They achieved that goal in the episode “Greatest Hits.” Charlie’s brave acceptance of his death as the necessary sacrifice to get his fellow survivors off the island was heart-breaking enough (I personally got a bit misty-eyed during his conversation with Desmond in the boat). But when Charlie got to the end of his list of his life’s greatest hits that he was writing during the episode and it turns out the greatest moment of his life was meeting Claire the first night on the island? Well, even though it was a little bit corny, my heart still swelled three sizes bigger, before breaking completely apart in utter despair. I found myself desperately hoping Charlie would live. His #1 Greatest Hit was both a joyous and sad reminder that for some characters, crashing on the island was the best thing that ever happened to them and that beauty can always emerge from tragedy.
Scrubs: Kelso reenacts An Officer and a Gentleman
I’m not sure why I loved this more than any other sequences on Scrubs. Perhaps it was the combination of being reminded of how super cheesy the ending is to that movie, how super cheesy that song is, and seeing Dr. Kelso (of all people) imaging himself in this situation. Then again, it might just be because I find Navy uniforms funny.
Ugly Betty: Marc Comes out to his Mom
There are so many potential great moments to choose from in Ugly Betty, both humorous (any scene between Marc and Amanda), and heart-warming (any scene between Betty and Henry). However, my personal favorite moment was undoubtedly the moment when Marc came out to his mother, as well as the conversation he was with Betty outside on her doorsteps later on. What initially began as a slap-stick scenario out of a sitcom (Betty having to pretend to be Marc’s girlfriend to hide from his mother that he’s gay), slowly began to turn into another poignant display of one of the show’s central themes: true beauty is being comfortable with who you are, and true to yourself, regardless of what others think.
Supernatural: Dean sees his mother again
It’s a moment that should have struck a chord with any Supernatural fan: adult Dean meeting his mother for the first time. Granted, it was revealed to be a twisted alternate reality, but that by no means removes the powerful emotion from the scene when Dean comes face to face his mother. While his initial reaction on the doorstep, his desperately crushing hugs, and his admiration of her beauty were all great tender moments, the one that struck me the most was when Dean first demands proof she is who she says she is. To me that moment reflected the sad state of Dean’s life. When faced with the presence of his mother, his first thought is that she’s a demon. Most heart-breaking of all, it turns out by the end of the episode that his first instinct was right: it was all too good to be true.
Gilmore Girls: The Girls’ last meal
Say what you will about the last few seasons of Gilmore Gils (especially the last), they at least managed to give our beloved girls the send-off they so rightfully deserved. The show lovingly ended full circle with Lorelei and Rory right where we would expect them to be: sitting in Luke’s dinner, ordering food, and talking. Except this time as the camera pulled away, and the audio of their conversation slowly began to fade way, it began to dawn on us that after seven years together, this would be the last time we would ever see or hear our beloved girls, and from now on they would go on with their lives without us. That’s the moment when some tears might have escaped our eyes, and made their way slowly down our face. And by we, I absolutely don’t mean me.
Supernatural: Dean asks “Why?”
Being a true hero often means sacrifice. No one understands that more than Dean Winchester. His entire life has been spent hunting demons, and he has never known anything else. While Dean is aware of this, he has never verbalized it as openly and despairingly as he does here by the grave of his father. Like any real hero, Dean suffers a moment of crisis and wonders why his destiny is to be a demon hunter, sacrificing everything – most of all happiness – for the greater good. The most powerful moment of all, though, comes when in mid-rant Dean suddenly stops, remains silent, wipes away the tears from his face, and walks away, because he knows all the complaining in the world will not change anything. Dean is a hero who cannot let innocent people die, even at the expense of his own happiness. I have always wondered throughout the show which brother’s life was the greater tragedy. Sam who had a normal life and lost it, or Dean who never knew what a normal life was? In this moment and episode, I got my answer.
The Office: Jim asks out Pam
For those of you who have loyally stuck with The Office since the beginning, this entry should be pretty self-explanatory. Yet, I will say this: the beauty of the moment was its simplicity. Pam “It’s all going to be okay” speech, Jim’s casual asking of The Question, Pam’s almost immediate and succinct response. Then we were treated to watching her face go from deer-in-headlights-what-the-hell-just-happened, to gradual realization, to barely containable happiness, to tears of joy, and then that smile. Oh lordy, that smile. Even friends who liked Karen told me after that in that moment they realized how much they wanted Jim and Pam together, because they were so happy it was finally happening.
Battlestar Galactica: The Road to a Cylon Revelation
While the revelation itself was obviously jaw-dropping, one of my favorite moments this year was not the revelation itself, but the pulse-quickening moments leading up to it. It was the build-up: the dramatic use of music, and editing. The moment’s greatness came from watching them walk slowly and tensely towards their fate, and as an audience member starting to jump ahead (along with the characters) to the inevitable conclusion, yet still in total disbelief. All I could think of in my shock was “No way. It can’t be!” (especially given who some of the Cylons were) but knowing it had to be true. Sometimes the greatest twists are not the ones that are spoon-fed to you, but the ones that you’re allowed to piece together on your own before it’s confirmed. I have rarely seen that more effectively pulled off than here.
Dexter: Dexter makes a startling discovery
When it was “revealed” that Rudy, the boyfriend of Dexter’s sister, Debra, was in fact the Ice Truck Killer, I had seen that coming the moment his character was introduced. After all, in such a self-contained world of characters, the introduction of a new one could really only mean one thing. Considering how fresh, original and twisted the show was, I was a little disappointed that the creators had so carelessly shown their hand. Shame on me for doubting them! In a head-spinning convergence of sub-plots at the end of the season, the greatest – and most unexpected shocker – was when Rudy was revealed to be Dexter’s brother. Since the beginning of the show Dexter had struggled with his loneliness as a result of hiding who he really is, and Rudy’s revelation inspired a stunningly dramatic conflict. Does Dexter join his brother and abandon his father’s code and the life he has known, or does he uphold it and damn himself to loneliness forever?