Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had teased for years that she had planned to conclude the original “Gilmore Girls” series with a fateful, final four words but never deigned to reveal them in case she had an opportunity revisit the series. No one expected that, when she put her plan into action for the revival, those four words would be a cliffhanger that revealed former Stars Hollow wunderkind Rory (Alexis Bledel) was pregnant. The story coming full circle, the open-ended nature of the revelation and using pregnancy as a device in general combined to make for a controversial and hotly discussed ending.
“Divorce” Isn’t Really a Comedy
So, technically, “Divorce” could be considered a black comedy, but it’s much easier to digest if you go into it expecting zero laughs. That may have been a tough adjustment for early viewers, as the half-hour HBO series marking Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to the premium cable network was always billed a comedy. But once you click over in your mind, the dissection of a couple’s demise becomes all the more educational and emotionally engaging. And, as a nice bonus, the dark laughs come a lot easier.
A Rage in “Luke Cage’s” Harlem
Of the two cousins, Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) was the scary gangster who wielded power with a bloody fist, quick temper and ran guns on the side. In contrast, Mariah (Alfre Woodard) had taken the more legit power route by entering public service as a councilwoman in Harlem. She appeared more level-headed and cautious about appearances. After a fateful argument, however, Cottonmouth twisted the knife into the wrong old wound when he declared Mariah had craved the attention of their Uncle Pete, who had sexually abused her. Mariah snapped, and screaming, “I did not want it!” repeatedly, she pushed her cousin out of the upper level of his nightclub and then finished him off by bludgeoning him to death with a mic stand.
Archer Might Actually Be Dead
When “Archer” Season 7 began with Adam Reed’s titular star face down in a pool, riddled with bullets and reportedly dead, it wasn’t all that alarming because there was an entire season left to explain why Archer wasn’t actually a goner. But no: Archer might actually be dead! Season 7 ended on both the robot Archer and the real Archer either terminated or with death moments away. Comic-Con attendees got a sneak peek at the trailer for Season 8, showing Archer in a coma, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ever come out of it. What a wild ride Reed has built.
“Better Call Saul” Lets Chuck Take the Hit
The final moments of “Saul’s” penultimate episode shocked us with just how far the show was willing to go — and with how it left us with two horrifying questions. One, just how much danger was Chuck (Michael McKean) in? And two, would Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) come to help his brother in need, and in the process of doing so expose his own misdeeds? Sure, we’re not talking drama on the epic scale of “Game of Thrones.” But one man’s collapse has perhaps even more of an impact on us.
For One “BoJack Horseman” Character, “That’s Too Much, Man”
“BoJack” isn’t a show afraid of death — in fact, another supporting character, BoJack’s former best friend and creative partner Herb, has also joined the big pony show in the sky during the show’s run. But the extreme bender that consumes BoJack and Sarah Lynn in “That’s Too Much, Man” brought with it a new level of consequences. Saying goodbye to BoJack’s former co-star just as we’d seen how much she might have had to give, in a different world while living a different life, hit hard. And more importantly, it left BoJack in a whole new realm of despair, in a way no other animated comedy — hell, no other show — might dare.
“Westworld” Reveals Bernard’s True Nature
“What door?” With those two words, Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) revealed his true programming. The head of Delos’s programming division had always appeared to be an upstanding guy, even-keeled but not overly sympathetic regarding the hosts in Westworld. After all, he was in charge of their very convincing code and knew how the robotic sausage was made. Bernard was unaware of his true nature, however, and in Episode 7, the show finally revealed that he was artificial — first with a few teases where Bernard’s programming wouldn’t allow him to see a forbidden door and later his own robot schematics — and then when Westworld creative director Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) ordered him to kill his colleague/former lover Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen). The horrible irony is that Bernard may not have believed in the hosts’ ability to feel the existential agony of consciousness, but he certainly was reeling from it after the bloody deed was done.
“Game of Thrones” Cries “Hold the Door!”
“Game of Thrones” is rich with unresolved mysteries, but one that’s never really consumed us is how Hodor came by his name, and his condition. Until, that is, the final moments of “The Door,” where we saw how some poorly-managed time traveling by Bran was responsible for both things. Notable as one of the show’s first major reveals to shock both fans of the books as well as the show, “The Door” did the thing that the best twists do: Reveal surprising information that also has an emotional impact. Hodor’s multi-layered sacrifice is still haunting.
Meechum Will Be Missed
The fourth season of “House of Cards” seemed like it was going to take a relatively conventional path. Then, in Episode 4, an unhinged former reporter got a gun, and the entire game changed. Dearest Secret Service Agent Meechum (Nathan Darrow) — who was once the meat in a Frank/Claire sex sandwich — was killed protecting his President, catapulting the show into an entirely different direction. Paired with an assassination attempt on the President’s life, it would have been easy for the series to overlook a lesser character’s demise. But Beau Willimon paid worthy tribute to Meechum, knowing he’ll be long missed by many.
That Darn Cat Survives “The Night Of”
As an examination of America’s often flawed justice system and the mutability of what is considered truth, the HBO series was never one to shy away from difficult situations or topics. That’s why we braced ourselves for the worst when eczema-ridden defense attorney Jack Stone (John Turturro) finally returned the cat he had adopted to the shelter because of his allergic flare-ups. The cat, which had belonged to the murder victim, looked like a goner, doomed for euthanization, mirroring the fate of so many unlucky inmates and teaching the viewers a lesson about injustice. We didn’t want to face that harsh truth, and when Stone watched that goddamned Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial with all of the sad cats and dogs facing death, we feared the worst… until that cat trotted across Stone’s apartment and across our screens. The cat lived! Justice for the furry prevailed!
“The Girlfriend Experience” Gets Too Real For Christine
Christine (Riley Keough) entered the world of “transactional relationships” hoping to keep it separate from her personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, that was impossible, as those associated with her clientele proved to be vengeful. “Chelsea’s” sex tape was perhaps the catalyst for her eventual decision to embrace her non-legal profession fully, but if she hadn’t been forced to publicly embrace her source of additional income, the show might have taken a very different turn.
“Mr. Robot” Reveals Where Elliot’s Really Been in Season 2
When we found out that Elliot had been misleading us humble viewers — the very people he called “friend” — since the beginning of Season 2, we were a bit surprised to be sure. But when we let him explain why he’d pretended that he wasn’t serving a short term sentence in prison for stealing a dog, we understood why. After all, we’ve seen “Orange is the New Black.” We know life is grim on the inside. And Elliot’s brilliant mind, as clever at hacking itself as it is at hacking computers, has never failed to dazzle us with its ingenious solutions. So sure, Elliot. Whatever you need to do to get through the day.
A Step Back For Gretchen and Jimmy
“You’re the Worst” is a series known for revealing final words; perhaps not as telling as “Gilmore Girls” final four words, but the ending moments for Season 1 and 2 featured significant leaps forward for Gretchen and Jimmy as a couple. Well, Season 3 saw a pretty big step back. After teasing us with an engagement, creator Stephen Falk bucked expectations and sent Jimmy packing; walking away from the romantic proposal he just made, and away from a family he’s too scared to have.
An Innocent Dies Just as “Search Party” Solves Its Mystery
As Dory (Alia Shawkat) searched for her missing college acquaintance Chantal (Clare McNulty) during the season, various events would tinge the ongoing mystery with danger, but often would be defused with humor or the feeling that Dory was blowing the situation out of proportion. Just minutes before learning that Chantal was not in any kind of dire straits and she was a bit of an idiot for disappearing without a word, Dory and her friends had a violent altercation with Keith (Ron Livingston) an attractive private investigator who was smitten with her. A struggle ensued, and what should’ve been a celebration upon finding Chantal became a macabre tragedy as blood from Keith’s hidden body seeped out from underneath a door.
Two Big Losses in Season 4
“The Americans” is always shocking when you least expect it, and never was that better exemplified than in two key moments from Season 4. First Nina’s luck finally ran out in Episode 4, when Annet Mahendru’s character — who had been living in a Russian prison for more than a year — was read her sentence and immediately executed at the end of “Chloramphenicol.” The moment shocked many viewers because of its blunt timing (with caring execution). Many believed there was more in store for the crafty KGB secretary-turned-double agent, as they did with Martha, a secretary who wasn’t killed, despite a number of scenarios that could have led to just that (including the brief possibility of suicide). Instead, she was whisked away on an airplane to Russia at the beginning of Episode 8, “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears,” never to be heard from again (presumably). Both will be missed, even if their departures were handled beautifully.
“The X-Files” Fails To Actually Have an Ending
It’s been 10 months. You’d think we’d be over it. You’d think we’d come to terms with creator Chris Carter’s decision end the revival of his iconic series with an unsatisfying cliffhanger that may never be resolved?
Nope. We’re still shocked Season 10 ended this way, and not in a good way.
Jack and Rebecca’s Story Takes Place in the Past!
Of the many twists forced into Dan Fogelman’s family drama, the first is still the best. We thought we were watching simultaneous stories in the pilot, as we tracked a variety of characters with diverse backgrounds on their similar birthdays. Turns out, this was all one story: Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) were the parents of three children born on the same day, and their story of giving birth was taking place decades prior. This twist worked, even if the rest have been more hit and miss.
“Fleabag’s” Narrator Is Guilty
Through flashback snippets and images, we’ve slowly gleaned throughout the season that Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) lost her beloved friend and business partner Boo (Jenny Rainsford) to suicide. It’s clear that Fleabag still hadn’t gotten over the death because she continued to act out in emotionally destructive ways. It’s only in the finale’s last moments, however, that we learned that Fleabag’s actions had led up to Boo’s death. She had slept with Boo’s boyfriend, and discovering the infidelity is what prompted a distraught Boo to walk into traffic.