Read on for Part 2 of this year’s Television Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Most Surprising Death: Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillipe), Big Sky
As a lot of viewers, I was especially interested in the premiere of Big Sky due in most part to the casting of Ryan Phillipe. So it was extremely surprising to witness the biggest name actor in the series get shot in the face at the end of the 1st episode. This was a tricky proposition to be sure — producers risked alienating those viewers who were only watching for Phillipe, but at the same time could use it to shock viewers into seeing what might happen next. Lucky for them, it was the latter. I think the rest of the cast and the writing did enough to keep me interested enough to stick with it after this moment, at least to see where the show went. Never would I have thought a major network show would kill off its major star in the first episode, but kudos to them for producing such a surprising and effective twist, even for readers, whom I found out later probably knew the character would eventually die based on the book the show is based on, but not this early.
Most Shocking Death: The Razor Crest, The Mandalorian
As with most television seasons, there was plenty of death this year. One of the more shocking deaths was that of Fear the Walking Dead‘s John Dorie (Garrett Dillahunt). As John was about to talk Dakota (Zoe Margaret Colletti) from shooting him as retribution for killing one of her friends earlier in the season, she suddenly fired a shot and sent John into the river. If that wasn’t shocking enough, it looked as if John might survive the gunshot wound as he swam to the surface of the river. It wasn’t until his body washed up on the edge of his old home was it confirmed that John was dead when June pulled him from the river to realize he had turned. It was a tremendous turn for June’s character and made viewers realize once again that no one was safe. However, there was one other “death” this season that was much more shocking in my book, and that was seeing Mando’s (Pedro Pascal) Razor Crest get obliterated with one massive laser on The Mandalorian. As much as the trusty ship got beat up, torn apart and rebuilt throughout the second season, one would think the ship would survive anything. Much like Dean’s ’67 Impala, Baby, in Supernatural, the Razor Crest had become a beloved character all its own. Watching Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon take it out with one shot, leaving behind nothing but some indestructible Beskar, was not only shocking but heartbreaking. What’s next? Destroying the Millennium Falcon?
Most Disturbing Death: The Redneck Old Lady (Dale Dickey) Kills Livia’s (Deborah Ayorinde) Baby, Them
Them is already gruesome and skin crawling with just the plot of a group of psycho Stepford wives and their community wrecking havoc on a black family who moved into their white neighborhood. But the moment we were finally given a chance to see what really happened to Livia (Deborah Ayorinde) and Henry’s (Ashley Thomas) baby that forced them to move from Nebraska to Compton, California in the first place, the show took a disturbing turn into deep macabre territory. I can’t show an image of the scene at hand, but what has to be the hardest scene of television to watch this season, the redneck old lady (Dale Dickey) we were introduced to in the first episode and her Podunk family break into Livia’s home to hunt down the baby. When she finds the child, she sticks him in a pillowcase and begins to spin him around and play some sort of sick hot potato game with him, all the while seemingly raping Livia as she watches. I don’t think I’ve been more uncomfortable in front of the television than at that moment, but it’s these types of visceral and demented sequences that made Them so surreal and compelling.
Saddest Death: Dan (Kevin Alejandro), Lucifer
I was not a fan of Dan (Kevin Alejandro) in the first season of Lucifer. He was a bit of tool and he didn’t seem like he had much of a purpose except to be some weird foil for his ex-wife, Chloe (Lauren German). However, Dan slowly grew on you over the years as he became more entangled in the life of Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and his celestial family, and by the time he finally learned the truth about Lucifer, he was comic relief gold. So it was an extremely sobering moment when in the second-to-last episode of the fifth season, Dan was gunned down while pursuing a case, a death that showed how much of an impression the character made on the show. As we see during the fallout and his funeral, every character felt his absence; Dan had a great impact in making his fellow characters into who they are from when we first met them. Of course, as with any show with a supernatural theme, no one is ever really dead.
Most Sickening Kill: Dakota (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Fear the Walking Dead
In the same episode that young Dakota (Zoe Margaret Colletti) kills John Dorie (Garett Dillahunt; see Most Shocking Death, above), we were also bestowed the opportunity to witness one of the grossest, sickest kills of a walker in quite some time. As she, John and Morgan (Lennie James) attempt to clear the bridge near John’s old residence of a massive horde on the bridge, one of the walkers gets inextricably stuck in the wheel base of the truck Dakota is driving. Like being in a giant mound of mud, the tire spins out of control, unable to find traction as it rips into and spreads the walker’s blood and guts all over everything in its wake.
Most Disgusting Visual: Oozing of Sean’s (Toby Kebbell) Blisters, Servant
If seeing a walker get torn to shreds by a tire wasn’t vomit-inducing enough, in the first episode of Servant‘s second season, Sean (Toby Kebbell), after burning his hand on the stove to see if he could feel anything, decides to unwrap his hand to check on the aftermath. If the two giant blisters weren’t gross enough, Sean once again tests how much he can (or can’t) feel and cuts into them. The visual of watching the ooze pour out of the wound is a sickening moment to say the least, but one that simply highlights why this show is a terrific blend of horror and drama worthy of the name M. Night Shyamalan.
Creepiest Special Effect: The De-aging of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), The Mandalorian
Though De-aging has come along way since its first introduction in Tron: Legacy, movie studios still have yet to work out all the kinks (though Marvel has now almost got it down to a science). I love the introduction of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into the world of The Mandalorian as he is the only known Jedi that makes sense to have heard Grogu’s call (aside from Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), who already turned down the opportunity to train him). But upon the final reveal that the Jedi tearing through dozens of Dark Troopers was Luke, I was a bit let down by one of the more creepier versions of the de-aging process, which made it feel as if Luke had undergone a bad treatment of Botox. Though it was great to know that Hamill did return to shoot the sequence (along with a younger lookalike), to witness the expressionless features as he talked was too disturbing not to point out. With the terrific effects this team has created over the past two years (see part three of these awards), I expect more than this sticky rendering of the past, especially after a fan made such a terrific deepfake of this same sequence on his home computer.
Most Loving Scene: Grogu and Mando (Pedro Pascal) Say Goodbye, The Mandalorian
Then again, in that same sequence of The Mandalorian‘s season 2 finale, we’re presented with one of the most moving scenes of television this season. Throughout the series, we’ve seen Din Djarin, aka Mando (Pedro Pascal), and Grogu, aka the Child, bond and become a family. It was already disheartening to know that Mando was going to have to say goodbye to Grogu (and possibly us, as viewers as well), but then Mando does the unthinkable. As part of his religion, Mando has refused to remove his helmet in front of anyone, with the exception of when he needed to access some Imperial files in order to save Grogu’s life. So it was extremely moving when, upon saying goodbye to his friend, Mando once again removes his helmet so that Grogu could see and touch his face for the first time. In this moment, we see how much love and respect each character has for the other and how much they will miss one another as their new journey’s continue. You’re dead inside if you aren’t crying.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Zoey (Jane Levy) tries to comfort Emily (Alice Lee), Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Speaking of crying, in a fun episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, we got to see a glitch in the matrix, er, in Zoey’s (Jane Levy) power when the people in Zoey’s life start to sing the heart songs of other people. She eventually gets the hang of things as she pairs people up, only to realize that the song Max (Skylar Austin) sang to her was supposed to be Emily’s (Alice Lee) song. This prompts Zoey to realize she’s been ignoring her sister-in-law, so she quickly heads over to Emily’s house to ask how she is. At first, Emily breaks into an upbeat song that was supposed to be Max’s heart song, but as Zoey talks to her throughout, the song slowly converts into the saddest song imaginable (Demi Lovato’s Anyone). It is in this moment we learn that Emily is hiding a serious case of post-partum depression and Lee does a terrific job of showcasing a moment of pure emotional and psychological turmoil.
Most Iconic Image: Captain America (Wyatt Russell) Holding a Bloody Shield, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
If anything could make John Walker (Wyatt Russell) even more grotesque than he was already being portrayed, it’s the moment he bludgeons a man in cold-blood with Captain America’s iconic shield, which until this moment was a symbol of hope. Yes, John only went this far because he had just taken the super soldier serum (which may have altered his brain chemistry a bit) and watched his friend and partner die, but to take it as far as he eventually does makes the scene as a whole gut-wrenching on its own merits. Not as gut-wrenching (or iconic), though, as the closing moments of Episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which saw everyone surrounding the “new” Captain America holding a blood-covered shield in movie-like fashion. The emotions conveyed by nearly everyone, from the stars, to the villains, to the extras, says it all — this is not our America.
Check out Part 3 of our Television Awards, which includes the Best Original Song, Most Poignant Moment, Most Abrupt Transition, and the Best Debate of the 2020-2021 season.