Good TV makes life so happy, and we got to enjoy a ton of it this past week. Our epic moments were on the quieter side, as some of our favorite shows used conversation and seemingly small moments of intimacy to get larger points across. Here are our picks for the five epic TV scenes that had you all in your feelings during the week of July 20 (notice that 4 out of these 5 shows air on Sunday, making Sunday nights the official new favorite TV night here at Paste).
The cold open is becoming something of an art in modern television. It is there that the show dangles a thread that will either lead you forward or reject you outright. To that end, The Leftovers succeeded in a big way this week. The opening montage follows the creation, packaging, and sale of a baby doll. It is filled with sexualized and religious symbolism, while also managing to wrap up the story of Jesus and the largest plotline of this series, as the doll is purchased, swaddled, and placed in a nativity scene. We are then walked quickly through three days through the magic of editing … and then the doll vanishes.—Robert Ham (Read the full review here.)
But in “The Box,” what really stands out are the supposed villains and the beginning of their takeover, with even seemingly evil characters realizing the mistakes they’ve already made. When the sick Eldritch Palmer finally meets “The Master” of this outbreak, he gets on his knees, terrified not only by the beast that looms over him, but by the decisions he’s made.—Ross Bonaime (Read the full review here.)
...For the first time in quite a while, Bill has a case that we see on-screen. This week, it’s Rose, a teenage girl who really enjoys sex (I hesitate to call her a nymphomaniac because it’s hard to tell how much of her parents’ reaction to her promiscuity is just 1950s puritanism. She’s had a few abortions already, but that speaks more to society’s ignorance about birth control at the time than her sexual history). She arrives in the hospital in shock after losing a lot of blood due to a perforated uterus from a botched abortion, and once Bill stops the bleeding, he’s surprised to hear that Rose’s parents want him to perform a hysterectomy on her to prevent her from ever getting pregnant again. He refuses, citing his hippocratic oath to do no harm, and he talks with Rose to reassure her that one day there will be a cure for her “condition.” (Yes, although Bill’s open-minded, he’s still a product of his time and believes that homosexuality and promiscuity are “sexual dysfunctions” that can be cured.) In the meantime, he gives her an IUD—a much simpler solution than removing her uterus.—Bonnie Stiernberg (Read the full review here.)
(Our critic doesn’t specifically mention it, but watching Donna fall in love with her husband’s creation—The Giant—and experience the first computer with a “personality” was seriously cool.)
Donna’s plotline becomes less about her romantic woes and more about her examining her status quo. Between her increasingly distant husband digging a hole in their backyard and potentially losing another big investment with the Giant, Donna naturally questions whether this marriage is in her and her children’s best interest. Ultimately, she comes down on the side of staying with Gordon and, in another great sign that the writers wish to use more of her, she ends up accompanying him to COMDEX.—Mark Rozeman (Read the full review here.)
Another flashback to Daniel’s incarceration reminds me of the sad, desperate beauty the camera always captures in the prison’s stark, white doors and walls. As Daniel wallows in drug-induced pity a chaplain stops by and plays music for him on a small cassette recorder. In spite of his attempts to ignore the gesture the music overwhelms Daniel. He succumbs, tears streaming. While it’s man’s inhumanity that forms the foundation of the series, it’s the humanity that gives Rectify its wings.—Tim Basham (Read the full review here.)
The new week starts with tonight’s shows! Tweet us if something epic happens!
Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor at Paste, and a New York-based freelance writer with probably more babies than you. You can follow her on Twitter.
Hilary Hughes is a professional Music/TV/Pop Culture word nerd. In addition to geeking out over any given sitcom and rock star at Paste, she’s also a music critic at The Village Voice, the music correspondent for Esquire.com and a recovering Real Housewives addict at Bravotv.com. Follow her at your own risk at @hilmonstah.