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Spring ’17 Finale Roundup | Week IV

| May 11-30 |

We’ve finally reached the end of an overwhelmingly powerful spring season with fantastic finales of The Americans, Prison Break, and Riverdale.

Most Noteworthy Performance by an Actress
“The Soviet Division” | The Americans
Alison Wright

Alison Wright is no stranger to exceptional performances and her work in “The Soviet Division” left me speechless. Wright wasn’t in the episode long, but she’s undoubtedly the scene stealer, the performance I can’t stop thinking about. As Wright learned that the little kids she watched play were orphans, you could see light find its way back into her life as she came to the decision, that maybe, just maybe this new life of hers could be used to benefit someone else. Maybe, just maybe, she could save someone. And as she watched the little girl play, she conveyed a plethora of warmth and adoration almost instantaneously. She’d found purpose in the darkness again. She’d found hope in the cold, haunting life she was forced into. Wright has often left viewers of The Americans amazed, and it’s beautiful that she continues to do so even as her character is no longer apart of the lives of the Jennings. She stands incredibly on her own as one of the most compelling characters in TV history.

Honorable Mention:
“Chapter 13: The Sweet Hereafter” | Riverdale
Madchen Amick

When people told me I’d grow to sympathize with Alice Cooper, I couldn’t imagine a single scenario in which she wouldn’t frustrate me. But unsurprisingly people were right and so much of it is due to Madchen Amick’s heart wrenching performance. When Alice tells Betty about the child she gave away for adoption, you could feel every ounce of the pain she’s always carried with her. A kind of pain that’s by no means an excuse for her behavior, but rather a way for us to understand the reasoning behind her actions. The pressures she’s often dealt with because of her husband’s choices and decisions. And Amick’s vulnerability allowed us to see that behind the controlling persona lies a desperate woman wanting to keep her children too close because of the loss and guilt she’s constantly engulfed with.

Most Noteworthy Performance by an Actor
“Behind the Eyes” | Prison Break
Wentworth Miller

Wentworth Miller bounced back into his role as Michael Scofield as if it hadn’t been years since he walked in his shoes. And in the final episode, he gave us a full-range of emotions from cataclysmic fear to unwavering adoration, but most importantly it wasn’t without the absence of his overpowering wisdom visibly showcased through his expression. Miller gave everything he’s ever had to this final episode and it was present most gorgeously in his eyes when he reunited with his son. It was present in the little smirk he wore when Jacob’s finally caught for the crimes he’d committed. It was in the warmth in his demeanor as he watched his family at the park.

Miller’s grip on the character has been exceptional from the very beginning and in “Behind the Eyes”, perfectly titled if I may add, he bared it all through the windows to his soul. (I hate myself for this cheesy line, but good lord, I couldn’t help it. I’m truly so sorry.) Miller’s often spoken a thousand words through his expressions and the finale was no exception, it was, in every sense of the word, the curtain call. He reminded us of just how far Michael’s willing to go to protecting those he loves while reminding us that the love he has for his family is irrevocable. He can be both stoic and sincerely vulnerable.

Honorable Mention:
“Chapter 13: The Sweet Hereafter” | Riverdale
K.J. Apa

Riverdale’s cast is filled with some of the most promising individuals and in an episode that was packed with stellar performances, it was incredibly difficult to choose a single performer. But nevertheless, it was K.J. Apa’s Archie Andrews that dealt with the most challenges. At times, Archie Andrews is oblivious to what’s in front of him, but that wasn’t the case in “The Sweet Hereafter”, and Apa’s performance was an overwhelming presence all throughout. When Archie tried to save Cheryl by breaking the ice with his hands, my immediate thought was “dude, kick it instead”, but the harrowing pain Apa projected as Archie transcended guilt and heartache through the use of his hands were haunting. And where his musical performance was concerned, it was filled with the right amount of sincere vulnerability that’d showcase he’s baring it all. That moment would’ve been enough to give Apa the credit for his performance, but it was the close-up into his eyes moments before his father was shot in front of him. Apa’s got a solid grip on the character by now, and I look forward to the potential darkness that’ll be explored in season two.

Most Exquisite Moment
“Chapter 13: The Sweet Hereafter” | Riverdale

Stranger things have happened than a forbidden relationship between a Montague and a Capulet. And in Riverdale especially, there are far more dastardly concerns than the somewhat unexpected relationship between brooding writer Jughead Jones and girl next door journalist, Betty Cooper. The unexpected relationship that’s proven to be the most remarkable gift Riverdale’s given its viewers. That’s why when the two finally confess their love for one another in “The Sweet Hereafter”, light finds its way back into Riverdale reminding us all of the fact that love, and only love can always save.

When it’s real, the first “I love you” carries a profound amount of weight and sincerity. It pierces straight through the bones and brings light into every corner. For Jughead and Betty, they grew in a foundation solidified with honesty. (Something not many couples are good with if I may add.) Without even realizing it, from the very beginning, they were the ones who’d need each other most to love parts of themselves no one else would dare to. They’d need each other to explore the demons within only to be freed from them. They’d need each other to believe in something otherworldly, something extraordinary that’d momentarily pull them away from the nightmares their lives are made up of. And that’s what their love represents, the promise that they’re in it to the end, the promise to fight the darkness together. There’s no doubt in my mind that season two will be filled with an abundance of challenges, but Jughead and Betty will rise through the ashes together — embracing the skeletons and dirty laundry in their closets as they grow in love and light. Together, every part of them is welcomed and adored. And together, there’s no darkness that can’t be fought through. Finally, the scene wouldn’t have been as breathtaking if it weren’t for the compelling performance Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhert put on — conveying a full-range of emotions in a single scene where a thousand words were exchanged following their declarations. I’m impressed.

Honorable Mention:
“Behind the Eyes” | Prison Break

For so long, I denied the fact that “The Final Break” was how Prison Break ended and I’m thrilled that I’m right today. All I’ve ever wanted was for Michael and Sara to have a happy life with their child, and today, they could finally seize that happiness. Today, there’s no more darkness lingering over their heads, and even though the future won’t be rainbows and butterflies til death do them part, they won’t always have to look over their shoulder. And I appreciated the fact that Michael sat behind them as the armor they’ll always have. I wish there were more because the finale was far from perfect, but for what’s left to the imagination, things can be beautiful.

Most Stunning Montage:
“The Soviet Division” | The Americans

As the penultimate season premiered, it was clear that a great big change was coming. A change that could be either great or terrifying. And I don’t know about anyone else but the montage in “The Soviet Division” left me with hope. A kind of hope that I don’t always have with this show because it isn’t afraid of raising the stakes. And the montage showcased the upcoming changes masterfully as it gave us a small, fleeting glimpse into the normal life these characters aren’t great at embracing. Not to mention that the chilling scene where Elizabeth looked at the closet filled with disguises felt oddly cathartic but simultaneously eerie. There’s light in this dark, scary world and The Americans has done a fantastic job of  reminding us of it this season.

“Wait what? What just happened?”
“Chapter 13: The Sweet Hereafter” | Riverdale

I have many bones to pick but at the top of my list is the person who shot Fred Andrews — the only logical, somewhat normal parent in Riverdale. Why? Why would anyone want to hurt this man? How could anyone hurt this man? Hasn’t he been through enough? (No, this isn’t just my inner Luke Perry fangirl speaking because it’s reawakened my schoolgirl crush on Dylan McKay. Who knows, it might be. It probably is, let’s be real, it definitely 100% is.) But all that aside, Fred’s presence in Riverdale has been a beacon of hope when every parent has a hidden agenda, and because of this reason, he has to survive. And I mean there shouldn’t be any other option. (@Writers, please do not hurt me like this.)

What are your pick for the finale roundup?

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