Best of 2017: Little Gems

They are the scenes we watch over and over again — the scenes we can never seem to get enough of, and the scenes we remember for years to come. The Best of 2017 Little Gems category was started last year for the moments that effortlessly became my favorites — the moments, by which I found myself being moved the most. While it was a little tough to choose them this year, we managed. And without further ado, our final installment of articles for the year of 2017.

Also, be sure to check out our Series of the Year | Stranger Things article, as the number one performances, characters, relationships, and moments are all featured there first. They deserved their own special tribute.

Best for last, don’t forget to check out what Heather (TV Examined) and Katie (Nerdy Girl Notes) had to say about their favorites this year. The best part of our year-end reviews is sharing them with such incredible, perfectly gifted writers — always managing to convince me to watch whatever it is they’re writing about.

  1. Kevin comforts Randall
    “Jack Pearson’s Son” | This is Us

The relationships on This is Us are far from perfect, delicately strained, and complex, but if there are anything viewers can be certain of other than the fact that there will always be tears, it’s that the Pearsons will show up for one another. And that’s why Kevin comforting Randall in “Jack Pearson’s Son” is still one of the most memorable scenes we’ve watched this year.

For Randall, it meant that the one person who’s always neglected him actually cares profoundly, and for Kevin it showcased the fact that there really isn’t anything more important than family. Here’s the thing with This is Us, there are too many beautiful moments on the show to pick from, that’s a fact, but this is the kind of scene that leaves a mark without trying to. “Memphis” is still the best episode This is Us has done, but this is the kind of scene that surprises us in a way that’s so unexpected, it’s an absolute no-brainer. It was the first shot of Randall in distress, a full-grown man having a panic attack, and another blowing a huge opportunity to go comfort him. When was the last time you’ve seen something like that on television? Such moments of vulnerability are often masked with either humor or some kind of an ending, but this, this was brilliant.

2. Killian comforts Charming
Murder Most Foul” | Once Upon A Time 

Much like the scene above, “Murder Most Foul” lands a spot on this list for taking on a type of vulnerability that’s rarely explored. As the hero Storybrooke always looks up to, Charming has an image he feels he needs to live up to, and it’s that very image that put unbearable pressure on him.

On top of that, David is a man under the assumption that because he can’t always protect his family, he isn’t enough as a father and husband. He’s somehow less than what he actually is and with that came the cathartic fall of a man breaking down on his knees, and where the scene alone could’ve been the beautiful showcase of a hero’s plea, it was Killian meeting him on the floor that’s left me stunned. You don’t often see two grown men comforting one another, you don’t see them meeting vulnerability halfway, and for the two who were once enemies, the scene was poetically picturesque. It was one broken man showing another that he is not only far from alone, but he’s still a hero. David falling to his knees allowed for him to finally be freed from the dark, haunting thoughts that he isn’t good enough, and Killian’s choice to talk him out of a different kind of darkness he knew he’d regret meant even more because he too had a lot to lose if Charming never forgave him. I never thought this episode, and this moment would become such a favorite of mine, but I cried all through writing my review for it last season, and if that’s not good television then I don’t know what is.

“A gesture and a moment, where they both surrendered to the fears that ceaselessly attempted to convince them they’d never be enough. They have both lost brothers but found a similar level of comfort and support in each other. […] As a perfect example of the fact that our vulnerabilities don’t weaken us, the fact that Killian saw David at his lowest, but still believed that he sets the highest standard as Prince Charming was brilliant. A truly brilliant reminder of the fact that we are not defined by the moments we fall, but rather the choices we make in our lives. And our vulnerabilities, no matter how big or small do not showcase weakness, but rather the amount of strength it takes to confront all that’s within us to be freed from the crosses we carry.”

3. Take a walk with me 
My Heart Will Go On” | When Calls the Heart

And here we have my second, all-time favorite TV proposal — an absolute gem of a moment that effortlessly floored me, and a moment, which I still can’t quite get over. I moment, I don’t quite know how to dive into without turning into a blubbering mess. So, here’s an excerpt from my review because, really, I don’t know what else I could possibly say that’d be enough.

“Although “My Heart Will Go On” was beautiful in a number of incremental ways, it’s the symbolism and profound story-telling that floored me the most. And the tears would not stop streaming down my face after reading “take a walk with me.” Take a walk with me — a simple yet indescribably profound declaration that showcases the immense weight of Jack and Elizabeth’s love exquisitely. After that first relationship-altering walk they took, each of their walks together has played a crucial role in strengthening their relationship. Without even telling us, it’s served as the best parts of their relationship throughout an episode. They’ve grown on their walks, they have laughed, cried, revealed themselves, and inspired one another to keep hope and faith alive in their hearts. And just as they once allowed themselves to walk into an ever-blossoming friendship with someone, it was this moment that’d allow them to walk into a lifetime of forever.

And much like the fact that a lot of their walks ended where Elizabeth needed to teach, it was gorgeously magical to have Jack propose in front of the church they’d appreciated together. A place where God’s love and light could weigh in on their relationship, and thereby, remind viewers that it plays a key role in fortifying their bond. The physical and symbolic presence of light easily illuminated the element that from day one, they’ve been brightening each other’s lives through prestige, unwavering adoration.”

4. The team stands with Holt
“99” | Brooklyn Nine-Nine

It was anything but easy to choose a scene from Brooklyn Nine-Nine this year because the series has been at its absolute best, but I suppose the penultimate episodes generally tend to win. Captain Holt is the heart of the series, he is the one each person has a distinct relationship with, and the one person they all look up to with great praise. That’s why they’d make it their absolute greatest mission to make sure he’s home in time for his interview for Commissioner. “99” was the series at its best, at its strongest, and at its most genius because while I knew we’d eventually find out what Holt did for Rosa and Jake, I had no clue that it’d come so quickly, and my oh my, am I glad that it did. As it became clear that Holt is the one sabotaging their route back home, he confesses to doing something that he’s afraid will be held over him, and to which unsurprisingly, Amy quickly realizes what it was.

But when the team learns what he’s done, Jake is the first to speak reminding him of the fact that the first thing Holt taught them was that they’re a team, and because they’re a team, Holt doesn’t have to carry the responsibility alone — they’re all going to carry it with him. They’re going to fight with him. And most importantly, they’re going to get him to his meeting — a task, that they completed because Amy’s incredibly meticulous skill set came to perfect use. The episode was the perfect reminder of the fact of how deeply the unit cares for one another, and the great lengths they’ll always go to protect the perfectly imperfect, complex, wonderful family they’ve found in each other.

5. Killian and Emma say “I do”
The Song in Your Heart” | Once Upon A Time

I wasn’t too into the idea of the musical episode being centered around their wedding, but it didn’t change the fact that it was as indescribable as ever. We’ve watched their journey unfold for five years now, and from beanstalks, to the aisle they climbed, continuously fighting for the other’s happiness above their own while healing the scars the other wore.

Killian Jones and Emma Swan never gave up on each other, from darkened hearts to the underworld, their love was the one constant that served as the beacon of hope to pull them out of places they would’ve otherwise become permanent residents of. And the happy beginning crystallized their perfect unity in a way that’d show the world they’re eternal. Marriage is the most sacred bond between two strangers, it’s the promise that they’ll be each other’s person in every area that’s desired —  it’s the eternal, beautifully immaculate anchoring of two kindred spirits whose adoration for one another is unparalleled.

6. Monterey ladies fight off Barry
“You Get What You Need” | Big Little Lies

There were far too many amazing scenes in Big Little Lies to choose from, but the women coming together to fight off Barry was the greatest showcase of strength and power I’ve seen this year. And especially in light of recent times, women supporting one another is too important and too beautiful not to praise. When the women realize that Barry’s the one who raped Jane and continuously abuses Celeste in their marriage, it didn’t stop them from trying to protect both. And though what essentially followed was an accident, the fact that each of the women fought to make sure that Celeste doesn’t get hurt again says something about numbers. It says something about defending ourselves.

No, I don’t condone violence, ever, but the reality is, when there’s a situation like this when someone is as far gone as Barry, words aren’t enough, words won’t stop him from beating his wife to death — sometimes, with all our might, we have to fight back, and these women doing so showcases not only their belief in one another, but their support, and their unbeatable strength because where they could’ve walked away, they stood taller than ever for their friend.

7. Topanga’s decision
“Girl Meets Goodbye” | Girl Meets World

If there’s anything you need to know about me, it’s that there will never come a time in my life when Boy Meets World’s final scene in Mr. Feeny’s classroom won’t make me cry. And “Girl Meets Goodbye” was an episode filled with a number of those types of raw, emotionally moving scenes that reminded me of just how beautiful this group is. But if I have to choose one scene in this episode, one moment that broke me and healed me in ways I didn’t know I needed, it’s when Topanga tells everyone they’re staying. Because staying not only means that Riley and Maya can continue growing in their amazing friendship, but it means that this group will continue to have a safe place to come home to — Topanga’s.

The creation of Topanga’s was sweet, but right now, at this moment, it’s everything. It wasn’t just to save a quaint little café, it was to save themselves, it was to find a place where people could laugh and cry and scream their hearts out when life got too difficult. It’s a place where silence heals and hearts are steady even in the most stressful times. I knew this story would have a happy ending because Michael Jacobs knows how to conclude storylines beautifully, but I didn’t expect to adore it as much as I do. I didn’t expect to be as impacted by it. But here we are, Maya’s been adopted by Shawn, Cory and Topanga are happy, Riley’s home, and everything’s beautiful — whatever comes next, they could face it. And to remind us of the gorgeous little speech Cory gave Josh when he was a little boy perfectly tied the story together in the loveliest bow.

8. Jake and Amy’s proposal
HalloVeen” | Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I actually tried not to choose more than one scene from the same show, but I couldn’t not talk about the proposal that quickly climbed my charts. You all know that I’m an absolute sap for proposals so, I’m sure no one’s surprised by the fact that there’s more than one on this list. And this one is now number three in my top 10. Yup. Jake and Amy’s relationship has always been one of my absolute favorites, but something happened this year to make them much more special. And perhaps it was learning that Jake decided to propose in a moment of pure, quiet intimacy, which effortlessly showcased that Amy means the absolute world to him.

Perhaps, it was the fact that turmoil found its way into their lives too frequently this year, and they’ve had to do a lot of growing as a couple. A kind of growing, which not only brought them closer together, but it made them stronger as individuals. So when Jake got down on his knees during a moment that’s so fiercely competitive for the two of them, it beautifully illuminated the fact that in this world, nothing matters the way Amy’s happiness and well-being does. Amy is his everything, and attempting to put that into words made for a raw, truly heartwarming proposal that could be felt by even those who aren’t hopeless romantics.

9. Sansa and Arya take down Littlefinger
“The Dragon and the Wolf” | Game of Thrones

Let it be known that there’s never been a character in TV history I’ve hated with the intensity that I did with Lord Baelish “Littlefinger” so kudos to Aiden Gillen for doing such a superb job of making him absolutely ruthless and unlikeable. And never have I been more stressed in Game of Thrones history than I was during what was believed to be a strained relationship between the Stark sisters. That’s why the takedown was such a genius move — the moment Sansa turned her head to ask Littlefinger what he has to say for himself, I literally jumped off of my couch! No exaggeration. I hopped off screaming. It was this very takedown that not only showcased the strength of Sansa as a leader, but the unbreakable bond between the Stark siblings, and it was the acute reminder of the fact that nothing can stay hidden for too long.

Littlefinger lied and manipulated his way through so much that the confidence he had developed was downright horrifying. He needed to be taken down, and it couldn’t come from anyone other than Sansa, a life he had ruined most, a world he’d darkened the most. It was as close to perfect as it gets.

10. Lucy confronts her fears
The World’s Columbian Exposition” | Timeless

Timeless this year was filled with amazing moments, each better than the one before making this choice that much more difficult, but this episode was not only important for the message it conveyed, but for how much it personally resonated with me. As someone who’s also claustrophobic, and generally suffers from a lot of seemingly “ridiculous” fears, watching Lucy confront hers by reminding herself of the fact that fear is merely in our heads made for such a powerful moment.

It was anything but easy to watch that scene, especially because of how evocatively Abigail Spencer conveyed the heart-pounding fears she faced even in the attempt to be brave. And what I appreciated most is the fact that Lucy wasn’t automatically cured of her fears just because she faced them — when her team finally found her, she was so engulfed with those fears that her sobs and panic proved the harsh reality of suffering from something such as a phobia. It doesn’t end after one moment, it ends through persistence.

11. Dre confronts his coworkers after the 2016 elections
“Lemons” | Black-ish

“Lemons” was one of the most powerful episodes this year — Dre’s monologue at work crushed me. I can never say I understand how black men and women feel, I don’t know the pain and darkness that they’ve always faced and still, tragically continue to. And that’s why this episode, this scene in particular was so genius on behalf of Black-ish writers, a scene which Anthony Anderson delivered so poignantly, so potently, it was absolute perfection — the rawest dialogue I’ve seen in a scripted series ever.

After everyone expresses the fears they now “must” live with because of Trump’s presidency, Dre stands up to remind everyone that these are fears black people have faced for as long as they can remember, fears they’ve faced long before Trump’s presidency, but in spite of those fears, they’ve persevered, and the sympathy towards everyone else who now feels threatened isn’t something that needs to or should exist. These are fears black people have always faced, the pain they’ve always known, and the delivery of the monologue brought that harsh reality to life profoundly for anyone who’d forgotten just how tragic and present, racism is in the world.

12. The real, final break
“Behind the Eyes” | Prison Break

I never thought I’d be able to write about Prison Break again, and I also never thought that I wouldn’t have to pretend the heartbreaking series finale never happened. But because we got an image of Michael at the park with his family, the chapter can be closed and laid to rest for the kind of happily ever after these characters always deserved. While it was tough competition between this scene and Michael’s reunion with Sara, this needed to take the crown because it meant that this time, there’d be no surprises.

The series wasn’t going to then drop the ball that something terrible was to come. It was satisfying, in the simplest way, incredibly satisfying. It meant that all the pain and hardships had been worth it. The darkness they’d endured had been worth it. The longing and the fight had been worth it because they could finally move forward in the safe place Michael had once promised her. And the gorgeous portrayal of Michael watching their happiness once again reminded viewers of the fact that he’s a character who’s always valued the happiness of others, but today, that happiness equates to his happiness in a way nothing ever has before. I definitely wish we got a little more, but this scene served as proof that this time, Michael isn’t going anywhere, he’ll be there to protect them, care for them, and always watch their backs.

13. Philip and Elizabeth get married
“Darkroom” | The Americans

This is another wedding that signified so much more than the union between two lost souls — because for Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, this wedding marked the importance of their choices. The immense, unparalleled, complicated adoration that runs deeper than anything they’ve ever known. This marriage meant that they were choosing each other for better or worse. They’re choosing their love, through all the pain and the job they’ve both grown tired of to profess that their love was a light in the dark room.

The thing is, they didn’t need to make it “official”, it already was, they’ve always been married, but willingly going towards it, using their Russian names as opposed to their American ones, and in front of a God they don’t quite understand, is proof of the fact that their love did so much more than give two undercover spies an identity, it saved them. Their love fixed them, healed them, and brought a kind of happiness to their lives they didn’t think was in the cards for them.

14. Deacon and Rayna’s writing process
“Hurricane” | Nashville

The last bit of goodness that came from Nashville was the image of Deacon and Rayna writing music together — the montages, the songs, and the depiction of their love in all of its raw, poetic splendor. I haven’t watched Nashville since and I don’t plan to because these are the images I rather leave the series behind with. The image that in their darkness, Deacon and Rayna have always found solace in the melodies that reflected the words inside their hearts. Two people who could speak so distinctively through music. And the writing process for “Hurricane” left me floored. The song left me amazed and swimming in my own tears. The series was always at its best when music took the two of them into a world filled with infectious happiness.

15. Jess and Nick reunite 
“Five Stars for Beezus” | New Girl

Next up in our Best of 2017 Little Gems: The best kind of kiss is the one that reminds you how much you care about a pairing in spite of the fact that you thought you didn’t. And that’s what New Girl’s finale essentially did — it reminded me of why I loved their story in the first place in the first place, only this time, Nick and Jess are better for one another than they ever were in the past. They’re now finally at a place where being together will work because the traits that had broken their relationship in the past have been worked on. And running towards one another in the building only to meet in an elevator after Nick yells at a man that he needs to tell his best friend he’s in love with her? YES PLEASE. This reunion was better than anything I had ever imagined and it’s brought me back to “shipping” these two like fed ex. And now, only anticipation remains — in the same way that their first kiss was one of the most electric, perfectly delivered kisses ever, this one was filled with the same raw, enigmatic, energy.

16. Elizabeth comforts her team
“Good Bones” | Madam Secretary

There are so many things I appreciate about Madam Secretary, but my favorite part of the series has always been Elizabeth’s relationships with her team — the choices they each make to not only ensure that the world’s a better place, but they’re in a better place, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This is a team that cares tremendously for one another, and that’s why when Elizabeth realizes that her team is having a hard time dealing with grief, it all fits. These are the type of conversations that matter. The type of moments that showcase that darkness cannot ever win when there are people behind the scenes that still care and fight for something bigger. These conversations and team unity ultimately showcase not only how comfortable they are around one another, but how deeply their conversations and togetherness help bring serenity into their lives when darkness has found them. When they feel like failures, when they feel broken or lost or disappointed in themselves, they have one another, they have Elizabeth to remind them of the fact that they’re still going. They’re still persevering. And it’s always enough. It’ll always be okay.

17. Jaime and Claire reunite 
“A. Malcolm” | Outlander

Separations are fine when we know that epic reunions will follow, and the anticipated reunion between Jaime and Claire was such a beautiful showcase of the profound timeless adoration that’s heightened between them. Jaime and Claire have so much to give to one another, so much heart, so much passion, and the slow, gentle reunion that ended in a gorgeous kiss were gorgeously shot and poignantly conveyed. Heughan and Balfe have such exquisite chemistry, it’s always profoundly showcased on screen, but in this scene, the quiet intimacy of their closeness broke me. The vulnerability at that moment detailed the aches and longing they’d gone so long embracing that as they grew closer, you could see their love light the way, you could see it consume them, light a fire in them, and heal them in a way nothing else possibly could.

Be sure to check out our Best of 2017 Characters, Performers, and Relationships.

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