Well. All is chaos right now, and it’s an absurd time to be talking about TV Superlatives. Regardless, that’s what we’ll be doing here today because at MGB, we believe that when people could use a moment’s break or distraction, what they really want is 5000+ words about cartoons, Chinese dramas, and CW shows.
Still. Before we get to any of that, let me list a few of the many places you can donate to help protestors and support Black Lives Matter:
Please feel free to comment with links to any other related organizations or crowdfunding campaigns that you think need attention/donations. Please do not comment to say “blue lives matter” or any other inane bullshit. Save that crap for your Facebook page that nobody wants to read.
And now for the main event: our Spring TV Superlatives!
A quick reminder for how these work: I will bestow whatever TV shows I’ve recently been watching (whether they’re currently airing or not) with awards like Most Adorable, Best Kiss, Most Unintentionally Hilarious Moment, etc. As always, any awards with spoilers will be very clearly marked.
As a reference point, here are the shows I’ve been watching for the past few months:
Altered Carbon (Season 2)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 7)
Star Trek: Picard
Legends of Tomorrow (Season 5)
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness
Nailed It (Season 4)
Harley Quinn (Season 2)
Kingdom (Season 2)
Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin (Season 1)
Village Survival: The Eight (Season 1)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Season 5)
Let’s get to it, shall we?
A-Yuan – The Untamed
I just want to squeeze him. And/or plant him in the ground like a radish. He is too cute.
Also, uh, prepare yourselves: The Untamed is gonna take a lot of awards today, partially because it’s my new fandom obsession, and partially because I watched all 50 episodes of it. (Unlike the other shows here, which averaged somewhere between 6-13 episodes.)
Honorable Mentions: Baby Tigers (Tiger King); Fairy (The Untamed); Bunnies (The Untamed); Wen Ning (The Untamed); Lan Sizhui (The Untamed); Cheddar (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Wrong Hordak (She-Ra)
FAVORITE SCENE STEALER
Captain Thom – Nancy Drew
Madame Yu – The Untamed
Lan Jingyi – The Untamed
Yup, already we’ve got a three-way tie.
Captain Thom is a true scene stealer in the sense that he’s only been in, IDK, two episodes, and I’m already deeply invested in his character. He’s pretty funny, and I enjoy his relationship with his son. I’m basically always here for parent-kid dynamics where both parties are trying to protect the other. I especially enjoy this one scene where Ace is upset to find his dad volunteering with the police department. (Captain Thom, once a cop, was injured badly and lost his hearing while on the force.) The mildly exasperated look on Captain Thom’s face is kinda great here. It’s also really awesome to have a deaf character actually played by a deaf actor, and I’m excited by the idea that he might have a more active role in Season 2.
Meanwhile, Madame Yu is one of those characters everyone loves to hate, and yeah, she is kinda the worst, like, she is an undeniably terrible mother . . . but goddamn, the part where she smacks down Wang Lingjiao is just the absolute best, like, it worked for me on a deep spiritual level? I think I need the AU fanfic where Madame Yu never married Jiang Fengmian and instead became the badass leader of an assassin/spy school or something. Ooh, or the prequel movie explaining the secret history between her and Wen Zhuliu because holy shit, there is clearly a story here, and we never get it! I never want prequels, ever, but this? This I would actually watch.
And then there’s Lan Jingyi. In the beginning, while I was still trying to get a handle on the names and faces of, like, 50 different characters, I just thought of Jingyi as “The Not-So-Sweet One.” (In comparison to Lan Sizhui, The Super Sweet One, and Jin Ling, The Total Brat). But the more time we spend with him, the more I grew to love this incorrigible little shit. My absolute favorite moment might be when he’s gleefully explaining why Su She sucks as a person. Sizhui tries to cut him off (because gossip is bad, be kind to others, even if they don’t deserve it, etc.) and Jingyi’s basically all, “Okay, okay,” before immediately continuing to dish on Su She. This kid is loyal, brave, and a totally unrepentant gossip, and I am here for it.
Honorable Mentions: Netossa (She-Ra); Wrong Hordak (She-Ra); Kevin (Brooklyn Nine); King Shark (Harley Quinn)
SUPPORTING CHARACTER WHO MOST DESERVES A SHOUT-OUT
Entrapta – She-Ra
Sometimes, I really wanna talk about awesome characters, but they just don’t quite fit into any of my awards, like, they have too much screen time to be a proper Scene Stealer, or they’ve already been on the show, disqualifying them from Best New Player, and they (thankfully) didn’t die, so I can’t rage about their terrible endings in Worst Deaths, and so on. Hence this new miscellaneous award.
Today I’ll be talking about Entrapta because I just absolutely adore her. I love her enthusiasm. I love her laugh. I love her hair: so stylish and so functional, all at the same time! I love how she’ll make friends with just about anyone or anything, even though she’s not always great with people, and those people so often misunderstand her. I really love all her moments with Hordak this season, too. Entrapta just makes me so happy. I really do like all the princesses (Mermista is also pretty goddamn great), but Entrapta is definitely tied at #1 for me. Only Scorpia, the Pure, can possibly compete.
Honorable Mentions: Poe (Altered Carbon); George (Nancy Drew); Ace (Nancy Drew); Seo-Bi (Kingdom); Li Dabao (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin)
CHARACTER WHO REALLY JUST NEEDS TO DIE ALREADY
Gary – Legends of Tomorrow
I chanted for violent death upon many a character while watching The Untamed; fortunately, the show gifted me with those deaths and then some. Alas, on Legends of Tomorrow, Gary remains.
I’m well aware I’m in the minority here, but . . . Christ, I’m tired of Gary. No disrespect intended towards the actor, but the character himself is mostly just exhausting. In small doses, I’m totally okay with him, but as a regular supporting character? I’m so done. I would happily sacrifice a small goat if I could get rid of this guy, especially if that somehow meant I could get Ray and Nora back. I will always miss you, Ray and Nora.
BEST NEW PLAYER
Wrong Hordak – She-Ra
So, Wrong Hordak is basically She-Ra’s version of Seven of Nine, except he’s soft and precious, not to mention a hilariously terrible liar. He also, occasionally, wears an apron and cooks, which is a version of Hordak I didn’t know I needed. Keston John has voiced a few different Hordaks now, but he just sounds like he’s having the absolute best time playing Wrong Hordak. I hope so because the character is genuinely delightful.
Honorable Mentions: Trepp (Altered Carbon); Dig (Altered Carbon); Barbara Gordon (Harley Quinn)
Wen Chao and Wang Lingjiao – The Untamed
These fucking two.
Honorable Mentions: Literally Almost Everyone (Tiger King); Admiral Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Li Dabao’s Sexist Wimp of a Blind Date (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin); Kovacs (Altered Carbon)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION
Bow and Catra’s Space Suit – She-Ra
Because Catra’s space suit has ears. And Bow’s space suit not only has his trademark heart, but also a cut-out displaying his abs. It is amazing. I need this group cosplay in my life immediately.
Honorable Mentions: Bess’s stolen ancestor hat (Nancy Drew); Ace’s sweater full of bones (Nancy Drew); Seven’s leather jacket (Star Trek: Picard); Ray’s red “Mr. Parker” sweater (Legends of Tomorrow); Charlie’s multi-colored braids (Legends of Tomorrow); The Star Trip shorts (Legends of Tomorrow); Mick as Khan (Legends of Tomorrow); Butler Constantine (Legends of Tomorrow); The Legends’ Punk Looks (Legends of Tomorrow); All the fabulous headpieces (The Untamed); Wei Wuxian’s blood talisman white shirt (The Untamed); Everybody’s pretty robes (The Untamed); Dabao’s brown suit and glasses (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin); Dabao’s atypically femme heels, wig, and newly tailored coat (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin); Qin Ming’s suave black coat (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin); Queen’s final throne look (Kingdom); Undercover noir costumes (She-Ra); She-Ra’s new uniform (She-Ra); Micah as She-Ra (She-Ra)
Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji – The Untamed
If I hadn’t just devoured The Untamed in its entirety, this award would almost certainly go to Harley/Poison Ivy, who I absolutely adore. Alas, I’m afraid WangXian is a MEGA SHIP, and there simply is no beating a mega ship.
Because China has strict censorship laws, Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji could never be a canonical ship, at least, not in the live-action TV show. Except, seriously, this is some of the most romantic bullshit I have ever seen in my life, like, fine, there’s no kissing or sex, whatever. There are, however, classic bound together shenanigans. Literal swooning. A piggyback ride. Their own goddamn plot relevant theme song. SO MANY LONGING LOOKS, JFC. And did I mention the time when the show basically just stops to have a neary two-minute long romantic montage? Shit, most of the canonical ships I’ve seen aren’t as well-developed as this one.
Look, I can’t get into all the great things about these two, partially because of time constraints, partially because of spoilers. But, essentially, this is an epic slow burn between a chaotic bisexual dark wizard and his austere, badass, occasionally petty and hella thirsty soulmate. I have read roughly a billion words of fanfic about these two, and I’m sure I’ll happily read at least a billion more.
Honorable Mentions: Harley/Poison Ivy (Harley Quinn); Adora/Catra (She-Ra); George/Nick (Nancy Drew); Poe/Dig (Altered Carbon); Jake/Amy (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Ray/Nora (Legends of Tomorrow); Zari/Constantine (Legends of Tomorrow)
BEST SIBLING RELATIONSHIP
Lan Wangji + Lan Xichen – The Untamed
Because nobody, I mean, nobody, ships WangXian more than Lan Xichen.
Also, because the brothers care about one another (which they both generally express in a very sweet and deeply restrained sort of way), and because they never turn on one another, even during Plot Redacted Stuff where that would seem inevitable. But seriously, Lan Xichen is the most serene little shit-starter you’re ever going to find, and I kinda adore him. That smile.
(Note: The Untamed: Fatal Journey is a spinoff TV movie, so I’m not technically counting it here as part of the show. But if I was, Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang would definitely also be top contenders for this award.)
Honorable Mentions: Wen Qing & Wen Ning (The Untamed); Wei Wuxian & Jiang Yanli (The Untamed); Zari + Behrad (Legends of Tomorrow)
FAVORITE PLATONIC FRIENDSHIP
Wei Wuxian & Wen Xing – The Untamed
I love these two. Their friendship is easily one of my favorite things about the show. Their love language is insults and banter with a huge side of self-sacrifice; they are incredibly Ride or Die, and also? Never even vaguely romantic. I love them 3000.
Honorable Mentions: Rosa & Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Raffi & Rios (Star Trek: Picard); Nancy & Ace (Nancy Drew); She-Ra & Bow & Glimmer & Catra (She-Ra); Qin Ming & Li Dabao & Lin Tao (Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin)
BEST DANCE SCENE
Holt and Terry’s Salt-n-Pepa Distraction Dance – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
I mean. Obviously, this wins.
(SPOILER WARNING: if you haven’t watched seventh season yet, don’t already know the major character arcs, and are planning to check it out soon? Maybe don’t watch that video. Otherwise, if Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of those shows you’re considering getting around to eventually–or you just don’t care either way–this scene shouldn’t ruin anything for you.)
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS MOMENT
Coughing Up Blood . . . Again and Again and Again – The Untamed
The Untamed is my first C-drama, so I don’t know if this is just a really popular trope in China, or if it’s an idiosyncratic quirk of this particular show? But in most Western media that I’m familiar with, coughing up blood is usually a Very Bad Sign. It doesn’t mean the character is Absolutely Dead For Sure (unless it’s a historical show, in which case they definitely have the consumption, and they’re toast), but certainly, it’s grave danger time. You might have maybe, what, one character cough up blood per season? If that? Like, probably after they got shot in the chest during the dramatic season finale or something.
By contrast, coughing up blood in The Untamed is just something people do. It can be a sign of a fatal injury. It can be a sign of a temporary spiritual injury. It can be serious or for comedic effect. I’m relatively sure Wei Wuxian coughs up more blood than anyone, but I’m trying to remember just how many characters do this at some point. Lan Wangji, definitely. Lan Qiren. Jiang Cheng. Jiang Yanli. Jin Guangyao. Jin Zixuan. Probably a bunch of other characters I’m not thinking of right now. Honestly, it probably would be shorter to list the characters who don’t cough up blood. Mind you, none of this is a complaint by any means; on the contrary, it’s a fantastic drinking game rule. And . . . well, shit, now I just wanna sit here coming up with more Untamed drinking game rules.
MOST DISGUSTING MOMENT
Deep Fried Flesh Leftovers – Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin
After finishing The Untamed, I thought I’d play around on Viki and see what other C-dramas interested me. I particularly wanted to watch something modern and, well, short, just to see what it was like. Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin was fine–being honest, I was pretty much entirely there for Li Dabao (Jiao Junyan), who I found immediately charming–but for some reason, I wasn’t expecting the procedural to be quite this openly gross with their corpses and maggots and, yes, pots of leftover cooked flesh. I actually had a bit of visceral reaction to this last one, which, sure, not a once in a lifetime event? But also not something I experience much while watching TV. So, it seemed noteworthy.
“Qing Xin Yin * Luan Hun Chao” – The Untamed
My Honorable Mentions will make this extremely apparent, but I absolutely loved The Untamed score. Hell, I couldn’t even list every song I wanted to because there’s this really chaotic music I like in episode 33 when SPOILER REDACTED is losing his shit. But it’s not on the OST, and I have no idea what it’s called. The point is, the music here is gorgeous and, on any given day, I’d be likely to pick a different favorite. Today I’m going with “Qing Xin Yin * Luan Hun Chao” because it’s genuinely pretty, because I fucking love that turn at around 2.39, and also because it’s actually a plot relevant song. Though, alas, I cannot describe why without spoilers. You’re just gonna have to watch all 50 episodes yourself. Yes, I know that’s a time commitment, but damn it, people. It’s so good!
(And yes, I know I’m committing blasphemy by not picking “Wu Ji,” which is also highly plot relevant and, like, THE SONG. And I do genuinely like it! But also, if I had to order the OST from Absolute Favorite to Least Favorite–a task I will never, ever assign myself– “Wu Ji” wouldn’t make Top 3 and very probably not Top 5, either. Look, I started this blog ten years ago, and it still remains well-named.)
Honorable Mentions: “Dream” (The Untamed); “Vegetation” (The Untamed); “The Untamed” (The Untamed); “Wu Ji” (The Untamed); “Lament in the Night” (The Untamed); “Life is Like a Stranger” (The Untamed); “Wang Ji” (The Untamed); “Yu Di” (The Untamed); “Rest in Peace” (The Untamed); “Shame” – Sego (Nancy Drew); “Collector” – Beasty Eyes (Nancy Drew); “Push It” – Salt-N-Pepa (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); “I’m a Spy” – Lauren Ash (She-Ra); “Illusion of You” – Jihae (Altered Carbon); “Do You Drink” – Krizz Kaliko (Legends of Tomorrow); “Repress” – Matt Ryan & Olivia Swann (Legends of Tomorrow); “Thong Song” – Sisqo (Legends of Tomorrow); “Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac” (punk version) – Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow)
FAVORITE NEW SHOW
I mean. That’s pretty much apparent at this point, right?
A few reasons I haven’t already discussed in some detail:
Some pretty fight scenes and costumes
I’m apparently a sucker for musical weapons
Every single time Lan Wangji uses his silencing spell
Also, seriously, that rarely seen, sexy ass smirk
Dark Wei Wuxian is, like, damn
Drunken Shenanigans, Take 2
Inquiry and Empathy
Protective Lan Wangji – whether he’s super fierce or hella resigned
Terrible special effects that become charming with time
The juniors are all surprisingly likable
This show is genuinely even more enjoyable on a re-watch
All the fanfic I’ve discovered
Oh, and it also wins for FAVORITE OPENING CREDITS.
Honorable Mention for Favorite Opening Credits: Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin
MOST WELCOME RETURN
Look, it’s been a hard year. This the goddamn content we deserve.
(But since you can enjoy silly content and still stay informed, here is Nicole Byer’s statement on the necessity of white people explaining Black Lives Matter to their children.)
Honorable Mentions: Harley Quinn; She-Ra
Finally, before the Spoiler Section . . .
FAVORITE INDIVIDUAL EPISODE (PER SHOW)
“The Terror of Horseshoe Bay” – Nancy Drew
“Ransom” – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
“Nepenthe” – Star Trek: Picard
“Episode 36” – The Untamed
“Nightmare Alley” – Altered Carbon
“Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac” – Legends of Tomorrow
“There’s No Place to Go But Down” – Harley Quinn
“The Secret” – Tiger King
“Episode 2” – Kingdom
“Episode 18” – Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin
“Episode 6” – Village Survival: The Eight
“Shot in the Dark” – She-Ra
Do you know how hard it is to pick one favorite episode out of 50 episodes? FFS. Why do I do this myself?
Honorable Mentions: “The Girl in the Locket” (Nancy Drew); “Lights Out” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); “Valloweaster” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); “Admiral Peralta” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); “Trying” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); “Episode 12” (The Untamed); “Episode 13” (The Untamed); “Episode 14” (The Untamed); “Episode 20” (The Untamed); “Episode 29” (The Untamed); “Episode 33” (The Untamed); “Episode 43” (The Untamed); “Episode 44” (The Untamed); “Episode 46” (The Untamed); “Bury Me Dead” (Altered Carbon); “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV” (Legends of Tomorrow); “Zari, Not Zari” (Legends of Tomorrow); “Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness” (Legends of Tomorrow); “Swan Thong” (Legends of Tomorrow); “All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues” (Harley Quinn); “Riddle U” (Harley Quinn); “Bachelorette” (Harley Quinn); “Episode 1” (Kingdom); “Save the Cat” (She-Ra); “Perils of Peekablue” (She-Ra)
Okay, everyone. Last chance to look away.
Jin Guangyao – The Untamed
Oh, I didn’t want this kid to be a bad guy. I liked him pretty much immediately, and I was very quickly invested in his relationship with Lan Xichen. But I also got serious “oh, no, this is how supervillains are made” vibes pretty early on, and yeah, those proved pretty correct. Incest, conspiracy, murder, just . . . just lots and lots of murder. It’s kinda impressive, actually, just how many people’s deaths this guy is responsible for. Jin Guangyao is a tricksy MF, and I like that in a villain. He’s sympathetic, to an extent, but also not particularly redemptive, and I enjoy that, too.
On a related note: I just watched The Untamed: Fatal Journey the other night, and the second Jin Guangyao appeared on screen, I was like, “You motherfucker.” So . . . yeah, my sympathy does appear to be quite limited, especially after the events of that movie.
Honorable Mentions: The Queen (Kingdom); Bane (Harley Quinn); Hordak Prime (She-Ra)
MOST HORRIFICALLY TRAGIC CHARACTERS
Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan – The Untamed
Jesus H. Christ. If you’re an angst fan, here is your fucking angst, as concise as I can possibly make it:
Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan are wandering heroes/BFFs. They capture Xue Yang, a Chaotic Evil Smirky MF. With the help of our aforementioned Best Villain, Xue Yang escapes and seeks his revenge by killing basically all of Song Lan’s people and then blinding Song Lan, too. Xiao Xingchen sacrifices his own eyes to restore Song Lan’s sight. They argue about this and go their separate ways. Later, Xingchen rescues an injured stranger unaware that it’s actually evil Xue Yang. They become friends. Xue Yang tricks Xingchen into killing, like, a whole bunch of people, including Song Lan, who comes to try and mend their friendship. Song Lan is turned into a fierce corpse,* and Xingchen, discovering the truth, kills himself and essentially shatters his own soul. Eventually, Xue Yang is killed, and Song Lan, freed from his control, regains his sentience. He leaves, taking what’s left of Xingchen’s spiritual consciousness with him, and while there’s the tiniest shred of hope that maybe, someday, Song Lan will be able to reconstitute the soul of his friend . . . yeah, this is pretty much the epitome of Hurt/No Comfort.
And if I’m being honest, I . . . don’t really love it, which is probably an unpopular opinion, and why the Yi City arc wins for LEAST FAVORITE SUBPLOT. Partially because, for me, this whole arc is just a little too exhaustingly miserable, partially because I just can’t with the Xue Yang/Xiao Xingchen ship, and partially because it just goes on way too long for my liking, especially for a story that’s almost entirely removed from the actual plot. If this were two episodes, I’d probably be much more forgiving, but it stretches into four, and that’s time I definitely would have preferred spending on more WWX/LZ Feels, or seeing the nitty-gritty of Nie Huaisang’s Glorious Outline of Revenge, or remembering that Wen Qing was a character who deserved better, goddamnit.
*I think? A fierce corpse is kinda like a zombie, and I’ll be honest–I’m not 100% sure if this is different than a ghost puppet, or if they’re just two different translations. You’d think I’d have figured this out by now, but there are definitely aspects of the mythology/magic system in this show that I’m still researching and learning.
Honorable Mentions for Most Horrifically Tragic Character: Nie Mingjue (The Untamed); Lan Xichen (The Untamed)
Damien Darhk – Legends of Tomorrow
I have lost track, at this point, how many times Damien Darhk has died in the Arrowverse, but it doesn’t really matter. Neal McDonough is the gift that keeps on giving (which is why he’s also winning for FAVORITE GUEST STAR), and every time you think he can’t possibly make Damien Darhk any better, he pops up to prove you wrong. I wish I could remember all the amazing dialogue; alas, I can’t stream this episode anywhere right now. The best line I do remember actually belongs to Courtney Ford: “Dad, I’m not a child! You can’t just kill my friends anymore!”
Still, I do remember some of Damien’s pitch perfect reactions: his pride in Nora when he mistakenly believes she’s become an evil sorceress with henchwomen (instead of a time-traveling fairy godmother), his insistence that Constantine (and not Ray) is marriage material (even as he tries to murder them both), his sweetness during the father-daughter dance at Nora’s wedding (even as he lies that he’ll be around to drop in), and of course, his final, tearful words with Sara (who, thankfully, never forgives him) right before obliterating his own soul rather than return to Hell for eternal torture. This death feels like it might genuinely be the last time we see Damien, and if so, it’s a truly wonderful character exit.
Honorable Mentions for Best Death: Wen Chao (The Untamed); Wang Lingjiao (The Untamed); Jin Guangshan (The Untamed); Jin Guangyao (The Untamed); Owen Marvin (Nancy Drew); Cho Hak-ju (Kingdom); Behrad (Legends of Tomorrow); Shadow Weaver (She-Ra)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Guest Star: Bradley Whitford (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Martin Mull (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); JK Simmons (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Marc Evan Jackson (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: Picard); Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: Picard)
Wen Qing – The Untamed
Until I watched The Untamed, I was sure Star Trek: Picard was gonna win this one because I was very unhappy with how unceremoniously (and how predictably) they killed off Hugh; in general, I’ve been annoyed with how that show has consistently tried to raise emotional stakes by killing off every minor character they’ve re-introduced from previous shows. Once is a tragedy; three times is a cheap pattern.
But then Wen Qing. And people, it must be readily apparent by now just how much I adored this show, but also, I will never forgive this.
When we last see Wen Qing, she and her brother have turned themselves into the Jin sect; in fact, nearly the entire Wen clan has sacrificed themselves in order to save their protector, Wei Wuxian. (It spectacularly doesn’t work.) Soon, we find out that Wen Qing and Wen Ning have been burned alive, a scene we don’t see, of course, because by this point, we already know that Wen Ning didn’t die. It doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to assume that Wen Qing also survived, or, at the very least, that we’ll flashback to her at least once more before her death. Like, I definitely didn’t want to see Wen Qing burn, either, but she is a major supporting player and, also, a total badass. We’re surely going to get one more moment and/or confirmation of her death, right?
Nope. Wen Qing is killed off screen and, worse, is barely mentioned again for the rest of the show, despite her close relationships to Wen Ning, Wei Wuxian, and–to an admittedly lesser extent–Jiang Cheng. People. It drives me crazy. She is one of my favorite characters, like, I legit can’t choose between her, Wei Wuxian, and Lan Zhan. (Which is why she’s also winning for JIMMY, NOOOOOOOO!) And while I had prepared myself for the likelihood of her character’s death, I had not anticipated her character exit to be done this badly.
Part of the problem here, likely, is that from what I understand, the majority of female characters in the original novel have very small roles; the show decided to expand many of those roles, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, that seems to have come with an unintended side effect of leaving many of their stories really imbalanced. For instance, it’s an undeniably smart decision to have Jiang Yanli accompany Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng to Gusu because that gives us much more time to get to know her and to build her relationships with other characters; unfortunately, by doing this, I couldn’t help but feel that Jiang Yanli had been sent to this big deal cultivator school just to make soup. Because even though she (thankfully) has much more screen time, she still doesn’t have many opportunities to make plot relevant decisions. Mianmian, too, is a cultivator that we disappointingly rarely get to see do anything. She does have a badass moment where she stands up for Wei Wuxian (as does Jiang Yanli), and it’s fantastic. But she’s also just enough of a notable character that I expected more plot relevance out of her. (That being said, at least Mianmian lives; I think she might be the only named female character to do so, which is also seriously a bummer.)
If Wen Qing was a fairly minor character, I probably wouldn’t mind her offscreen death so much. But the show developed her into an amazing supporting player, one who actually is plot relevant, and then . . . kind of threw her away. It’s disappointing.
Honorable Mentions For Worst Death: Hugh (Star Trek: Picard)
Honorable Mentions for Jimmy, Noooo: Sixth Junior Brother (The Untamed); Moo Young (Kingdom); Hugh (Star Trek: Picard)
Lucy Sable killed herself – Nancy Drew
I have never and will never be fond of murder mysteries that end in a “Surprise! It was actually suicide!” twist, so I was pretty disappointed by this revelation. In its defense, there are ideas I like here, like how Nancy calls out the town for turning a young girl’s tragic death into a spooky nursery rhyme. Lucy needed real help, and instead of getting it, instead of even being properly mourned, the town pretty much just turned her death into a macabre tourist trap. Thematically, that’s interesting. It’s an actual reason to do this twist, rather than just, like, trying to pull a fast one on your audience.
Unfortunately, the show doesn’t do a very good job building up any of this, which is to say that any evidence of Lucy’s depression comes far too little and far too late. It doesn’t help, either, that we never get a real sense of who Lucy was as an actual person, like, if your moral of the story is “Lucy was a human being and deserved better,” then, like, maybe spend some actual time developing Lucy as a human being who deserved better? Give us more in-depth flashbacks. Write journal entries that display actual personality, not just clues and exposition. Sure, none of that’s easy, but it’s definitely not impossible, either.
Karen inadvertently helped murder Tiffany – Nancy Drew
Nie Huaisang is a fucking elaborate revenge mastermind – The Untamed
I didn’t trust Karen from Day 1, partially because as Lucy’s BFF, she was obviously a suspect, and partially because, inexplicably, Alvina August was a main cast member, despite not having all that much to do. (Which, BTW, I wish the show had given her much more to do.) Unfortunately, Karen seemed to have absolutely no motive, and I was very concerned that they were going to try and shoehorn in something terrible, like jealousy; instead, Karen tried to avenge Lucy by stealing an incredibly rare poison from evidence, before giving it to Lucy’s brother, Josh, so that he could kill Ryan, Lucy’s (supposed) murderer. But Tiffany ended up eating the poisoned food instead; thus, Karen helped kill the wrong person. This was a genuinely well-executed twist that I didn’t quite see coming, and I appreciated that.
Meanwhile, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t see Nie Huaisang coming at all, even though, looking back, there were definitely moments when I could have, right from the very first episode. (This still kills me. Why didn’t I go back to watch this one pivotal scene? I absolutely thought about doing it. WHY?) I found Nie Huaisang kind of annoying early on and, unfortunately, mostly ignored him because of that, although in the back half of the show, I did think we were leading up to an Awesome Moment of Revenge, one where Nie Huaisang would literally stab Jin Guangyao in the back. (Like Jin Guangyao stabbed Wen Ruohan in the back.) It just never occurred to me that Huaisang was also the mastermind behind Wei Wuxian’s resurrection and, well, everything else. It also didn’t occur to me (until right before it happened, at least) that, instead of killing Jin Guangyao himself, he would trick Lan Xichen into doing it for him. Oh, man. That was brutal and heartbreaking and perfect. It might even have tied for Best Death, too, except that Jin Guangyao survives a little too long with a chopped off arm and a sword straight through his chest, for my liking.
But without a doubt, Nie Huaisang definitely wins BEST REEEEEEEEVENGE today.
Honorable Mentions for Best Twist: Do-Yeon found the money (Village Survival: The Eight); Astra’s Mentor in Hell is Lachesis, one of the three Fates (Legends of Tomorrow)
BEST BADASS MOMENT
Wen Ning finally tells Jiang Cheng the truth – The Untamed
Sometimes, the most badass moments are from the characters you least expect. Sure, Wen Ning is a fierce corpse who can kick the shit out of almost anything, but otherwise, he’s an adorable teddy bear who’s easily bullied by small children. So the moment when Wen Ning goes off and finally tells Jiang Cheng what really happened to his golden core? I mean, damn. It was a thing of beauty. Love you, Wen Ning.
Honorable Mentions: Jiang Yanli stands up for Wei Wuxian (The Untamed); Mianmian leaves the Jin Clan (The Untamed); Pretty much anytime Lan Wangji flies in from out of nowhere and uses Chord Assassination Technique (The Untamed); Madame Yu smacks down Wang Lingjiao (The Untamed); Poe destroys the construct hedge maze (Altered Carbon); The Queen declares if she can’t have the kingdom, no one can (Kingdom); Scorpia sacrifices herself to save her friends (She-Ra); She-Ra comes back to save Catra (She-Ra); Zari tells John she’s gonna haunt his ass until he saves her brother (Legends of Tomorrow)
Harley/Poison Ivy – Harley Quinn
Because YES, it happened, and it was goddamned epic. I love these two.
Honorable Mentions: Adora/Catra (She-Ra); Ava/Sara on Star Trip (Legends of Tomorrow)
Adora and Catra kiss – She-Ra
Owen Marvin dies – Nancy Drew
I almost picked Adora and Catra for Best Kiss, but ultimately, I just ship Harley and Poison Ivy more. Still, it was really exciting to see this relationship actually become canon; it’s not the first queer relationship on She-Ra, of course, but the other ones were minor characters, while this is your main heroine on a kids cartoon kissing another girl. It’s awesome. Also? Hey, Adora.
Still, I gotta shout out Nancy Drew for killing off Owen Marvin, too, which, like . . . dude was okay? But yeah, also pretty boring, and I definitely couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for the Nancy/Owen ship. I figured Owen might die eventually, like in the finale or something, but I was absolutely unprepared for his murder in Episode 17. And while I didn’t ultimately love the hasty resolution of that storyline, his death did kinda delight me. In related news, it turns out that I’m just a monster.
FAVORITE MEANINGFUL HALLUCINATION
The death portents – Nancy Drew
As a detective show where the primary method of detection is communicating with ghosts, Nancy Drew kind of owns this whole category. But we saved the very best for last, where each of our heroes have visions of how they’ll die: George and Nick are drowning in Nick’s truck, Ace is impaled and hung up on a meat hook, Bess is on fire, and Nancy goes over the same cliff that her mother jumped off of. Besides just being genuinely creepy, what’s kind of awesome about this episode is that it wasn’t intended to be the Season 1 finale; production had to shut down due to, you guessed it, Covid-19. But the death portents surprisingly function as a solid cliffhanger and cap for the season. Despite my dissatisfaction with Lucy’s suicide, I have enjoyed the holy hell out of this show and am eagerly looking forward to Season 2, whenever that might be.
Honorable Mentions: Nancy’s visions of Lucy’s bones and teeth (Nancy Drew); All the Aglaeca portents (Nancy Drew); She-Ra’s vision of Possible Future Best Friend Squad (She-Ra)
Nate & Ray – Legends of Tomorrow
Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about Nate. He can be hilariously funny, and I think Nick Zano does a solid job with the character, but I do sorta wish we got a little more historian, a little less bro sometimes. Also, his romances tend to be boring AF. That all being said, his epic bromance with Ray is enjoyable–probably because Zano and Brandon Routh have better chemistry than Zano had with either Maisie Richardson-Sellers or Tala Ashe. And Nate and Ray’s literally Shakespearean goodbye in “Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness” was simultaneously earnest and hilarious. It’s sort of a Legends specialty, balancing sincerity with the utterly ridiculous.
Honorable Mentions: Jake & Charles (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Lan Sizhui, Lan Jinygi, Jin Ling, & Ouyang-Zizhen (The Untamed); Lee Chang & Moo-yong (Kingdom)
Rosa & Amy – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Sara, Ava, Mona, Nora, and Zari (AKA, Book Club) – Legends of Tomorrow
Rosa has great friendships with multiple characters on this show: Jake, certainly, and also Holt, but this season has been particularly dedicated to her and Amy’s friendship, which I’ve really enjoyed. She’s there for all the pregnancy shenanigans: the stroller competition, obviously, and oh yeah, helping Amy deliver her baby. Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz are comedy gold together, and it’s fun to watch how much their characters have grown over the past seven seasons, particularly as friends.
But I must also give it up for Book Club because any book club between an assassin, a clone, a kaupe, an ex-cultist fairy godmother, and a social media influencer new to time traveling is kind of automatically the best. Okay, yeah, it wounds my soul a little that these ladies don’t spend much time actually talking about books, but they do laugh and hang out and support each other through their various traumas, not to mention occasionally have hilarious bachelorette parties, so yeah, this is a pretty great group ladymance. (Besides, my online book club has been known to get off topic, too, like when you start talking about a novel you read, but you really just need an hour-long session to vent about all the ways you hate Rise of Skywalker? Ah, good times.)
Honorable Mentions: Perfuma & Scorpia (She-Ra)
FAVORITE PARENT/CHILD DYNAMIC
Mick & Lita – Legends of Tomorrow
Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji & Lan Sizhui – The Untamed
When Lita was first introduced, I was, at best, indifferent, and at worst, annoyed; I’d heard that Dominic Purcell was leaving, and I was bummed about losing yet another Legend I liked. Apparently, this isn’t the case, which is great, but at the time, I’d definitely assumed that the show would rush the hell out of this new parent-kid dynamic. Instead, Legends has really created an interesting story for these two characters. Mick and Lita are actually a lot of fun together; sweet, too, in their own anarchistic sort of way. I particularly like their scenes in “Freaks and Greeks” when Mick tries to do right by his daughter by using time travel to cheat the system, and Lita realizes she doesn’t want to go to this fancy school with these assholes anyway. Then they both say nice things about each other and leave to find some rich kids to piss off. It’s heartwarming in the way that only Legends can be.
As far as The Untamed goes . . . okay, look, I can’t lie; I’m probably being at least partially influenced by fanfic here. But Wei Wuxian is like A-Yuan’s first adopted dad, and they are so adorable together. And then Lan Wangji is his second adopted dad, and they are also so adorable together, both when A-Yuan is a little one, and later on, too, when he’s Lan Sizhui and all grown up. And look, I’m just . . . I’m just very invested in this family, okay?
(Oh, BTW: Lan Sizhui, Lan Yuan, A-Yuan, and Wen Yuan are all the same person, in case you haven’t watched the show and are actually bothering to read all these Untamed entries. Which, yes, means I was being a little tricky earlier when I listed Lan Sizhui as a Most Adorable nominee, but that actor is pretty damn cute, too.)
Honorable Mentions: Ace & Captain Thom (Nancy Drew); Bow and his Dads (She-Ra)
MOST DISAPPOINTING NEW SHOW
Star Trek: Picard
I’d hoped that maybe this show would come together by the end of its first season, but . . . wow, it didn’t for me. There are things I enjoy about it; unfortunately, they are vastly outnumbered by the things I didn’t like. Alison Pill, always phenomenal, is fantastic as Jurarti. Unfortunately, the show has stumbled hard with how its handled her I Secretly Killed My Mentor/Lover storyline. Meanwhile, Raffi’s storylines (from her substance abuse problems to her estranged son to her unfairly getting booted out of Starfleet) have all landed somewhere between “dull” to “potentially interesting but rushed and undeveloped.” Soji is still just kinda boring. Elnor doesn’t have nearly enough to do. The finale was vastly underwhelming, and I simply do not understand the point of “killing off” Picard, only to bring him back in a new body that’s exactly the same as his old body minus an ill-defined fatal condition. What is the point in resurrecting a character, only to promptly eliminate any interesting plot or emotional consequences for said character? All of which is why Picard (and basically every other person here, too) all win for CHARACTER WHO DESERVES A BETTER SHOW.
I’m also probably one of the only Trek fans on the planet who was vastly underwhelmed by Data’s return and subsequent character exit, although to be fair, I just straight up never watched Nemesis, so, it’s not like this is the goodbye I was waiting for? Still. If Data’s consciousness has been trapped in this matrix for decades, like, fuck, let’s spend a little time with him before we say goodbye. This scene would’ve played so much better after, say, a whole season of Picard and Data chats.
I’ll probably still check out second season because there is potential here, and also because Guinan is coming back at some point, but I confess, my hopes aren’t high. And I swear to Christ, if Guinan dies, you will all have to suffer my rage for literally thousands of words.
And . . . hey, that’s all I got for today. Thanks for reading, assuming that you did, and please be safe wherever you are!