Hello again! It’s time to dive back into TV Superlatives, this time with ALL THE SPOILERS. (You can check out Part I if you missed it.) Here’s a quick reminder of all the shows I’ve been watching this summer:
Floor is Lava (Season 2)
Last Week Tonight (Season 9, Episodes 13- 22)
Running Man (Episodes 63-75 and 606-618)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Stranger Things (Season 4, Volumes 1 and 2)
Evil (Season 3)
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim
Harley Quinn (Season 3, Episodes 1-7)
Adamas (Episodes 1-10)
Baking Impossible (abandoned)
Resident Evil (abandoned)
Again, SPOILERS abound in this post. We’re gonna start off real light (the first award barely even counts as a spoiler, honestly) and then bounce straight into character deaths, so please do scroll with caution.
FAVORITE TITLE CARD/OPENING CREDITS
I love Season 3’s updated opening credits, particularly because some episodes hilariously warn that you’ll be haunted if you skip the intro. Also, The Pop-Up Book of Contemporary Demons continues to be amazing. This season, we even get to literally flip the narrative and see The Pop-Up Book of Contemporary Angels, which was a delightful surprise (and honestly, no less creepy or weird).
The Monsignor dies, not Grace – Evil
It’s not that I wanted the Monsignor to die. It’s actually pretty sad, particularly in the next episode when Father Ignatius comes back and sees the body, like, that little noise Wallace Shawn makes? Oof, my heart. Still, I was relieved that Grace didn’t die, partially because I really like Grace, and partially because her death would’ve been both incredibly predictable and kinda cheap, considering they only just got her back. Killing the Monsignor instead is a nice surprise and actually hits the Feels a bit harder, considering A) he’s a regular supporting player, and B) he gives his life to save Grace, allowing the character a more meaningful death than Grace herself would’ve gotten.
Honorable Mentions: Lexis isn’t manipulated by the stupid animal game; instead, she and her sisters are fucking with Leland, defeating him with their chatty chaos (Evil); Una wonders what Pike would’ve thought about the llyrians if she hadn’t saved everyone (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds); Zhang Cheng is very nice, even when he obviously disbelieves the time loop story (Reset)
BEST WTF MOMENT
All of David and Sister Andrea’s various visions – Evil
Look, I can’t only pick one, I can’t. In fact, they collectively win FAVORITE VISION OR MEANINGFUL HALLUCINATION because they’re all too good. In one episode, David is saved from a giant bat demon thing when the very air rips open and an angel appears, only the angel is kinda like an animated Renaissance painting? David has a similar vision the next episode, only the serene angel that he sees hilariously yells, “RUN!” startling the hell out of him. (His visions get especially interesting here because after speaking to a woman who’s seen a Black angel, David’s serene angel also appears as Black, leading David into a crisis on whether his visions are even real or if he’s just been influenced by racist Renaissance art.)
We also get a look at Sister Andrea’s visions this season, like when she finds the red-haired demon, or when she kills multiple demons infesting Kristen’s house—all while having a conversation with Kristen’s oldest daughter, Lynn, who’s considering becoming a nun. Lynn, mind you, can’t see the demons, so from her perspective, she’s just accompanying an older woman around the house who’s occasionally attacking the floor with a shovel for no reason, and just decides to roll with it. I cannot begin to tell you how delightful all of this is.
Honorable Mentions for Best WTF Moment: George and Lexis floss in Kristen’s nightmare (Evil); Kristen and Leland are gonna have a baby, kinda (Evil); Kurt’s demonic victory against writer’s block (Evil); The Manager (Evil); Spock and T’Pring switch bodies (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds); Butler Kwon donated her dead son’s heart to Chairman Kwon (Adamas)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Vision or Meaningful Hallucination: K’s visions of the dark shadow, especially the one where she sneezes and a woman goes over the side of the building (Inspector Koo)
Basically, any and all of Obi-Wan’s plans – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Xiao He Yun leaves without a word after killing the bomber – Reset
Literally every poor decision Porsche makes in Episode 2 – KinnPorsche
We already discussed Porsche’s poor decision making skills in Part I, so let’s focus on the other two here. Obi-Wan, for instance, cause sweetie, baby. What are you doing? First, our Jedi arrives on planet and waits around for a whole minute before deciding that he and Leia must have been betrayed/abandoned, so they take off. (Obi-Wan, clearly, has never taken public transportation in his life.) Naturally, this means they almost immediately run into danger, which would not have happened if they’d just stayed put for five damn minutes. Then—so far as I can tell—his and Reva’s entire plan to kill Darth Vader boils down to Obi-Wan escaping, which will apparently distract Darth so much that he won’t notice Reva sneaking up behind him with her lightsaber? I don’t even know; I was so sure Obi-Wan had something else up his sleeve that it genuinely felt like he’d abandoned Reva to die here. And finally, when Obi-Wan does later defeat Darth Vader in battle, he just . . . lets him go, which like. Look, I get that dude has complicated Feels here, and Ewan McGregor is excellent in this episode—I did not expect to be nearly as moved as I was by this scene—but still, this is Darth Vader we’re talking about. Sparing him doesn’t just feel like a mistake; it feels, frankly, like criminal negligence.
Meanwhile, Xiao He Yun is stressed out, I get it. He’s been stuck in this time loop where his bus keeps exploding, and now he’s just accidentally killed the bomber in self-defense. Guy is probably in shock, and that’s deeply understandable. However, his decision to firmly take Shi Qing’s hand and stride off the bus without A) checking on the bomb, B) telling anyone that there is a bomb, C) confirming that the bomber is actually dead, or D) waiting around to explain to the police that yes, there is a bomb, and he didn’t just straight-up murder some random woman for no reason is just . . . nope, that’s just inexcusable, especially because he has every reason to think that this might be the final loop. Xiao He Yun. Buddy. What are you doing?
Adamas – Adamas
I mean, if you’re gonna stab someone in the eye, might as well do it with style. Throw out that old, tired switchblade and grab yourself a big ass arrow. But not just any big ass arrow! You need one with a diamond tip, and not just any diamond tip. You want a fucking rock. You want that shit to be as ostentatious as possible. Remember, this is murder we’re talking about. We want sophistication. We want symbolism.
(Okay, fine, the Adamas is mostly a weapon of opportunity, and also the diamond isn’t even real. Still. Imagine this shit being your signature weapon. I think it’s amazing.)
FAVORITE FIGHT SCENE
Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader, Round 2 – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Lucifer vs. Morpheus – The Sandman
The fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the finale is pretty epic, culminating in an intensely emotional scene that I—as previously mentioned—was not expecting to hit so hard. It also had Obi-Wan raising his arms wide in one of those Big Damn Power Moves, lifting a shit ton of rocks to launch at his former Padawan. This moment wins for FAVORITE BADASS MOMENT because I’m a simple girl who’s always been weak for the raise-both-arms power move.
But I also really enjoyed the weird, like, conceptual/psychic fight between Lucifer and Morpheus, battling each other with competing “I am” statements. (I am a dire wolf, I am a wolf-stabbing hunter, etc.) I will admit that I am not at all convinced by the conclusion of this particular fight—hope is crushed all the time, I would never put money down on hope against anti-life—but that’s probably just because I’m a cynical bastard. It was still a very neat, very imaginative scene, possibly one of my favorites in the show.
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Fight Scene: Kyung Yi vs. Yi Kyung in Yi Kyung’s hideout (Inspector Koo)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Badass Moment: Beru sneak-attacking Reva (Obi-Wan Kenobi); Knocker kills Mr. Angel (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?); Kristen breaks the shit out of the trucker’s scare equipment (Evil); David says if the Church fires Sister Andrea, they’ll have to fire him, too, one of their very, very few Catholic Black priests (Evil); Yong Sook power-strolls past the reporters with her face half-burnt (Inspector Koo); Je Hee calling the reporters on Yong Sook (Inspector Koo)
Extreme fucking measures – Evil
In “The Demon of Money,” people are cursed after receiving a specific stock tip. There seems to be only two ways to get rid of the curse: pass on the stock tip to someone else, or give back everything you used your newfound riches to pay for. One man goes the latter route, which is why he has gauze over his nose and eye—because he used the money for LASIK surgery and a nose job. His hacked off nose is horrific enough, but then this guy says quietly, “It was the only way to keep the demon away. I had to give it all back . . . the worst thing was my wife’s breast implants.”
People. I literally covered my boobs and sank back into my couch in horror.
Honorable Mentions: The umbrella death (Another); The doll shop (Another); Everyone killing themselves in the diner (The Sandman); Dude, anytime anyone smiles (Tomodachi Game); The increasingly closer Wandering Jack photos (Evil); Andy’s abduction (Evil); Logan murders Valerie to “save” her from the growling fetus (Evil)
Kristen gives That One Jerk the cursed stock tip – Evil
Yes, That One Jerk has returned again, but thankfully in a badass moment of revenge, Kristen cheerfully takes the cursed stock tip from Ben (who, in turn, had taken it from Karima) and passes it on to this asshole. Is that the morally correct thing to do? Probably not. Was it still hilarious and awesome? Yep, it absolutely was.
THE STANNIS AWARD (AKA, THE BLOOD THIRST LETDOWN)
Jed’s abusive stepfather is killed offscreen – The Sandman
Look, some characters are the absolute worst, and if you’re gonna make us suffer through all their miserables scenes, we at least deserve to see their bloody and brutal demise. What is this offscreen shit? Unacceptable. We the Bloodthirsty demand better.
WORST RAPE SCENE/SUBPLOT
Kinn and Porsche have sex after Porsche has been roofied – KinnPorsche
Look. I know this is a hugely popular ship. I’m not here to jump up and down on anyone for enjoying it. And my understanding is that this scene is considerably toned down compared to the noncon in the book, but . . . folks, personally, this is about where I had to bow out. I can handle some dubcon, but if I’m supposed to ship a dude who has sex with his conscious but very drugged, very high, very unable to consent bodyguard? That’s a hard pass from me, even if Porsche was already attracted to Kinn. I stuck it out one more episode to see how they handled the fallout, but when it became clear that Porsche was mostly just upset that Kinn was cold towards him afterwards, I figured it was time to move on to other shows I might enjoy more.
BEST BODY HORROR
The death of Chrissy – Stranger Things
I have heavily mixed feelings on Stranger Things this season, but credit where credit is due: Chrissy’s brutal, bone-snapping death was sad, creepy AF, and made a very effective jumping off point to the strongest storyline of Season 4. Chrissy, you died so that one plot line, at least, could truly thrive. RIP.
GRAND PRIZE FOR SURVIVAL
Max – Stranger Things
Kyung Yi – Inspector Koo
Max is not in good shape at the end of Season 4. She’s gone blind. Vecna has snapped all her limbs. And she even temporarily dies, which damn, that scene: Max desperately saying that she isn’t ready to die, as Caleb and Eleven weep over her—that scene is a very rude kick to the Feels. Still, at the moment, Max is alive; comatose, but alive. Considering that the Duffer brothers originally planned to kill her off for good, Max definitely earned her Grand Prize for Survival here.
Kyung Yi, thankfully, is in much better shape than by Max by the end of Inspector Koo. Still, in Episode 9, Kyung Yi survives pretty incredible odds when she not so subtly hits rock bottom. First, she’s stuffed inside a giant barrel and kicked down a large, rocky hill—which is when we transition into a video game sequence where, whoops, Kyung Yi dies. (We even get a “Game Over, Thank You For Watching Inspector Koo” message. It’s the best.) Fortunately, there’s a Continue option, so this time she lives, but still ends up in a pretty precarious situation, landing on top of a . . . you know, I don’t even know what. She’s on a very narrow beam across, like, a gigantic cylinder in a landfill or something? It’s hard to describe, but yeah, it’s bad. And then she plummets down the cylinder while trying to cross the beam, nearly dying again. While Kyung Yi is eventually rescued, the fact that she survives at all is, whew. Deeply impressive.
Honorable Mentions: Steve (Stranger Things); Grace (Evil)
The Umbrella Death – Another
This is why I never use umbrellas.
Okay, not really. But it’s definitely an additional reason to avoid using umbrellas. I immediately sought this anime out after finishing Yukito Ayatsuji’s novel, and while there are obviously a ton of creepy, gory deaths in this show—as will happen, when you’re a student in a cursed class—Yukari falling down a staircase and impaling herself on her own umbrella remains my absolute favorite one.
Honorable Mentions: Mr. Kubodera (Another); Junta (Another); Chrissy (Stranger Things); Monsignor (Evil)
Eddie – Stranger Things
I mean. It’s not the absolute worst death. (The Crowned Clown, I am STILL looking at you.) But it is extremely predictable, and it’s kind of a worthless sacrifice, as Eddie’s death doesn’t actually do anything: nothing is changed and no one is saved by Eddie’s big heroic moment. Mind you, that kind of futile tragedy can be done well, but like—you have to actually address it, and this show never does. Instead, Stranger Things just does what it’s known for: introducing a few new likable characters each season and brutally murdering one of them by the end of it. I feel like Eddie deserved better.
Honorable Mention: Ms. Lee (Adamas)
Dr. Alwyn Thomas – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
Ms. Lee – Adamas
Okay, they sort of had to kill off Dr. Alwyn Thomas, considering it’s Bobby Jones’s whole motivation for getting involved in the first place. Still, I was all sad when they inevitably revealed the good doctor’s body. I’ve only ever seen Conleth Hill in Game of Thrones, and it was a wonderful surprise when he popped up in this. He’s very charming and funny in the role, and I would happily watch more mysteries with him.
And damn it, I liked Ms. Lee! She was all practical and cool, and she was the only female agent we’ve met in the SIH. I also really liked all her scenes with Kim Seo Hee and was sort of hoping we’d get more moments with the two of them. I was definitely bummed that she died so quickly. I ultimately didn’t pick her for Worst Death because at least she was killed by Sun, not some random nameless henchman or something. Still, I really wish she’d had the chance to put up more of a fight. A real battle between Sun and Ms. Lee could’ve been awesome to see; unfortunately, this really wasn’t that.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie (Stranger Things); Tala (Obi-Wan Kenobi); Jung Jeong Yeon (Inspector Koo); Mr. Baek (Adamas); Agent Kim, possibly? (Adamas)
LEAST FAVORITE SUBPLOT
The Russia Storyline – Stranger Things
I’m not saying there weren’t good moments, here or there—Winona Ryder is always fantastic, I genuinely liked Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha), and the scene where Hopper squeezes his broken ankle through the chain was legit horrifying, like, that definitely wins MOST OH-MY-GOD PAINFUL OW MOMENT—but overall, I found the whole “save Hopper from Russia” subplot overly long and deeply unnecessary, and I zoned out a LOT during these scenes. The way it supposedly ties into the Big Battle at the end . . . nah, didn’t buy it, not for one second. And the way we just drop Dmitri and Yuri at the end with no goodbye, no wrap-up, nothing? Bah. How can you spend this much time in Russia and not bother to give these characters a good ending?
Honorable Mention for Least Favorite Subplot: Basically, everything that happens in California (Stranger Things)
Honorable Mention for Most Oh-My-God Painful Ow Moment: Three of Yuichi’s fingernails are pulled off (Tomodachi Game)
Woo Soo ignores his sobbing BFF for his love interest – The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim
The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim is a cute show about destiny, high school, and subduing evil ghosts, but it’s also a very rushed show—like, this is the rare K-drama where I actually want longer episodes. Hasty storytelling, I suspect, is why Woo Soo—generally a pretty nice kid—becomes the shittiest best friend on the planet. His BFF is Il Nam, whose dad died years ago saving his son’s life. Doo Shim, who can see ghosts, tells Il Nam that his father is sorry for dying on what should’ve been a happy day, leaving Il Nam with only guilt and sad memories. Unsurprisingly, Il Nam starts bawling, and to comfort his one and only friend, Woo Soo gets up, pats him once wordlessly on the shoulder—and then immediately leaves to follow Doo Shim, currently in no emotional distress, outside. Thankfully, Doo Shim’s mom (the amazing Bae Hae Sun) hugs the poor kid, but what the actual fuck, Woo Soo? This is unacceptable.
First Kiss/Last Kiss – The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim
OTOH, here is one of Woo Soo’s better moments:
An evil ghost is haunting the school, targeting whichever student has the worst exam results. Doo Shim decides to get a terrible grade in order to save another student. She also decides to kiss Woo Soo the night before, knowing that this could be her first and last kiss. Unfortunately, Doo Shim’s plan doesn’t work because Woo Soo knows what she’s up to, and secretly interferes. It’s revealed that he also secretly flunked the test, consequently shocking everyone because he’s the top student. None of this is particularly shocking to the audience, mind you, but it’s still a nice moment as Woo Soo smiles, quietly satisfied, and we flashback to the kiss from his perspective, where he’s also thinking, This is my first kiss and probably my last one, too.
FAVORITE SCENE STEALER – GUEST SPOT
Father Frank Ignatius – Evil
Grace – Evil
T’Pring – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
I’m primarily familiar with Wallace Shawn from more comedic work, so I definitely didn’t expect him to pop up (as a good guy, even) on Evil this year. But he did, playing a terminally ill priest who agrees to undergo a whole 21 grams experiment and somehow ends up miraculously cured. The scene where Father Ignatius is confused and scared and dying . . . like, Jesus, that one got me. And his relationship with the Monsignor, their secret feelings for one another, got me, too. I really liked Wallace Shawn’s understated performance, particularly Father Ignatius’s honest and pragmatic response to grief. I’m not sure if Wallace Shawn is coming back for Season 4, but they’ve certainly set it up so that he could, and I personally really hope that he will.
Meanwhile, Grace (Li Jun Li, who was introduced in the first season) has returned! I honestly wasn’t sure it would happen, but I’m excited it did, and—as previously mentioned—absolutely ecstatic that she didn’t die. I really like this actress a lot: I enjoyed her in The Exorcist (the TV show), I adored her in Wu Assassins, and there’s just something about her as Grace—a kind and quiet prophet who occasionally uses balloons to better hear the voice of God, as one does—that I find extremely compelling. I don’t know if this is the end of her storyline or not, but either way, I’m really happy we got to see her again this season.
Finally, I always kinda liked Arlene Martel as T’Pring in “Amok Time”—this woman knows what she wants, and she’s damn well gonna get it—but I’m especially enjoying Gia Sandhu’s portrayal of the same character in Strange New Worlds. She has a lot more time to make the role her own, which is why she’s also winning MOST IMPROVED CHARACTER. T’Pring is logical (obviously), dedicated, nuanced, and clearly trying to make her relationship with Spock work, even when she’s immensely frustrated with him. I honestly like these two so much, I’m kinda bummed they canonically don’t work out, and I’m hoping to see more from her in Season 2.
Honorable Mentions: Lord and Lady Marcham (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?); Hari Singh (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?); Dr. George Arthbunot (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?); Roman Commander (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds); Victor Le Conte (Evil); Victor Creel (Stranger Things); Melonmusk35 (Inspector Koo); Johanna Constantine (Sandman); Erica (Sandman); Death (Sandman); Rosemary (Sandman); Ethel Cripps (Sandman); Brian Cox as God (Last Week Tonight); Eun Soo’s Mother (Soundtrack #1)
Kurt – Evil
Kurt. Buddy. Pal. What’s happened to you?
Yes, I know you saw a demon. Yes, I can imagine why that would shake you up. What I fundamentally do not understand, however, is why you’re suddenly so weirdly desperate to write a book on the supernatural (possibly non-fiction, possibly a ghost story, and absolutely terrible either way—dude, your writing sucks, with or without demonic inspiration) that you decide to get rich quick with Leland Townsend, a man who has done ALL sorts of evil crazy shit, some of which you don’t know about, some of which you definitely do. More to the point, though; some asshole tells you to tap into the Dark Side and write your novel by singing a super creepy version of “Alouette” while literally bleeding onto your computer . . . and you’re just cool with that? You’re just gonna keep going even after your arm turns all hairy and demonic? Dude. Dude. What the actual fuck is wrong with you?
(It must be said, though: Sister Andrea’s face when Kurt tells her that he wants to write a book is a thing of beauty. Again, Andrea Martin is a goddamn gift.)
Honorable Mentions: Angela (Stranger Things); Brenner (Stranger Things); Kim Won Sik (Inspector Koo); Sam Kirk (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds)
Yi Kyung – Inspector Koo
Yong Sook – Inspector Koo
One of my favorite things about Inspector Koo is how all the power players are women. That includes our two primary antagonists, Yi Kyung and Yong Sook, who are both fantastic. Yi Kyung (aka K) is a serial killer, but she’s also frankly adorable, and it’s sort of impossible not to root for her. After all, she only targets shitty people, and she’s just so endearingly awkward at times! (Other times, of course, she is creepy as shit.) You just really want her and Kyung Yi to team up together, even though they’re very much on opposite sides. I’ve really liked Kim Hye Joon since watching her in Kingdom, and her work in Inspector Koo has only solidified just how much I adore this actress.
Meanwhile, Yong Sook is the director of a charity foundation and, also, a secret crime boss who’s determined that her oldest son will win the upcoming mayoral election. Crime bosses, especially, tend to be dudes in crime shows, so it’s especially nice to see a woman in the part—and damn, what a woman. Kim Hae Sook knocks it out of the park in this show. She has this energy about her: confident, immovable. She steals every scene she’s in with the sheer presence she brings to the screen—her final scene, in particular, is a thing of beauty—and I want to see more of her work immediately.
Honorable Mentions: Tao Ying Hong (Reset); Darth Vader (Obi-Wan Kenobi); Roger Bassington-ffrench (Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?); Leland (Evil); Vecna (Stranger Things); The Corinthian (The Sandman); Sun (Adamas)
Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan and all the other evil government dudes – Stranger Things
I get why nobody liked Jason and the Jocks in Stranger Things. I even agree, actually: they do feel a bit unnecessary in what’s already a very overstuffed season. Personally, however, I actually find the evil government guys hunting down El even more annoying. Arguably, they’re far more important to the plot: they’re why Dr. Owens comes back to save El, they’re the dudes who (kind of) give Will, Jonathan, Mike, and Argyle something to do, and they’re the ones who kill Matthew Modine (for real this time).
However, the closer you look at them, the more unnecessary they seem. I feel confident that Dr. Owens could learn about recent problems re: Hawkins and bring El to the super secret facility without Lt. Colonel Sullivan interrogating him; after all, Dr. Owens seems to still have plenty of government connections. We definitely don’t need these evil government dudes to attack said super secret facility because we already have an antagonist here: Dr. Brenner, who—to absolutely no one’s surprise—goes back on his promise and imprisons El. There’s absolutely no need to throw a third party into the mix; it especially frustrates me because once El escapes, the bad guys don’t give chase, like, “Oh, she got away; I guess we won’t bother trying to follow her, then. It’s not like we know exactly where she’s going or anything.” And as far as the California C Plot goes . . . I mean, let’s face it: that plot barely holds together as is, right? I think a whole rewrite is definitely in order.
Honorable Mention: Jason and the Jocks (Stranger Things)
Sheryl – Evil
Let’s face it: Sheryl is probably going to win this award whenever Evil is on air. Like, you think your relationship with your mom is bad? I mean, it totally could be! I’m not here to invalidate your family trauma. I’m just saying that, probably, your mother didn’t help abduct your husband and keep him conscious but paralyzed for months while doing unspecified weird demonic shit to him; she also probably wasn’t in cahoots with the evil dude who stole your egg from a fertility clinic and impregnated another woman with it. She probably hasn’t introduced your pre-teen daughter to her literal demon of a boss. She might not even work selling NFTs! If your mother has done any of those things . . . I’m very sorry, very worried, and I sincerely hope therapy is helping you.
Honorable Mentions: “Papa” – Dr. Brenner (Stranger Things); Sakakibara’s utterly useless dad (Another); Lu Di’s mom (Reset)
And . . . holy shit, I think that’s it! Thank you anyone and everyone who’s actually read this far. I hope you’re having a lovely day, and please feel free to write about whatever you’ve recently been watching on TV in the comments.