Thanks to the plethora of comic book shows, television is papered with amazing moments that are both fantastical and emotional. Looking back, it is hard to believe Riverdale was a mid-season replacement, debuting in January 2017. Or that at this time last year, Legion and The Gifted were the X-Men TV shows still in the distance. Little did we know how much both shows would get right. But from The Defenders dinner scene to the Black Hood, some moments of the past year in Comics on TV stand out. In no particular order, here five of our favorites.
(Photo by Michelle Faye/FX)
While Legion is filled with mind-bending moments and truly original scenes — Chapter 7’s “Bolero” scene is a close second to this moment — Lenny’s (Aubrey Plaza) dance in Chapter 6 is riotous victory lap as the Shadow King seemingly has control of all the Summerland characters. Recreating the Clockwork Hospital in their image, Lenny/Farouk exhibit their control over David and the others in ways both grotesque and sublime. But convinced of their success, Lenny dances to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” across all the key locations where they have convinced David to go against his best interests.
Over the course of the season, Lenny has been a sounding board, an enabler, a co-dependent best bud, and, finally, the true source of so much of David’s anguish. Here, they revel in being that source.
As a performer, Plaza is a delight, creating much of the sequence and taking full advantage of the opportunity to be uninhibited. In fact, it is somewhat surprising she did not inspire a Lenny cosplay craze at Comic-Con after this episode. Add in Legion’s unusually cinematic sense of space and editing and you get one of the best moments in comic book television to date.
When Veronica (Camila Mendes) went down the basement stairs in Chapter 20, “Tales from the Darkside,” she – nor the viewers – expected to see Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) doing bicep curls and revealing a seriously tight core.
Though still a suspect for the Black Hood killings in that moment, Keller’s unanticipated physique added a surprising undercurrent to one of the best moments in one of the best episodes of Riverdale thus far.
But then it serves as a precursor to the stunning revelation that he’s stepping out on his wife with Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens), a twist carefully hidden from view when the two characters interacted earlier in the episode. Considering Chapter 20 also contains Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) dinner with Candyman’s Tony Todd, Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) revealing her Single White Female–esque obsession with Josie (Ashleigh Murray), and Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) trip to the Riverdale Ripper house, Sheriff Keller’s workout had a lot of competition for the episode’s top moment. The surprise and strangeness of it vaults the moment into one of the best of the series overall.
Of all the various farewells this year, only one had the pathos of a daughter being sent into hiding almost immediately after she was born. Proving an unexpected pregnancy can lead to great comic book drama, Wynonna Earp weaved star Melanie Scrofano’s real-life pregnancy into its ongoing tale of Revenants, witches, and the secrets buried under the town of Purgatory. And once Wynonna’s upcoming delivery became a common knowledge, the child’s life was immediately in danger thanks to an unclear paternity. There was the possibility she might be the daughter of a Revenant; a bargaining chip every unholy denizen in the Ghost River Triangle could use to their advantage.
But whether or not the baby was half-Rev, Doc Holiday (Tim Rozon) swore to treat her as his own. And while Wynonna forced herself to walk away from the infant to fight off a bunch of demonic forces almost immediately after the delivery, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) made it possible for Doc to have one moment with her before whisking baby Alice off to a secure location.
In a show with many strong performers, Rozon is often the MVP with the swagger he brings to Doc. But in this moment, all of his bravado disappears for a father-daughter bonding so genuine, his biological connection to her makes little difference; even if it is firmly established in a subsequent scene.
Preacher’s ability to smash through genre conventions and find new ground within its comic book premise is best illustrated in its second season’s opening sequence. Reflecting its limited budget and grand ambitious, it does just about everything the show does best in this 10-minute cold open.
It begins with the three principles – Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) – discussing foreskin and Jesse’s lead on his search for God. Soon, the cops are at their back. So, Tulip and Jesse decide the best course of action is to lead them in a high-speed pursuit. But lacking the money to film a proper chase, the show decides to pipe in Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” and divorce the actors from the few moments of action they could afford to shoot, making it one of the most meta chase scenes of the last few years.
When the cops finally catch up to them, the trio return to funny business before the sequence shifts tone again to terror as the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) destroys the assembled members of law enforcement. The whole thing is a mission statement for the season to follow. And even if the ensuing episodes never quite lived up to the energy and inventiveness of the moment, it makes the show’s continued existence worthwhile.
“Crisis on Earth-X” was an amazing two-night event filled with amazing character pairings, Melissa Benoist’s stunning performance as Kara Danvers and her Earth-X counterpart, the loss of Martin Stein (Victor Garber), the thrilling return of Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart, and the debut of Russell Tovey as The Ray. It had ridiculously great fight scenes across all four parts and even set up the possibility of a TV version of DC Comics’s Crisis on Infinite Earths someday. But it ended, appropriately enough, with a double wedding.
With their first attempt to get hitched getting crashed by Nazis from another Earth, Iris West (Candice Patton) opts for something improvised and sudden. Considering their lives, it makes perfect sense. Barry (Grant Gustin) adds to the moment by retrieving the absent John Diggle (David Ramsey) from the Arrowcave to officiate. After everything that transpired, a quick private ceremony in one of Central City’s parks is the perfect way to join the two characters. But then to put a button on it, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) decides this is best time for her and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) to tie the knot.
Both couples would make jokes about the decision in the subsequent episodes of their respective shows, but the double wedding reflects just how far the whole Arrowverse has come since Oliver first asked for Felicity to retrieve some data off a busted laptop. Now, their family extends to four shows, two Earths, and a place for Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) to sleep. Having the West-Allens and the Smoak-Queens get married at the same time underscores just how much of a success the experiment has been. Also, it is the moment of happiness both pairings deserve.
Of course, these are only a handful of the amazing moments in comic book television this year. Others include Stein’s decision to end his life during “Crisis on Earth-X,” that Legion “Bolero” scene, and the “Welcome back, Frank” moment on The Punisher. Consider how improbable some of these moments would have been just a few years ago and how far television inspired by funny books has come.