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Qualler Visits the Classics: (More of) the Best Episodes of the Decade, aka Qualler Cries

One of the things that turned the pop cultural tide toward the boob tube for me was the advent of episodes of dramatic shows that made me cry at some point. Best, yet, were episodes of shows where things happened that I didn't forsee happening via internet spoilers. After last night's surprisingly shocking, and, yes, tear-inducing season finale of Dexter, I tracked Twitter updates on the #Dexter trending topics for the remainder of the evening. Hey, folks who are upset about being spoiled at the episode -- if you don't wanna be spoiled, don't go on the internet! Or, read magazines, or talk to people.

Okay, maybe in this day in age, where people talk about TV on the internet like nobody's business, it's pretty difficult to occasionally avoid those spoilers. Especially in this era, when west coast Twitter followers of Indy Car driver Danica Patrick were inadvertently spoiled to the contents of this episode. But for every big moment that makes you cry in your fave episodes of shows (like, for example, last night's shocking season finale of Dexter), there are always some moments that get buried in the hype, the tiny moments that make the emo TV watchers out there cry harder than they did at the end of Ratatouille (so inspirational! If a mouse could be a chef, anybody could be a chef!)

The Wire - "Alliances", Season 4 Episode 5
October 8, 2006
Written by Ed Burns
Story by David Simon and Ed Burns
Directed by David Platt

Dukie: There's no special dead...there's just dead.

There are plenty of places on the interweb to read about the greatness of The Wire, the rare show that can't be hyped enough, that despite the superlatives often tossed its way, is fully deserving of all of them. And, there are plenty of places on the interweb to read about the greatest moments of the series' run, especially the big, memorable moments, usually occurring in the penultimate episodes of each of its five season. But the fifth episode of my favorite season, season four, is especially heartbreaking, in its small moments bookending the episode. Dukie, Randy, Michael and Namond, discussing their thoughts on the strange people who walk through their neighborhood, and the missing people from their neighborhood, and come up with the theory that some of them are not really dead, but "special" dead. When they discover that the missing people are just plain dead, the moment is so simple and so heartbreaking at the same time. Loss of innocence happened many times throughout the run of the series, but it didn't happen more devastatingly than this episode.

Sons of Anarchy - "Balm", Season 2 Episode 10
November 10, 2009
Written by Dave Erickson and Stevie Long
Directed by Paris Barclay

Juice: This charter is your home.

In this turning point episode that aired this season, protagonist Jax is at the end of his rope, about to leave the Sons of Anarchy club, disgusted by the direction the gang had taken, to embrace violence and get away from all of the peace that his father tried to bring to the club so many years ago. His adopted father (and gangleader) Clay straight-up tells Jax that he wants him to leave. Things are looking grim. Then Gemma, Jax's mom, tells Jax and his "old lady" Tara (Brigitte, I'm gonna start calling you my old lady!!!) the terrible secret that she's been hiding throughout the season, in a small, touching scene where a slap of the table brings more emotion than a thousand gunshots could ever bring. Jax ends his bad attitude, embraces his step-father and his mother, and puts his true colors back on. Fitting, then, that this ep was directed by the great television director Paris Barclay, who has been behind so many small moments in a series that is pretty much just made up of small moments, In Treatment. Which brings me to the third episode on this recap...

In Treatment - "Sophie: Week Eight" Season 1 Episode 38 (!!!)
March 19, 2008
Written by Sarah Treem
Directed by Paris Barclay

Who says "small moments" have to be tragic? Although the second season of this show is more consistent (and, definitely one of my favorite seasons of a show of the decade), and although so much of this show is about small moments of darkness in one's life, Sophie's conclusive episode (who, yes, was the most intriguing patient in season one) was one of personal strength and personal victory. Her father, who had such a negative impact on her life for so many years, was rendered powerless simply by using the words that occasionally good therapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrrrrrne!) coached her to say. Catharsis can be a powerful, good thing. And when season two patient April made a callback to the trials and travails of Sophie (also penned by Sarah Treem), the power and impact of Sophie's choice was sharpened even further.

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  1. Blogger chris | 1:08 PM |  

    My favorite is when Randy's yelling at Carver as he's walking away after his house burns down. Though the scenes when the kids are more unaware of their surroundings are almost even more heartbraking in retrospect. I wanna watch this show all over again!

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