The Year’s Biggest TV Fireworks (So Far...)

We’ve just passed the halfway point of the year and already there have been a host of gasp-inducing, scream worthy, and jump-out-of-your-chair-and-fling-your-remote-at-the-screen scenes that remind us we’re in the second Golden Age of Television. So many, in fact, that we can’t wait for December to round them all up, so here are our 10 favorite firework moments of 2017 so far.

WARNING: It’s all spoilers from here on out!

Hannah Commits Suicide (’13 Reasons Why’)

Netflix courted controversy with the 13-episode series about Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a teenager who commits suicide after leaving taped messages explaining what (and who) caused her to do it. Angry parents and suicide prevention groups slammed the series for how it handled the sensitive subject both before and after the teen character’s death, while others were upset over an extremely graphic scene that showed Hannah slashing her wrists in a bathtub. Still, the show caused enough fireworks to get renewed for Season 2. — Victoria Miller

(Credit: Netflix)

Rachel Tells DeMario to GTFO (‘The Bachelorette’)

We’ve seen Bachelorettes send suitors packing without a rose ceremony, but this is the first time we saw a star of the ABC franchise tell a guy to get the eff out. When Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay found out DeMario Jackson didn’t dump his hometown girlfriend before courting her in front of ABC’s cameras, she was beyond pissed. The ghosted ex showed up in the middle of a group date, and Rachel later let DeMario have it in one of “the most dramatic” F-bomb-filled Bachelorette banishings ever. DeMario went on to find even more drama on Bachelor in Paradise, but you probably won’t ever see that scene play out on ABC. — VM

(Credit: ABC)

Oh, Brother (‘Bates Motel’)

Big brother Dylan couldn’t save Norman from their smother, Norma, but Dylan was the one who granted Norman Bates‘s last wish: that he be reunited with Norma. Tragically, that required Dylan to shoot him — in self-defense, as Norman came at him with a knife — and hold Norman in his arms as he died, thanking Dylan as he drew his last breaths, just a few feet from dead Norma’s long-preserved body. Creepy? Yes. The perfect ending? Yes, especially since the deaths of his dysfunctional family provided the only chance Dylan had to forge a successful life of his own with wife Emma and daughter Kate. — Kimberly Potts

(Credit: A&E)

Chuck Amuck (‘Better Call Saul’)

Other people realizing the truth about his electromagnetic sensitivity wasn’t the only cause of Chuck McGill’s breakdown in ‘Chicanery’; it also forced him to acknowledge that this — thing — that had ruled his life, tarnished his professional reputation, and made his life so small and closed off from the rest of the world was actually a product of his own mind. The scene — which featured one of the best performances of the year from Michael McKean — led to tragic consequences just five episodes later, and, it’s a safe bet, will continue to reverberate all the way to Jimmy McGill’s final descent into his full-on Saul Goodman persona. — KP

(Credit: AMC)

The Party Fall (‘Big Little Lies’)

The question of who died and how at the school’s trivia night fundraiser loomed over the entire season of Big Little Lies. Finally, the big night came in the finale — cue the emotional fireworks. Celeste’s plan to leave her marriage was discovered by abusive husband Perry, who angrily confronted her at the party. Madeline and Renata leapt to her defense, but the shocker was Bonnie running into the scene to push Perry down the stairs (and onto a construction spike). That’s what friends are for. —Kelly Woo

(Credit: HBO)

Party Stopper (‘Dear White People’)

Tensions were already running high when Winchester U. campus cops enter a house party where Reggie is taking a white friend to task for uttering the “N” word. Rather than de-escalate the situation, the officer only makes it worse by pulling a gun on the outspoken black student who is atypically stunned into silence. It’s an unbearably tense and timely moment where the real world intrudes on this collegiate bubble, and gives all the students on campus — both white and black —
a common cause to protest as the rest of the season unfolds. —Ethan Alter

(Credit: Netflix)

Pain in the Glass (‘Fargo’)

The McGill brothers of Better Call Saul weren’t this year’s only tragic twosome among TV siblings. Fargo Season 3 brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy each expressed a desire to end their bitter rivalry — sparked by a valuable stamp collection bequeathed to Ray by their father, but sneakily procured by Emmit — throughout the season. Pride, greed, and stubbornness kept the two apart, until the far, far more successful Emmit finally tried to return the most valuable stamp, encased in a glass frame, to his younger bro. But decades of mistrust were too much to overcome, and during a struggle, the frame slipped, the glass cracked, and a shard punctured Ray’s jugular, leaving Emmit watching as his hapless sibling bled to death. The stamp? Emmit later tossed it — the cause of so much alienation and death — to the ground, like a piece of useless garbage, as his life continued to spiral out of control. — KP

(Credit: FX)

BFFs No More (‘Girls’)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that good friends grow apart as they grow up. So it goes with Soshanna and Hannah, with the latter cutting the former out of her life to the point where Hannah didn’t even realize that Sosh had gotten engaged. While Marnie attempts to play peacekeeper between the battling buddies, it’s fairly clear that the Girls foursome is splitsville. Just as well: We can’t picture Sosh enjoying Hannah’s rural upstate digs. — EA

(Credit: HBO)

They’re Not in the Good Place (‘The Good Place’)

With a show this sweet, yet slyly subversive, the one thing you don’t expect is to have the rug pulled out from under you after an entire season. Eleanor and company bring all their earthly insecurities into Heaven, only to find that old Sartre had it right: They’re actually in Hell and Hell is other people. It’s shocking, but also makes complete sense. Through Eleanor’s struggles to be a better person, we slowly learn that everything seemingly good is actually awful. While The Good Place had a grim view of the afterlife, it was a surprisingly optimistic view of human nature. —Robert Clarke-Chan

(Credit: NBC)

Grey Sloan Memorial Goes Boom (‘Grey’s Anatomy’)

The Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has been almost everything, from blackouts to shootings. The season 13 finale rocked the hospital with a new trauma: an explosion and resulting fire. Patients had to be evacuated, doctors had to treat them in the parking lot, and all while Dr. Stephanie Edwards was trying to save herself and a little girl. Edwards braved the flames and got burned for her heroic efforts — but the near-death experience led her to quit medicine to travel around the world. —KW

(Credit: ABC)

Living on the Edge (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’)

Hell hath no fury like a Handmaid scorned. After being forced to give up her eye, her freedom, her body and, worst of all, her infant daughter to her jailers in Gilead, Janine lashes back in The Handmaid’s Tale‘s penultimate episode. Reclaiming her child from her lying lover, Warren, Janine makes it clear that she prefers a watery oblivion to life in this “godly” society. In the end, it’s up to Offred to tell Janine just how much she matters to the world, if not this misguided republic. Her words aren’t enough to pull Janine back from the ledge, but they do ensure that her act of brave defiance will resonate going forward. — EA

(Credit: Hulu)

Quinn’s (Final) Death (‘Homeland’)

He survived being shot (several times). He survived a brain hemorrhage. He survived poison freaking gas! It seemed like Peter Quinn was immortal, but he finally ran out of his nine million lives in the season 6 finale. Always the hero, Quinn drove through a line of fire to save the lives of Carrie and the president-elect. One bullet? Not a problem. Only a hailstorm of bullets could bring Quinn down. —KW

(Credit: Showtime)

Rayna Dies (‘Nashville’)

Nashville‘s country music queen already survived one terrible car crash — fate wasn’t going to let her survive another one. After escaping the clutches of a maniac stalker, a relieved Rayna was on her way home when — bam! She made it to the hospital, but her injuries were too severe. At least she got to say goodbye to her true love, Deacon. It was the day country music died. —KW

(Credit: CMT)

Best Picture Mixup (The 89th Annual Academy Awards)

In February, movie lovers witnessed a history-making live TV moment when an envelope mishap at the Oscars resulted in presenter Faye Dunaway announcing the wrong winner for the evening’s most important category. After Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner for Best Picture, producers for the musical rom-com film were interrupted mid-spiel and told they actually didn’t win. Oops. Lala Land producer Jordan Horowitz graciously handed over the trophy to the real winner, Moonlight, while host Jimmy Kimmel tried to lighten the mood by blaming Steve Harvey for the whole mess. — VM

(Credit: ABC)

Jason Blossom’s Killer Is Unmasked (‘Riverdale’)

Forget “Who killed Laura Palmer?” The question on everyone’s lips for the first half of 2017 was, “Who killed Jason Blossom?” The list of suspects behind the murder of Riverdale High’s King Bee was as long as the standing ovation following a Josie and the Pussycats concert. As with Laura, it ultimately proved to be a case of filicide, with Jason’s father, Clifford, doing the bloody deed. Unlike Ray Palmer, he didn’t have an evil demon to blame it on — unless it emerges that he was possessed by that pesky spirit known as MSH (Maple Syrup Hunger). — EA

(Credit: The CW)

Mary Is Killed (‘Sherlock’)

John Watson’s wife has a murky past, but it’s her desire for a future that proves her undoing. Sherlock promises to protect Mary and John from her vengeful ex-mercenary teammate, but his over-confidence goads the real threat — an unassuming secretary who is the actual mastermind — into shooting Sherlock. Mary leaps in front of the bullet, knowing it’s the only way to protect John and their daughter from a never-ending stream of past misdeeds coming back to haunt them, leaving John to blame Sherlock for her death. —RCC

(Credit: PBS)

Jack and Rebecca’s Explosive Fight (‘This Is Us’)

The first season finale of This is Us showed an ugly side of TV’s favorite throwback couple. The Pearsons’ perfect marriage cracked in the episode “Moonshadow,” when Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) threw shade at wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and her singing career, describing her as “40-year-old woman singing covers in a pub.” In return, Becks called out Jack’s “convenient” bouts of alcoholism that only seemed to crop up when she took a minute for herself. The blistering scene was shot in one long take and paved the way for the couple’s heartbreaking decision to give their marriage some air. — VM

(Credit: NBC)

The President Is an Alien (‘Supergirl’)

Supergirl is steeped in the tradition and 80+ year history of DC Comics, and the writers delight in references both obscure and grandiose. Casting Lynda Carter as the president counts as the latter. Who wouldn’t want Wonder Woman as president? But it goes deeper than that; early in the season, we see her face flicker briefly, revealing that she’s a shapeshifting alien. Here to destroy us? No, to help guide us away from the fate that befell her planet. The layers of identity — woman, alien, refugee — all feed into one of the show’s primary themes: that we’re stronger together. —RCC

(Credit: The CW)

Dougie Kicks Ass (‘Twin Peaks’)

“Dougie” has been a source of increasing frustration for Twin Peaks fans this season. We’re forced to watch Agent Cooper trapped in an addled, childlike state as his evil doppelganger continues to wreak havoc. But in a very Lynchian moment of surprising violence, Dougie/Cooper leaps into action, thrusting his wife aside to protect her from a gun-toting assassin. “Squeeze his hand off!” screams the electric tree from the Black Lodge, and Dougie/Cooper does — squeezing so hard that the police have to peel off a chunk of Ike’s hand fused to the gun’s grip. Agent Cooper, we knew you were in there somewhere. —RCC

(Credit: Showtime)

Flying Tiger (‘The Walking Dead’)

Just as Carl was about to lose his head — literally — and Rick was about to lose his hands to Negan and Lucille, Ezekiel’s pet tiger Shiva saved the day in The Walking Dead Season 7 finale. Negan was already into his batter’s stance and beginning his swing when Shiva flew out of nowhere and began her nosh of what appeared to be a tasty Savior soldier’s head. Her surprise attack allowed Ezekiel, Carol, Daryl, Maggie, and the rest of the anti-Negan faction to ride into Alexandria and put an end — until Season 8, anyway — to the Saviors latest attempt to control Rick and company. — KP

(Credit: AMC)