This past year, Airlock Alpha reviewed some 200 television episodes, so trying to pick the five best from that group is not an easy task.
Yet we asked the site’s staff to do just that. Look through what was 2009 on television, pick the best, and then, pick the best of the best. And we came up with an interesting list.
So without further ado, the best television episodes of 2009. And keep looking out for Airlock Alpha this week for the best television series of 2009 and the best movies of 2009.
5. ‘The Incident,’ Lost
It’s really hard to believe that in just a little more than a month, new episodes of “Lost” will leave us forever. But we have to admit, it’s been a great ride, and a lot of that was proven with the most recent season finale, “The Incident,” the most recent “Lost” episode we’ve all seen.
What’s cool about this episode is that John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) has a mission, and it’s to kill Jacob, a character that we had heard about but never seen until Mark Pellegrino was cast in the role.
This comes out to be a struggle of good vs. evil, but knowing “Lost,” we aren’t quite sure yet who is the good and who is the evil.
But forget the John Locke parts. What really has everyone talking, even know, is when Juliet finds herself bunkmates with an atomic bomb at the bottom of a shaft, and decides that detonating it will reset the timeline.
Will it work?
Airlock Alpha reviewer Dan Compora described the ending as “awesome.”
“It reminded me a little bit of the classic movie ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes,’ which ended with a similar shot,” Compora wrote at the time. “Strangely enough, ‘Lost’ often reminds me of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ series. The setting is similar and the background music at times is reminiscent of that classic series. It makes me wonder if these parallels are intentional, or just coincidences based on the setting.”
Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and directed by Jack Bender
4. ‘Waters of Mars,’ Doctor Who
After a rather lackluster previous special, “Doctor Who” roared back in the setoff story to David Tennant’s holiday finale with The Doctor taking his Tardis into the future a bit to visit Mars, and try to change what is supposed to be a locked point in history.
The Mars station was one of the first for humans, and one that would go down in infamy as having been destroyed with no one knowing why. The astronauts there, including commander Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan), would become heroes in their deaths.
But The Doctor, in hearing the horrible events unfold behind him as he was walking away from something he couldn’t interfere in, decides that he’s no longer just a survivor of time, but he’s the victor, giving him complete control of it.
His efforts to change the past don’t work out, however. Brooke decides to use her own weapon to put everything right again, and The Doctor ends the episode finding himself lost.
Airlock Alpha news editor Alan Stanley Blair had some issues with the episode, however, in his review,” saying that this special didn’t even get good until the final 15 minutes to reach the “Doctor Who” standard of “drama-filled goodness.”
“It does so with some incredibly dark themes,” Blair wrote. “The stories of Adelaide Brooke as she recounts the death of her mother at the hands of the Daleks in ‘The Stolen Earth’ was touching, and helps create an aura of mystery to the character. Despite the tragedy of her life, her story is one of hope, exploration and nobility.”
Written by Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford, and directed by Graeme Harper
3. ‘Blood on the Scales,’ Battlestar Galactica
If “Battlestar Galactica” wasn’t set in space, I would bet good money that this would’ve at least been nominated for an Emmy.
But sadly, some fear of our genre will continue despite the fact that many might call the two-part effort of “The Oath” and “Blood on the Scales” as some of the best moments of the Syfy series.
The final fate of both Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) and Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch) is decided as they react to Adm. William Adama’s (Edward James Olmos) continued path toward working with the Cylons, the human-created robots that decided to wipe out the Twelve Colonies.
One of the most disturbing moments is when the Quorum of Twelve, luckily missing Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), is gunned down as part of Zarek’s coup, executed in the very room they’re supposed to be governing from.
Back in February, I named “Blood on the Scales” and the Mark Verheiden-written first part “The Oath” as the “best of the best” from “Battlestar Galactica.”
“I’ve watched these episodes several times now, and there is nothing about it I don’t like, and every minute seems to be riveting,” I said at the time. “While you can empathize with Gaeta, you’re still rooting for Adama … but at the same time, the troops supporting Gaeta and Zarek aren’t out there to be evil. They feel that this is the real way to go, and are willing to burn the village to save it.”
“In the end, they were still people. Many of these two warring sides were friends just days, even hours before. It kind of provides a sense of what a true civil war must be like.”
Written by Michael Angeli and directed by Wayne Rose
2. ‘Daybreak, Part 2,’ Battlestar Galactica
Here’s what I’m sure you’re thinking right now. We just had “Battlestar Galactica” at No. 3, and now it’s at No. 2. Will it be “Battlestar Galactica” all the way to the end?
Well, maybe. You’ll just have to keep reading to find out. But you have to admit, there were some very powerful episodes of the Syfy show as it wound down its run earlier this year.
The penultimate episode of “Battlestar Galactica” putting us in the heat of the battle as the Colonials, led by Adm. William Adama (Edward James Olmos) try to take back the child Hera from Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell).
This is the bloodiest battle yet, and the final one, as the fate of both the humans and the Cylons are sealed right here, leading to a shocking revelation: Earth was not that irradiated rock they found some time before. Earth is our Earth, but just 150,000 years in the past.
Sadly, not all viewers were pleased to see how this story ended. Some felt even cheated.
“It is important to note that this episode will not please all fans, however, it does wonders for sending off all the characters in a very real — and very genuine — manner,” Blair wrote at the time. “There will never be another series like ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ but at least it stayed true to the very end, and never once sacrificed the intensity or the unabashed heart of its cast.”
Written by Ronald D. Moore and directed by Michael Rymer
1. ‘Children of Earth,’ Torchwood
Many people on the Airlock Alpha staff love “Torchwood” and support “Torchwood,” but I don’t think anyone ever imagined any episode of it would beat out shows like “Battlestar Galactica,” especially when that series was wrapping up forever.
But it did. And with its five-part special “Children of Earth,” which many have described as nearly epic, it fully deserves it.
Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd) are the last ones standing at “Torchwood,” and sadly not all of them will make it.
An alien race, which Capt. Jack made a deal with some decades before in exchange for some children, having taking control of the children in the present-day world. And the team of “Torchwood” only have five episodes to get it fixed.
But in order to stop this race from taking the young people, which they look at more as a drug, some heavy prices will have to be paid. That includes the loss of Ianto in a beautiful scene involving Capt. Jack, and the deep depression of Jack that leads him to leave Earth, probably for good (well, we all know better than that).
For me, shedding a tear anywhere in a television episode means it’s good (yeah, I’m like that, what are you going to do about it?) “Children of Earth,” however, created a drought in some parts of the world.
“That is why the final good-bye for one member of the Torchwood team really hits home,” Blair said in his review of Part 4. “Just when you think there is a fighting chance that this crisis may be averted, ‘Torchwood’ pulls a Joss Whedon. And if you thought the cull at the end of last season was moving, this will have you reaching for the Kleenex.”
Written by Russell T. Davies, John Fay and James Moran; Directed by Euros Lyn
Honorable mentions belong to “Daybreak Part 1” from “Battlestar Galactica,” “Born to Run” from “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “Belonging” from “Dollhouse,” “Today is the Day Part 2” from “Sarah Connor,” “Life is a Rock” from “Life on Mars,” “The Attic” from “Dollhouse,” “Rubicon” from “Defying Gravity,” “Pilot” from “V,” “The Real Ghostbusters” from “Supernatural,” “The Oath” from “Battlestar Galactica,” “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” from “True Blood,” “Metallo” from “Smallville,” “Follow the Leader” from “Lost,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” from “Battlestar Galactica,” “Legion” from “Smallville,” “The End of Time Part 1” from “Doctor Who,” and “Chuck vs. the Ring” from “Chuck.”