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The 15 most jaw-dropping moments in 2022 genre TV
We never saw these coming!
As we head into the waning days of 2022, SYFY WIRE has had a lot of fun honoring some great television this year with our "Best Of" lists, including episodes and series. But how about those jaw-dropping moments that sci-fi and genre television storytelling do so well? In a medium that literally created its structure around the concept of incredible end of act cliffhangers, there are still many shows (with ads and without) that continue to honor that legacy to the delight of audiences. There's nothing better than throwing some couch popcorn in shock or blowing up the group chat when an episode ends to share your collective disbelief.
For those writers and producers who aim to knock our socks off with surprise, SYFY WIRE salutes you for a job well done in 2022.
***Below are plot specific spoilers for a variety of 2022 TV series. Readers beware if you don't want to be spoiled!***
She-Hulk: Welcome, Matt Murdock!
When Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) showed up in Marvel Studios' Hawkeye last year, fans of the Netflix Marvel TV series, Daredevil, went apoplectic with the hope that it meant that Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock could also show up somewhere in the MCU too. That somewhere ended up being Spider-Man: No Way Home. And, surprise! He also reappeared in the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode, "Ribbit and Rip It," to meet and flirt with Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany). Who knew how delightful they would be together? Now, give us more.
Andor: Kino Loy’s “I can’t swim”
The three-part prison storyline on Andor came to a dramatic climax in "One Way Out," which had Cassian (Diego Luna) helping to overthrow an Imperial work camp with his gruff supervisor, Kino Loy (Andy Serkis), and fellow prisoners. After spending the majority of the episode charting each step of their group mutiny, the payoff was Cassian and Kino literally standing on the ledge of their prison fortress, their only escape being a dramatic jump into the water below. Ready to go, Cassian looks back at a reticent Loy who quietly reveals, "I can't swim." As Cassian is thrown over by the other escapees, we never see what happens to Loy. A true gut punch of a reveal and button on a great arc.
Cobra Kai: Kreese is alive!
Never underestimate that wily old bird, John Kreese (Martin Kove). Spending most of Cobra Kai Season 5 inside the pokey for assault. But he bonds with Tory and navigates his fellow inmates, we're meant to believe maybe he's turned a new leaf? Naaaaah. In the "Head of the Snake" finale, Kreese sets up an elaborate plan to fake his death—which almost had us—only to reveal the psycho Sensei is very much not dead, and bent on getting revenge on Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) and likely LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Lawrence (William Zabka) too, Dun dun dun!
The Walking Dead: Rick and Michonne return
When Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) both, respectively, left The Walking Dead building years ago, fans were promised their return in a movie adventure. Welp, that never happened and both have been busy doing other work. And that left fans wondering if the series finale would finally bring them back? We had to wait to the end tag of "Rest in Peace," but audiences got to see the still separate super couple making a connection via message which opens the door for them to actually return to the fold for closure. And it was mighty fine to see them one more time.
The Boys: Herogasm
Be careful, Starlight and Mother's Milk — once you cross those doors, you can never unsee what's to come. Yes, The Boys Season 3 finally gave us the much-teased annual Supe orgy, first-hand, in "Herogasm". It's the episode that really should have coined the saying, "My eyes! My eyes!" Pretty much Frenchie's (Tomer Capone) naked version of Comic-con, the house party of debauchery was a hard-R backdrop to a major showdown between Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), an empowered Butcher (Karl Urban) and Hughie (Jack Quaid) versus Homelander (Antony Starr). Let's just say bits were blown off, weird positions were shown and some gasps (good and bad) were to be had.
Stranger Things: Henry Creel is Vecna
The hinting of a Big Bad being behind the Upside Down in Stranger Things finally paid off in Season 4 with the reveal of the urban horror legend of Henry Creel. Leaning on all the '80s horror tropes to lay out the tragic story of the Creel family, it isn't until Nancy finds out in "Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab" that little Henry Creel was taken by Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) and literally turned into Patient 001 in his psychokinetic powers study. Given a power hit by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), 001 then becomes Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower).
Wednesday: Christina Ricci appears
If you loved Barry Sonnenfeld's The Addams Family films in the '90s, then you definitely loved Christina Ricci's pitch-perfect portrayal of goth poster child Wednesday Addams. When it was revealed that Tim Burton would frame a whole series around Wednesday in a Netflix series of the same name, there were concerns no one could do the character the same justice as Ricci. As it turns out Jenna Ortega did just fine, and even better, Ricci appeared in a cameo as Marilyn Thornhill, the dorm mom of this generation's Wednesday Addams. We give it a Gomez clap of enthusiasm.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Mount Doom’s Birth
Surprise, Mount Doom has an origin story! In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode "Udûn," the thrilling battle between the villagers of Tirharad and the Orc army takes up the entire episode with plenty of surprising twists and turns. But all of it pales to the big reveal that the Orc tunnels running through the land were laid on purpose to help facilitate a phreatomagmatic eruption that births Mount Doom, the future base of villain extraordinaire, Sauron.
Peacemaker: The Justice League cameo
For an entire season, Peacemaker danced around the fringes of the DC theatrical canon superhero characters, with name drops and the cameo of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sprinkled throughout. But in "It's Cow or Never," the Justice League shows up — artfully obscured, mind you — too late to help what was a dire situation for Peacemaker (John Cena) and his posse. And yes, that was actually Jason Mamoa and The Flash actor who shall not be named.
Resident Alien: George Takei's voice cameo
If you're gonna introduce the impending invasion of Grey aliens on Earth, you need a leader of note, and of course, it would be sci-fi legend, George Takei. In the second season finale of Resident Alien, Harry (Alan Tudyk) is given a rare meeting with the leader who gives him a definitive threat to stand down trying to protect the planet. A both hilarious and sobering cliffhanger to leave the fate of humanity on until Season 3.
Quantum Leap: Al’s daughter
The continuation of the Quantum Leap universe in the revival NBC series has refreshingly embraced all of its past from Dr. Sam Beckett ongoing disappearance in the space/time continuum to Herbert "Magic" Williams (Ernie Hudson) leading the team now after being a "leap body" for Sam in the past [ed. Note: "The Leap Home (Part 2) – Vietnam"]. One of the unexpected plots of the first season was the reveal that Janis Calavicci is actually the daughter of Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), who was Sam's aide from the future during his leaps. By "Stand by Ben," Ben Song (Raymond Lee) and we finally get bit of a clearer idea of why she's been lurking on the fringes of the Quantum Leap HQ and wreaking havoc. Consider us invested, tell us more...
1899: The spaceship
If you watched Netflix's Dark, then you were primed for surprises when that show's creators returned with 1899. The series follows the lives, and tragedies, on board the steamer ship, Kerberos. In their one-week journey, a lot of weird stuff happens to the boat and its passengers which includes time portals, memory lapses, secret labs, and lots of death. After twisting our noggins into a pretzel, the season cliffhanger finally revealed the ship to be a virtual artifice playing in the heads of the passengers who are actually on a spaceship traveling to find a new home. Ahh, what???
Interview With the Vampire: Rashid's reveal
We love a mystery hidden in plain sight, so when in the season finale "The Thing Lay Still" drops that Louis de Pointe du Lac's (Jacob Anderson) attentive and protective assistant Rashid (Assad Zaman) is actually his lover, the vampire Armand, well, color us delighted to be so thoroughly duped. For some context, if you watched the film adaptation, Armand was played by Antonio Banderas, and if you read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, you know the character is a major player in Louis and Lestat's history. It takes a lot to surprise book readers, so we give this moment a real slow clap of appreciation.
Manifest: The Death Day is about the world
Picked up by Netflix to finish its complex mythology, Manifest's fourth season had a time jump, flashbacks, a treasure hunt, and a terminally dying Cal (Ty Dornan). In the midseason finale, "Inversion Illusion," Zeke (Matt Long) uses his powers to save Cal. But we also learn that the death date the survivors of Flight 828 have been trying to thwart isn't just about them, but it's actually a death date for the world. Talk about a ta-wist. Guess we better get behind those Stones even more. Gulp.
For All Mankind: Karen Baldwin's Death
"Not Karen!" We imagine those of you who watched the third season finale of Apple TV+'s For All Mankind joined us in a virtual, joint wail directed at our screens when Karen was discovered to be a victim of the bombing at Johnson Space Center. "Stranger in a Strange Land" closed the story of Karen Baldwin (Shantel VanSanten), an OG character, who navigated a compelling arc from astronaut wife to Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), to divorcee bar owner, then tech entrepreneur, and eventually Helios CEO. Of course, the major time jumps mean age and death are coming for all of the Season 1 characters leftovers, but her fate still hurts.