Staff Picks: Best of 2014, by The Pac

Day three comes around and we're halfway through. Now it's the turn of The Pac, who decided to do his own thing with his alotted "best of" post. His exact words to me were, I quote, "I'll do what I want; you're not my dad!"

We'll see when the test results come back, Pac.

The Best Villains of 2014!

Only on account of villainy!

~ Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond), SNL Celebrity Jeopardy

[DISCLAIMER: Thar be spoilers ahead, so be wary of the titles you haven’t caught up on yet…]

Another year of incredible TV, another banner moment for villains in the medium to take center stage and show exactly what they’re made of – flesh, blood and giant balls, be they testicular or ovarian. So without further adieu, here are the standout Agents of Asshole-ishness that impressed me the most.

5. Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), “Game of Thrones”

With his signature icy glare, severe countenance and ramrod-straight bearing, Dance’s performance as Westeros’ premiere political power player was never what you’d call flashy or as psychotically flamboyant as some of the other marquee villains on the show (looking at you, Joffrey and Ramsey…), but his technique sure was effective. Following his brilliantly diabolical move to end the War of the Five Kings at the tail end of Season 3, Lord Tywin took it up a notch in Season 4. 

Capitalizing on a sudden vacuum of power in King’s Landing to orchestrate what was essentially a complete, undisputed takeover of affairs, Tywin used the innocent face of his naive royal grandson as his avatar, while manipulating events to get rid of hated son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in the bargain. 

Nothing if not a conniving multi-tasker, our Tywin. Season 4 saw the Lord of Casterly Rock at the height of his power, but also the height of his hubris, and bad things, as well as good, are never meant to last. Mr. Dance? I salute you, sir.

4. [Former] Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), “Game of Thrones”

Vain, spoiled, and as vicious as they come, she’s never needed a mirror, mirror on the wall because she had her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to tell her she’s the fairest of them all. From her twincestuous sins of seasons past to her specializing in making honest feelings do dishonest work in Season 4’s predominant storyline, Cersei has always been a villain we Throneheads have loved to hate, but in our most secret of hearts, have had to admire on some level as well.

There’s nothing more attractive than a strong-willed, intelligent woman who’s as intellectually formidable as she is beautiful, and Headey embodies that almost like no other femme fatale on television. Season 4 saw her tested as she’s never been before, losing one son to regicide and forced to watch her father, Lord Tywin, and the sweetly manipulative Queen Margaery hook their claws into her youngest son to make him their puppet.

Not to sympathize too much, however, because Season 4 saw her do any number of heinous things to warrant a deserved spot here, such as doing her part to have little brother Tyrion beheaded as a kingslayer, and making sure all the leftover food from Joffrey’s opulent wedding go to the dogs instead of the starving poor of King’s Landing. Big or small deeds, this woman will always make this list, and will always have a special place in the darkest corner of my heart.

 3. Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), “Arrow”

I’m tempted to say Slade made this list for wearing an eyepatch and simply looking bad ass, but I figure I should do you the courtesy of expounding a bit. Thought to have been killed on the island of Lian Yu where series hero Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spent five years going through his existential crucible, the softspoken, lethal Slade arrives in Starling City in the latter half of Season 2 to take his vengeance on Oliver and his entire family, one excruciating slice at a time.

Flashbacks to Lian Yu serve to give us insight into how Slade survived the island and what turned Oliver’s formerly heroic best friend into his most hated, superpowered enemy to date, a rift that’s as emotionally charged as it is violently tragic. Slade’s ultimate master plan for Starling City and Oliver’s downfall is only one aspect of his enduring legacy (not to mention a fairly obvious ripoff of Batman Begins, though I digress), but it was his cruel, jawdropping actions in the gamechanging episode “Seeing Red” that put him near the top of this list.

2. Gemma Teller-Morrow (Katey Sagal), “Sons of Anarchy”

Lies catch up to us all, and the bigger the lie, the more painful the reckoning, as series stalwart Gemma, mother of SAMCRO President and protagonist Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), finds out. Coming out of the shocking events that concluded the hit and miss sixth season, Gemma managed to buy herself some time and get out ahead of her misdeeds, even as her desperate, shortsighted scheming led to Jax mistakenly going to all-out war with Henry Lin and the Chinese Triads. Who saw that coming, other than everybody?

Her eventual comeuppance was an event of Shakespearean proportions that the series had been building toward ever since the revelations near the end of Season 3, and this year Gemma was never more devious and hateable after the deaths she caused either directly or indirectly. And yet, she somehow retained an edge of sympathy and vulnerability as the street violence spiraled further and further out of control and her guilt over her role in it started eating her alive.

It was a complex, richly layered portrayal of rugged outlaw moxy and zealous maternity that Sagal excelled at, and it’s that combination that ultimately contrived to bring about a fitting end. A villain with a conscience and mostly good intentions at heart, Gemma stood out in a field of pure psychopaths and brutal killers. And speaking of which…

1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), “Hannibal”

…the doctor is IN…sane. Mikkelsen’s performance as literature’s most famous serial killer had a lot of expectations attached when the show debuted in 2013, namely for being brought to the screen under the intimidating shadow of Sir Anthony Hopkins, whose indelible, Oscar-winning turn as Lecter in Silence of the Lambs pretty much raised the bar so high that to most actors it’d probably be like trying to high-jump over a Mexican border fence [Editor's note: I'm watching you, Gallant]

Nevertheless, in Season 1, Mads got his feet under him and a comfort zone established, and by the time Season 2 ended this past year, he had come into his own as the character and not only matched expectations but flourished in his own right, a combination of his sophisticated demeanour, creepy cheekbones, and terrific writing from showrunner Bryan Fuller and company.

Hannibal had demonstrated his unparalleled intelligence throughout Season 2, pulling off one of the all-time great ruses at the expense of the hapless Dr. Chilton (Raoul Esparza), but it was in the show’s gore-drenched finale that saw Hannibal emerge from his carefully cultivated social skin to reveal the frightening monster that’s always been beneath the surface but rarely seen in full Beast Mode. Talk about “Seeing Red”.

Pac is a square and doesn't have Twitter, but you can still read more of his stuff right here on this blog!

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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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