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The moment: Cooper and his ex-partner get real (from "Heroes")
The cop drama's final season introduced Gerald McRaney as Hicks, the retired, alcoholic, suicidal former training officer of Michael Cudlitz's John Cooper, and you could instantly see both how Hicks shaped Cooper into the tough survivor he was (and an addict of his own, to boot) and also how the lonely Cooper could easily keep growing up to be just like Hicks. After imprisoning a filthy, underwear-clad Hicks in his home for a day to sober him up and prevent a suicide attempt, Cooper returns to try to get through to the old man. Hicks laments how the job took everything from him — including the ability to truly feel the loss of his late wife — and wonders if he ever had an impact on anyone. Cooper — sounding more vulnerable than we've ever heard him — replies with a story of how Hicks's presence was the only thing keeping him sane on a very bad night as a young patrolman. In the end, the moment comes down not to words, but to primal catharsis, as the sad old man weeps in the arms of the middle-aged man who reveres him. It's an acting tour de force from McRaney and Cudlitz.
- Alan Sepinwall