9. "Lay Down Your Burdens," Battlestar Galactica
Air Date: 3/3/06-3/10/06
By the end of its second-season, SyFy's low-key, genius, politically-charged thriller had perfected not only the art of the finale proper, but the mid-season cliff-hanger as well. When season two—considered the series' strongest—resumed it built towards a cutthroat presidential race between the increasingly ruthless Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and the traitorous, spineless genius Gaius Baltar (James Callis).
The race is colored by the discovery of a habitable planet on which the fleeing fleet—the last vestiges of humanity after the Cylons, vengeful robotic servants turned terrorists, nuked all of the human planets in the pilot episode—could finally settle down and make a home. Baltar winning the election turns out to be the worst thing for the fleet, as his self-serving actions inadvertently lead the pursuing Cylons right to their doorstep, precisely one year after they've settled.
His quick surrender, and the fact that the fleet has grown comfortable and thus unprepared to run or do battle, leaves the tens of thousands of humans at the mercy of Cylon invaders. Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) is forced to take the defenseless battleship and run for the time being, but he awesomely promises "We'll be back." Don't let the goofy name fool you—this was one of the best dramas of the past decade. Get familiar on Netflix.