TVLine's Performers of the Week: Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski and Sarah Paulson

The OfficeA new feature in which we spotlight the past week’s shining stars

THE PERFORMERS | Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski

THE SHOW | The Office (NBC)

THE EPISODE | “Customer Loyalty”

THE AIRDATE | Jan. 24, 2013

RELATED: TVLine’s 2013 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Getting Axed? What’s Coming Back? What’s on the Bubble?

THE PERFORMANCE | Over the past eight-and-a-half seasons, we’ve witnessed just about every big-deal moment in the joint lives of Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly. On Thursday, we were privy to a major fight between the two – and thanks to the talents of Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski, it damn near did us in.

The tension that’s been building between the Halperts turned a simple phone conversation into a marriage-shaking argument, during which Krasinski funneled Jim’s frustration over work and missing Cece’s first dance recital (which Pam hadn’t recorded) into a rather nasty, “C’mon, Pam… It’s really not that hard to film a video.”

Fischer’s face registered her character’s shock – had he ever spoken to her in that tone? – as Krasinski dejectedly said, “That moment’s just gone. I missed it.” She shot back a pointed, “Maybe you should’ve been there,” sending the pair into a nasty back-and-forth about who was doing/sacrificing more for their family.

The actors share such a believable on-screen relationship that their argument felt too real, too private for us to overhear. It was awkward in the best (yet most terrible) way possible. And Fischer’s anguish after hanging up, those breath-stealing sobs? Can you blame the documentary crew for wanting to comfort her? Fischer and Krasinski most certainly nailed it… but we’re gonna need a kiss-and-make-up scene in the very near future, OK?

HONORABLE MENTION | American Horror Story: Asylum‘s Sarah Paulson, making her second appearance in this feature.

Paulson’s performance this season on has been the equivalent of shock therapy: difficult, for sure – who can bear to see anyone, much less “plucky” Lana, suffer that much? – but ultimately (pardon the pun) electrifying.

In Asylum’s finale, the reporter reunites with vengeful Johnny, the now-grown son fathered (against her will) by Bloody Face. He’s bigger than she is, obviously – he’s Dylan McDermott, for Pete’s sake – and stronger. Oh, and he has a gun. Yet she isn’t scared. Or, if she is, she doesn’t let it show. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?” she says with the resignation of someone about to meet her accountant, not her maker.

Paulson plays the scene so coolly, it’s no wonder Johnny gets suckered into giving his mother his weapon. This, in turn, allows the actress to deliver one last surprise: the cold efficiency with which Lana is able to shoot her boy in the head!

We’d say it was great work, but that really wouldn’t do justice to it. Paulson wasn’t merely great, she was fearless.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Joe says:

    I’ve never shed a tear while watching TV but I came damn close watching that scene between Jim and Pam. Beautifully and heart-wrenchingly acted and written.

  2. richyrichoh says:

    Agreed! John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer delivered one of the most real marital fights I’ve ever seen on a sitcom. Amazing job by both.

  3. I’ve never shed a tear while watching TV but I came damn close watching that scene between Lana and Johnny. Beautifully and heart-wrenchingly acted and written.

  4. Wildcat23 says:

    Jim is a dickhead. Poor Pam. Lets give props to the selfish, myopic jerk who is about to tank his marriage. Jenna Fischer can act circles around Krasinski without saying a word. He should not be in this category at all.

  5. Thank you Wildcat23 for representing the crazy fangirl perspective that has to diminish another actor’s skillset in order to leverage the overinflated gush-filled worship of another actor.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Jim and Pam are my absolute favourite TV couple and as much as I love them, I also love a little drama in a good comedy so I’m really glad this scene happened. I’m really excited to see what comes up in the remaining episodes. (I really hope they stay together, I doubt that they’d split Jim and Pam up, but who knows)

  7. D'Arcy says:

    I really felt for Pam in that moment. Well done Jenna!

  8. Matthew says:

    Did the camera crew have a recording of the recital? They were there.

    • Jason C says:

      They seem to be a single camera crew, and they were focusing more on Pam than on the recital. They got parts of it, but since the recital probably included other classes and such they probably missed the whole thing focusing on Pam.

    • lara says:

      Yeah – I think the fight wasn’t about the recital itself, considering that, like Pam said, they could have easily gotten a recording from another parent.

  9. Agreed. Both shows delivered. I didn’t expect The Office to have any more stand-out moments until the finale, but this past episode proved me wrong. The show is definitely back on my radar. As for AHS Asylum, agreed! Paulson was remarkable this season. As was literally anyone associated with the show. Murphy&Co. really get their actors to commit and go above/beyond what’s expected of Television acting.

  10. Stella says:

    Rick Hoffman from Suits. He was amazing in this week’s episode

    • CJ says:

      I agree – he was phenomenal. He does such a great job at making me love and hate him in the same episode. He’ll do something that makes me want to punch him, and then five minutes later I’m like “awwww Louis needs a hug!!”

  11. Babybop says:

    They made me cry so… I agree. They win this week!

  12. Nicole says:

    That fight was horrifyingly uncomfortable because it was so true to how married people fight. I don’t know that I’ve seen it so well done on a sitcom before.

    • Lizabeth says:

      I agree. We’ve never really seen a fight between these two (since they became a couple) and I thought they showed us what it really looks like to have tension and distance in their marriage. It was a great reminder that this show is supposed to be a “documentary,” too. It felt real watching Pam cry. Thankfully, though, I do not think they would ever break up a couple as wonderful and loved as Jim and Pam. It’s too close to the end of the series, so there would be no time for a fulfilling reconciliation for the fans.

      • Whitney says:

        I’m guessing that the tension is setting them up for the family’s inevitable move to Philadelphia full-time. Pretty convinced that this is how Jim & Pam’s storyline will end.

  13. CJ says:

    That scene with Jim and Pam was heart-wrenching. I sincerely hope that they don’t plan to split them up. I doubt it, but that scene really added to the on-going tension between them. Made me really sad.

  14. Kwapple says:

    As an honorable mention, I nominate Colin Kaepernick

  15. cjeffery7 says:

    that fight was like… REAL. that was REAL LIFE right there. it didn’t even feel like they were acting. i’d have to agree that it felt intrusive and uncomfortable, but i’m glad that the office went there. i mean, i’m not, cause that sucked, but i am. ya know? long story short, i think jim needs to come home and they need to move to Colorado and work for Michael.

  16. H.Houston says:

    Andre Braugher in the series finale of Last Resort. The last scene when he is standing alone on the control deck knowing the end is coming soon. I had tears in my eyes.

    (BTW Matt… where is the recap on the series finale… I have a few questions)

  17. eila1995 says:

    Reblogged this on Let Life Move You and commented:
    I love John Krasinski…

  18. Levi says:

    Matt Bomer for me was the winner this week.

  19. april-ann says:

    Great choice for performers of the week. I am really going to miss Jim and Pam. I will also really miss John and Jenna together, because they work so well with each other it’s like they’re not even acting. They are just so natural together, and that is rare.

  20. Courtney says:

    I’m really glad this scene. The Office (besides Steve Carrel’s exit) isn’t normally a how that brings up real emotions, and I was really amazed by this scene. I love this show so much, and I thought is was a great real-life moment. I also enjoyed the people behind the camera comforting her. It was a great moment for the show.

  21. Truefan says:

    Really like this new feature. Felt that way about the TB scene where Hoyt asked to have his memory erased. Jenna and John were terrific. Made you feel the pain.

  22. Walkie says:

    American Horror Story was terrible this past season. A total mess of stories with no end game.

  23. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Great choice. That fight did feel real. I’ve absolutely had fights exactly like that where the both of us have just lost it and started being nasty with each other, and it’s always for the same type of reasons they showed here…just stress over other things that have creeped into the relationship. My only deal with this was it seemed like the first true fight they ever had, and I can’t believe any couple could get that far into their marriage without a fight like that. By that point, you should just expect they’re going to come up occasionally and be able to sort of blow it off and recognize why the fight is happening.

  24. kavyn says:

    It was a good scene but I felt like Jim was out of character. He was joking about Pam’s camera skills in the car ride, almost like he was half expecting her to screw up. I mean I understand the anger, but I felt like he understood it was a possibility and he didn’t seem as interested in the performance until he called Pam later.

    I mean the fight itself was very realistic, I just felt like Jim wouldn’t have reacted that way (more disappointment than anger).

    • JT says:

      i think the point was that he was just angry that he lost his big investor. if that hadn’t happened right before then he wouldn’t have reacted so harshly

  25. Jay K says:

    i have loved john krasinski since the stapler was in the jello. jim and pam are central to office finishing the season well (especially since steve carrell is not coming back for the series fanale). love jkras – love ‘beasley’ — these two have never won any individual awards, which is criminal, considering how consistently well they have performed over the years.

  26. Mary says:

    With the reveal of the behind-the-scenes documentary crew, which was a great twist, anything that seems “out of character” could actually be very common for that character, thursday might just be the first time the “crew” decided to show us!
    I’m not saying that Jim always acts like this, I’m just saying now that the fourth wall is broken, we may see different sides of everybody.
    The scene was beautifully acted by both John and Jenna, and I agree with everyone, there’s still a happy ending for them as we close the series.

  27. Ainav says:

    almost makes me feel like watching The Office again..

  28. Jen says:

    I pretty much gave up on the show, but scenes like this will definitely have me sticking around til the end.

  29. KG says:

    Just so that camera crew guy doesn’t start to comfort Pam too much. It was a very realistic scene that just sort of came out of nowhere.

  30. The Beach says:

    I didn’t see the winners and I’m sure they are worthy of the accolades so I’ll throw my own choice of Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder on Justified. The last two weeks (esp last weeks speech to the backwoods preacher) have especially showcased his formidable acting chops.

  31. Jenny says:

    I completely agree with this!!! Their performances were awesome!!! I was kinda excited about their fight. I know that’s weird, but I know it’s building up towards an awesome reconciling!!! And it definitely makes things a little more interesting! Both actors were brilliant! I think this was the first time I’ve seen John Kransinski play a jerk.

  32. Aprilcot says:

    John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer were amazing this week. The Office has had its share of uncomfortable moments (Scott’s Tots, The Dinner Party), but this one felt so real and honest. It was almost like watching your parents fight.

  33. Kelly says:

    Yep. Jenna Fischer and John K. really nailed those scenes. Jenna really killed me with her facial expressions and what am i doing wrong to the crew. They get my vote.

  34. MsPorsh says:

    Yes, this scene was awesome but at the same time very uncomfortable. I was on the edge of my seat, and I definitely shed a tear. I am going to miss this show :(

  35. Real person says:

    Are all the negative comments deleted or something? Jim and Pam’s relationship is terribly fake, I am never convinced that they are portraying a real couple… They act like they’re in middle school!! Jenna Fischer is just a horrible actress, mainly because she never seems to deviate from her “acting” style in any of her separate projects. So, yeah, you’re all obviously super depressed people that just want to cry over mediocre acting. Alright?

    • Jason C says:

      I always find it funny when people slam others for enjoying something they didn’t enjoy, as if their opinion is fact, even though they are the only voice of dissension. If you don’t care for their acting fine, but don’t slam other people because of that.

    • Roger says:

      completely agree. jenna fischer really has ruined the office for me and her character change in s5 really set the tone for the horrible dip in quality after s4. she was obviously created for the mainstream c**** who have no ambitions and live their lives in anticipation of moments and meeting other people i.e. the people that get eaten alive in society – this episode made me cringe so much i had to walk out of the room. the writers should be ashamed of themselves to continue writing seasons just to make more money and sacrifice the quality of the programme