Performer of the Week: Liars' Troian Bellisario

Pretty Little Liars Season 3 SpoilersA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Troian Bellisario

THE SHOW | Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)

THE EPISODE | “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

THE AIRDATE | March 5, 2013

RELATED | Exclusive Lying Game Finale First Look: The Sutton/Emma Moment You’ve Been Waiting For!

THE PERFORMANCE | For weeks now, Troian Bellisario has tugged at viewers’ heartstrings as the typically level-minded Spencer Hastings has grappled with the revelation that longtime love Toby is part of the nefarious ‘A’ team. She was then led to (falsely?) believe that her traitorous beau had been murdered, which rendered her a numb, wholly unstable shell of her former self.

This week’s Liars, however, truly showcased Bellisario as an actress. Whether straddling the very thin line between sanity and madness or displaying a second of pure lucidity with a mere facial expression, every nuanced move made by the 27-year-old played as effortless and second nature to the now-institutionalized character.

In the hour’s final moments, she fearlessly knocked it out of the park. Stripped down both literally (it looks like Bellisario hasn’t donned a drop of makeup for the majority of the season) and figuratively, Spencer finally opened up about her deteriorating state during a group-therapy session.

“How do you keep going when the worst thing has happened?” she mused in a monotone — a device Bellisario used perfectly to cloak just how truly broken her character is. “What do you have to change inside to survive? Who do you have to become?”

RELATED | Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back? What’s Getting Cancelled? What’s on the Bubble?

Then, with a quick shift of the eyes and two teardrops, the actress allowed the walls she’d worked so hard to build to come crashing down.

“I’m sorry, but it’s true,” Spencer confessed to her friends, who she saw before her but weren’t really there. “You don’t know who I am anymore. And you can’t count on me.” We, however, can  count on Bellisario for more stand-out performances in the coming weeks.

HONORABLE MENTION | The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira, for revealing the softer side of Michonne without giving up any of the badass’ strength. In her scenes with Carl — and then her final one with Rick — she showed us her character’s sweetness and even cracked a smile. (Who knew the sword-swinger had a sense of humor?)

What performance knocked your socks off this week?