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

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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?”

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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?

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54 Comments
  1. Michele says:

    Flawless Queen ♥

  2. Leo says:

    She’s crazy good and if this is not on ABC, she’s so grabbing all kinds of nominations and may actually win most of them. Go Hastings!

  3. ruby says:

    Finally people recognise how much of a good actress she is..she’s the best actor of all the girls.she has been knocking it out of the park for weeks now..I hope she dates the guy that’s on the team with her and mona..

  4. Elyse says:

    yes!!! she’s amazing :)

  5. dizzylie says:

    Such a talent.

  6. Maki says:

    she really did an excellent job here. here character grew in every way! can’t wait to see where it goes, , ,

  7. A says:

    Even though she is on a teen show on ABC Family, I really really think she deserves to win all kinds of awards for this performance. I really hope she isn’t overlooked. Reguardless, she has a really bright future as an actress. Great, well deserved, pick for this week TVLine

  8. B says:

    I personally would’ve voted for Emmy Rossum/Fiona on Shameless. I thought she was amazing this week. The story she told in court was very believable and when she was in chambers you could read the doubt on her face perfectly as the judge detailed what the rest of her life would contain. She’s a matriarch just as great as any other on TV if not better. In addition, Debbie (I don’t remember the actress’ name off the top of my head) on Shameless has been quite good too.

  9. Sara says:

    I am so thrilled TVLine acknowledged Troian this week! Yes, it’s a show on ABC Family and yes, sometimes it’s a little ridiculous – but her performance this season has been OUTSTANDING and I hope it continues to be recognized!

    • I Heart Damon Salvatore says:

      Yeah, it’s about time! TB has been knocking it out of the park. My personal favorite moment was actually last week, when she told Emily and Aria about Toby. The way she laughed at Emily when Emily insisted that Toby must be acting under duress gave me chills.

      • Sara says:

        I absolutely agree! I adored that scene. She did it flawlessly – that laugh was almost haunting! And the fact that she did that scene SO well made me not have any sympathy for Emily whatsoever – in fact, it just made me angry that she wouldn’t believe her best friend.

        • I Heart Damon Salvatore says:

          Someone needs to start an Emmy campaign. I know she’s on an ABC Family teenybopper show (though I am 26 and my dad is 62 and both of us are OBSESSED over it), but TB totally transcends the genre. She needs a whole mantle full of shiny gold statues for what she does. I mean, I love her, but they give Betty White awards for still being breathing at her age. TB needs some recognition, too!

  10. Caitlin says:

    So excited to see this! Troian has always been one of the best actors on PPL and the past few weeks have shown that she could carry any show she wanted to. I have been so excited to see her get to stretch her acting wings and show the worlds what she can do.

  11. Jennifer says:

    While watching this episode I kept thinking that she should be the Performer of the Week. So happy she was chosen.

  12. ggny says:

    This would be a Emmy winning performance if this show wasnt on ABC Family

  13. R says:

    She was good, but didn’t nearly compare to Emmy Rossum this week. Rossum really deserved this. And honorable mention should have gone to Lennie James for TWD. He was a master class in acting as Morgan.

    • Jamie says:

      Agreed on Lennie James for TWD. His first performance on the show in its first episode was already masterful, but he topped that with this past episode. He was brilliant and gave an absolutely heartbreaking performance. (It will be a crime if he doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for Best Guest.)

  14. jim says:

    As much as this rightfully belongs to Emmy Rossum, troian absolutely deserves to be recognized. Its a shame she can’t be nominated for emmys since she’s on an abc family show :/ shows the flaw in our awards shows

  15. lisa says:

    You need to issue an amendment to this with an honorable mention to Emmy Rossum immediately. My family and I (all over 16) watched the episode last week and were all in tears by the end of it. Fiona Gallagher is one of the most tragic characters on tv and the performance Emmy continues to turn in is out of this world and the best of this week at least for sure

  16. Rach says:

    I don’t even watch PLL but Troian is a fantastic actress. She will always be Sarah McGee to me, even if she was only on NCIS for like two episodes. There is a lot of talent in the Murray/Bellisario family!

  17. arial2 says:

    When I first saw her last name as a guest on her father’s NCIS, my first thought was “great, another princess getting her “acting” wish granted by Daddy!” Then, as I watched the episode (in which she played McGhee’s little sister), I found myself thinking “this one actually has talent!” Glad she’s found a regular role, but sad it probably means she won’t be returning to NCIS anytime soon. Good selection, TeamTVLine!

  18. surpriselover says:

    Emmy Rossum deserves much more than performer of the week but not even to be honorable mention is well a Shame. This was the performance of the year and deserves the type of award recognition that has yet to come.

  19. The Beach says:

    Rossum and Shameless are consistently terrific and deserve at least a mention. Another mention should go to Matthew Rhys this week in The Americans…really good!

  20. A mention should go to Keri Russell in The Americans…when she gave the beatdown on Claudia…

    WHOA!!!!

  21. Chris says:

    I remember the one episode where she was wrongly accused of murder. I don’t remember the other one.

  22. Rebecca says:

    I knew Troian was a good actress ever since seeing her in “Lauren” — a YouTube series on Wigs.

  23. Diogo says:

    Troian/Spencer is the reason I keep watching the show.

  24. Jade says:

    This girl is a phenomenal actress. The last few episodes have allowed Spencer to grow and go into a totally different direction which she pulled off flawlessly. Unfortunately I dont see her getting any type of award solely based on the fact that people dont take PLL as a serious show but either way this girl has a huge career ahead of her. This is only the beginning.

  25. Troian did extremely great! It is really bias that even though many of us know how great her acting prowess is, the fact that PLL will be overlooked because it is on a family-oriented tv show is sad. If Troian was cast in in a show that is not PLL that airs in a different channel like HBO or other channels, Troian might probably grabbed awards long ago. Troian always did great in every show she has been like NCIS and Lauren. But her real talent will only be proven to everyone once her movie Consent will be released on iTunes this 19th of March. Well, I guess she doesn’t need to prove it. She already did.
    Another really sad fact that is why she is being overseen is because only a few know her for her acting skill and not just the daughter of Mr. Donald Bellisario. She’s not those typical girls who have influence because of her family that’s why she’s on TV but she’s someone who, without her parents, will do great and will have a great career in the future because of her talent. I salute this woman. I adore and idolize her. All awards goes to you for being such a great yet overlooked actress.

    • Sara says:

      This^^^. If you research this wonderful actress, you realize how levelheaded she is. She can speak like six languages, she’s incredibly intelligent, and she went to UCLA. Her father told her that she had to graduate from college. It didn’t matter if she majored in film or drama or whatever – as long as she graduated. And growing up in such a prestigious family, she knew that it wasn’t all glamorous and fabulous, she knew it was a tough business and that it would be tiring. She’s a perfect role model. I’m so excited to see more of her in the future. <3

  26. melinden says:

    Emmy Rossum had me in tears during her testimony to the judge on Shameless this week

  27. Alex says:

    As flawless as she was in this episode, the standout performance was weeks ago, the episode when she first discovers Toby in her house in the hood and her subsequent breakdown outside his locked apartment door. I was dying.

  28. Kim says:

    I never really liked Spencer as much as I did the others. But this storyline has done it for me! Troian is going amazing!!

  29. Vanessa says:

    ALL THE AWARDS, PLEASE.

  30. She’s a flawless actress. It’s a shame that because PLL is on ABC Family she won’t be considered for any big awards.

  31. Pepper says:

    She is the best on the show. I love the other three girls too but they do way too much unnecessary eyebrow and forehead wriggling.

  32. Andrea says:

    Finally people are recognising her talent! She’s the best actress from the 4 girls … Troian is an Amazing actress and this isn’t the first time that she proves it.

  33. Lois says:

    I’ve raved about Troian’s acting for all 3 seasons now but when Toby was revealed as an A Team member, my first thought, after my initial reaction of ‘NO!!!!’, was ‘Troian’s gonna knock this storyline out of the park with her acting.’, and I’m so glad I’ve been proved right. Spencer is probably one of the only redeeming parts of the show this season, especially since the start of the 2nd half where most things seem to be getting more and more ridiculous and I’m so glad Troian’s getting the credit she deserves for her work. It’s just a shame considering the show is on ABC Family that she won’t get any accolades for it.

  34. dude says:

    SO well deserved! She’s been killing it for weeks!

  35. shuayb says:

    Nope. Wanted to slap her. Spencer’s craziness is just irritating.

  36. Adrienne says:

    I think she’s an amazing actress. However, the character is acting like she’s the only girl to ever be betrayed by her boyfriend. Its getting irritating. Time to snap out of it and start kicking some tail. Quit acting like a victim.

    • Alyssa says:

      She just figured out that the person she loves has been torturing her and her friends for the past (year?) That would drive me mad too. And then to top it all off, someone killed him. I bet she is thinking that he might not have been apart of the A team and it was all just a misunderstanding. Not to mention, her best friend was killed, her middle school crush was killed, and a man who loved her was killed. Oh! And SHE was almost killed in her own home! Who wouldn’t be going crazy at that point?

    • lmfao you do realize he tried to kill her and succeeded in killing like half the city right

    • Sadia says:

      The only reason people comment things like this about how her “craziness” is irritating and that her reaction is irrational is because they don’t understand the full proportions of a situation like that. You, for example, reduced her entire suffering to “not the only one to be betrayed by her boyfriend” – when her story goes way further than that. How many girls who are “betrayed” by their boyfriends discover that he has been the one torturing her and her friends, scheming against them, and trying to kill them and making her whole life a living hell to the point where she can’t turn any which way without someone spying on her and using it to manipulate her? Completely different situation from what you’re talking about there.

  37. Queen B says:

    I had given up on this site when they continued to be upset about the Dair/Chair endgame but this article has given me hope Torian is of the best actresses of her age if not any age and she gives the show the talent to transcend it’s genre and network

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