Performer of the Week: Thrones' Michelle Fairley

Game of Thrones Michelle FairleyA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Michelle Fairley

THE SHOW | Game of Thrones

THE EPISODE | “The Rains of Castamere”

THE AIRDATE | June 2, 2013

Over the past three seasons, portrayer Michelle Fairley has played each new layer of Catelyn’s despair (widowhood, war, the loss of home and family) like another heavy cloak flung over Lady Stark’s highborn shoulders.

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So on the occasion of Edmure’s make-peace nuptials, we welcomed the opportunity to see Fairley play small degrees of relief. With Walder Frey’s ring kissed and Robb once more seeking his mother’s advice, the actress allowed her character to lose a little of her long-standing dread. She smiled. She chatted up Roose Bolton. She even allowed herself a happy recollection of her own wedding night with Ned. Catelyn couldn’t forget that there was still a war to fight, Fairley’s subtle shift said, but she was beginning to think that Robb might just win it.

Of course, that was the exact moment that everything went south for the Starks – and Fairley was glorious in her character’s descent.

With an arrow lodged in her torso, Catelyn resolutely held a knife to Frey’s wife’s throat and demanded an honorable trade: the girl’s life for Robb’s. Fairley’s angry tears made Cat’s desperate diplomacy so hard to watch, especially as she urged her dying son to walk away. And when Bolton stepped in to finish the King in the North, Fairley’s anguished scream made us feel like we’d taken a dagger to the gut.

Fairley said nothing – but communicated everything – as her dead-eyed character matter-of-factly cut Lady Frey’s throat and then didn’t even fight as a Frey loyalist did the same to her. Rest in peace, Catelyn. If you had to go, at least you did so in Fairley’s talented hands.

HONORABLE MENTION | Veep‘s Tony Hale, who, as Vice President Selina Meyer’s primary lackey Gary, walks a fine line between pitiful sycophant and the one person who truly understands the insecurities and outbursts of America’s second most-powerful person. In Sunday’s installment, as Gary independently found a private waste-management firm to remove Selina’s trash during a government shutdown, Hale managed to play both hapless (his high-pitched squeal upon seeing a rat had the Secret Service seeking out a frightened woman) and cutthroat (he coerced White House aide Jonah to help him pick through foul rubbish until Selina’s incriminating — yet never specified — garbage could be repossessed). Somehow, Hale  repeatedly served as the butt of the joke and remained a character whom it was impossible to root against.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

Comments (39)

  • You know, I watched the first episode and it was pretty violent, so I stayed away from it. Anyhow, when I saw the photo above of Michelle Fairley, I thought “Oh I did not know Joan Allen was in that program!”
    Hah! And she’s not.

    Comment by cerelon – June 8, 2013 06:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This week wasn’t a contest at all. Terrific work. I never was the biggest fan of Catelyn, but how Farley went through tension, relief, suspicious, rage and despair in 5 minutes was beyond words

    Comment by Raúl – June 8, 2013 06:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am not surprised at all, she totally deserved it. That scene was breathtaking.

    Comment by Azerty – June 8, 2013 06:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 100% Emmy worthy performance. JMHO

      Comment by A.J. – June 8, 2013 04:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I know Hugh Dancy in Hannibal was one of the more recent Performers of the Week, but WOW he really knocked it out of the PLANET last episode (Roti). The complete mental breakdown he suffered at one point was purely disturbing, the only thing in that show (which is notedly gory and creepy at times) that has actually made me unable to watch for a moment. It’s hard for an actor to commit like that, but Hugh went for it, cried ugly, and made every inch of that scene so believable.

    Comment by Azrielen – June 8, 2013 06:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree 100%. Hugh was my runner up this week. I am literally physically hurting for Will. Hugh is extraordinary.

      Comment by kirads09 – June 8, 2013 09:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I completely agree. After I’d recovered from that scene I said, “I wonder if he can get performer of the week twice in a row?”

      Comment by NotBri – June 8, 2013 09:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree…Hugh Dancy did a brilliant job!

      Comment by Guest – June 9, 2013 12:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • That said, Michelle Fairley absolutely deserves this. Heartbreaking scene and so well-played from just about everyone involved. Even knowing what was going to happen, there was a palpable tension to it the second that the Rains of Castamere started playing.

    Comment by Azrielen – June 8, 2013 06:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oh ya, she totally deserves it! Cat was my favorite character and Michelle was brilliant in the last episode…

    Comment by Hilla Osovsky – June 8, 2013 06:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Was thus even a competition this week. I had goosebumps watching that scene. I am only on book one so I had no idea thus was coming.

    Comment by val – June 8, 2013 06:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It had to be her. She’s awesome.

    Comment by Hurley – June 8, 2013 06:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There was no competition this week. I’m surprised there was even room for an honorable mention. Michelle was simply amazing. (Now I can’t wait to see her on Suits!)

    Comment by Amanda – June 8, 2013 06:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • sooooo that was a really good one. Her face when her throat got slipped, just that relief and letting it go.

    I feel so sorry for the Starks. But seems like John Snow has to step up nig way and sooooon.

    and why nobody kills that fing Lanisters.

    Comment by Maki – June 8, 2013 06:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think everyone knew the winner this week around 10 oclock last sunday night

    Comment by lisa – June 8, 2013 06:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Fairley’s anguished scream made us feel like we’d taken a dagger to the gut..”
    Couldn’t have put it better myself in words! #GiveHerTheEmmyAlready!

    Comment by Debra – June 8, 2013 07:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Not surprising and very well deserved. I was never a big fan of her character, but Michelle Fairley’s protrayel was always spot on IMO. And last week just knocked it out of park. I went through all the emotions with her, shivering when I heard Rains of Castamere playing, crying when Robb was hit, negotiating with my TV screen “please, don’t kill him”, screaming at Robb to run and just utter defiaance in sitting there and seeing her killed.
    Please, somebody gives this woman an Emmy already, because that was incredible work!

    Comment by Jules – June 8, 2013 07:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yeah this couldn’t have gone to anybody else. She did a hell of a job.

    Comment by JT – June 8, 2013 08:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I know not everybody likes the character of Catelyn but she has been my favourite on this show since her confrontation of Tyrion in the inn back in season one. Michelle Fairley definitely deserves performer of the week, and any and all awards that come her way.

    Comment by RyanC – June 8, 2013 08:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • very well deserved.

    Comment by t86 – June 8, 2013 09:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I had no feeling whatsoever for the character of Catelyn Stark, then Ned Stark died and the way Michelle Fairley potrayed her pain of losing her husband and then of not knowing whether her daughters were safe, made me like Catelyn Stark a lot more on the show than I did on the books. Last Sunday, I knew it was coming, but watching that scene and Michelle Fairley’s performance it was like a punch in the gut and made it even more brutal than in the books for me. Michelle Fairley is one heck of an actress.

    Comment by Monica4185 – June 8, 2013 09:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seven hells, yes. Give her the Emmy now.

    Comment by Aleksa – June 8, 2013 09:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It was an amazing 5 minutes of one of the greatest scenes on television and GoT has a lot if those, but respectfully I disagree with giving her the Emmy this year. That distinction should go to Tatiama Maslany.

    Comment by DarkDefender – June 8, 2013 09:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I couldn’t agree more. Michelle Fairley’s performance Sunday night ripped my heart out, but for a season-long performance, I have to go with Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black. For those who have not seen it, I highly recommend it. You will not be sorry for losing 7 1/2 hours of your life to Orphan Black.

      Comment by Angie – June 8, 2013 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Wouldn’t they be in different categories? Fairley in Supporting Actress, Maslany in Lead Actress.

        Comment by DL – June 8, 2013 10:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Different categories, they both should get Emmys, Faurley for supporting and Maslany for Lead.

      Comment by Mike R. – June 8, 2013 12:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Couldn’t have been anyone else this week.

    Comment by Sally – June 8, 2013 11:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • As good as her performance was, and it really was, i really think this should have gone to Sean Harris in The Borgias this week. I’m sorry, but he killed it this week, and showed complete vulnerability, especially when he revealed to Ceserae he was gay and sleeping with a Sfortza spy. His portrayal was pure heartbreak. I’m sorry, but i think he should have at least gotten the runner up section xx

    Comment by Naomi Scotland Mowatt – June 8, 2013 11:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oh, there were other shows this week? I’ve been crying in fetal position since last Sunday. I really hope this gets MF a, Emmy nom (at the very least).

    Comment by Dick Whitman – June 8, 2013 12:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • She just killed it! Wow! What a performance!

    Comment by John – June 8, 2013 12:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i totally called it! i knew it would be her!

    Comment by Sarah K – June 8, 2013 12:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You can say that again!!! Michelle Fairley was simply amazing!!! My God, I still shiver when I remember her pleading for her son’s life, and then her wail after he was murdered…

    Comment by Liz – June 8, 2013 03:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Well deserved. Great performance. Hope there is an Emmy waiting for her. RIP Catelyn.

    Comment by nikki – June 8, 2013 06:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You got it right this week but I just thought Kane Hodder deserved an Honorable Mention for doing a great job playing an exaggerated version of himself on Holliston. I know most people probably haven’t seen it since it’s on FEARnet but I think he deserves at least a mention.

    Comment by Ralph Hartman – June 8, 2013 09:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Sina (@vodka_n_caviar) – June 9, 2013 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I woulda went with Maisie Williams….her scene with the Hound was great.Sean Harris on Borgias is pretty great too.

    Comment by Shaun – June 9, 2013 12:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I actually was most impressed when Catelyn lifted up Roose Bolton’s sleeve, revealing his chainmail. The look on her face, and that vicious slap she gave him, were so good. That wail, after Robb is killed, and how she goes into almost a catatonic state before her throat is slit. Wow. So many actors on this show deserve Emmy recognition. Michelle Fairley (Catelyn), Richard Madden (Robb), and Maisie Williams (Arya) to name a few.

    Comment by Sareeta – June 9, 2013 02:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Well deserved and she should be at the least nominated for an Emmy for this episode.

    Comment by G – June 10, 2013 12:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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