TVLine's Performer of the Week: Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum ShamelessA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Emmy Rossum

THE SHOW | Shameless

THE EPISODE | “Iron City”

THE AIRDATE | Feb. 16, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Her name says it all. Once again, Emmy Rossum turned in an Emmy Award-caliber portrayal as Fiona’s spiral led to the unexpected and devastating hospitalization of her little brother Liam, after he got into her cocaine stash. The horrifying turn of events landed Fiona in handcuffs, which led to more horrors as she went through the county jail’s check-in process.

The Gallagher “matriarch” is a tough, roll-with-the-punches kind of gal, even in the most dire of scenarios. But stripped bare, physically and emotionally, in front of an officer during an invasive procedure, she couldn’t pretend that she was anything but broken. Unable to hold back her tears any longer, Rossum’s crumbled expression was a cavalcade of emotions: Humiliated, ashamed, scared, guilty. To see the actress’ hands tremble and to hear her voice crack as Fiona begged for her one phone call to check on Liam — have we ever witnessed Fi so fearful and uncertain? — was truly nerve-racking.

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When she finally got to talk to a stoic, but silently furious Lip (the equally terrific Jeremy Allen White), the horrified tears returned as he described Liam’s stable-but-serious condition. Blame and remorse painted across her face, a distraught Fiona was left to plead: “Please tell him that I love him, OK? And I’m so, so sorry. Please. Please, Lip.”

To top it off, she then had to face her siblings in court, donning her jail uniform and her hands in ‘cuffs, as she stood behind a cage-like divider and pleaded not guilty despite knowing the role she’d played in Liam’s accident. Silently staring at the worried faces of her family, Rossum’s eyes were full of shame and regret. It’s no surprise then that when she returned home at the end of the hour to an empty house, she did so with hesitancy and trepidation in her stride and expression.

Fiona has always been good at playing the system to get the bare minimum needed to survive. But in this episode, she became an object of the system, with no control over her circumstances. And while it was a truly ugly and awful situation for Fiona, it brought out the best in Rossum.

HONORABLE MENTION | Consider this our official petition: We want Olympic figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir in primetime for the 2018 games. Put aside, for a moment, their coordinated outfits (which were fabulous), their youth (which couldn’t have hurt with the younger demo) and their sassiness (remember when Weir said a male skater reminded him of “a hockey player that’s also a really good dancer”?) The most impressive aspect to the two former Olympians is that they know their stuff. Their perfect blend of hard-nosed critique and irreverent fun made NBC’s daytime coverage the best part of the games, particularly when the pair allowed primo routines to unfold without much commentary. Talking heads who know when to keep silent? That’s the sports commentary equivalent of nailing a quad axel.

HONORABLE MENTION | Becoming possessed by an evil Japanese spirit may be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Stiles on Teen Wolf, but as this week’s dramatic episode proved, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Dylan O’Brien‘s craft. After tricking his friends (and viewers) into thinking he’d returned to his former self, “Evil Stiles” eventually came clean to Scott in a bone-chilling scene that proved O’Brien, 22, is capable of being so much more than merely the show’s comic relief. He’s evolving into a full-fledged dramatic actor right before our eyes, and while we do miss the cuddly Stiles of yore, we’re eager to see just how far O’Brien will take his dark new persona.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!