TVLine's Performer of the Week: Susan Lucci

Susan Lucci Devious Maids Performance

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Susan Lucci

THE SHOW | Devious Maids

THE EPISODE | “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

THE AIRDATE | June 22, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | There’s nothing funny about a life-threatening kidney disorder — unless, of course, that illness happens to befall Devious Maids‘ Genevieve Delatour. In that case, it’s hysterical.

Lucci has always balanced Maids‘ unorthodox regiment of comedy and drama, but never as successfully as in Sunday’s episode, which finally found the widowed millionaire confronting her mother about making her life a living hell. Did we mention her mother is played by Oscar nominee June Squibb?

From Genevieve’s delightfully absurd denial — when told that facials won’t cure her kidney disorder, she responded, “Are you sure? Have there been studies?” — to her eventual defiance of her mother, Lucci’s delivery captured every gradual stage of a desperate daughter arriving at her wit’s end.

Maids also isn’t afraid to allow Lucci the occasional over-the-top moment of pure soapy goodness, the kind of fare she turned into an art during her decades on ABC’s All My Children. This week’s example: “If you can’t be bothered to even pretend to love me, well, you can just go to hell!” she shouted at her mother, mere seconds before said mother dropped to the floor from a presumed heart attack.

Of course, it wasn’t a heart attack, and that’s when Lucci’s comedic chops returned. “It was coronary angina, some minor problem with her heart,” Genevieve announced upon her return from the hospital. “I tried to tell the doctors she doesn’t have one, but they wouldn’t listen.”

After a little nudging from her Pine Sol-scented pal Zoila, Genevieve eventually decided to make amends with her monstrous mother; and although Lucci flashed her megawatt smile throughout the entire finale scene, the rage lurking just below the surface was still palpable — and appreciated.

untitledHONORABLE MENTION | On Showtime’s period thriller, Penny Dreadful, Eva Green is so freaktastic that to hold a candle to her, an actor can’t be good, he must be great. And we’re as surprised as anyone to be saying this, but former teen idol Josh Hartnett is great. First, he bowled us over in “Possession” with the tenderness that his sharpshooter character, Ethan, showed Green’s poor, possessed Vanessa. So soft was his voice, so gentle were his eyes, they could have been blankets in which he was wrapping her for protection. And then, when he revealed that Ethan wasn’t Ethan at all but the demon who sought to make her the mother of evil? Hartnett mixed a cocktail of menace and seductiveness that was so potent, we damn near forgot whether we were supposed to be rooting for Vanessa to surrender or resist! In short, a revelation.

unnamed-1HONORABLE MENTION | When Continuum debuted, it asked how a woman catapulted 65 years back in time might somehow return to the future and reunite with her husband and son. But as Season 3 gradually nullified that endgame, Rachel Nichols — perhaps no more so than in the finale — showed us a Kiera upended but ultimately unburdened by the decision to accept that her future with a family was in some ways now just a “dream.” In the season’s final hour, Kiera committed to a plan that would thwart Present Alec’s Halo launch, and in doing so derail the timeline that leads to her dystopic yet love-filled future. That impossible choice crystallized at the climax of the two Alecs’ rooftop fight to the death, when Nichols registered Kiera’s moment of mourning for one Alec, followed by her confidence in choosing the other. Continuum is very much Kiera’s journey, and Nichols’ performance makes clear what an emotionally arduous one it is.

Which performances rocked your world this week? Sound off below!