Performer of the Week: Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington Scandal Performance

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Kerry Washington

THE SHOW | Scandal

THE EPISODE | “Run”

THE AIRDATE | January 29, 2015

THE PERFORMANCE | Even when grabbed from her home and (seemingly) whisked off to a dingy destination unknown, Olivia Pope has it handled. On-screen for nearly the entirety of the midseason premiere’s 43 minutes, Washington walked the fine line between fierce fixer and Marvel-caliber hero, as Liv slowly took stock of her environs and abductors, never acting too hastily and, for better or worse, never superhumanly seeing too many steps ahead.

Even when Olivia taunted Otto about his obvious No. 2 status, Washington showed us a woman strong in observation yet not foolhardy enough to fancy herself a one-person TAC Team. Similarly, she conveyed Olivia’s prioritization of prudence and patience over impetuous pluck, as bathroom break after bathroom break she processed information about the world around her. Even when Liv attempted that first great escape-via-underwire, Washington made clear this was not some superspy seizing on a surefire plan, but a well-tailored D.C. power player who perhaps Netflix’d Alias on a recent night.

Did the unusual, break-from-format episode at times come off as “Emmy bait”? Perhaps. Still, Washington is POTW-worthy for maintaining the Olivia of it all, for never letting us forget that as far (or not!) removed as she may be from home, this is the Gladiator we have spent three-and-a-half seasons with, only this time under extreme, different circumstances. Now if only Liv hadn’t dropped that gun….

HONORABLE MENTION | Thursday’s POTW-ElementaryElementary was very much Kitty’s hour, but we couldn’t help but be impressed by the subtle yet moving performance of star Jonny Lee Miller. As much as Sherlock saved Kitty (played by Ophelia Lovibond), she also saved him, and the sight of his rare tears in flashbacks showcased just how far on the brink of relapse Sherlock was when the two met. In the present, Miller replaced that vulnerability with gratitude and compassion as he helped Kitty confront her attacker. “You will always be special to me. You will always be my friend,” he told her. And when Kitty said her goodbyes, one didn’t need a magnifying glass to see the love in Sherlock’s eyes.

HONORABLE MENTION | Ever since Gotham-ep113_scn36pt3-3_21722_hires2Danny DeVito grossed us out in ’92, who’d have thought a Penguin would have us rooting for him? And yet Gotham‘s Robin Lord Taylor had us pulled off that feat, no more so than when Oswald Cobblepot set hobbled foot in Fish’s club to claim as (almost) his own. Taylor showed us the rising criminal as proud son… and then a half-instant later as hair-trigger offspring, maddened when mother spoiled his surprise. He reminded us of Oswald’s misplaced sense of self, when “friend” Jim Gordon paid a visit and again during a speech to the “crowd.” But Taylor’s most revealing moment came during a trippy montage, where he literally caressed the bar counter within Oswald’s small new empire. With Taylor as Penguin, nothing has been black-and-white.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below!