Performer of the Week

TVLine's Performers of the Week (tie): Carrie Coon and Elizabeth Henstridge

THE PERFORMER | Carrie Coon

THE SHOW | The Leftovers

THE EPISODE | “Orange Sticker” (Oct. 25, 2015)

THE PERFORMANCE | One of the (many, many) marvels of Coon’s work on The Leftovers is how believably she’s able to play Nora as alternately someone who seems to have her s— together and someone who’s never further than a single nightmare away from a complete and total nervous breakdown. So in Sunday’s episode, which allowed the actress to highlight both sides of that dichotomy, she was every bit as brilliant as you’d expect… and then some.

First, when Nora awakened during an earthquake to find her lover, Kevin, missing, Coon revealed her alter ego’s panic and escalating fear that he’d vanished in another Sudden Departure with a rawness that was almost painful to watch. “Did it happen again?” Nora asked the 911 operator, dread suffusing each syllable. Then, after Kevin turned up, Coon tempered Nora’s relief with anger so subtle that even her boyfriend couldn’t be entirely certain whether he was in the doghouse.

Later, after illuminating another classic Nora contradiction — her combo platter of cynicism and hopefulness — in scenes with her brother and Kevin’s daughter, Coon demonstrated the resolve which might just be the key to her character’s popularity. Though Nora knew that Kevin hadn’t wanted to go sleepwalking, that it was anything but a conscious choice on his part, she also couldn’t let it happen again — not after she’d already lost her husband and children in the first Sudden Departure. So she handcuffed herself to him as they turned in for the night — in that moment also giving her portrayer a lock on Performer of the Week.

THE PERFORMER | Elizabeth Henstridge

THE SHOW | Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

THE EPISODE | “4,722 Hours” (Oct. 27, 2015)

THE PERFORMANCE | At the very least, S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Henstridge was this week’s runaway winner in the Endurance Competition, on-screen for virtually every single second of the Simmons-centric outing.

But it’s what the Brit did with those 43 minutes that landed her name here. To date, Jemma Simmons had been served well enough as a character, but the bio-chem whiz had never really been “put to the test” in the same was as her action-hero colleagues. One unplanned trip to a strange planet changed all that, affording Henstridge opportunity to explore six-plus months of adversity.

Upon first being spat out by the portal, rational Jemma sought to science the heck out of her out-of-this-world situation. When it became evident that Fitz & Co. wouldn’t extract her any time soon, Henstridge gave her alter ego a whole new color —fierce, spear-fishing for her supper (and breakfast, and lunch….).

Henstridge then started breaking our heart, a tiny bit at first when Simmons explained to fellow castaway Will that she and Fitz “are inseparable,” quickly correcting herself with “were.” Then, after keeping cool for so long, Jemma’s anguish exploded to the surface when her and Will’s bid to at least send a message into the ephemeral portal came crashing down.

Rounding out her performance, Henstridge served up both domestic bliss (as weeks later Jemma and Will had fallen into a cozy acceptance of their shared destiny) and emotional unease (for Jemma and us), once her saga had been told to Fitz. No doubt, she made every second of “4,722 Hours” memorable.

POTWHONORABLE MENTION | Helen’s attempt to numb her sorrows in wine and pot lozenges didn’t pan out well, but it sure gave Maura Tierney an incredible opportunity to act out both the worst imaginable high and her character’s greatest low. For The Affair, a show built on understated performances, Helen’s drunken sing-along was an atypical treat. Later, the character’s intoxicated haze allowed Tierney to expose the previously unbreakable Mrs. Solloway’s fears without having to come out and verbalize them — from becoming the spitting image of her mother, to failing as a businesswoman, parent and significant other. When her side of the story ended in handcuffs as Noah looked down at her, Helen appeared as though she felt as physically crippled as she was emotionally, uncomfortable in her own skin, and Tierney conveyed the fear and anguish of that sobering moment effortlessly.

potwHONORABLE MENTION
| A father’s love for his daughter is a powerful thing, and never have we felt that more on Arrow than in Wednesday’s episode as Lance struggled with the resurrection of his youngest child, Sara. Looking into the eyes of his now feral “baby,” with his gun aimed at her, Paul Blackthorne brought to life the inner turmoil and terror eating up the Captain. But it was Blackthorne’s emotionally conflicted performance during a heated confrontation with Oliver, the man Lance had laid so much blame upon, that reminded us that in this world of flashy superheroes, the common man and his pain is every bit as mighty.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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26 Comments
  1. m83 says:

    All deserving mentions-especially the ladies-but not even an honorable mention for Bellamy Young? Scandal is a mess, but she brought the (White) House down this week.

    • how says:

      No, she didn’t, she was over the top and growled, like she usually does. Stop trying to convince people she’s this amazing actress when she’s not.

      • Al says:

        Well that’s your opinion so it’s not your place to stop someone from expressing theirs

      • m83 says:

        She’s been consistently hailed as one of the best parts of a very inconsistent show, so I’m not trying to convince anybody (she even has a critics’ choice award for this role). Over the top? As if the rest of the show was a textbook in subtlety. Growled? I have no idea what you’re talking about there. Every single line delivery was inspired, but the way she uttered “I was blind, but now I see” easily takes the cake. Scenery chewing done right.

      • quang says:

        Who needs convincing!? Bellamy has had a Performer of the Week nod before and gets consistent praise on TVLINE.

  2. Sarah says:

    Have to say that as soon as the credits rolled on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D this week I turned to my husband and said that there was no way Elizabeth Henstridge wouldn’t be a POTW this week. Also, I think after his POTW honors a few weeks ago, Iain De Caestecker should get a mention just for that last scene. Boy, did he convey how much Fitz loves Simmons with just a few actions and words even after hearing she wanted to save a man she had started a “relationship” with after giving up on being rescued.

  3. N says:

    Love The Leftovers

  4. John NYC says:

    Elizabeth Henstridge Delivered a solid prrformance. Really appreciated her efforts.

  5. Mollytanner says:

    I’m interested to see the level of performance Claire Danes needs to get a shout out this season.

  6. alana says:

    no love for Bellamy young? her performance this week on scandal was phenomenal.

  7. Paul Blackthorne is absolutely fabulous. And he made me worry even more about Lance’s fate, which is a bonus. Good job, everyone!

  8. SCANDAL101 says:

    BELLAMY YOUNG!!!

  9. BlackBirdSinging47 says:

    My pick would be Lily Rabe as Aileen Wuornos on “American Horror Story: Hotel”- she delivered a totally transformative, believable, terrifying performance in about fifteen minutes of screen time, and knocked my socks off. She’s always a compelling performer who is reliably great in every season of AHS, but this was especially impressive.

  10. zac says:

    Maura Tierney was really good especially in her part of the episode. Those kids of Helen are annoying, ungrateful bunch. High af Helen will now be my favorite Helen.

  11. Dj says:

    Elizabeth Henstridge was awesome this week in what was the best episode of AoS this season and maybe ever.

  12. I would say that it’s more like a four way between all the listed performers, but really I agree with selection!

  13. Joey Padron says:

    Elizabeth was great on AOS this week. Paul was great on Arrow.

  14. Alis says:

    Elizabeth killed it! She is AMAZING <3 Well done TVLINE, well done!