Kirsten Dunst in Fargo Finale

TVLine's Performer of the Week: Fargo's Kirsten Dunst

THE PERFORMER | Kirsten Dunst

THE SHOW | Fargo

THE EPISODE |Palindrome” (Dec. 14, 2015)

THE PERFORMANCE | Within the wonderfully eclectic Fargo universe, Peggy Blumquist lived in her own special world — one that, because of Dunst’s layered performance, was alternately inappropriately optimistic, arguably calculating, impressively agenda-driven and maybe a bit cruel at times, the way she would dodge husband Ed’s wants for their future.

Throughout the byzantine drama in which she deposited herself and Ed by keeping mum about a hit-and-run, Peggy was a premier Pollyanna, to the point that Sheriff Larsson had to wonder, “You’re a little touched, aren’t ya?” But the wayward workings of the hairdresser’s head perhaps never presented themselves as profoundly as in the season finale, one of Dunst’s great showcases on the series.

Lugging gunshot Ed into a supermarket meat locker to evade “The Indian” on their trail, Dunst’s Peggy was a Toros-caliber cheerleader, positing, “We’ve come this far. We’re gonna go all the way,” even as her fading husband verbally mourned their marriage. “Adversity is what seals the bond, what makes us stronger,” Peggy tried to argue — before the situation started getting really hazy.

“He’s trying to smoke us out!” screamed Peggy, envisioning a fire outside the door. “It’s just like the movie I was watching!” Except her fear was just as much fiction, which we realized when she exited the locker to only find state trooper Lou Solverson, and zero flames. In that instant, Dunst’s turn as Peggy became tragic, as she frantically searched for the Indian who wasn’t there while calling out for the husband who had just breathed his last breath.

When Lou then escorted Peggy away, Dunst dared us to take our eyes off the antiheroine, her face cycling through expressions of fleeting hope, misguided victimization and, ultimately, culpability. “I’m a victim, too! I was a victim first!” she contended. “It’s a lie that you can do it all, be a wife and a mother and a self-made career woman. And then when you can’t, they say you’re faulty, inferior somehow!” When the unlikely criminal’s defense was cut short by four words from Lou — “People are dead, Peggy” — Dunst’s reddened eyes registered the reality of guilt. Peggy then could only stare down at the cruiser floor instead of ahead to a future of admiring pelicans from a bayside prison.

Last Man on EarthHONORABLE MENTION | The Last Man on Earth‘s suspenseful fall closer allowed Mary Steenburgen to expose Gail as more than just a tipsy southerner. Through her character, the writers explored the pain and cynicism fueled by the series’ deadly origins, giving the actress an opportunity to play her as both overtly unnerved and outrageously desensitized. Whether she was yelling at the gang for expecting a diagnosis, panicking through the terror of Phil’s unsuccessful appendectomy, or asking of Erica to let her baby daddy perish “just like the rest of them,” Steenburgen excelled at illustrating the frenzied state of mind you’d expect from one of mankind’s last known survivors. (The actress gets bonus points for her hilariously deadpan delivery of this line: “Phil, I am really gonna need you to blow out a fart for me.”)

Big Bang TheoryHONORABLE MENTION | Amy’s wish to be intimate with Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory has never been kept secret, but Thursday’s lead up to their first time together was more than just a bevy of cheap sexual innuendos, and Mayim Bialik‘s performance was second to none as she navigated between the character’s thrill and hesitation over this monumental step forward in her relationship. Her portrayal of Amy in these moments remained true to the character’s urges without ever downplaying the significance of her first sexual experience.

unnamed-3HONORABLE MENTION | When you think of Supergirl, the first words that come to mind might be “bubbly,” “cute” or something equally optimistic. And while Melissa Benoist does an excellent job of embodying Kara Danvers’ sunny nature, she’s at her best when Kara is confused and enraged. In Monday’s episode, Kara was forced to confront a harsh reality: that her mother, Alura, may not have been the saint Kara believed her to be. As she grilled her mother’s A.I. likeness, interrogating Alura about her involvement in Astra’s Fort Rozz stay, Benoist powerfully played every note of Kara’s inner conflict, letting her rage bubble to the surface before allowing the heat vision to take over. More than ever, Benoist showcased her ability to mine darker depths and make Kara the multi-faceted heroine we’ve wanted her to be since Episode 1.

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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40 Comments
  1. John says:

    Amazing show/season. Kirsten Dunst deserves all the awards. If she doesn’t win a Golden Globe or an Emmy it will be scandal! When she was crying and screaming Ed’s name in the Season 2 finale… I nearly cried too!

  2. darkangel200 says:

    What great picks! Kirsten and Mayim were brillant, and I like Melissa Benoist more and more each week. Props to all.

  3. Marie says:

    Matt Bomer’s hot dance moves in AHS!

  4. Dunst was great, but no Alan Cumming? For the worst episode of Supergirl so far? Really?

    • Worst Supergirl ep?Yeah whatever bro

      • Alright, I’m sure this episode will win all the awards then and no one really thinks Kara being whiny about how much she sucks and how hard it is to have super powers got old in the second episode.

        • Phun says:

          Huh? What episode were you watching? Whiny about Kara feeling abandoned by her mother instead of dying like the rest of them on Krypton. Brought out a great point of how adopted children or even children ofdivorced parents go through. Whiny about thinking that her mother wasn’t the saint she thought she was?

          • Except, this is was out of left field. Astra disappeared from the story until now and we’re supposed to be invested in their conflict in spite of not servicing it. Kara is constantly dealing with confidence issues before an obvious Cat speech reminds her that girlz R tuff. That’s every single episode! This crap about Alura is never going to be mentioned again. She will reappear in flashback having other familial issues with Astra, but failing to stop Krypton’s inevitable destruction hardly makes her a bad person. I like Melissa Benoist and she’s making the most of what she’s given, but I can say the same thing about Ken Jeong on Dr. Ken. The writers need to get away from this pattern that makes Kara the whiniest, most emotionally needy superhero ever.

          • lauren says:

            you must be new here, lol this tiger person pretty much only complains about every single thing. miserable.

          • Hi, Lauren, you seem like a nice person.

        • Phun says:

          Okay…. Whatever floats your boat your boat man! If you really say most of what is on the show sucks and Kara is whiny, etc, why are you watching? That’s what I find funny. Hmmm…. seems to me like… I don’t think like Mexican food, but I’ll go to a Mexican restaurant every week for lunch just to have something to complain about. Anyway, thanks for the laugh dude!

  5. Phun says:

    Congratulations to all for being recognized for their work. Mayim has always done an excellent job playing Amy. Melissa is really hitting it out of the park playing Supergirl! With every episode, she amazes me with her performance! WOW!

  6. dan says:

    Mayim Bialik was terrific and deserves the praise, but Jim Parsons was equally as great in this episode. Everybody in the BBT cast brought their A-game and the writers crafted the episode with the right mix of humor and emotion.

  7. Shar says:

    David McCallum and his younger doppelganger, Adam Campbell on NCIS. The point counter point story of finding Ducky’s brother was sentimental and soppy and all things wonderful for the holiday season. I just hope this does not mean that Ducky will soon be leaving the show to care for his brother.

  8. mollytanner says:

    Clive Owen’s performance on last night’s finale was the best he’s ever done on The Knick. And Eve Hewson as Lucy had that great, chilling monologue speaking to her father last week.

  9. While Kirsten Dunst was phenomenal, I would give Melissa Benoist as Performer of the Week… And I would take whatever her name is from Big Bang off the list completely!

  10. kirads09 says:

    100% agree. She has been amazing.

  11. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    I hope KD wins for her performance on Fargo, girl was awesome!!!

  12. A fan of TV says:

    I always felt like Kirsten Dunst was kinda special, and her Fargo turn was great! It’s not like being nominated for an Oscar at 13 makes you underrated, but it made her a bit overexposed and the backlash, I guess…I just mean that when people say they can’t stand Kirsten Dunst I never could agree. She can do a fair bit in front of the camera, and I hope this marks a great comeback of sorts for her, since she’s mostly been doing indies for so long…

    • Luciano says:

      She was never nominated for an Oscar…

    • Guy says:

      She’s always been very talented, but during her Spider-Man days, people chose to forget that. She’s a wonderful actress. She should have gotten an Oscar nomination for Melancholia a few years back, for which she gave a phenomenal performance. Here’s hoping she gets a Golden Globe or Emmy for her stellar work on Fargo.

  13. Dude says:

    HELL YES! Kirsten has been the single best thing about Fargo since episode one and that’s saying something considering the talent involved. She deserves every award, her performance was fantastic.

  14. malaspina1 says:

    Season 2 of Fargo was very good.Kirsten Dunst gave an award winning performance.Rachel McAdams in the messy Season 2 of True Detective was also very good.

    The Knick tied up the loose ends last night.Season 3 apparently is a possiblity without Clive Owen.There are lots of stories to tell about that era of medicine.

  15. Mr. Tran K says:

    Melissa Benoist’s performance is outstanding and the latest episode of Supergirl was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait when it returns January 4th.

  16. K says:

    Great choice! Kirsten Dunst killed it every episode on Fargo and will likely take all the awards possible for her win. She was an absolute dramatic and comic tour de force this season, and made an insanely iconic character

  17. About time Melissa Benoist got some kudos her range is incredible she flips a switch on her emotions flawlessly in such a convincing way

  18. awnb95 says:

    What about Elyes Gabel aka Walter O’Brien rom Scorpion. Such a sad moment when he broke down about his sister.

  19. niloofar says:

    Dunst was great.

  20. smartysenior says:

    I’m not sure this show would have worked without Kirsten Dunst and the way she brought the character to life. There was often more in her expression than in the script and we understood her even as we were baffled by her behavior. Just a truly exceptional job.