THE PERFORMER | Emmy Rossum
THE SHOW | Shameless
THE EPISODE | “The F Word” (Jan. 24, 2016)
THE PERFORMANCE | Sunday’s episode of Shameless was titled “The F Word” after a scathing song written by Fiona’s estranged husband, Gus. While “The F Word” stood for nothing nice between the ex-lovers, Emmy Rossum’s emotional display during the hour was rated F for fantastic. Though we’ve come to expect that kind of stellar work from the actress — this isn’t her first time as our Performer of the Week — watching her nail a challenging scene still leaves us in awe.
Rossum didn’t just show an outpouring of feeling; she kept her emotions in check as she coldly told Debbie she would need to find another place to live if she planned to keep her baby. You could tell it was killing Fiona to be so harsh with her sister even before Rossum dropped her character’s mask once alone and let the tears flow.
At that moment, Fiona’s boyfriend Sean showed up. All the terrible events of the day — Gus’ revenge song, the confrontation with Debbie — finally caught up with her as Fiona crumbled, confessing her own unexpected pregnancy. Then, with calm and resolve, she informed Sean, “You don’t get to have an opinion” about her decision to have an abortion or the fact that she doesn’t know the identity of the child’s father. Fiona might’ve been filled with uncertainty, but we’re sure Rossum’s performance was worthy of praise.
HONORABLE MENTION | More than halfway through Wednesday’s American Crime, suspended basketball captain Eric Tanner came clean to his coach that he was the one who had sex with Taylor Blaine at the captains’ party. But Eric’s anxiety and guilt over the situation was evident long before he confessed, thanks to Joey Pollari’s captivating, layered performance. Throughout the hour, Pollari communicated his character’s inner conflict with moments both small (the way he nervously cracked his knuckles) and large (his hospital-room breakdown after attempting suicide for his homosexuality). The actor infused his performance with such subtlety that we’d be content to rewatch the episode over and over just to catch every nuance.
HONORABLE MENTION | Throughout Jessica Jones’ run, David Tennant’s Kilgrave was a deplorable predator — enigmatic, maybe, but certainly not a villain to sympathize with. But in the pivotal episode “Sin Bin,” light was shed on his dark origin story. As “Kevin” was held captive by Jessica on the heels of his begrudging role in quelling a hostage situation, Tennant showed us his alter ego’s confusion with the turn of events, puzzling aloud, “You even made me a hero!” Kilgrave echoed that stance upon reuniting with his parents — “I save children!” — before tearing into his folks for abandoning him as a child. When his mother sought to console her boy, Tennant’s unflappable baddie flinched at the touch, before slipping into sobs: “I’m sorry I hurt you, mum!” Alas, a hurt then really came, as “Kevin” compelled his folks to kill themselves with scissors, Tennant making vividly clear the stubborn rage of betrayal.
HONORABLE MENTION | We’d have given London Spy‘s Ben Whishaw kudos based solely on the tense opening five minutes of the series’ second episode. As Whishaw’s Danny exited his apartment carrying a cryptic clue from his possibly murdered boyfriend and wove his way through a series of streets and alleyways to avoid detection, the actor’s haunted eyes and physical twitchiness turned every inhabitant of England’s biggest city into a potential enemy. Amazingly, though, Whishaw was just getting started. The actor proved to be the emotional core of every scene of the BBC America thriller’s hour, adroitly juggling a litany of tasks while somehow managing to make us wonder about the reliability of his character’s point of view. In a series built on a deliciously uncertain foundation, it’s Whishaw’s magnetic performance that keeps the house of cards from tumbling down.
Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!