Ellen Pompeo's Performance

Performer of the Week: Ellen Pompeo

THE PERFORMER | Ellen Pompeo

THE SHOW | Grey’s Anatomy

THE EPISODE | “The Sound of Silence” (Feb. 11, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | If a picture really says a thousand words, this review is superfluous: Any image we publish of Pompeo’s stricken face from this week’s Grey’s will tell you all you need to know about her visceral performance.

After an attack by a disoriented patient left Meredith temporarily deaf and unable to speak, her portrayer turned her visage into a notepad, on which she scrawled volumes about her character’s fear and confusion, her rage and despair. Frankly, between the articulateness of Pompeo’s wordless expression and the intimacy of Denzel Washington’s direction, it was pretty damn hard to watch — and we mean that as a compliment. (While we’re on the subject of telling looks, kudos, too, to Justin Chambers for the anguish that twisted up Alex’s face during his person’s ER ordeal.)

Painful as all that was, the worst for Mer — and the greatest challenge for Pompeo — was yet to come. When at last the doctor’s children visited, the actress made it clear that Grey was too overjoyed to resist smiling broadly, inadvertently revealing the off-putting wires keeping her jaws shut. When Zola refused to go near her mother, Pompeo’s urgency forced us to put ourselves in Grey’s place as she careened at a breakneck pace from elation to desperation to soul-crushing sadness and, finally, full-blown panic.

We long ago gave up predicting what the Emmys will do. But we will still say that, if there’s any justice, Pompeo’s transcendent work in this Stacy McKee-penned stunner ought to get the leading lady at very least the nomination for which she is so long overdue.

The X-FilesHONORABLE MENTION | X-Files fans are no strangers to watching Dana Scully hit a rough patch. Consequently, during the Fox series’ original run, we saw Gillian Anderson handle tough times with her character’s stoicism and talent for compartmentalizing. But when Scully’s mom fell ill and ultimately died in this week’s revival episode, Anderson used the tragedy to play her alter ego as a changed woman. So many moments highlighted the difference 23 years can make in the life of a character, from the physical change that came over Dana upon getting that terrible phone call to the way she sobbed as she begged her mother to live. Anderson played the normally buttoned-down Dr. Scully as more raw and vulnerable than we’ve ever seen her — and that, in turn, allowed David Duchovny to find new angles on Mulder, too. The tough thing about that type of performance in a revival that’s only six episodes long? It makes us want more, pronto. Fox, are you listening?

supergirl-chyler-leigh-potwHONORABLE MENTION | When it comes to Supergirl‘s Danvers sisters, you can usually expect Kara to fly off the emotional rails much quicker than Alex ever would. But after Chyler Leigh‘s evocative performance on Monday, we’d gladly live in a world where Alex is the more combative sibling. When Kara was overtaken by the Black Mercy and trapped in an idyllic Kryptonian fantasy, it was Alex’s responsibility to bring her sister back to Earth — and boy, did Leigh sell her character’s desperation. As Alex begged Kara to return home, Leigh delivered a frantic monologue about life’s inevitable sadness that was equal parts gut-wrenching and heart-warming. Leigh’s emotion was so authentic that we momentarily forgot co-star Melissa Benoist is only her fictional sis.

EmilyHONORABLE MENTION | American Crime‘s Lilah Tanner is, by all accounts, a terrible mother, a fact underscored in this week’s episode when she admitted that she was disappointed her gay son managed to survive his recent suicide attempt. She then went on to accuse his father of molesting him because “they get this from somewhere.” Yet, miraculously, portrayer Emily Bergl allowed us to see the scared, desperate, grief-stricken and deeply flawed human being beneath the ignorant, angry, homophobic shell. Taking stock of her lonely, miserable existence, she tearfully lamented to her estranged husband (the also-excellent Brent Anderson), “I just want to start over.” And we just want to give her a hug. And Bergl a high-five.

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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66 Comments
  1. Rob says:

    I cannot tell you how irrationally satisfying it is to see this article shared by both Grey sisters.

  2. kn1231 says:

    There was really no other choice. Ellen’s performance was phenomenal.

  3. Chyler Leigh’s performance in this week’s Supergirl was the best I’ve seen of her in the show’s entire run and I think she deserves top billing.

  4. sob says:

    Ellen Pompeo was outstanding

  5. Rebecca says:

    Ellen Pompeo has been fabulous this season. I am so happy Meredith can be someone outside of Meredith & Derek for once.

  6. DT says:

    That time when Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen talked to his dead mom on the phone in Earth 2…

  7. John Davis says:

    I feel like the entire cast of American Crime should be in this article. My god, Felicity Huffman, Lily Taylor, Regina King e Connor Jessup are just incredible. I think this is the only TV show that really affects me. Everytime I watch an episode, I get depressend and sad and angry. I think I never hated so much a character like I hate Leslie (Huffman) and Terri (King). And also Eric’s mother, the basketball team, Kevin’s father… To be honest, the only one who I think is likable is Taylor, and he’s the only one suffering like hell. Sad, sad, show. But one of the best shows in television history.

  8. JB says:

    As I was watching “Grey’s” the other night, I thought Ellen Pompeo better damn well be this week’s PERFORMER OF THE WEEK because she was amazing. And yay, you answered my call! Seriously, it’s a shame she’s never received an Emmy nom. Fingers crossed this will finally be her year. What a brilliant performance in a great episode.

  9. Linda Elgart says:

    Ellen Pompeo was outstanding. I was exhausted after that show. Outstanding episode.

  10. Dominique says:

    ellen and chyler both deserve to be on this list, they were outstandig and brilliant.
    a shame grant gustin is missing though. the scene where barry talks to his earth-2 mom was beautiful.

  11. thisismenow says:

    I would have found it impossible to choose between Ellen and Gillian this week. Both performances crushed my soul and made me sob. For nostalgia’s sake Gillian was probably the better of the two, but dang both women were spot on.

  12. T.w.123 says:

    Both Grey sisters!!!!! Still doing wonderful things on my television. Go Mer! Go Lexie!

  13. Dean says:

    Great to see Chyler gets some recognition, I always felt she was underused on GA. Gut wrenching doesn’t even come close to describing that pleading to Kara.

  14. Leah says:

    So well deserved! She was incredible!!!

  15. Lauren says:

    I guess you like to spread it around different shows but Justin Chambers was almost as amazing as Ellen Pompeo.

  16. Sara says:

    Ellen Pompeo blew my mind with her brilliant performance, she so deserved Performer of the week.. and more.

  17. Tiffany says:

    Chyler deserved performance of the week. But I knew it work out this way and they would give it to Ellen . Oh well Chyler still the best. And the best Grey.

  18. spindae2 says:

    I hated Emily Bregl with all my guts when the episode of AC ended so it means she did an outstanding job, cause I usually love her very much. Major kudos to her.

    Yet Ellen Pompeo smashed it all away. I barely could watch the whole episode it was truly painful. Not to mention the despair she felt when Zola wouldn’t approach. Heartbreaking. Still I think Ellen’s performance in 12×05 was better for a notch cause she had more room for things to develop, the fallout was more impressive from my pov of course.

    I really hope the Emmy’s or anyone else don’t overlook Grey’s cause it really hits all the amazkng right notes this year.

  19. EllenAce says:

    In reference to the article above, I am happy/proud to be rooting for the following:

    Ellen Pompeo
    Chyler Leigh
    Gillian Anderson

    • Holly says:

      I could not agree more. I watch the 3 shows regularly and caught them all this week. Terrific performances by all.

      • EllenAce says:

        @Holly, Yes, all 3 are definitely apart of my favorite TV line up! I must confess…I’m going to watch Super Girl over this weekend because I’m a devoted X-Files fan, since the early days and couldn’t watch Super Girl in real time, as both shows air all at once. So technically, I haven’t seen Chyler’s performance yet, but I know it’s going to be great, based on usually keeping up with the show and the fact she’s just so awesome! Lol.

  20. Tia says:

    I was hoping Ellen will get Performer of the Week. She was outstanding.

    Season 12 is truly her season, and is being giving meaty material. It better continue cause this season is better than ever.

  21. darkangel200 says:

    So happy you chose Gillian! She was amazing. And I loved Chyler too. Great picks, thanks/

  22. BlackBirdSinging47 says:

    As soon as I saw this article, I thought about Gillian’s amazing performance this week on “The X-Files” – so glad to see her mentioned here! I was absolutely blown away by Gillian Anderson this week- it was awesome to see new layers to Scully’s (and Mulder’s) characters that have evolved in the time we’ve been away from them- Scully allowing herself to be more vulnerable, and Mulder stepping up into the caretaker role. Great acting choices by both Anderson and Duchovny- they are still such an amazing pair with the kind of chemistry and connection that deserves every bit of the legendary status they’ve been given in TV lore. I’ve been a fan of “The X-Files” since the beginning, and it’s such a pleasure to have it back on my TV every week. I completely agree that the only downside of a great episode like this week’s “Home Again” is wanting more than six episodes!

    • EllenAce says:

      @BlackBirdSinging47, I totally agree!

      I’ve been a HUGE X-Files fan, (including all the movies and cable reruns), since its inception! I am so ecstatic this show has returned for its mini series run, but I hope this is only a preview of something permanently in the works! Both actors have other projects/commitments, so I’m praying they can make it happen!

      On another note, but similar topic about 10 episode installments per season–Michael Bay’s “Last Ship”, which is another one of my favorite shows on TNT, airing only during the summer months each year, is typically 10- 13 episodes every season, since it started and season 3 will begin this June*. I think you get a higher caliber show, the shorter the episodes, verses the normal 22 or 23 eps., in a series, personally. Also, Mr. Bay is usually big screen, still making movies, adding The Last Ship to his resume for TV shows, (similar to Ridley, who could have benefited from the short season formula for Good Wife, another of my favorites, now ending).

      Maybe they take more time with characters, producing better quality shows, I suspect, the shorter the season. They should renew X-Files and stick to the 10 episode formula, even though we’ll be suffering in between, lol.

  23. Sandra says:

    Ellen Pompeo was outstanding. Completely deserved!

    • Sandra says:

      & Gillian Anderson was also amazing in The X-Files. My two favorite shows in the same article YAY. And I loved Chyler too. SO great pick TVLine

  24. Great pics this week Chyler has been 1 of my fav’s since Grey’s so cool to see both grey sisters in 1 week,also how close was Meliisa Benoist to a mention this week her and Chyler are outstanding

  25. Hannah says:

    I’ve been waiting for another Supergirl POTW since Jeremy Jordan in 1×10. Great performances have been in really every episode from then on.

  26. Love all the mentions of the week. I have yet to catch up on this season of Grey’s (which I usually do over summer each year) and look forward to it. I did however watch the XF and Supergirl eps and thought that both actresses were phenomenal. Yes, it was heartbreaking to see Scully so heartbroken, e.g. as to why her mum will change her living will without informing her, and also, wow, Alex trying to persuade Kara to come back to them from the dream world. Both Chyler and Gillian were just superb. Based on Ellen’s previous performances, I bet she was outstanding as well and definitely, long overdue for an Emmy.
    Great picks, TVline!

  27. Robin says:

    Ellen was great. And the happiness we saw when she was at home showed she had recovered from more than the beating. Forgiving set her free. C.L.
    Is always great to watch. Love Supergirl!

  28. Linsey says:

    Both Grey sisters made the list 🙃🙃🙃

  29. Marco says:

    With SouthLAnd and this, Emily Bergl is specializing in portraying horrible, horrible wives.

    • Classic TV Fan says:

      Although not a horrible wife, Emily’s Sammi on Shameless has certainly grown into a character you love to hate. She has a penchant for playing layered yet despicable characters with effortless ease!

  30. lori says:

    Grey’s Anatomy is not even a show I watch, but the promo was compelling and the episode was just incredible! Kudos to Ellen Pompeo and Justin cHambers

  31. Phun says:

    Congratulations to Ellen for getting performer of the week and to Chyler for getting an honorable mention! I’ve never seen Chyler’s work before and was amazed by her performance in Supergirl. Wow! She knocked my socks off. Thank you TVline for recognizing their work. I would have also liked to see Melissa’s performance also be recognized (again) but I guess I can’t be too greedy in having at least one of the Danvers sisters mentioned this week. :)

  32. busta950 says:

    Ellen Pompeo brilliant acting without words wow Justin his feelings showed just true friendship of 12 years and Webber words of wisdom bang on Congrats you all desevered this week

  33. When is Tom Cavanagh going to get some love? His Earth-2 Harry has been phenomenal as of late.

  34. Karen says:

    Omg yeah right. Worst episode ever. I watched this ONE episode post Derek and regretted it. I’d rather see a musical than this bull silent story. Greys is full of BS gimmicks. End it already. End our misery.

    • Brady says:

      You can end YOUR misery at anytime you want by turning the channel. You don’t have to watch the show, you know that right?

  35. I’m so glad to see Chyler here. She was absolutely AMAZING in this episode! It really made me cry..Chyler and Melissa are really great on screen! Go supergirl!

  36. Zoe says:

    How did Ellen Pompeo win over Gillian Anderson? …TVLine, your taste is questionable sometimes

  37. liame says:

    Great picks. I wonder how the team decides who watches what.

  38. Allison says:

    I thought Ellen was wonderful and I don’t want to take anything away from her performance, but Justin Chambers was amazing! We saw emotion from Alex that I can’t remember ever seeing from him before. When he first came in the trauma room and saw Meredith and then when he was trying to brush away his tears, it was incredible. And then he was so cute with the kids, holding Zola’s hand, reminding her that she asks every day when they can see Mommy, trying to prompt them to go up to Meredith, so sweet and sad at the same time. The other scene I loved was when he walked in on Meredith crying and he got into bed with her to hold her and they realized she had regained her hearing. The episode was done beautifully and Ellen did a fantastic job, I just think Justin did too.

  39. Tom Beeman says:

    That Chilton education really paid off.

  40. devinmc says:

    Is no one watching Louie Anderson on FX’s Baskets? He’s been killing it. How am I the only person recognizing his awesomeness? He’s my performer of a month.

    I’d also send some love to the cast of Shades of Blue. Ray Liotta in particular.