THE PERFORMER | Tom Ellis
THE SHOW | Lucifer
THE EPISODE | “My Little Monkey” (Nov. 7. 2016)
THE PERFORMANCE | The devil is in the details of Ellis’ portrayal of Lucifer Morningstar, as well evidenced in an episode that leaned heavily on a humor rooted in melancholy.
In the wake of taking his brother Uriel’s life and then “truly scaring off” Dr. Linda in the course of sorting through his guilt (by revealing his true face), Lucifer was frozen out by Chloe, for being “too you.” “Being me seems to be a problem, doesn’t it…,” Lucifer sighed, the mighty being again emotionally wounded. “Everywhere I go, someone gets hurt.”
As Lucifer latched onto the idea to thus be someone else —”Detective Douche,” specifically — Ellis went all in, to increasingly comedic effect, spending much of the hour mimicking Dan’s every mannerism (and fashion choice), even trying on a “dude” accent. (Just watch the fellas’ scenes in the interrogation room, where Lucifer subtly apes Dan’s posture and tics, as his “Dansformation” takes hold. Hysterical.)
But when the tables got turned and Lucifer caught Dan spoofing him at an improv class, the narrative delved back into the Devil’s issues. Invited by the detective to explain how he’s not living some charmed life, Ellis switched his face from the usual playful to pensive, as Lucifer lamented, “That’s just it, Dan — the last person I opened up to, I hurt. A lot. Let alone how I’ve hurt my own flesh and blood.”
Capping Ellis’ work this week was an atypically warm moment where Lucifer demonstrated some learning, saying the things Chloe needed to hear after having the wound of her father’s murder reopened. As she pulled him into a tender hug, Ellis registered Lucifer’s (pleasant) surprise at having apparently righted some of his personality’s wrongs. All told, the Brit’s performance was a helluva good time.
HONORABLE MENTION | In the premiere of Netflix’s ultra-classy Queen Elizabeth II biodrama, The Crown, Winston Churchill is almost immediately called “outrageous” for stealing the spotlight from the bride at her future highness’ nuptials. “But,” it’s quickly added, “you have to admire him.” Similarly, we must give props to John Lithgow for so thoroughly expanding to fill the larger-than-life role. Whether scheming to ascertain King George’s condition or dissing his predecessor as prime minister (“An empty taxi pulled up to the House of Commons, and Mr. Attlee got out”), the veteran actor’s take on the Parliamentarian wasn’t just what Great Britain needed (as Churchill blustered to his wife), it was exactly what the series needed as well. By the end of the hour, we didn’t wonder why wedding guests cheered upon Churchill’s entrance.
HONORABLE MENTION | Allison Janney has never been funnier than she was in Thursday’s Mom, as Bonnie and Adam dealt with trouble in the boudoir. Worried that she could no longer arouse her beau, Bonnie became completely unhinged, first losing her cool over breakfast, then completely cutting loose in a hysterical AA rant about wanting to punch all men “in the penis.” The true root of her frustration, however, went beyond sex, as proven by the few moments they were broken up, and Bonnie, in her first healthy relationship — possibly ever — became teary eyed thinking that she in some way screwed things up. Janney was superb, as much as we’ve come to expect excellent dramatic work from the West Wing and Masters of Sex alum.
HONORABLE MENTION | Few Good Girls Revolt with as much pluck as Genevieve Angelson‘s Patti, who in Episode 7 of the 1969-set Amazon series reach a new clarity about her want to be a journalist. Having learned that the men at News of the Week make three times as much as the “girls,” Patti was already fired up. But when sometime-beau Doug shared that he was nearing a book deal based on her research, the expression on Angelson’s face made clear that Patti had reached her limit. “I want what you have,” she declared, when asked why her love for him is now “sort of” qualified. “I want to be a reporter.” Because of the zeal Angelson brings to the role, we want that for her, too.
Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!