Thandie Newton Westworld

Performer of the Week: Thandie Newton

THE PERFORMER | Thandie Newton

THE SHOW | Westworld

THE EPISODE | “Trompe L’Oeil” (Nov. 13, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | Honestly, this honor is long overdue. Newton’s performance as robot brothel madam Maeve on HBO’s sci-fi fantasy series has been a revelation each week, as Maeve pulls herself out of her carefully prescribed narrative “loop” and slowly becomes more self-aware. This week, though, Newton took the role to a haunting new level.

Newton imbued Maeve with a spark of intelligence as she tested her newfound boundaries in the saloon, along with those of fellow hooker Clementine’s. She was stricken with a visceral fear and guilt as Maeve silently watched Clementine get her mind erased yet again in the robot lab. And she was positively chilling as Maeve calmly confronted lab workers Felix and Sylvester and informed them she was planning to escape the park… and they were going to help her.

“At first, I thought you and the others were gods,” Maeve told them. “Then I realized you’re just men… and I know men.” She then taunted them, “You think I’m scared of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m f—king great at it.” Finally, she turned to the terrified human lab workers and asked, “How many times have you died?” It was a masterful sequence, driven by Newton’s fiercely courageous performance. Acting? She’s f—king great at it.

This Is UsHONORABLE MENTION | It’s a crowded cast on NBC’s This Is Us, so it’s understandable that Susan Kelechi Watson hasn’t had a ton of screen time as Randall’s wife Beth. But in this week’s episode, “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World,” she took the spotlight and ran with it. Watson was downright hilarious as Beth and Randall’s birth father William giggled and bonded over a pan of pot-laced brownies. But when Beth discovered that Randall’s adopted mother Rebecca was in contact with William and never told Randall, the pain that flashed on Watson’s face cut deep. Sterling K. Brown already took home an Emmy this year, but his onscreen wife is every bit his equal.

unnamed-2HONORABLE MENTION | If coming out, like grief, has stages, Supergirl‘s Chyler Leigh masterfully walked us through them as Alex achieved clarity about her sexual identity. First, she was all tension and hesitation, as Alex revealed to Kara that she has “those feelings” for Maggie Sawyer. “And if I’m being honest, maybe I’ve had thoughts like this before,” she said, reflecting on the past. Leigh then shattered our heart when Alex saw Kara as being unsupportive, declaring through tears, “I don’t know if I can do this without you.” Confirming her sister’s approval, Alex launched into a warm, shiny tribute to Maggie’s “beautiful” qualities — only to eventually get FriendZoned by the lesbian cop. There, Leigh had us feeling the gut punch of a first crush crushed, especially when she shared with Kara her sense of humiliation. It was all we could do not to reach through the TV and assure her, “It gets better.”

Kate McKinnonHONORABLE MENTION | Beautiful. Haunting. Poignant. Rarely are any of these words used to describe a memorable moment on Saturday Night Live, yet they’re the only ones that come to mind when we look back at Kate McKinnon (as Hillary Clinton) performing the late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during this week’s cold open, before offering a promise to America: “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.” Not only were McKinnon’s vocals on point (who knew?), but the solemnity and simplicity of the performance were exactly what many frustrated viewers needed after suffering through the most discouraging, stressful week of an endlessly discouraging, stressful election cycle. SNL has been one of the loudest, most consistent voices leading up to the presidential election — and never was that voice put to better use.

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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28 Comments
  1. So glad Chyler was included this week because she deserves it! She’s been knocking it out of the park. And Camilla Luddington was perfect during that scene in the elevator where Jo confesses the truth to Alex.

  2. darkangel200 says:

    Props for the great picks. And look at all that girl power!!

  3. bluji says:

    The HTGAWM cast did amazing work in their fall finale, Viola Davis and Liza Weil in particular.

  4. Leo Berry says:

    Completely agree ,all 4 ladies were incredible

  5. Simon says:

    Good choices. I would add Abigail Breslin for Scream Queens ( this season would have been a total wreck without her) And Neil Flynn from The Middle. Also I really need to start watching Westworld looking for a post Xmas pre New Years binge watch.

  6. Cyn says:

    Actually, while I’m sure everyone was sad about Leonard Cohen, half the voters in the country were relieved Hillary wasn’t elected. But you don’t get it and neither did the news outlets. And the fact that you don’t get it explains why Trump was elected

  7. Phun says:

    Congratulations to Chyler Leigh for making the list. And excellent performance! Also, congratulations to the other women on the list for having their performance recognized this week.

  8. Kevin says:

    Kate McKinnon truly deserves to be one of the honorable mentions this week. She totally killed it as Hillary Clinton singing a rendition of the late Leonard Cohen track Hallelujah.

  9. DCR says:

    YES, YES, YES and YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

  10. Quinten says:

    Chyler Leigh’s story and performance this season has been amazing. That last episode had me in tears; honestly can’t remember the last time a show has handled a coming out storyline so perfectly; so relatable. Cant wait to see what’s in store for her. I also thought that Liza Weil and Viola Davis were amazing in that mid season finale of HTGAWM, probably their best performances yet.

  11. Joey says:

    I have been waiting for Thandie for weeks now.

  12. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Susan, Kate, and Chyler got honorable mentions. They all did great performances on their shows this past week.

  13. HAP says:

    Personally, I could not continue to watch Westworld. But Thandie is an awesome actress, who has one bad blot on her resume and that was Norbit.

  14. LAwoman says:

    Thandie Newton! Yes! And Kate’s performance was beautiful.

  15. Mitsotakis says:

    Long overdue for Westworld but you could have easily given all 4 to that show.

  16. Matt says:

    Nonsense . It’s because she gets naked. Without that there wouldn’t be any praise . Ordinary performances

  17. Paul says:

    Kate McKinnon wise choice for honorable mention. That performance was raw poignant and heartfelt. Those were real tears and the vocals were spot on.

  18. TvPeong says:

    Susan Kelechi Watson is amazing as Beth.

  19. Newton has been spectacular this season In Westworld, watching her make minor changes in the character as changes are ‘made to her’ is a real treat and worthy of study.

  20. Erica Silva says:

    Thandie Newton! Hallelujah! Chyler Leigh was amazing too. great choices

  21. Randall and Beth are just about my favorite part of This is Us.

    Kate McKinnon made me cry real big girl tears. It was beautiful.