THE PERFORMER | Brian Dietzen
THE SHOW | NCIS
THE EPISODE | “Keep Going” (Jan. 24, 2017)
THE PERFORMANCE | It is as difficult as it is rare to recontextualize a TV character after 200-plus episodes, and yet NCIS this week did just that, by thrusting Dietzen’s mild-mannered Jimmy Palmer out onto a ledge, where the only thing that dropped was a huge truth.
With the camera fixed on him for much of the hour, Dietzen had us rapt, employing any means necessary (beyond firm grips on drainpipe and belt) to keep would-be jumper Ryan (nicely played by Spencer Treat Clark) from ending his life. Never before have we heard such urgency in Palmer’s voice, as he endeavored to relate to Ryan’s frustrations.
There was such an earnestness in Dietzen’s timbre that, while he never turned to tears, many a viewer surely did, whether Jimmy was expressing extremely candid thoughts on his boss’ own lot in life — unaware that Gibbs & Co. were listening in via a hidden mic — revisiting his and Breena’s failed bid at adoption or relaying the chestnut, “When you’re going through hell… keep going.”
All bets were off, though, when Palmer confessed to this stranger something that neither we nor his colleagues knew — that, on his third try, he not only passed but aced the medical examiner test. And yet Doctor Palmer chose to stay put, as an assistant. “We’ve got a special dynamic; I don’t want to mess that up,” he explained, Dietzen’s face lighting up as Jimmy surveyed his good fortune. “I have had so many friends come and go, and live and die, but where I’m at right now… why would I want to leave that? Every day, I opt for happiness.” While we opted for multiple Kleenex, thanks to the NCIS vet’s showcase-worthy performance.
HONORABLE MENTION | If the first item on our Nashville thank-you list is that the drama has made Maddie far more palatable this season, the second item is that Lennon Stella has had more of a chance to shine. That certainly was the case this week, as Maddie started to get closer to the enigmatic Clay. Stella kept Maddie stubborn and headstrong as she questioned Clay’s hesitance to be her boyfriend, but tempered it all with the passion that only an adolescent tumbling toward love could exude. We like this new Maddie, and we’re looking forward to watching Stella explore her all season long.
HONORABLE MENTION | Even if Salem’s series finale hadn’t thrown open the door to hell and killed off half of the main characters in supernatural fashion, we’d still have called it magical, thanks to Janet Montgomery’s last stand as Mary Sibley. Not only did the leading lady play — and play beautifully — everything from revulsion (at the sight of the witch’s stitched-together son, aka the devil) to relief (upon discovering that she’d survived the hour), she also brilliantly channeled occasional co-star Lucy Lawless when her Countess Marburg temporarily took up residence in Mary’s body. Whether Montgomery’s version of the Countess was “mourning” her son’s demise (“Pity”) or realizing too late that she shouldn’t have regretted aloud not drowning her treacherous daughter in her womb, the actress’ performance was, in the most fantastically twisted way, enchanting.
Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!