Freddie Highmore Bates Motel

Performer of the Week: Freddie Highmore

THE PERFORMER | Freddie Highmore

THE SHOW | Bates Motel

THE EPISODE | “The Cord” (April 24, 2017)

THE PERFORMANCE | Throughout the superlative A&E drama’s five-season run, Highmore has slayed us over and over again not just by revealing the depths of the mental illness that transformed Norman into his “psycho” Mother but by doing so without ever letting us forget the sweet boy trapped in the prison of his own warped mind. In the series’ heartbreaking final episode, the actor — infuriatingly never Emmy-nominated — took a last “stab” at it, delivering a performance that could only be described as killer.

First, Highmore vanished into Mother, letting her cruelly bait Norma’s enraged widower “Sheriff Lonely Heart” before ultimately reuniting the couple in death. Next, he invited out Norman, tears in his eyes, horror in his voice, as he confessed to a vision of Mother that he feared Alex might have been right — maybe he had killed her. From there, Norman careened back and forth between a twisted semblance of sanity (cheerfully assuring hotel guests that White Pine Bay was “nothing if not safe”) and utter madness (arranging Norma’s body at the dining-room table for a family dinner with Dylan).

When the hour — and the show — arrived at its almost inevitable conclusion, Highmore laid bare Norman’s desperation to make-believe that everything could be as wonderful as it was in his head with such crushing optimism and frightful ferocity that, by the time Dylan had been forced to shoot him, all we could think was the same thing he said to his brother: Thank you.

HONORABLE MENTION | Every business tycoon could use a levelheaded number-cruncher like Fargo‘s Sy Feltz, played by Boardwalk Empire standout Michael Stuhlbarg. With a closely trimmed crewcut and mustache, Sy is the epitome of quiet Midwestern efficiency, but this week, Stuhlbarg let us see how nasty Sy can get when things don’t go according to plan. He was hilariously frazzled as V.M. Varga barged into Emmit’s office, and delivered the episode’s biggest laugh when Sy speculated on what Varga might be concealing in the back of his big rig: “Slave girls?” Plus, he allowed Sy’s pent-up rage to boil over when the money man gleefully smashed into Ray’s Corvette (twice) with his white Hummer. Other cast members might have flashier roles, but two episodes in, Stuhlbarg might just be Season 3’s stealth MVP.

HONORABLE MENTION | A far cry from the stable, glamorous women we’re used to seeing her portray, Kate Walsh’s 13 Reasons Why character Olivia Baker — a mother in mourning after losing her teenage daughter to suicide — is unquestionably her most powerful to date. Walsh completely loses herself in the role, allowing us to feel every ounce of pain that Olivia is experiencing, especially in the final episode of the Netflix drama’s first season, when (Spoiler alert!) Olivia discovers her daughter’s lifeless body in the bathtub. To call the moment “sad” would be to downplay the nightmarish scenario Walsh effortlessly brings to life — the screams of a woman with no air left in her lungs, the struggle of a mother trying to carry her child while falling to pieces herself. In a season full of haunting, heartbreaking images, the sight of Olivia Baker’s entire world unraveling before her (and our) very eyes will stick with us as one of its most devastating.

HONORABLE MENTION | Alexis Bledel doesn’t speak for much of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s third episode. She doesn’t have to. As her character, Ofglen, is muzzled and found guilty of “gender treachery” (aka being a lesbian), Bledel’s horror-filled eyes and desperate glances speak volumes. What Ofglen can’t express in words, Bledel eloquently communicates with body language — a frantically clasped hand when her lover also is rounded up, a chilling cry of terror and grief as that lover is executed while Ofglen is forced to watch. By the time the handmaid wakes up and realizes she’s been the victim of an intimate violation, Bledel’s versatility as an actress is on full display: Ofglen’s shock, loss, horror and anger move across her face, eventually erupting in a raw yell of fury. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself asking, “Rory Gilmore who?”

Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!

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41 Comments
  1. Rod says:

    Carrie Coon on The Leftovers!!

  2. opus says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! Thank you for making Freddie Highmore performer of the week.

  3. z says:

    Kate Walsh was so great in that scene. The look on her face and then denying the truth that her daughter is gone is heartbreaking

    • Cate says:

      Agreed Kate Walsh was amazing in 13 Reasons. Yes, the hair and make up team helped, but the contrast between the present and past Olivia was really evident in Walsh’s haunted performance

  4. Chloe Bennet and Brett Dalton were pretty fantastic on AoS this week (the whole arc, really, but 4.19 especially)

  5. webly3 says:

    I’ve finished 13 Reasons Why weeks ago, but I still find myself haunted by Kate Walsh’s powerful performance. Also, kudos to everyone else mentioned doing a great job (to a lesser extent Michael Stuhlbarg).

  6. Elisabeth says:

    I’m so glad you always recognize the amazing work that Freddie Highmore has done over the course of this show! He’s simply haunting, and manages to keep us on Norman’s side, no matter how many murders we’ve seen him commit. That’s no small feat. And the pure relief he felt when Dylan had to do the unthinkable to finally save his brother from himself was heartbreaking and beautiful.

    This whole cast is stellar, and they promised us a killer final season…well, they certainly delivered! This will go down as one of the most well written and most well acted shows of all time in my book.

    • Donna says:

      Definitely Freddie HIghmore, he’s an awesome actor 👍👍👍 that whole cast was fantastic…. KUDOS 😊👍Was sad to c ot end.

    • Mark Green says:

      Yes it will! Everything about the series is an example of what a great show you can put out if you have all of the right pieces. The show definitely played with our feelings and the entire last season was draining

  7. B says:

    HOW ABOUT YOU DONT SPOIL THE FREAKING TV SHOW!!! LITERALLY THE TWIST OF THE FINALE IS IN THE TITLE ACTUAL ANNOYING DUMB PEOPLE UGHHHHHHH CHANGE THE TITLE !!!!!!!

    • Lynnee says:

      Again tHIS IS A SPOILERS site and you are aware of this. SO if you don’t want your shows ending spoiled DON’T come on the site. SO simple even a 3rd grader gets it

  8. Jan says:

    Alexis Bledel was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t believe she is the same Rory we have known her for.

  9. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Freddie got Performer of The Week. He did great in the finale of Bates Motel and the whole final season of the show. Really hope he gets an Emmy nomination for the show in July!

  10. Brian says:

    Pisses me off how Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga never got any Emmy recognition.

  11. HTGAWMFan says:

    Yeeeees my boy Freddie :))

  12. Angela says:

    I had a feeling Freddie Highmore would be honored this week, and your write-up on him was spot on. He managed to actually make me cry over Norman Bates’ sad fate. That is no small feat. I seriously hope that the Emmys FINALLY give this cast and show some love this year.

  13. David Hambly says:

    Lili Reinhart’s (betty on riverdale) haunting facial reactions as she realizes that archie and veronica are working with her mother to investigate jugheads father wordlessly register her sense of betrayal. and the diner scene at the end where she tells those 2 friends ” i’m don with you is chilling.it might be a teen series but Reinhart has created a complex character. her ” dark betty” earlier in the season rocked.

    • Yes. Lili Reinhart’s face — especially her eyes — reminds me of old Hollywood, of the silent movie queens, in the best possible way. Where Veronica is a dream girl and Cheryl is … sorta that space between sleep and waking where things make you very uneasy, her Betty just feels so REAL, and that’s largely through the strength of her emoting.

      (Maybe she could put that on a resume — manages to convey emotions to a viewer with borderline autism spectrum disorder!)

  14. LAwoman says:

    Freddie was absolutely the best. What a beautiful performance. And I’ve been enjoying Stuhlbarg on Fargo too.

  15. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    Thank you for honoring Freddie Highmore. He was (and has been) absolutely mesmerizing as Norman. Let’s hope the Emmys take notice.

  16. Thank you for finally including someone from 13RW! Kate Walsh’s performance was the strongest among the adult cast … Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette also did meritorious work among the “kids.”

    But this was Freddie Highmore’s week, absolutely. His work in the swan song was riveting.

  17. Lori Verner says:

    Freddie is a gifted actor.

  18. wvugirl2007 says:

    Give Freddie Highmore an Emmy and his co-star the amazing Vera Fleming deserves one as well. She played mother alive convincingly for 4 seasons and this season she was amazing as dead mother. Bates Motel deserves every award they can get.

  19. I agree that Freddie highmore was the best ever!!! Everyone in the show were awesome again!

  20. Mark Green says:

    I have faith in TVLINE once again! Bates Motel was such an amazing series from start to finish. The show truly will be robbed if they end up having never won any major awards. That series finale was emotionally draining

  21. Diane says:

    Bates was excellent here at unexpected ending

  22. Shannon says:

    Alexis Bledel finally showed some real chops. I think she was perfectly fine as Rory and other characters she played, but this was next level. I can’t stop thinking about her performance. Very impressed. I hope it’s not the end of Ofglen’s story. Alexis should have been named performer of the week.

  23. Renee Oran says:

    bates motel omg what brilliant writing and acting i cant think of a better ending

  24. Rose says:

    Fred high more wins by a Mile

  25. Margot Howard says:

    Freddie Highmore definitely deserves an Emmy!

  26. Freddie Highmore hands down, gave such an over the top performance, Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins would be proud,He definitely deserves an Emmy along with Vera Formiga.

  27. So Happy to see Freddie Highmore honored as performer of the week, he was fantastic, He definitely should be nominated along with Vera Formiga for an Emmy and Peoples Choice Award, believe me Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins would be very proud of the whole Bates Motel and the whole Cast!!!!!