TVLine's Performers of the Week: Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski and Sarah Paulson

The OfficeA new feature in which we spotlight the past week’s shining stars

THE PERFORMERS | Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski

THE SHOW | The Office (NBC)

THE EPISODE | “Customer Loyalty”

THE AIRDATE | Jan. 24, 2013

RELATED: TVLine’s 2013 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Getting Axed? What’s Coming Back? What’s on the Bubble?

THE PERFORMANCE | Over the past eight-and-a-half seasons, we’ve witnessed just about every big-deal moment in the joint lives of Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly. On Thursday, we were privy to a major fight between the two – and thanks to the talents of Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski, it damn near did us in.

The tension that’s been building between the Halperts turned a simple phone conversation into a marriage-shaking argument, during which Krasinski funneled Jim’s frustration over work and missing Cece’s first dance recital (which Pam hadn’t recorded) into a rather nasty, “C’mon, Pam… It’s really not that hard to film a video.”

Fischer’s face registered her character’s shock – had he ever spoken to her in that tone? – as Krasinski dejectedly said, “That moment’s just gone. I missed it.” She shot back a pointed, “Maybe you should’ve been there,” sending the pair into a nasty back-and-forth about who was doing/sacrificing more for their family.

The actors share such a believable on-screen relationship that their argument felt too real, too private for us to overhear. It was awkward in the best (yet most terrible) way possible. And Fischer’s anguish after hanging up, those breath-stealing sobs? Can you blame the documentary crew for wanting to comfort her? Fischer and Krasinski most certainly nailed it… but we’re gonna need a kiss-and-make-up scene in the very near future, OK?

HONORABLE MENTION | American Horror Story: Asylum‘s Sarah Paulson, making her second appearance in this feature.

Paulson’s performance this season on has been the equivalent of shock therapy: difficult, for sure – who can bear to see anyone, much less “plucky” Lana, suffer that much? – but ultimately (pardon the pun) electrifying.

In Asylum’s finale, the reporter reunites with vengeful Johnny, the now-grown son fathered (against her will) by Bloody Face. He’s bigger than she is, obviously – he’s Dylan McDermott, for Pete’s sake – and stronger. Oh, and he has a gun. Yet she isn’t scared. Or, if she is, she doesn’t let it show. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?” she says with the resignation of someone about to meet her accountant, not her maker.

Paulson plays the scene so coolly, it’s no wonder Johnny gets suckered into giving his mother his weapon. This, in turn, allows the actress to deliver one last surprise: the cold efficiency with which Lana is able to shoot her boy in the head!

We’d say it was great work, but that really wouldn’t do justice to it. Paulson wasn’t merely great, she was fearless.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?