TVLine's Performer of the Week: Tatiana Maslany

Orphan Black Tatiana MaslanyA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Tatiana Maslany

THE SHOW | Orphan Black

THE EPISODE | “Ipsa Scientia Potestas”

THE AIRDATE | May 17, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Sometimes, it’s the quieter moments that remind us Maslany’s work is about more than just quantity. In last Saturday’s episode, Sarah let down her guard in an uncharacteristically tearful exchange with Helena, revealing a vulnerable side of both sisters that’s rarely glimpsed.

While trying to stop Helena from offing Rachel so she could free Felix, Sarah pleaded with her sis: “I thought I killed you. I couldn’t tell anybody what I lost. Do you get that? Please, put down the gun.”

Maslany was so full of genuine sadness that it brought us and Helena – “You make me cry, sestra,” the Shakira-haired clone said – to tears. Sarah may have been trying to rescue Fee, but she ended up saving her relationship with Helena.

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Meanwhile, as more of Rachel’s ticks and kinks were revealed throughout the hour, Maslany gave us yet another performance to marvel at with awe. A total 180 from her many other characters, the actress imbued the proclone with cold detachment and suppressed emotion. That’s no small feat considering Rachel was also brimming with feeling – the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it look of love while watching video of her dead parents, her gentle caress of Daniel’s cheek, etc. – and very virile sexuality.

Maslany was absolutely fearless and daring in perhaps one of TV’s strangest sex scenes – Rachel reaching into Paul’s mouth? Whoa! – presenting a clone that was primal and guttural in a very different way from crazy, killer Helena. In the case of this young actress, we get the feeling that we may never truly know the depth of her talent because it seems to be limitless.

Penny Dreadful Eva GreenHONORABLE MENTION | After the first episode of Showtime’s thrilling, chilling Penny Dreadful, we doubted that we could be more impressed by Eva Green, so deftly shaded in was the portrait that she drew us of her character, tortured spiritualist Vanessa Ives. But only a week later, the actress hasn’t just shattered our admiration for her work, she’s turned it into an obsession. When a party at flamboyant Sir Ferdinand Lyle’s devolved into the séance of the episode’s title, Vanessa became possessed, and her portrayer, utterly transformed. She spoke in a foreign tongue, embodied her companion’s missing daughter with the maddest kid voice you’re ever likely to hear, spat vulgarities that would make a sailor blush and contorted herself into positions that even the most advanced yoga class would envy. Afterwards, Mr. Lyle called it “a riveting performance.” But that’s an understatement. Green wasn’t merely sublime, she was shocking. Emmy’s gonna need a whole new category for this s—.