THE PERFORMER | Paula Malcomson
THE SHOW | Ray Donovan
THE EPISODE | “One Night in Yerevan” (Sept. 13, 2015)
THE PERFORMANCE | Hell hath no fury like a mother who suspects her teenage daughter is shtupping the teach. In Sunday’s Ray Donovan, Abby did the math and deduced that something potentially inappropriate was going down between Bridget and Mr. Donellen, setting up a series of spectacular moments for Malcomson. But it was a certain confrontation scene that stood out from the pack.
Abby showed up at Donellen’s front steps and, before he could even get his front door open, Mama Bear attacked. “You mothaf—a,” she seethed. “Here’s what’s going to happen, alright? You listen to me. You’re going to quit your job. Then you’re going to come back here and you’re going to pack your s–t and you’re going to go back to wherever the f–k you came from. Do you understand me?”
When Donellen dared to suggest it was all a big misunderstanding, Malcomson unleashed Abby’s inner pitbull. “Misunderstanding?!” she roared as her fists flew. “F–k you. She thinks you f—ing love her! You mothaf—a“
It wasn’t until Donellen started to offer some context to his relationship with Bridget that Abby took a mental step back and began to consider that perhaps the man before her wasn’t the flagrant sexual predator she feared him to be. Truthfully, she was happy to consider any other scenario than the worst-case-one flitting around in her head. And it was in that 10-second period of quiet reflection — when Abby made that mental downgrade from unbridled fury to something approaching calm rationality and possibly even relief — that Malcomson truly shined. She decided to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. But it came with a condition: “If I find out you’re f—ing lying, I’m going to come back here and I’m going to f—ing kill you myself, do you understand me?”
It was Abby — whose parenting skills previously fluctuated between indifference and apathy — at her most maternal. And it was Malcomson at the height of her powers.
HONORABLE MENTION | It’s difficult to bring gravitas to a series about animals run amok, but Zoo’s Nonso Anozie regularly managed just that, no more so than in the finale. Following Jamie’s “death,” Abe grappled with his calling, going solo while toiling as an armed escort. But in a quiet, powerful scene, he learned from a client the value of the RTC — “reason to continue” — and as he did, Anozie let a renewed sense of purpose wash over the big guy’s face. The British actor then made our hearts swell when Abe reunited with Jackson, who also had found himself adrift. “These are not the days to retreat from those you care about. In fact, these are the days to do the very opposite,” Abe attested, every impassioned word resonating from Anozie’s lips, making their unreal scenario seem, for a minute, all too real.
HONORABLE MENTION | Despite the consistent charm and hilarity of Drunk History, it’s not often that we recognize the actors responsible for bringing famous historical figures to (intoxicated) life. But when the Comedy Central series tackled New Orleans, Jack McBrayer turned in one of the show’s all-time funniest performances as former POTUS Andrew Jackson. McBrayer never missed a beat as he lip-synced to Allan McLeod’s incredibly drunken narration — and he didn’t just say the right words. He also coughed, burped and giggled in perfect time with McLeod’s story, somehow managing to turn one of our nation’s presidents into a slurring, stuttering but completely hysterical mess. In a half-hour chock full of excellent performances — including those from Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa and Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch — McBrayer was the clear standout.
Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!