THE PERFORMER | Iain De Caestecker
THE SHOW | Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
THE EPISODE | “Laws of Nature” (Sept. 29, 2015)
THE PERFORMANCE | “‘Tis better to have loved and lost…” is a piece of prose no one should lob at Leo Fitz anytime soon. Because as made painfully clear by way of Iain De Caestecker performance in the Season 3 premiere, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent’s world has been rocked by Jemma’s vanishing.
Shattered by whatever it is the Kree stone did to Simmons, Fitz was far from his usual, mild-mannered self. When we first catch up with him in Morocco, chasing down another “last lead,” De Caestecker showed us the courage cobbled together by Fitz as he played a very dangerous game with some extremists in possession of a critical ancient scroll.
Summoned back to the Bus, Fitz was a bit more familiar, struggling to wield logic in the face of Coulson’s somber words of reason. In this more quiet moment, De Caestecker let surface the anxiety coursing through Fitz’s veins, as he privately feared that this lead — a parchment on which was written the Hebrew word for “death” — would be the last. And thus the last hope for finding Jemma.
And then came the scene, De Caestecker’s portrayal of a primal Fitz one could barely imagine existed beneath that soft Scottish voice. Counseled by Coulson to face facts and alert Jemma’s family, Fitz purposefully strode down the hall to the off-limits Kree stone, blasted open its lock with a shotgun and went mano a monolito with the towering rock, bellowing at the top of his lungs, over and over, for the inanimate object to “Do something!” (Watch clip here.) With his rousing about face, De Caestecker made this much clear: If anyone is to track down Jemma, this Fitz is the man to do it.
HONORABLE MENTION | Ray Donovan‘s entire third season had been building to the moment in Sunday’s finale when Ray climbed into a church confessional and uttered these heartbreaking words: “I did it be- cause I cared for him.” The seminal sequence was made all the more emotionally resonant thanks to Liev Schreiber‘s stunningly authentic and gut- wrenching tour-de-force. As Ray opened up about the childhood sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Father O’Connor, it felt like we were bearing witness to an exorcism of sorts. “I see these f—ing pictures in my head,” Ray cried out, his voice and body trembling. “Every f—ing day and night I see these f—ing pictures.” One week later, we can’t get Schreiber’s penetrating performance out of our heads.
HONORABLE MENTION | While Rob Lowe is most certainly the star of The Grinder, it was Kumail Nanjiani who proved to be Episode 1’s scene stealer. As prosecutor Leonard, the Silicon Valley actor played up just the right amounts of both amusement and bewilderment as the eviction trial went from an easy win to an embarrassing loss for his no-good client. Whether he was asking a tongue-tied Stewart whether he had “ever talked before” or questioning the entire justice system when Judge Rossmyre ruled in Dean’s favor, Nanjiani perfectly filled the role of an outsider looking in as the life of a TV lawyer somehow became a reality.
HONORABLE MENTION | If ever a first impression was built to last, it would have to be the one that Colman Domingo made in his Fear the Walking Dead debut as silver-tongued mystery man Strand. “I can sell anything,” the self-proclaimed closer said early on in “Cobalt.” And before we had finished the scene, much less the episode, we had indeed bought his portrayal of the smooth talker whose eloquence only made his cunning sound nicer. Even more impressive? As wicked as we know the charming devil is (given the mind game that he played with poor Doug), Domingo still made us like the guy.
Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!