THE PERFORMER | Regina King
THE SHOW | The Leftovers
THE EPISODE | “Lens” (Nov. 8, 2015)
THE PERFORMANCE | We know we sound like a broken record, going on the way we do about The Leftovers. But if you watch the show, you understand. And if you don’t, not only should you, but you oughta get used to our praise, because both the drama and its stars are just. That. Good. Take, for example, King’s tour de force this week.
At first, the actress showed us the Erika that we already knew and admired, a woman as solid as the rock that Nora hurled through the window of the Murphys’ house. The doctor didn’t hesitate to warn husband John’s latest victim not to report his beating, nor did she pull any punches when calling her spouse on the real reason for his vigilantism. But as the hour progressed, King revealed that beneath Erika’s tough-as-nails exterior roiled a toxic brew of emotions that was eating her up from inside out.
After a spectacular meltdown at a fundraiser for missing daughter Evie and her friends, Erika sat down with Nora to review the DSD’s questionnaire. But, instead of giving the heartsick mom peace of mind, the conversation only magnified her certainty that she was responsible for Evie’s disappearance — because she’d wished for a way to keep the teenager from being hurt when she left John. “And the next night,” Erika revealed, King’s quivering lip hinting at the enormity of feeling being held back, “my daughter was gone.”
When Nora called Erika’s belief that she had caused Evie’s departure “pathetic,” something seemed to click in her mind. King made her features harder than we’d ever seen them as Erika reduced her neighbor to tears by asking whether her children had died… or departed. So, by the time Erika angrily returned Nora’s rock, we were as shattered by King’s brutally honest work as that window.
HONORABLE MENTION | For the longtime NCIS viewer, Tony’s reunion with Jeanne packed an innate emotional punch. But because of what Michael Weatherly and Scottie Thompson both brought to the table, even someone who wasn’t around for Season 4 had to feel the sting of most every scene. The moment they locked eyes, Thompson made evident Jeanne’s revisited heartbreak, while Weatherly registered Tony’s long-felt regret. Things then got prickly when, in recounting her new life, Jeanne pointedly hailed husband David as “the best [man] I’ve ever known.” But the fact is, there was intense love, once, between these characters, which Weatherly made clear as Tony vowed to make things right by finding David, while Thompson did same when Jeanne thanked her ex, with a warm kiss on the cheek, for keeping his word against all odds. It’s been two years since NCIS brought this kind of emotional, romantic intensity, but it was very worth the wait.
HONORABLE MENTION | If Garret Dillahunt ever wants to choose a single year of his career to exemplify his range, 2015 would be an ideal pick. In the past 11 months alone, he’s played the rage-filled Ty Walker in Justified‘s final season, the brutally simple KD in Hand of God and — our favorite — the genteel rake Jody Kimball-Kinney in The Mindy Project. Tuesday’s episode, in which Jody pretended to be Mindy’s husband to woo an elite preschool director, allowed Dillahunt to showcase that sophisticated-yet-silly thing he does so well. He played the southern obstetrician at turns haughty, harried, hangdog and ultimately achingly human as he realized his pursuit of his sister-in-law was more about one-upping his brother than truly pining for his wife. We know Jody will have to leave sooner or later — Dillahunt is a regular on Hand of God — but here’s hoping the aristocratic doc books a Shulman & Associates return real soon.
Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!