Pretty Little Liars

Performer of the Week: Troian Bellisario

THE PERFORMER | Troian Bellisario

THE SHOW | Pretty Little Liars

THE EPISODE | “The Talented Mr. Rollins” (July 5)

THE PERFORMANCE | Breaking up may be hard to do, but when Bellisario is at the wheel, at least it’s easy to watch.

Spencer has always been the most theatrical of the Pretty Little Liars — need we remind you of her over-the-top Queen Elizabeth Halloween costume a few years back? — and Bellisario has routinely crushed her character’s meatier moments, be it a psychological breakdown or a debilitating drug relapse.

But it was her powerful performance in this week’s episode, that of a heartbroken young woman accepting her fairytale romance’s unhappy ending, that really resonated with us. It’s always satisfying to see what Bellisario does when she’s allowed to break free of her character’s stoic nature, even when the circumstance doesn’t exactly lend itself to a celebration.

A polarizing pair from the start, Spencer and Caleb’s relationship owes most of its plausibility to Bellisario, who routinely kept the courtship grounded in truth. This was never just another romance; it was a sudden connection with a friend’s ex, and Bellisario always played her part with cautious optimism.

Watching Spencer work through the truth with tears streaming down her face (“I want to be with somebody who thinks about me the first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night”) was heartbreaking. The split may have been inevitable, but no one could have predicted how much Bellisario’s performance would make us feel.

HONORABLE MENTION wayward-pines-hounsou| Wayward Pines tapped into two-time Academy Award nominee Djimon Hounsou‘s toolbox, as flashbacks shed light on CJ’s soul-crushing “job” of monitoring Earth’s devolution. As Pilcher would remark, it was unimaginable what CJ witnessed, and Hounsou indeed registered sadness as society slipped away (and conflict as Pilcher ill-advisedly woke Group A). Most compelling was CJ’s “conversation” with his lonnnng-dead wife, where he pined for fresh-picked tomatoes and “the smell of summer,” where he mourned the fact that he doesn’t even have the option of one day laying next to Eileen in the ground. Instead, he has seen “bombs falling like rain” and a sky “green with poisoned light,” realities so harsh he was tempted to scream, though there was “no one left” to hear his cries. All told, Hounsou brought a real resonance to CJ’s incredible plight.

Performer of the Week Zachary UngerHONORABLE MENTION | And the award for Child Actor Who Absolutely Crushed It goes to Containment‘s Zachary Unger. Tuesday’s episode was an emotional, teary and bloody farewell to Katie (an incredibly compelling Kristen Gutoskie), and Unger — as her son, Quentin, — was a grief-stricken revelation. As Quentin tried to stay strong for his dying mom before finally breaking down (“I’m so scared,” he sobbed), Unger displayed a maturity and depth beyond his young years. Katie’s untimely death would have been sad no matter the circumstances, but Unger elevated it to gut-wrenching.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Liz says:

    She was Mary Queen of Scots, not Queen Elizabeth….

  2. Quinn says:

    Troian was great, and as much as I liked the Hanna-Caleb pairing in the past, I really warmed up to the newer coupling up of Spencer-Caleb and Hanna-Jordan. Kind of sad now that Spaleb seems to be no more.

  3. patrickmaloney33 says:

    OMG, I can’t tell you how much I’m gonna miss Containment when it goes off the air! And the fact that I would place Zachary Unger above Troian Bellisario & Djimon Hounsou (and his two Oscar nominees) speaks volumes about how talented he is.

  4. skrable2 says:

    I’d like to see her do a return spot as McGee’s sister on NCIS

  5. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    Thank you for recognizing Djimon Hounsou. I still don’t understand why this talented actor isn’t working more. IMO, he should be the main character in Wayward Pines, not Jason Patric, who is just bland.

  6. Spence says:

    Feel so bad for Troian. She’s genuinely such a talented actress and yet she’s wasting so much time on that garbage show.

    • Piers says:

      She’s also passing as white which is why I stopped watching. Same goes for Rachel on Suits.

      • Sarah says:

        That seems harsh. I doubt she is actively trying to hide her heritage, she simply took an acting role that did not portray her as biracial. And she was likely forced to do this because there are not enough biracial roles, something that I agree is terrible.

      • Jennifer says:

        Passing implies she’s concealing her heritage which she isn’t.

        Do you stop watching shows/movies where mixed people play Black characters? Because there’s FAR more of those.

        And the character of Rachel is biracial just like the actress so that was a false and dumb comment.

  7. pllfan24 says:

    Troian is the best. I can’t wait for her to move on to bigger and better projects.

  8. Shaun says:

    Kinda shocked Kristen Gutowskie didn’t get the nod,she carried most of the episode.The kid was good,but he had so few scenes.Pretty Little Liars should never be on this list,lol.

    • Katie says:

      This article isn’t about what what television shows are the best written or most grounded in reality. It’s talking about the actors and actresses ability to do just that. Act. Incredible, award winning actors and actresses all start somewhere, in case you happened to miss that little nugget of information while you were busy casting judgement of a television show that you have obviously never seen. Because if you *had* seen it you would absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trojan has a long future of blowing scenes out of the water, should she continue to act after the show ends and she’s deserved any and all accolades she gets. Jfc these pseudo intellectuals who feel the need to handwave an entire cast because of the premise of a show really set my blood on fire. (This was true when Jensen Ackles got the nod for Demon Dean as well. People need to shut it and let TVLine show appreciation for the shows and people they appreciate!)

  9. HAP says:

    Troian is the writer, director, producer and star of a theatrical movie called Feed that is in post-production right now. Seems like she’s trying to overshadow daddy.

  10. Yining Fan says:

    Containment should have made the actual list! I think Troian’s a great and elegant actress but breaking up in my opinion still falls slightly short of brutal death in Containment — Kristen, Zachary and Chris!
    Backstage story: Kristen was actually choked during her very final scene so that’s why it looked real :)

  11. Matt Zmudka says:

    I am so excited to see what Troian does next with her career and I’m glad this seems to be the consensus among viewers. She is definitely the standout amongst them.

    I do also find myself missing Janell Parish the weeks she is gone. The last few weeks I was wondering out loud where Mona was and then last week the previews came on and it became clear. They left her out so she can return next week suspicious of everyone but I’m sure she knows the truth.

  12. Alexiscarter says:

    This is not read this is watch you are a bitch