THE PERFORMER | Gina Rodriguez
THE SHOW | Jane the Virgin
THE EPISODE | “Chapter Eighty-Two” (March 27, 2019)
THE PERFORMANCE | Since we’re entering the fifth season now of Jane the Virgin, we really shouldn’t be surprised when Rodriguez turns in a great performance. (She does it every week, really.) But in this week’s Season 5 premiere, she topped herself with an epic, seven-minute, one-take, breathtaking tightrope walk of a monologue that was hilarious, and heart-wrenching… and maybe her finest work of the series.
We can’t blame Jane for wanting to get some things off her chest: Her beloved husband Michael just came back from the dead, but with no memories of their life together, thanks to amnesia. So Jane unloaded all of her complicated feelings about it to Xo and Alba in a rambling whirlwind of words as she paced around the kitchen, with Rodriguez effortlessly running through about a thousand different emotions. She laughed! She cried! She yelled at a cat! She even ate arepas and kept talking with her mouth full! Rodriguez was almost manic as she gave voice to Jane’s twisting, turning train of thought, with every last ounce of pain and uncertainty coming through loud and clear. Oh, and did we mention that Rodriguez directed this week’s episode as well?
This show does take some crazy narrative turns (it is a telenovela, after all), but Rodriguez’s stunning work here took a well-worn plot twist and grounded it in authentic human emotion, as messy and scattered as that might be. We’re still not happy that Jane is ending soon, but at least we know that it — and Rodriguez — are going out on top.
HONORABLE MENTION | Randall and Beth’s argument on Tuesday’s This Is Us cut deep and left us aching, and that’s because Sterling K. Brown is so ridiculously good at his job. We tried to pick one moment in the hour that best showcased his skill, but we couldn’t: In the flashbacks, Brown was as goofily charming as Overeager Proposer Randall as he was precious as New Groom Randall as he was relatable as Confused New Dad Randall. But we were flat-out riveted to watching Brown at the end of the episode, when he used all of his character’s hurt to harden him into someone we rarely see: Mad As Hell Randall. After Beth’s crack about anxiety attacks, you could see Brown go cold; though he said very little, Randall’s sidelong look at his wife spoke scathing volumes. We may not have loved Randall for a lot of this season, but Brown remains the show’s MVP.
HONORABLE MENTION | Monday’s episode of 9-1-1 — which flashed back to 2005, chronicling Chimney’s earliest days as a firefighter and paramedic — was so compelling, we didn’t even mind not finding out whether the character survived being stabbed in the midseason premiere. With “Chimney Begins,” the unpredictable Fox procedural delivered another powerful origin story, carried almost entirely by Kenneth Choi, who fully rose to the occasion and reinforced why Chimney remains the heart and soul of the 118. Even though we’d never met characters like Kevin or Mr. and Mrs. Lee, their relationships with Chimney felt earned and genuine, which made the episode’s tragic twists all the more devastating. (Oh, and did we mention that Chimney can sing? Choi could have earned this accolade based on his countrified karaoke performance alone.)
HONORABLE MENTION | Chase Dreams’ VMAs performance may have been a disaster on Thursday’s season finale of The Other Two, but it paved the way for some of Heléne Yorke‘s best work yet as Chase’s hysterical, straight-shooting older sister — and now co-manager? — Brooke Dubek. From a stressful pre-show face-off against Streeter (“We’re not doing pig stuff!”) to an angry post-show face-off against Saturday Night Live‘s Michael Ché (“You’re a real piece of s–t!”), Yorke was in rare form as Brooke finally reached her breaking point. In fact, her mostly one-sided scuffle with Ché essentially served as a minute-long sizzle reel of everything we love about Yorke’s portrayal of the character, frantically ping-ponging between emotions until she arrived at her version of a logical conclusion. In this case, that conclusion involved looking Ché in the eye, stealing his drinks and walking away. Very slowly.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!