THE PERFORMER | Sarah Snook
THE SHOW | HBO’s Succession
THE EPISODE | “Retired Janitors of Idaho” (Nov. 14, 2021)
THE PERFORMANCE | Of all the Roy siblings, Shiv probably works the hardest and gets the least credit. (To be fair, she’s also a terrible human being like the rest of them.) This week, we saw Shiv hit new heights of influence and then come crashing down to new lows during a pivotal shareholders’ meeting, and Snook masterfully revealed the layers of hard-charging ambition and tender vulnerability lurking just beneath Shiv’s polished façade.
At the Waystar shareholders’ meeting, the Roy family faced the very real possibility of losing control of their company, and Snook’s face was stricken with panic as Shiv scrambled to strike a deal with activist investors Sandy and Stewy. (Don’t worry: She still got in a few sharp verbal jabs that drew blood.) Shiv took the lead on negotiating with Sandy’s daughter Sandi, and Snook exuded a cool competence as Shiv acted as her father Logan’s messenger. Plus, Snook got to show off her comedy chops as a farce ensued when Logan didn’t take his medication and started ranting and hallucinating like a mad king. But as the clock ticked down, Shiv was the one who pulled Sandi aside and hammered out a deal to preserve the family’s stake — one that directly benefited Shiv, of course — and Snook showed how manipulative Shiv can be to get what she wants.
Logan wasn’t happy with her, though, once he regained his senses, and when he rudely shoved Shiv’s hand away when she tried to hand him Champagne to celebrate, Snook poignantly registered Shiv’s deep disappointment, first by laughing it off and then by skulking away to pout in private. What should have been a big victory turned into a gutting loss for Shiv, all because her dad didn’t approve, and Snook reminded us that the cleverest girl in the room has feelings, too.
HONORABLE MENTION | Say what you will about The Morning Show‘s polarizing second season: Jennifer Aniston was on fire in the finale. As Alex was laid low both physically and emotionally by COVID-19, Aniston turned in a performance that blunted absolutely zero of the character’s barb-lined edges. We loved it. The Emmy winner’s most impressive moment (of the season, perhaps?) came during Alex’s UBA+ broadcast in which she chose to drop Alex’s morning-show mask and let the world see her fury over being publicly swept up in Mitch’s mess. She cried. She raged. She commanded everyone to “get on the Alex Levy train or stay at the station.” We still don’t think we like Alex Levy all that much, but man, do we love watching Aniston play her.
HONORABLE MENTION | In taking on a new character for Legends of Tomorrow Season 7, Matt Ryan has completely transformed himself. Compared to his previous role of John Constantine, Ryan not only looks different as Dr. Gwyn Davies, but he also has a distinctly different physicality. When Gwyn this week was confronted by his traumatic WWI past, Ryan brought all his heartache and guilt to life through the scientist’s body language. Gwyn’s slumped shoulders seemed to carry the weight of his pain, while his PTSD gave way to frantic, nervous movements. But Ryan was never more vulnerable than when Gwyn opened up to Zari 1.0 about his love for his male best friend. As he spoke of Alun, Ryan simultaneously filled Gwyn with fear of judgment and relief at finally being able to speak his truth. While we miss Constantine, watching Ryan stretch his talent as Gwyn has been a true pleasure.
HONORABLE MENTION | While Psych 3: This Is Gus‘ other two guys were out yukking it up on the investigative trail, Lassiter and Henry had a moment that was a bit more serious, and sweet, and served as a fine showcase for franchise vets Timothy Omundson and Corbin Bernsen. Henry had come for help tracing a gun tied to Shawn’s case, only to find Carlton, off his game because of his stroke, questioning his future as a lawman. So adrift was Lassie, a loving text from his wife (and read by his 11-year-old daughter) made him misty. “You’re so much more than being a cop,” Henry, warmly played by Bernsen, insisted — and Omundson’s reading of “Am I?” leaves a lump in our throat every time. Henry noted, “You may not have everything you want, but you’ve gotta believe you have everything you need,” so maybe it’s OK to call it a day. But Lassie worried he isn’t “ready to let go.” And we hope he doesn’t.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!