THE PERFORMER | Cara Gee
THE SHOW | Prime Video’s The Expanse
THE EPISODE | “Why We Fight” (Jan. 7, 2022)
THE PERFORMANCE | For Carmina Drummer, The Expanse‘s penultimate hour brought some goodbyes… a reunion… and a long-awaited meeting of masterful minds — and series vet Gee in turn helped steer the sci-fi saga toward what promises to be an exciting close.
In an episode that invited Gee to mine a variety of emotions for the typically cool-as-a-cucumber Drummer, the first standout sequence was a bittersweet one, as both a disappointed/amputated Josep (played by Samer Salem) and Michio (Vanessa Smythe) bowed out of the fight ahead, choosing for the time being to “live under the Inners’ yoke.” Drummer didn’t contest Michio’s own decision, but in a rare, warm(ish) moment told the duo,”I never loved you because you were fighters; I loved you because you were builders. I wanted us to build something, together.”
Afterward, warm-ish turned to hot when Drummer walked into an unexpectedly soon reunion with Naomi (Dominique Tipper). And while for a second you thought the encounter would end with a curt “It’s good to see you”/”You, as well” exchange, Drummer invited Naomi to follow her into the Tynan. Things got a bit more awkward when Naomi asked about Carmina’s family — all of whom, she learned, are now in one way or another “gone” — and then they turned downright emotional when Drummer learned that Naomi was there not to apologize for past actions, but had been tasked to speak on Avasarala’s behalf, seeking an alliance against Marco.
“You. Should. Leave,” a seething Drummer responded, before barking to those nearby, “Clear this deck!” Gee let loose as Drummer marveled, “You come to me running errands for the Inners?! How do you pick their side against your own, over and over??” Naomi argued that things are “different” this time, but all Carmina could do was cool down and lament her slim options: Wait for the bounty on her to grow high enough that she is killed, or put a collar around her neck and hand the Inners the leash. “This universe has no place for me,” she sighed, and the way Gee said it, you wanted to grab the Belter and assure her yes, it does. When Naomi then urged her to fight for those she loves, the comeback was raw: “F–k you, you self-righteous s–t. F–k you, f–k you…,” all as she wound up sobbing in Naomi’s arms.
Capping Gee’s performance was the moment Expanse viewers have awaited, when Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and Drummer met up, in person, to hash out the possible alliance. “The system is filled with the graves of Belters who trusted Inners,” Drummer plainly noted. But if they do not join forces, Avasarala countered, so many more, from both sides, will perish. “When the last shot is fired, will you remember us? The Belters who bled for your victory?” asked Drummer. And just before meeting Avasarala’s hand to shake on their deal, she had to remark, “Belters fighting alongside Inners, against Belters…. Never thought I would live to see that.” Nor did we. But we like it.
HONORABLE MENTION | Himesh Patel had been doing very fine, if low-key, work as Station Eleven‘s Jeevan. But what a showcase the penultimate hour gave him! Irked by Kirsten’s failure as a sniper (due to her being glued to her comic, ugh), Jeevan was surlier than ever with his ward, lobbing her go-to read into the snowy drifts. That brash act set in motion an odyssey that found Jeevan fighting for his life (after being mauled by a wolf); politely held captive by a desperate doc juggling a dozen imminent childbirths; processing an amputation; and eventually embracing his role as “Dr. Chaudhary.” As this saga unfolded within a defunct department store, Patel communicated bursts of anger, fright, confusion, vulnerability and, upon finding Kirsten had vacated the cabin in his absence, a father figure’s heartbreak. We now are rapt to see where his Year Twenty self is headed in the finale.
HONORABLE MENTION | Is anyone on TV right now having more fun than Yellowjackets‘ Christina Ricci? Her off-kilter take on Misty in Showtime’s mysterious drama is a hoot-and-a-half every week, even as we’re learning that the kooky character is more than capable of Very Bad Things. In the latest episode, we guffawed at Ricci’s physical comedy skills as Misty burst into Nat’s motel room and immediately thrust her face into a plate full of cocaine, all in service of saving her former teammate from relapsing. We couldn’t stop laughing at the juxtaposition of Ricci’s excited pacing (as Misty tried to monitor her coked-up heart rate) with the dire urgency with which she chastised her friend… but to what end? Which brings up one of the best aspects of Ricci’s performance in Season 1 so far: We never truly know what Misty is thinking, and trying to figure it out is a pure delight, courtesy of an actress who never disappoints.
HONORABLE MENTION | It was easy for Mel to tell Harry that she and Robyn would break him out of prison if the feds ever caught up with him. But when Mel met her hubby on the other side of Plexiglass on Sunday’s The Equalizer, the hypothetical suddenly became all too real. And her portrayer Liza Lapira made us believe this heartbreaking realization through teary eyes, deep sighs and nervous shrugs. Later, when Bishop asked Mel to talk Harry into cutting a deal with the government, Lapira threw back her character’s shoulders and said the hacker’s stubborn idealism is what she loved about him the most. Nothing encapsulated the Nancy Drew vet’s agile physicality, however, better than her alter ego disarming a shady social worker in the park and proclaiming “this is not the day” while firing a warning shot and pressing him for information. Because Mel is no one’s shrinking violet and Lapira’s tough but tender portrayal conveys that loud and clear.
HONORABLE MENTION | One of the best things about the Paramount+ revival of The Game has been Hosea Chanchez’s performance as Malik Wright, the NFL vet coping with the stress of entering a new phase in his career as well as the longstanding guilt over his best friend’s death. Chanchez has been a force throughout the season, uncovering a more vulnerable side of the footballer as Malik struggled with a mental health issue. The actor really drove it home in the season finale, which saw Malik experience an emotional breakdown after finally being honest with himself about what he was going through. Chanchez was utterly devastating in that pivotal moment in which Malik vocalized the guilt he’d felt for throwing the football pass that resulted in Caleb’s death — an albatross of shame that had finally been shed. We have to applaud Chanchez for breathing fresh new life into a character he’s played for more than a decade-plus an outstanding turn that made us love Malik even more than we already did.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!