THE PERFORMER | Alex Borstein
THE SHOW | The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
THE EPISODE | “Everything Is Bellmore” (Feb. 25, 2022)
THE PERFORMANCE | Maisel‘s third episode of Season 4 doubled as both a tribute to Brian Tarantina and one helluva showcase for the late actor’s onscreen sparring partner Borstein.
The actress’ tour de force kicked off quietly, as Susie found herself in a state of shock upon learning that her fastidious roomie Jackie died suddenly from a stroke. Borstein’s bulging eyes and lowered jaw perfectly dramatized the emotional gut punch that the news inflicted. And when Susie turned to alcohol to mitigate the pain, the actress deftly mixed slurred drunkenness with displaced anger.
“I don’t know where the funeral is, I don’t know where the sister is — or who the sister is,” Susie seethed in the face of a barrage of innocuous/annoying questions from her mini support crew that included Midge. Borstein then deftly added a layer of pain and vulnerability to Susie’s pity party as she shouted, “All I know is last night when I wasn’t here the biggest pain in my ass ever dropped the f–k dead in my apartment!”
But the three-time Emmy winner saved the best for last. As Susie was forced to reckon with the fact that she never truly noticed Gaslight’s longtime emcee while he was among the living, Borstein imbued Susie’s raucous, expletive-packed eulogy with profound, heartbreaking regret while simultaneously landing at least a half-dozen zingers.
Susie then directed her fury at the universe for not making Jackie’s relatively short stint on Earth easier, and that’s when Borstein brought all of her alter ego’s grief to the surface at once. “How is it that a decent guy,… who worked his ass off his entire life… could barely afford to sublet the corner of my s–t hole apartment?” Susie wailed, Borstein’s lips quivering. “He never caught a break. He never got ahead. How f–ked up is that?”
Jackie ultimately got his due, thanks in large part to Borstein’s masterful performance.
HONORABLE MENTION | This week’s Chicago P.D. was one to remember, and not just because of the harrowing car crash that opened the hour. Although Tracy Spiridakos’ role in that stunt sequence was impressive — she learned to dive for the underwater rescue — it was her captivating performance in the scenes that followed that really struck a chord. The actress was every bit believable as a shaken-up Upton, who shivered from both the freezing temperature and the shock of the incident in the ambulance. You could read every emotion on Spiridakos’ face — from Upton’s guilt for saving a predator vs. his victim to her determination in catching said suspect to that moment of contemplation when she considered letting him drown. Spiridakos’ vulnerable, nuanced performance is one that will sit with us long after the season has wrapped.
HONORABLE MENTION | Euphoria‘s brainy introvert Lexi mostly stayed on the sidelines in Season 1, but she’s really blossomed this season, and she stepped fully into the spotlight this week, with Maude Apatow proving that still waters truly do run deep. Lexi put on a school play based on her friends’ lives, and Apatow effortlessly shifted from an unlikely star turning heads as a fantasy bombshell to a whip-cracking director barking out orders backstage to a younger version of Lexi in flashbacks, excavating her own long-buried trauma. Plus, Apatow added a hint of pathos as Lexi gazed out hoping to see Fez in the audience but only finding an empty seat. We first met her as Judd Apatow’s daughter, but her stellar work this week showed that Maude deserves to see her name up in lights, too.
HONORABLE MENTION | Snowpiercer‘s Layton has seen his share of crazy days, but this week he multitasked like never before, and that translated into Daveed Diggs‘ most varied performance to date. First, there was the comically hyper-attentive dad-to-be, as Layton hovered over Zarah (while side-eyeing her care at the hands of sus Dr. Headwood). Next, he shifted into action hero mode, hunting a firebug who means his family harm (and at one point dodging a ball of fire). In the end — after wishing an uncooperative Wilford a “nice death nap” — Diggs embraced the newest Layton, as he coached Zarah through the final throes of childbirth then cuddled with her and daughter Liana. “I will explain everything,” he said softly as Zarah noted his head wound, “but can we wait a bit? I just want to be here.” We, and Zarah, were glad he was.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!