THE PERFORMER | Bella Ramsey
THE SHOW | HBO’s The Last of Us
THE EPISODE | “Look for the Light” (March 12)
THE PERFORMANCE | After the HBO drama’s penultimate episode, a lot of you were very angry that we hadn’t singled out Ramsey’s performance as Ellie got revenge on predatory pastor David. And we get it! Ramsey, who uses “they” pronouns, was amazing in both David’s death and Ellie’s shellshocked aftermath. But we’d been lucky enough to see the series finale, as well, so we chose to save our accolades for their stunning work in the season-ending hour.
And now you can see why. Though Ramsey was excellent throughout the episode, we’d like to focus on two key scenes. First, Ellie’s conversation with Joel after their giraffe encounter. After letting Bella’s long-buried childlike delight peek through while feeding the animals, Ramsey met Joel’s suggestion of giving up on their journey with a patient resolve. “It can’t all be for nothing,” Bella said, memories of the pair’s shared travails — as well as the people they’d killed — very clearly behind Ramsey’s facial expressions. We’re still not quite sure how they made Bella seem both achingly, youthfully earnest and wise beyond her years, but we felt lucky to have witnessed it.
Then later, as Joel fought tears while admitting that he’d tried to kill himself, Ramsey’s reactions felt so genuine and spot-on for a) a teenager and b) that teenager. Ramsey had Ellie make only the briefest of eye contact as her surrogate dad came as close to saying “I love you” as he was capable. They filled the most nondescript of lines (“I’m glad that… that didn’t work out”) with all of the “I love you, too” that Ellie couldn’t voice. And then they looked palpably relieved when Joel ended the moving, yet emotionally awkward, exchange by asking to hear some “sh–ty puns” — what a perfect cap on a season of excellence from one of the most dynamic young presences on TV.
Scroll down to see who scored Honorable Mention shout-outs this week…
HONORABLE MENTION: Delroy Lindo
There’s a charm and swagger to Delroy Lindo‘s UnPrisoned character, Edwin, who was recently released after 17 years behind bars. He wastes no time flirting with women and telling his daughter the things she doesn’t want to, but needs to, hear about her love life. But in the Hulu series’ sixth episode, the tables turned to shed light on Edwin’s own trauma when he visited his childhood home, where his mother was arrested and beaten. As Edwin recounted to his grandson the hope that Martin Luther King Jr.’s words evoked, and how his death “f–ked a lot of people up” (including him), Lindo’s face filled with weighty pain. Then when bureaucracy blocked Edwin from getting his birth certificate, Lindo finally released all of Edwin’s frustration and pent-up childhood tears, revealing the broken little boy inside the man.
HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Keough
As the tension between leader singers Daisy and Billy intensified in Daisy Jones & the Six‘s eighth episode, so, too, did the magnetism of Riley Keough‘s fiery performance as the titular songstress. Whether raging at Billy about his lies or spiraling into substance abuse on stage, Keough’s Daisy was a captivating mix of blazing passion and tragic insecurities. What made the actress’ portrayal even more impressive was that she packed those complicated emotions into multiple song numbers in which Daisy’s state of mind broke down a bit more with each stop in the band’s tour. When a high Daisy belted out an acoustic version of “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb)” like an “Eff you!” to Billy, Keough mesmerized us similar to how Daisy hypnotized the concert crowd.
HONORABLE MENTION: Adam Scott
In a cast as incredibly talented as Party Down‘s, it takes a lot to stand out among one’s peers. But that’s exactly what Adam Scott did when the catering crew ingested heaps of mushrooms while working a Malibu luau. From flubbing his job behind the bar (“it’s like a bird on fire,” said Henry about one of his cocktails) to being absolutely mind blown over a bush “with a style of its own,” Scott’s hyper-relaxed movements, wide eyes and oh-so-much giggling totally sold the episode’s chill, druggy vibes. But after thinking one of his co-workers had drowned, the actor pivoted from a semi-fugue state to panic mode, as Henry hilariously confused John Krasinski with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. This season’s-best performance from Scott left us hoping that this Party never ends.
HONORABLE MENTION: Michelle Forbes
Star Trek: Picard delivered a jaw-dropping blast from the past this week as Michelle Forbes reprised her Next Generation role as Ro Laren, now a Starfleet investigator. Forbes was terrific in an intense scene with Patrick Stewart, with Ro and Jean-Luc working through the still-tender emotional wounds left by Ro’s sudden departure from the Enterprise thirty years ago. Forbes was icy cold and analytical at first, with Ro probing Jean-Luc with questions, but she eventually let us see the decades of pain buried deep inside Ro, her voice catching with emotion as Ro told Jean-Luc how he broke her heart. Ro later put her life on the line to preserve Jean-Luc’s mission, adding a bittersweet final note to a surprise appearance that had to be immensely satisfying to the Next Generation faithful.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!