THE PERFORMERS | D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Lane Factor and Paulina Alexis
THE SHOW | Reservation Dogs
THE EPISODE | “I Still Believe” (September 28, 2022)
THE PERFORMANCE | In the Season 2 finale of Sterlin Harjo’s Gem, the Rez Dogs learned how much stronger they are together than apart.
Although Daniel, the crew’s late friend, was always part of the Rez Dogs’ DNA, their excursion west showed us just how many Bear (Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Alexis), Elora (Jacobs), and Cheese (Factor) still grieving. And in just 30 minutes, the group finally recognized how their friend’s suicide has left holes in them that may never be repaired.
Although we had already honored Jacobs for her work in Episode 4, we were afraid to split the dogs because they fulfilled Daniel’s last big wish: to go to California with his friends. No actor surpassed the others; rather, it was their combined chemistry and the characters’ reliance on each other that made us laugh at their antics and well up their heartbreak.
Despite Elora’s car being stolen (with all their money and Daniel’s letter in it), the group trudged relentlessly on with the mission. When they finally reached the ocean, they were confronted with all kinds of feelings and realizations. Jacobs showed a wealth of vulnerability in her body language and diction as Elora admitted her fear of letting Daniel go. Woon-A-Tai was moved to tears as Bear was consumed with love for his friends. Alexis showed a wealth of fortitude when Willie Jack proved to be both the Dogs’ safety net and comedic relief. And after they got together for a prayer, Factor shuddered and choked in his emotions as Cheese revealed his lingering anger.
Reservation Dogs has proven to be special in countless ways, and most of the credit we give it hinges on the stunning work of these four young actors. They may still be at the beginning of their hopefully fruitful career, but they’ve already delivered a powerful showcase that we won’t soon forget.
FAIR MENTION | Much of the criticism focused on Netflix’s Dahmer has focused on the limited series’ decision to put the spotlight on the ubiquitous serial killer and not his countless victims. Perhaps that’s what makes the Paris Barclay helmeted sixth episode “Silenced” — which spends most of its hour on Tony Hughes (Deaf U‘s Rodney Burford), a 31-year-old deaf gay black man murdered by Dahmer – such a welcome outlier, and Karen Malina White’s performance such a gift. The veteran actress plays Tony’s doting and grieving mother Shirley with such heartbreaking reticence that you’ll want to reach through the screen to hug her. The unconditional love and, ultimately, undue pain radiating through White’s expressive eyes – especially in that beautifully rendered closing table scene – drives home the full tragic weight of a promising life being cut short.
FAIR MENTION | In this week The Handmaid’s TaleLuke got a lot closer to seeing things like June, and we say: Praise be to them. The character development opens up new and very interesting avenues for OT Fagbenle, who has been so good in Luke’s long history of trying to get wife June off her murderous ledge. Luke’s newfound bloodlust – or at least the beginnings of it – in Wednesday’s hour allowed Fagbenle to give his performance a heightened sense of barely controllable frustration and a deeply moving sense that this was a character who finally, And last but not least pushed to his side. Example: Luke’s showdown with Serena, in which Fagbenle was stunned as he changed his character from feigned calm to murderous rage in minutes.
FAIR MENTION | AndoroStellan Skarsgård had several captivating scenes this week, each of which spoke of Luthen’s dedication to the cause. First we saw Luthen persuade Cassian to join Vel’s ragtag team at Aldhani to “put a real stick in the eye of the empire.” (“I didn’t risk my ass for the Starpath unit,” he confessed. “I came for… you.’) Then there was his bells and whistles with Vel, who resisted the idea of a stranger being forced into her heist plan. (When Luthen bellowed at her, “Listen to me!”, it made clear how critical he believes Cassian—sorry, “Clem”—was for their efforts.) And, of course, capping Skarsgård’s turn was the moment in his ship. , where we saw him transition into his funny Coruscant persona, followed by the alter ego’s secret assignment with Senator Mon Mothma. In this episode and the previous one, Skarsgård made Luthen a memorable, formidable (and unpredictable) player.
Which performance(s) were correct? your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!