Sunday, October 25, 2015

Series - This Week's TV MVPs: Week 18

Welcome, dear friends, to another week in our TV MVP Series! You might notice a little bit of a pattern this week, since a lot of our MVPs hail from a little network called The CW. Ashamedly, I must admit that there was a time where I once thought that this was only a network for teenage, soapy dramas and short-lived dramas (often the same show). But over the years, The CW has become home to some of the most diverse, critically-acclaimed, and smart comedies and dramas on television. The one thing that always stands out to me too (and that I have actually written about) is the fact that the shows on this network are extremely female-friendly. And that's totally on-par with our mantra here of #LadiesSupportingLadies.

Since there were so many wonderful performances this week on television, let's get down to it! The writers joining me this week are:

Let's get started!

Jenn's MVP: Rachel Bloom a Rebecca Bunch (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

Why she's the MVP: We are only two episodes into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and it's already one of the most promising new comedies this year. I have to admit that, much like Jane the Virgin, I was apprehensive to watch this show because of the polarizing title. But what I really love is something that both of these shows do — they use the content of the show to draw importance to the title and to take back the controversial terms contained within them. It's self-referential, then, that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's opening sequence has a cast of cartoons singing about how Rebecca is the "crazy ex-girlfriend," with the woman in question noting how sexist that term is. People who dismiss the series based on its title alone (like I was tempted to do initially) have no idea that it's truly a commentary on sexism and feminism. And really, the entire show — thus far — is brilliant in its portrayal of characters and dialogue about gender dynamics and relationships.

None of this would be possible, or effective, if not for the strength of the lead of this show, Rachel Bloom. It would be really easy for Rebecca to be a one-note character — for every story to revolve around Josh, for her to be constantly obsessing over him. But what I love so much about Rachel's performance as Rebecca is displayed in this week's episode. Rebecca genuinely bonds with Josh's new girlfriend. It's not a ploy for her to take down the woman, necessarily. Though Rebecca is obviously jealous of Valencia, it's not for the reasons we might think. She's jealous of her because... well, Valencia is one of those people who seems to have a perfect life, body, and — also — man. Rachel's strengths are displayed in this episode as she gets the chance to be more nuanced. While the pilot was all about Rebecca obsessing over Josh (the way we all do to some extent with the people we've idealized in our heads), this week was more about understanding that Rebecca is a fully-realized person. She's extremely good at her job and passionate about it. She has insecurities though, too. She makes jokes. She is a caring person. And I love that instead of portraying Rebecca as the "crazy ex-girlfriend," Rachel has managed to use her character and her talents as an actress to help take back the term and turn something that is meant to be sexist into something that is nuanced and layered (just as the show's theme song says). I can't wait to see what else she does with this character.

Bonus MVP: Candice Patton as Iris West (The Flash)

Why she's the MVP: If you didn't cry or at least get a bit choked up when you watched Joe West tell his daughter that her mother was still alive and had been since she was little, then you're probably a robot. And while Jesse L. Martin absolutely knocked this scene out of the park, another person did too — Candice Patton. I wondered how Iris would react to the news that her mother was alive and her father lied to her throughout her entire life about it. I thought of how other characters on this show might react to similar news — Barry would break down and probably need space, walking away; Cisco would be more prone to anger than anything; Caitlin would probably shut down, emotionally and remain quiet.

But Iris responded in the exact way Iris responds to everything — with compassion and an open heart. Candice Patton portrayed all of the emotions playing across Iris's face in that moment so beautifully. You can see the anger and the confusion, as she can barely form words. You can sense her heartbreak and almost hear her mentally organizing her priorities in the moment. And in the moment? Her first priority is to set aside her own feelings and to comfort her father. Joe breaks down, sobbing and feeling so much remorse for what he did. Iris gently — tenderly — reaches out to him and tells him that she loves him and knows he did what he did in order to protect her. Candice does an excellent job displaying both Iris's pain and also her humility and selflessness in this moment. It was wonderful and she deserves recognition from me because of it.

Lizzie’s MVP: Willa Holland as Thea Queen (Arrow)

Why she's the MVP: Willa Holland has been hitting it out of the park the past two weeks as Thea Queen, but there’s a moment in this week’s Arrow where the combination of understated fury and helplessness helps push her performance into TV MVP-worthy status. I’m talking, of course, of her confrontation with her daddy dearest, Malcolm Merlyn. Thea has been pit-crazy, as Felicity put it, for a while now. But she hasn’t been truly aware of just how deep the effects of the pit were until recently. And the performance of Willa Holland as Thea in last week's episode was all rage — the rage of not being in control. Now, with knowledge, it becomes about something else. It becomes about fighting with herself.

I once had to read Nietzsche, and though I’ve tried to forget all that he ever said, the idea that your greatest enemy is always yourself has never completely left me. It’s never been as true for Thea as it is in "Restoration." In spite of the fact that she has an evil mastermind father and vigilante brother, Thea has always managed to stay away from the things that made Oliver’s crusade so difficult. Even when she was training with Merlin in Corto Maltese, and in Lian Yu with Oliver, Thea still had good thoughts to hold onto — hope. Yes, she had issues and many of them, too. But she was becoming stronger because she was fighting to save her family and preserve the innocence she had left. Now, though? Now her very soul is screaming for blood. Now there’s pure darkness within her.

But perhaps not. Perhaps there’s hope yet for Thea Queen. We don’t know for sure. What we do know is that we’re really looking forward to a season of "pit crazy" and struggling Thea who doesn’t get to be the light in someone else’s journey, but who needs someone to bring her back to the light. Can you imagine her confiding in big brother — really and truly confiding in him? Can you picture the scene of a great battle, where everyone gets to fight their biggest nemesis and Thea only sees herself?  I can, and I’m personally very excited to see it and look forward to more of Willa Holland knocking it out of the park.

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Deb’s MVP: Lyndie Greenwood as Jenny Mills (Sleepy Hollow)

Why she's the MVP: When we were first introduced to Jenny Mills in season one of Sleepy Hollow, she was a tough-as-nails doomsday prepper locked up in a psych ward after spending most of her adult life traveling the world as an “acquisitions expert” for dangerous (possibly supernatural) artifacts. The anger in Jenny was obvious and understandable, considering how long she’d felt alone in her mission and betrayed by her sister — the only family she had, and the one person she thought she could trust no matter what. Lyndie Greenwood played first season’s version of Jenny as an intensely sharp, competent, battle-ready woman with a grudge. She wasn’t ready to forgive her sister until well into the season and still had moments of wrath even after the forgiveness, for the most part, was settled. And Jenny and Abbie made an interesting pair during those first episodes, with Jenny’s jagged edges and instincts to strike out in her anger contrasting with Abbie’s instinct to stay quiet, stamp her feelings down, and compartmentalize like crazy.

As they faced the end of the world, forgave each other, and realized how much they truly cared about each other though, they both began to grow into more emotionally healthy people. Jenny’s character growth shines brightly as an example of character growth done right, because it’s not like her shift from snarky soldier to compassionate ally came out of nowhere: little hints were scattered throughout the first season, such as the revelation that Jenny separated herself from Abbie and went into psych wards and jails out of an effort to keep her sister safe, and her kind and understanding conversations with Captain Irving’s daughter, Macey. Season two didn’t give us enough Jenny development, of course, but I’m glad we’ve been seeing a lot of her in season three.

Lyndie Greenwood’s portrayal of Jenny this season has been wonderful, adding heavier doses of the character’s warmth and gentleness we saw touches of throughout the series — which makes sense, as the death of Moloch last season would have probably given Jenny some sense of peace. In this week’s episode, Lyndie Greenwood got to play Jenny as going through a wide array of emotions: humor and happiness at the antics of Ichabod Crane, anger and frustration regarding Abbie’s opinion of their father, affectionate empathy when dealing with the frightened children targeted by the monster of the week, and fear and sadness at the thought of Abbie getting hurt.

This was absolutely an episode that highlighted the growth of Jenny as a character. Although Jenny is still just as tough, competent, and capable of sarcasm as she had been when she was first introduced, she’s arrived at a place in her life now that allows her to be open and hopeful as well. It’s been wonderful to watch this character evolve within the written story — but even more wonderful to watch how Lyndie Greenwood has portrayed that evolution. Jenny has lost the hard edge in her expressions, she’s quicker to smile and laugh, she accepts the softer emotions more easily. Overall, I applaud this multifaceted, interesting character and Greenwood’s ability to make her believable and real.


Deena’s MVP: Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier (The Walking Dead)

Why she's the MVP: One of my favorite things about The Walking Dead is the extreme transformations that occur within the characters of the group. Every person, for better or for worse, is changed throughout their experiences in one way or another, and one of the most changed of them all, I feel, is Carol Peletier. The weak, fragile woman in season one is utterly unrecognizable compared to the Carol of the past few seasons, particularly of last Sunday’s episode. She’s come so far — from an abused, timid mother who could barely even raise her voice against her husband, to a fearless and independent survivor who will eliminate anything or anyone in her path if it means keeping herself and her group alive.

While not everyone will agree with her pragmatic and often violent way of handling things, she does what she feels is necessary for the safety of others, even if it means distancing herself further and further from her old morals and becoming almost one of the “bad guys” herself. Carol would rather be feared than live in constant fear, as she used to every day of her life before walkers were even in the picture. And that much I can respect. 

With the Wolves attacking, she disguised herself as one of them, relentlessly taking down every one she could in the process. By the end of the episode — when all of the chaos and bloodshed seemed to finally be over — there’s an apparent tiredness in her eyes. She struggles to fight back tears. Is it regret for what she’s done? Guilt for the choices she’s had to make? It’s clear that no matter how strong Carol appears to be, how resilient she is in her actions, these choice will continue to weigh heavily on her. The stoicism as she fights her way through the Wolves, and the emotion expressed afterwards are both brilliantly portrayed by McBride, whom I’ve always loved as Carol, but she definitely knocked it out of the park this week.

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Hope’s MVP: Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)

Why she's the MVP: When this series premiered a year ago, I really didn’t know what to expect, only that the trailers looked so good that I had to check it out. Its concept was a rather crazy one — one that could have been mishandled if the show wasn’t in the capable hands it is. From day one (its brilliant pilot that made me love this show before the first commercial break), Jane has maintained a level of gravity that is both refreshing and exactly what this series needed. And while credit goes to everyone involved –– the brilliant writing and direction, the truly perfect acting and characterization –– Gina Rodriguez is a major factor in what makes me enjoy this show so much.

In this week’s episode, Jane had a lot that was happening within her own head and Gina balanced it all. She played both present-day, super tired and baby-focused Jane, as well as flashback, younger, camping Jane, and Bachelorette Jane. And let’s face it — portraying Jane as she is in the current timeline would have been a lot to juggle in and of itself. She was sleep deprived, caught between Rafael and Michael, imagining Rose clones at every turn, and dealing with noisy, rude neighbors, ON TOP OF being a new mother. 

Bachelorette Jane — a perfectly cliché-filled parody — was a joy to watch. Gina took her normally grounded, realistic character and turned her into a delightfully dramatic hallucination that played off of and complemented the real Jane perfectly (“Let’s go think about it outside, during sunset.” “Oooooh, I love sunset... Let me back in! We haven’t given the final rose!”). The way, towards the end, both versions of Jane end up in the same emotional place –– sadly staring into space when Rafael and Michael walk away, was beautifully poetic. But that’s NOT the only reason Gina deserves to be MVP this week.

What Gina brings to Jane is not only something that makes this show unique and special, but also what makes Jane the character television needs right now. Jane is human  — she’s messy, she cries, she geeks out, she’s kind, she speaks her mind, she stays true to herself, and she isn’t afraid to be imperfect. Jane was such a crucial character to get right — to balance the different sides of her character, avoid stereotypes, and ground the series. 

And Gina has. The highs and lows, the silly hallucinations, the poignant moments, the drama — it doesn’t matter. There was the happy scene where Jane and Rafael ate fries in the car, with Mateo in the backseat. The emotional scene where Alba announced her decision to face her fears and apply for her green card because of Mateo. The funny scene where Jane kicks her Bachelorette evil twin out once and for all. Everything this episode threw at her, no matter how varied and complex the emotions were, Gina handled it all with her usual grace and skill. She continually shows how worthy she was of her Golden Globe and proves that the other award outlets should take note of her abilities as well.

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Jen’s MVP: Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt (Arrow)

Why he's the MVP: It’s not easy joining a show that is four years old. By this point, the cast is cemented and the show knows what works and what doesn’t — adding a new cast member can either be extremely detrimental to a seasoned series or it can be a jolt of new energy. Thankfully for Arrow, Curtis Holt falls into the latter category. Primarily through the talent of Echo Kellum, Curtis brings a new energy to the series while also seamlessly fitting into the established cast dynamics. In other words, how did we go four years without Curtis Holt?

Emily Bett Rickards is often the light in the dark for Arrow. Her portrayal of Felicity Smoak brings a much needed levity to an otherwise maudlin show. Felicity harnesses Oliver Queen’s light and Emily Bett Rickards — as an actress — allows Stephen Amell to illuminate a side of the hero that would have gone unseen. However, both Oliver and Diggle are the straight man to Felicity’s "gal Friday" funny. This show seemingly has been searching for two years for a partner Emily Bett Rickards can riff off of — someone who carries the same energy, humor and intelligence as Felicity Smoak.

Enter Echo Kellum. First, on a personal note, the minute Echo was announced as Curtis Holt, his interaction with the Arrow fans has been nothing but kind, gracious, supportive and fun. Echo responds to questions, shares in the fandom’s enthusiasm and gives fans a retweet thrill on a regular basis. It’s not simply the character we are so excited about — it’s Echo and the person that he is.

Curtis Holt is Palmer Technologies' brightest star and a technical genius. However, his genius has gone unnoticed or used in ways Curtis never intended. Much like Walter Steele and Oliver Queen saw something in Felicity Smoak, she sees something in Curtis Holt. They team up to save Palmer Technologies and almost immediately, Curtis is embroiled in the life and death of Team Arrow... because this is Arrow, after all. In spite of the drama and the life-threatening circumstances, though, Emily Bett Rickards has finally found her funny man dance partner in Echo Kellum. He matches her beat for beat and finds the nuances in the dialogue, so he’s funny without being silly. His reading of, “Okay I have multiple questions” nearly made me spit out my drink. It’s always a good sign whenever an actor forces a beverage influx due to pure hilarity.

Learning from the past, Arrow didn’t spend a lot of time keeping Curtis in the dark. Like Felicity, Curtis is too smart to not know something is up. He finds out Felicity is working with The Green Arrow rapidly and Echo transitions from shock to confusion to curiosity to wonder to fear all in the breadth of a three minute scene. Every emotion felt warranted and every beat felt real. Even if Curtis has only been on the show for three episodes, Echo made his knowledge of The Green Arrow, and Felicity’s relationship with him, feel earned. That is no easy task.

Felicity’s terrible poker lie and Curtis incredulous reaction were reminiscent of Oliver and Felicity’s early interactions (minus the sexual tension). Felicity and Curtis have chemistry without chemistry. The lack of romance between the two characters is a welcomed change, and simply allows the audience to enjoy the two characters as friends without threat to Felicity’s independence or the Oliver/Felicity relationship. And not that we are checking off boxes, but it is nice to see a LGBT character represented in a healthy, happy relationship. Echo and Emily prove you can have chemistry without romance and it gives Arrow an entirely new relationship to explore. That’s a jolt any four year old series needs.

Most importantly, though, there’s an ease in which Echo plays Curtis. His mind is constantly firing, he has attacks of random thoughts, but there’s a serenity about him. There’s no elaborate backstory (yet), no personal tragedy (yet), no suit (yet), but he portrays a calm in the face of chaos. Curtis is just a guy who wants to make the city better. He’s doesn’t need superpowers or a supersuit to do that. Curtis simply needs a good heart, intelligence and a strong will. All of which we know (thanks to Echo’s portrayal), he has in spades. In this way, he’s not unlike Oliver Queen, John Diggle or his boss, Felicity Smoak. Which is probably why he fits so seamlessly into the cast, both as an actor and a character. Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt is like a missing puzzle piece. Maybe we didn’t know Arrow was missing anything, but we are overjoyed to find Echo Kellum regardless.

Lynnie’s MVP: Caity Lotz as Sara Lance (Arrow)

Why she's the MVP: Sara Lance is a woman of strength, inner turmoil, and the ability to kick tons of bad guy butt. And Caity Lotz is just the woman to handle her character. Though Sara is not featured heavily in "Restoration," Caity Lotz makes the most of every scene she is in with her characteristic appeal. She storms her way into the episode after a quick dip in the hot tub –– a scene that will certainly become iconic. She has the most dramatic un-dead moment of anyone else on the series (and that includes drama queen Malcolm Merlyn). With only a look, Caity Lotz is able to convey the notion tthat while Sara might be back, she is not quite home. 

She is wild, animalistic, and consumed by a bloodlust so intense that no amount of chatting with big sister can take it away. (And perhaps big sister is adding to it). I do really love the fact that it took post-dead Angel-esque chains to keep Sara from killing everyone in Nanda Parbat. Sara Lance is an amazing, powerful bird –– every character on the show has a right to fear her when she is in rage mode. The mixture of confusion, loss, and an uncontrollable need to kill play across her face, making you pity Sara just as much as you fear her. Whatever her issues, it is going to be fun watching her figure them all out.

Special mention goes to the chemistry between Katrina Law and Caity Lotz. They don’t say a word to each other, but the moment where Sara sees Nyssa and actually turns away to attack the men in the room while Nyssa fights her utter devastation is incredibly awesome, moving, and speaks volumes to the natural chemistry the two actresses have with each other. And it’s all done in a look. Welcome back, Caity! You were missed!

Connie’s MVP: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon (The Flash)

Why he's the MVP: This week's episode of The Flash was great because it gave some screen time for Cisco that wasn't just him spouting science jokes and naming metahumans in the lab — though it included all of those things too. Lisa Snart, or Golden Glider, returned to Central City to save her brother from their father. She, of course, wanted the Flash's help, but she had to –– wanted to –– go through Cisco for the aforementioned help. The connection she has with Cisco is so fascinating, as they clearly are interested in each other, but they also know that they're on opposite sides of the hero/villain line. They are not pushing to be together or really fawning over one another, but there's a mutual respect that is developing. When Lisa reveals her father abused her, Cisco goes after her with a suave, but thoughtful "I've got this." Did I swoon a bit? Maybe.

Carlos really captured the sensitive side of Cisco without losing any of his humor or charm in the process. Lisa is clearly attracted to that package. She has suffered so much in her life and revels in her villainous chaos, but something about Cisco grounds her and brings her joy. Did I watch their kiss at least three times? It is possible. As previously mentioned, they clearly like each other, but are under no pretenses that this will become something more. Still, they enjoy what little steps they take and keep their relationship moving. Cisco's surprise morphing into a slightly smug sip of his coffee was delightful to see. I love Cisco as character and hope they continue to give Carlos more to do. If it involves kissing beautiful ladies, more power to him!

Now I'm just waiting for the "Cisco to finds a more steady love interest, then Lisa to comes back to town and feels all jealous" trope. This force tells me this could be a thing, and Cisco is meta (yes, both meanings) and self-aware enough to know this could happen too. I cannot wait! (P.S., Cisco's Professor Stein impression was worth every second. I seriously hope Cisco does it for Stein someday soon.)

Jon’s MVP: Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart (The Flash)

Why he's the MVP: After making a game changing turn on Prison Break a few years back as the ever serious Michael Scofeld, Wentworth Miller disappeared for a while from my television screen on a regular basis. However, when he reappeared for The Flash, he churned out one of his best performances to date: Leonard Snart, also known as Captain Cold.

As Snart, Miller steals every scene he is in with glee. This week’s episode gave us an entirely different side of Snart: uncertainty. We have been so used to seeing him as a villain who is in control of the situation –– someone calm in the face of pressure. With his sister's potential death looming over him, thanks to their own father, we saw a different side of Snart –– the vulnerable and scared, protective brother. While he still maintains his sarcastic demeanor, especially in banter with Barry, he’s genuinely afraid of what will happen to Lisa. Miller showcases this side of the character brilliantly by still remaining cold but also letting his emotions display through his eyes. We see the pain and hurt of Snart working with a man who is so evil, yet also is his own blood.

When Barry is “shot” by Louis Snart, we watch Miller utter: “I’m sorry, Barry.” Not only does this highlight Miller’s excellent range but we finally get the chance to see Snart put his guard down. He cares about others, even if he believes he’ll always be evil. This is further evidenced with his conversation at the prison with Barry –– our hero believes Snart to have good in him, to have heroism in him yet. Snart, of course, is not so quick to believe that people can change. 

This episode provided great character development for Leonard Snart, a fantastic performance by Wentworth Miller, and a potentially interesting set-up for Legends of Tomorrow.

Maddie’s MVP: Colin O’Donoghue as Killian Jones/Captain Hook (Once Upon a Time)

Why he’s the MVP: This past week was the fourth anniversary of when Colin O’Donoghue first brilliantly appeared on our television screens as Killian Jones. He managed to make an iconic character completely his own with emotional depth, perfectly timed humor, expressive eyebrows, and the nearly magical ability to have captivating chemistry with every single actor he ever has a scene with. So in this great anniversary episode, “Broken Kingdom,” O’Donoghue displayed all of the characteristics that explain why audiences –– myself included –– fell in love with this character, while also taking his performance to new heights.

Swoon-worthy romance has potential to end up being cliche, but in an episode where Killian Jones is basically the best boyfriend ever, O’Donoghue’s layered performance is anything but. On the surface, there is a soft and tender quality to how he handles Emma whilst she struggles against the darkness. However, one can also see Killian’s inner anguish at having to watch the woman he loves be in pain, knowing he can’t fully make it better for her. What ties these two emotional layers of the performance together is the palpable love in his expressions, voice, and movements.

(On a lighter note, the scene with Killian, Emma, and Henry is comedy gold and is simply everything. Killian truly is like a father to Henry, and a part of that is being an absolute dork when Henry mentions that there a girl he’s “hanging out with.”) 

Killian absolutely is the stepdad that will shamelessly embarrass his kid before going on a first date with eyebrow waggles and bad puns. The pride and amusement on O’Donoghue’s face in this scene had me grinning like crazy, to the point where I rewound my DVR in order to watch the scene over again. Additionally, this really did show how much the dynamic between the three characters has changed. We have never seen Killian this light and happy in a scene with Henry before. These three are a family now, and they are there for each other through anything –– whether it be fighting for Emma’s soul or teasing Henry over his first crush. O’Donoghue really does shine in this scene as his own lovably dorky personality bleeds into Killian.

The darkness is starting to get to Emma in this episode, but Killian is able to use his own past of fighting demons to help her. Given that this was an anniversary episode, it is so apparent how far Killian Jones has come as a character, and that is all because of O’Donoghue’s performance. While the simmering anger of vengeance was always an underlying component in Killian Jones’ early appearances, now all there is is love. He has love in his life now and will fight for it with the same passion and tenacity as his did during his previous quest for revenge. O’Donoghue’s portrayal shows there is still a fire to the pirate, but now all of the character’s passion is channeled towards love. It is captivating for audiences to watch the hero Killian has become. 

Even as a hero, O’Donoghue vibrantly continues to play Killian’s heart on his sleeve but now we get to see tenderness, love, and passion –– best evidenced by his character being a part of the most cinematically beautiful TV kiss this year.


Mer’s MVP: Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak (Arrow)

Why she's the MVP: Surprise! The glorious Emily Bett Rickards is my MVP this week! I know, everyone is shocked, right? But for real –– what can this young woman not do? (The answer is nothing. There is nothing she can not do.) And "Restoration" showcased everything that is amazing about her. One of Rickards' greatest strengths is how realistically and expertly she plays all aspects of Felicity. From the cute and quirky, to the concerned yet supportive girlfriend and partner, to the total take-no-prisoners heroine and the heart, soul, and glue of Original Team Arrow, Rickards shines when balancing all the many facets of this character. She is simply a joy to watch. 

Felicity was seen in two different roles this week –– her day job as CEO, trying to save Palmer Technologies and her night job as Green Arrow’s partner, trying to save the friendship of the man she loves and the man she considers a brother. But what Rickards did so well was subtly highlight how both those roles perfectly complement each other. Her day and night job collide in this episode, as Felicity demonstrates how in control she is as both CEO, and as the eyes and ears behind Team Arrow. 


It was so much fun watching Felicity reminisce about the “old times” of Original Team Arrow, calling back to the flirty, lighthearted exchanges the trio shared in season two, and the unique spark and charm that shot Rickards to fan favorite status. Seeing Felicity and Oliver work together so seamlessly –– having each other’s backs and really acting as the team within the team –– is perfect, and Rickards (along with  Amell) have shifted into this dynamic so well in season four, speaking to both their chemistry as well as acting chops. That support that Felicity provides Oliver sometimes includes using a firm (and occasionally loud) threatening tone to remind the men in her life that the women know things better than they do. Felicity’s harsh words forced the boys to have a long overdue and much needed heart-to-heart, and Rickards delivered that speech with gusto and passion. And because of this, it was clear to all that Felicity was acting out of love for both of the men involved. 

Outside of helping Oliver and Dig, Felicity had her own scuffle with this week’s bad guy, saving her employee Curtis and brandishing a machine gun (with her eyes closed) in order to overcome the attack. Rickards managed to make Felicity look threatening, heroic, and adorable at the same time, which is no easy feat. 


Week after week, Emily Bett Rickards perfects the art of playing a layered, multi-faceted character, and she does it with grace and charm and quirkiness. She manages to make it look effortless and natural. I have explained to friends that the pinnacle of a good actor –– for me –– is one who never, ever takes me out of the scene. I never watch Rickards’ scenes and think to myself  “oh, that was Emily.” When she is on screen, she is Felicity through and through, and this week in particular, Felicity is a character I am proud to call my favorite. And for that, she is my MVP. 



Chelsea's MVP: Tom Hanks as James Donovan (Bridge of Spies)

Why he's the MVP: If there are two things people need to know about my taste in film it is that I LOVE Tom Hanks and I roll my eyes at Steven Spielberg. The last Spielberg film I enjoyed came out about eleven years ago and –– coincidentally –– starred Tom Hanks. Hanks has this everyman quality about him that is believable and lets the viewer fall into whatever ridiculous world he is creating. In Spielberg’s surprisingly good Bridge of Spies, Hanks takes on the role of James Donovan, a tax lawyer who has been assigned to defend USSR spy Rudolf Abel, then later negotiate his trade for American spy Francis Gary Powers. (It is a story loosely based on real events during the Cold War.)

What could have easily been an over-the-top performance and would have been from any other actor, Hanks keeps grounded in a calm, solid demeanor. Even when his character is annoyed by the CIA, the USSR, and the East German government all trying to tell him how the negotiations will go, Donovan outsmarts them all with his snarky comments and holding firm his position that every life matters and everybody deserves justice. A delightful line in the film is that his character has a cold while traveling back and forth through East and West Germany and he uses that cold to seem less threatening to the government before gaining the upper hand.

Hanks’ best scenes in the film though are any time he plays opposite Mark Rylance’s Rudolf Abel, as the two men develop an odd friendship during his trial and negotiations. Donovan understands that Abel is not a traitor –– just a man with a different perspective. The climax of the film puts this odd friendship to the test when Donovan asks Abel to trust him, thus giving Abel the power in the negotiations. Hanks’ plays this moment with strong but nervous eyes because –– for once –– he is not in control of their friendship. As is customary with films released during this time of year, there is talk of Oscars, Globes, and SAG for films. And I will be disappointed if Hanks’ name (and Rylance's, for that matter) doesn’t show up on the ballot. 

Who do YOU think should be noted as TV MVPs this week? Hit up the comments below 


  1. There's a lot Emily Bett Rickards can't do but the one that is obvious week after week is act. She can't act.

    1. LOLOLOL and here it is. Just like clockwork.

    2. Oh, Anon #1... can I ask you something? How do you have so much free time? I'm kind of envious, actually, that you have so little to do during your day that you can take time to actively search for and comment on posts about people you clearly dislike. Might I suggest using your free time for another hobby? I heard knitting is fun!

    3. Emily is awesome! Anon get a clue

  2. My three favorite ladies from Arrow are here, Thea, Sara and Felicity! Loved it, and I agree there's nothing Emily Bett Rickards can't do, she is incredible like that :D

  3. Great variety of actors chosen. Melissa McBride continues to do amazing work on TWD as Carol, portraying a strong, independent woman.

    It was also exciting to see several Arrow actors appear this week. Echo has been a welcome addition to the series this season. Willa and Caity were in tune with their characters cause and effects from the Lazarus Pit. And Emily continues to show growth as an actor.

    1. I'm obsessed with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, not only because it's so good, not only because Rachel Bloom is an amazing talent with a penchant for dark complex themes (and SUPER cute), but because I honestly wonder how long they're going to be able to keep it going. Rebecca has serious issues, and it's hard to imagine how long she can go on without really melting down, or without the show copping out and making her obsessiveness into a benign joke. And as relatable as Rebecca is, one thing I don't get is what's so special about Josh. He may even turn out to be a dick,so I don't see this romance becoming compelling.

      So, this is some real high wire without a net stuff, and I don't know how Rachel Bloom and her collaborators are going to do it, but I sure hope they get the chance to try!

    2. Felix -- I totally agree about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!

      Rebecca has serious issues, and it's hard to imagine how long she can go on without really melting down, or without the show copping out and making her obsessiveness into a benign joke.

      I was worried about that in the pilot, with her flushing her medication and hanging up on her mother. But I liked the fact that the second episode showed that not everything she does is motivated by being closer to Josh. This week, it was KIND OF about that, but more focused on the fact that Rebecca just wanted to be like Valencia and be the kind of woman that attracts someone like Josh. Rebecca does have serious issues and I think that so far, the show has done a good job of explaining that what she does isn't right, but that she also isn't "crazy" because of those things alone.

      I don't get is what's so special about Josh. He may even turn out to be a dick,so I don't see this romance becoming compelling.

      I totally think that's the point, too, you're right -- there's nothing spectacular about him. But we all have that one person who we've idealized so much in our heads that we think they're perfect and perfect for us because we've made them up to be everything in our heads. Personally, I think the show is setting us up for Rebecca to eventually realize that Josh isn't what she made him out to be in her head (and hopefully they're setting her up for a romance with Prince Hans... er, Greg.)

      Thanks so much for the comment! :)

  4. I liked Emily's performance this week and I'll mention one of the things she does very well - comedic skills. Whether it was her really badly lying to Curtis about playing poker or her saying Diggle is suppose to be more evolved (also kudos to Stephen for his "Hmm?" there in response) I really enjoyed how Emily balanced all of the comedy, drama and action in the episode so I applaud the choice of Emily this week

    Also other great choices by the writers this week as well especially Rachel Bloom as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a lovely surprise this season.

  5. OMG run to the mountain �� it seems this Anon #1 is a expert on art of acting!!
    ** end of sarcasm
    please i think it's pretty clear that your state about this is bullshit... because she's
    there make her job (a excelent one btw) and you are here making hate comments
    bc of envy or bc your fav it's not like her...
    anyway go figure

  6. Emily was great this week. She can do it all! Whether she is in a comedic scene or an emotional one, she draws me in every time. She makes me want to watch her and see more of her. In my book, that makes her an MVP.

  7. I have to agree with all the Arrow and Flash choices (I'm only in mid-season 1 of OUAT and don't watch the other shows).

  8. First anon
    Bad apple always appeared.

    I love this week mvps, iris should have more scenes but even with short screentime candice always shine. Emily also amazing but I wish katrina law also on this list, her sadness over what happen to sara broke my soul

    1. Hey anon! Thanks for your comment. :) Lynnie did shout-out Katrina Law at the end of her blurb about Caity Lotz. We agree, too -- Nyssa was awesome in this week's episode!

  9. Emily Bett Rickards, Candice Patton, Willa Holland, and Caity Lotz are always MVPs in my opinion. Especially Emily and Candice. Those two play their roles exceptionally well.

  10. So happy to see Emily Bett Rickards on this list as an MVP! She was spectacular in 4x03! I mean she's always super amazing but she was definitely the MVP of Arrow last week and just an MVP in general. If I was someone who contributed to this list, I would have a hard time not picking her every week! Not that there aren't other characters on Arrow and other shows who deserve to be MVPs because there are, but Emily is just so awesome! And Felicity is one of the best characters on tv! Love seeing Emily/Felicity on lists like this! Both the character and actress are so deserving of it! Awesome pic Mer!

    1. Awesome pick, that was supposed to say awesome pick. I always have to correct my spelling errors somehow, lol. Too OCD to leave it alone.

  11. So many amazing moments this week in Arrow and Flash. I was so happy Iris wasn't mad at her father. I was getting really worried we'd have family drama like the BS we see with the Lance's on Arrow. So happy the writers realized this is not what people want to see. Sara was so badass and evil looking and she didn't even say anything. I'm so glad she's back. Poor Thea. She worked so hard to be independent and toughen up last year and now she's loosing all that control she gained over her life. I hope she just kills Malcolm to end the bloodlust. My adorable Felicity brought it all this week. She was fierce, while remaining her innocent nature and still brought the adorable heart to the team. Can't wait for ever more Felicity this year. :)

  12. Emily Bett Rickards! Her Felicity Smoak is amazing. I wish Katrina Law was in this too.

  13. My favs, Emily Bett and Melissa. Both women and their characters have grown so much in their respective shows. Melissa was fierce as always last 2 weeks and Felicity is a badass cupcake hero who steals the spotlight every time she's on the screen. Kudos to Emily Bett Rickards! Can't imagine Arrow without her

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