Sunday, May 22, 2016

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 39

Welcome back to the second-to-last TV MVP Series installment for this television season! We've been graced with some amazing performers over the last few months, and as our favorite shows are winding down, we're still celebrating the best of the best. This week, it was all about emotional female performers and their dramatic moments.

Joining me this week are the following writers:

Let's get started!


Jenn's MVP: Caity Lotz as Sara Lance (Legends of Tomorrow)

Why she's the MVP: I loved Sara Lance on Arrow, so when we learned that the spin-off series, Legends of Tomorrow, would heavily feature the character, I was excited. What initially drew me to this character was the amazing way that Caity Lotz portrayed her. Sara could have easily been a one-note character — an assassin who believes in little beyond her own darkness; someone who detaches easily and permanently. And while a lot of Sara's characterization in the beginning was certainly framed around her past and her darkness, the evidence of her goodness and light was there from the very beginning, too. Lotz's portrayal of Sara is always very intentional and very delicate — she manages, as an actress, to walk so many different lines, straddling varying depths of development. Sara is a woman who is still in pain, grieving the loss of a friend and partner in Snart when she learns of the loss of Laurel in this episode. Lotz's scene with Paul Blackthorne was utterly heartbreaking, in a way that was subtle and yet extremely powerful. Sara Lance is not the kind of woman who allows her emotions to cripple her. She uses them, rather, as weapons of either offense or defense. So when she attacks Rip back on the Waverider, demanding that he take her back to save Laurel, that feels powerful and earned.

But what truly sells Sara Lance and what makes her a fan favorite among Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow viewers is her ability to be fragile, but not broken. Lotz never portrays Sara Lance's grief in this episode as a weakness. Her tears are not meant to undermine all of the fight scenes that she does. In fact, Sara's emotions are used in this episode to do the exact opposite — prove she is a hero. Lotz does so many incredible things with Sara. She unearths all of this pain and all of this love that the character has for those around her. And what's truly incredible about her performance in this episode was how raw and understated it was. Sara's new path — her heroism as the White Canary — is not fueled by pain. It's fueled by LOVE. And that is how Sara Lance can now live in the light. Laurel always believed in the goodness in her, even when Sara couldn't see it for herself.

Caity Lotz's ability to convey all of these layers and to peel them back deliberately and carefully in order to unearth a new element of Sara Lance to appreciate and love is precisely why she is my TV MVP this week. (Also, because she made me cry.)

Julia’s MVP: Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/The Evil Queen (Once Upon A Time)

Why she’s the MVP: I always feel that most of the Once Upon A Time cast never get their due for their great performances week in and week out. Lana Parrilla rarely gets any credit, even though she is the most consistent actor of the cast. Parrilla dazzles us weekly with her rendition of both the tortured mayor of Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest dictator. Her dual roles never disappoint, and the season finale gave her a chance to give us a taste of what’s to come from both personas.

Regina isn’t an easy character to portray, as she internally struggles between good and evil. Parrilla highlighted these two sides of Regina perfectly this week throughout the entire two-hour finale. She was exceptionally great because she had to show Regina’s struggles in a multitude of ways — from having heart-to-heart conversations with Emma and Snow White, to playing Rumple with her emotions. Parrilla dabbled with both the good and evil sides of Regina and had me thoroughly convinced that she was going to switch sides several times.

Parrilla’s best scene in the finale came when Regina confronts Rumple about helping him open a portal to the alternate dimension that their family was stuck in. She put on the Evil Queen face perfectly, convincing both the audience and Rumple momentarily that the Evil Queen had come out to play. This was one of the many moments where Parrilla went from sweet and kind Regina to stone-cold and destructive Evil Queen. She flips between both personalities with ease in a matter of seconds, which is the highlight of any episode.

At the end of the finale, the Evil Queen appears in the flesh, which Parrilla executed well. Not only does she rock the gorgeous costumes, but you can tell that Parrilla clearly loves playing the Evil Queen. Her raw emotions always sneak through during these scenes, as you can see the excitement on her face. I love when actors are excited to play their characters because it makes their performances so much better. Parrilla really loves her characters, which is why she is an MVP.

Once Upon A Time teased having both the Evil Queen and Regina in Storybrooke as two separate people in the upcoming sixth season. This excites me because I know that Parrilla will do an outstanding job when she has her two on-screen personas facing off in the same scene. I have no doubt that she will, once again, be brilliant next season.


Lizzie’s MVP: Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)

Why she’s the MVP: Sansa has never been my favorite character on Game of Thrones. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that she’s rarely (or never) been anyone’s favorite. That’s mostly because Sansa was boring and nice and awful to the characters we liked the most — Jon and Arya. For months though, the speculation had been that she’d be the one to reunite with Jon. And then, in last week's episode, it finally happened.

A scene that’s six years in the making is more likely to disappoint than hit the right emotional notes, and yet Kit Harington and Sophie Turner absolutely killed it. Turner, in particular, goes through an entire progression of emotions as she gets to the Wall, sees her brother and then — finally — hugs him, And it is through her that we feel the pain of the separation and the joy of the return. We know now that she’s not the same kid who once made fun of him for being a bastard. She’s a woman, and one who’s proud to call him brother.

This is all possible because Sophie Turner has grown into the kind of actress who can carry a scene by herself. Need any more proof of that? Later on in the episode, Sansa is the one to convince Jon to ride for the North, and she does it with the kind of levelheadedness and steel in her voice that Sansa Stark has never exhibited. If it works, it’s because the actress can make it work. Can make us believe it. Sure, Jon might be the one doing the fighting, but thanks to Sophie Turner, Sansa really is the Queen in the North.


Jon’s MVP: Chloe Bennet as Daisy Johnson (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Why she’s the MVP: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a show that consistently surprises me. After nearly writing it off due to a lackluster beginning and middle first season, the show bounced back in a major way near the end of the first season (around episode 15, to be exact). Since then, the show has only gotten better and better, having just ended a very strong third season this past week.

While the show has a bevy of great characters, including Phil Coulson, Fitz, Simmons, and Agent May, it’s newcomer Skye a.k.a. Daisy, played by Chloe Bennet, who’s really come into her own. Since the show’s beginning, we’ve seen her grow from an unsure, untested field agent to a confident leader with really cool earthquake powers. In recent episodes, we’ve seen a change in her character, as she’s been swayed to the dark side, in part, due to Hive’s (Brett Dalton) control. However, this past week’s season finale sees her free of that control. And yet, with that, her spirit is broken.

What Bennet does so well with her performance is convey how vulnerable and yet open Daisy is. She’s suffering from withdrawal of being under Hive’s control, so in that regard, she comes across as scared and uncertain. Bennet does a great job showcasing that vulnerability, which is demonstrated in her begging Hive to take her back under his control. It’s such a sad moment for Daisy — and clearly a low — that you end up genuinely feeling for the character.

However, her use of powers and subsequent fight with Hive serve two purposes. On one hand, it serves as Daisy finally overcoming her addiction to Hive and becoming her own self again. And on the other, it’s the culmination of three years’ worth of story between Daisy and her former friend Grant Ward, whose appearance Hive has taken. The animosity Daisy feels toward Ward/Hive is strong due to all the pain he has caused her, so seeing the two duke it out one last time is immensely satisfying.

In the end, Bennet’s final moments are extremely intriguing. With the loss of Lincoln and all the pain she’s felt, Daisy leaves S.H.I.E.L.D and becomes the vigilante Quake (*insert fanboy scream here*). In these final few moments, Bennet's portrayal of Daisy becomes more cynical and world-weary than what we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps this is a fascinating sign of what’s to come next season.

Who was your TV MVP this week? Let us know in the comments below! :)

1 comment:

  1. You know, Sansa is a favorite of many people, and I dare say that I like her more than Arya. Yes, she was spoiled in the first season, but she had the best character development of the show.
    The best thing I saw this week was certainly the Jon and Sansa reunited, it may not have been the Stark reunited that we are waiting for, but it was what we deserved, the fact that they didn’t have a close relationship, made the scene be so special, because in the end of the day: family is family, and Sansa learned that her family is only one who will fought at her side.