THE ARTIST | Josh Brolin
THE SHOW | Prime Video Outdoor beach
THE EPISODE | “The Earth” (April 15, 2022)
THE PERFORMANCE | Brolin doesn’t frequent the small screen often, and after seeing his explosive performance in this supernatural new western, we’re glad he’s found his way back.
The actor stars as Royal Abbott, a rancher who discovers a mysterious hole at the edge of his vast land in Wyoming. While the first episode did a great job introducing the central characters and story quirks, it was in Episode 2 that Brolin more than laid claim to his claim.
After covering up a murder and being pushed down the terrifying hole himself, Royal woke up on his property with more questions than answers. The character’s typically stoic disposition was shaken, as he attempted to allay his family’s concerns about the murder and its whereabouts. But soon, the pressure to keep secrets to protect his son, along with a frosty conversation with his hostile neighbor had him wrapped tightly like a wire on a winch. Brolin allowed the character’s courage to slowly and subtly crumble, allowing us to see just how heavy it all was.
But the grand slam scene happened at the Abbott’s dinner table, as Royal prayed for the family of the deceased and confronted his conflicting feelings about God and religion. In one fell swoop, he asked for guidance, all the while questioning the existence of a higher power, Brolin’s tone filling to the brim, then overflowing with frustration and unbridled rage. As he begged him to “fill this big void”, he demanded an explanation because “this world of yours doesn’t quite add up”.
The actor’s intensity went off the rails as he delivered the monologue with a fiery tongue, quivering lips and eyes that turned from hateful to hurt. Like Royal’s family, we were silently stunned. And it didn’t stop there. After declaring that they would move their livestock away from the precarious pasture, the patriarch went on a rampage even further, shouting like a madman: “There is a great void! while shaking convulsively and clapping his fists. It was a downright chilling performance that made us feel her character’s fear of the unknown, and we can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
HONORABLE MENTION | It doesn’t matter which side you fell on It’s us‘ Slow and painful dissolution of Kate and Toby’s marriage, you have to admit: Chris Sullivan did a great job of portraying Toby gasping for air. Sullivan’s talent shone through on Tuesday’s episode, when the Damons realized their union was over. He gave Toby’s anger such a sharp, sharp edge that we wanted to throw something at him as he and Kate fought; then he quickly pivoted to break our hearts with shame and need for Toby as he begged Kate in a broken voice to try one more time to be a happy couple. For several episodes now, Sullivan has easily played the range of complicating emotions that arise when two people break up. Tuesday’s hour was one of his best works to date.
HONORABLE MENTION | After four seasons of chasing each other around the world, Kill Eve‘s Eve and Villanelle finally caught up in this week’s series finale, and it was a treat to see Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer tap into a fun, light-hearted side to the duo that we hadn’t seen. The two took a road trip together in a stolen motorhome and shared some intimate moments — that kiss! — along the way, with Oh and Comer getting positively giddy as new lovebirds. Additionally, Comer was triumphant as Villanelle viciously exacted revenge on the Twelve, and Oh delicately evoked Eve’s true feelings for Villanelle as she performed an impromptu wedding ceremony. Yes, their story may not have had a happy ending, but Oh and Comer still put a glorious arc on one of TV’s most compelling couples.
HONORABLE MENTION | Much of the credit for Abbott Elementary SchoolThe insanely strong freshman season has to go to Quinta Brunson, who not only serves as the creator of the ABC comedy but also anchors the series as sophomore teacher Janine Teagues. In this week’s season finale, the teacher went through a relationship rollercoaster when her boyfriend Tariq got a job in New York and assumed Janine would move in with him. Reacting to the ridiculous things coming out of his pal’s mouth, Brunson made people laugh with his quietly resigned look. Then she touched our heartstrings when a conversation with a frightened student led Janine to work up the courage to tell Tariq they should take a break. But no moment has been more satisfying than Janine finding her strength as a teacher with a rowdy group of kids. Brunson has definitely passed this school year with flying colors.
Which performance(s) hit your socks this week? Tell us in the comments!