THE PERFORMER | Steve Agee

THE SHOW | HBO Max’s Peacemaker

THE EPISODE | “It’s Cow or Never” (Feb. 17, 2022)

THE PERFORMANCE | Several cast members had “moments” during the Suicide Squad spinoff’s freshman finale — Annie Chang as a suddenly soulful Goff, Danielle Brooks’ Leota realizing she is “made for this s–t,” Jennifer Holland during Harcourt’s (near-)death scene and later at the hospital, and of course recent POTW honorable mention John Cena.

But filed under We Were Not Expecting This was the way that this season’s running and incredibly juvenile “Dye Beard” put-down came full circle in a surprising way, leading to a helluva performance by Steve Agee.

Before we got to that heartbreaking monologue, Agee shined as always in a number of comedic bits — including Economos’ repulsion at the thought of wearing the recently soiled uniform of a KO’d security guard, followed by his very tenuous approach to the cavern containing the Cow (and his eventual declaration, “No more kaiju!”).

It was when confronted on his way out of the barn that Agee had his standout moment. Stopped again by the Butterfly Fitzgibbons and asked about… no, not the Sonic Boom helmet he just planted, but his human host’s oddly colored beard… Economos, though knowing that his constant razzer, Peacemaker, and the others were listening in, launched into a very genuine, soul-baring explanation. Yes, he dyes his beard, because he has never had a girlfriend is tries to look younger/more handsome. No, he doesn’t properly tend to the roots, because his job keeps him so gosh-darn busy. And yes, he uses a discount brand of dye because he is incredibly underpaid.

“Mostly, though, he thought nobody ever noticed — until recently, when one guy said it to him all the time,” he added, Agee’s voice breaking juuuust a scooch.

Agee’s delivery of this confession of sorts hit just the right tone — sad, but not pathetic. It invited empathy, and we saw from Peacemaker’s face that it absolutely succeeded on that level.

Cap off that unexpectedly moving performance a few more splashes of comedy — namely, Economos taking a small degree of umbrage that after Harcourt went down, he won’t be a factor in the team’s only hope for success — plus that bittersweet epilogue moment, when John returns to his bleak office at Belle Reve but brightens things up with a framed photo of “The 11th Street Kids,” and you have a super showcase for Agee.

Billions, Kate Sacker's defianceHONORABLE MENTION | Condola Rashad has long been relegated to the background on Billions. That changed this week when the Showtime drama put her character, Kate Sacker, in the much-deserved spotlight. There, Rashad used her expressive eyes to communicate a range of emotions, from disappointment to curiosity. And the way she threw back Kate’s shoulders to initially turn down Mike Prince’s job offer, after sipping on his pricy Elida Geisha coffee, subtly alluded to her character’s posh upbringing. Stepping to the fore also gave the silver-tongued Rashad the space to nail lines such as, “The only thing worse than a pessimist is a bullsh–ter.” But no moment exhibited her range better than when Kate met with Chuck to tell him why she’d decided to work for Prince, after all. Mirroring Paul Giamatti’s owl-like glare, Rashad delivered a pitch perfect, strut-punctuated exit that proved she and Kate are ready to take center stage.

anna-chlumsky-inventing-anna-season-1-performanceHONORABLE MENTION | Anna Delvey’s larger than life (and eventually too good to be true) story is the focus of Netflix’s Inventing Anna, but Anna Chlumsky‘s excellent turn as journalist Vivian Kent is the glue that holds the scammer’s saga together. This is never more apparent than in in the finale, when Vivian visits Anna in prison for the last time. In a very short amount of time, Chlumsky hits a bunch of powerful beats: Vivian’s perceived guilt over her role in the younger woman’s severe sentencing, her sense of ongoing surprise at Anna’s continued assertion of innocence, her sadness that the relationship — however skewed — was ending. Chlumsky somehow manages to convey tearful regret and eye-rolling disbelief at the same time, nailing the oddly touching tone of the pair’s farewell.

the kings of napa ebonee noelHONORABLE MENTION | All hail the queen of The Kings of Napa. In Tuesday’s “Mo Bottled Blues,” Ebonée Noel uncorked a complex performance in which she managed to blend notes of panic, shock and resentment with the confidence of a character that you’d think would be above all that. As revelations flew fast and furious around August — during a blackout at the winery, no less! — her portrayer deftly walked a minefield of emotions, setting off explosions of her own as the newly minted boss desperately tried to keep the ground beneath her feet. When finally Noel was allowed to let August remind herself as well as her bickering family that “we are Kings… we are royalty,” the power emanating from her was so great, we all but bowed down in front of the TV.

Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!



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