THE PERFORMER | April Bowlby
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THE SHOW | Doom Patrol
THE EPISODE | “Tomb Patrol” (Thursday, Oct. 26)
THE PERFORMANCE | It would be an oversimplification to say that Bowlby’s Rita Farr is the definitive heart of Doom Patrol. The one-of-a-kind DC drama feels more like some kind of extraterrestrial with multiple functioning hearts, all working together to endear viewers to this motley crew of meta-human misfits. So we’ll just say that, of all the show’s many hearts, Rita’s beat the loudest this week.
This is an ironic metaphor, of course, because Thursday’s episode — the antepenultimate hour of the entire series — found a rapidly aging Rita all but accepting the sweet release of death. For a show that prides itself on not knowing the meaning of the phrase “over the top,” Doom Patrol regularly excels in illuminating its characters’ most human elements, with Rita taking the lead this time around.
Putting on a grey wig and prosthetic makeup to play an older version of yourself is a well-documented risk for any actor. We’ve all seen plenty of otherwise impressive performers drop the ball when required to do so, but you won’t find a spot marked for Bowlby’s portrait in that hall of shame. The defiant poise with which Rita has carried herself these past four seasons has organically evolved into a quiet dignity as she faces her final days, resulting in a simple, beautiful performance.
It’s a performance that managed to break our hearts twice in a single episode — first with Rita’s speech to Larry about having to hold the family together after Niles’ death, then again as she basically said goodbye to her fellow Doom Patrollers. When Rita’s voice wavered on the word “family,” as tears welled in her eyes, it felt like Bowlby and her character were speaking together for a moment, further elevating a bittersweet moment that will stay with us far longer than Rita will.
Scroll down to see who scored Honorable Mention shout-outs this week…
HONORABLE MENTION: Con O’Neill
When it comes to first mates, Izzy Hands was No. 1 to the end. Having played a variety of notes over two seasons of Max’s Our Flag Means Death, Con O’Neill — spoiler alert! –was given a fine showcase in Season 2’s finale. First, there was Izzy as unlikely company man, rebuffing Prince Ricky Barnes’ bid to turn him against Blackbeard. A pirate’s life is “not about glory, it’s not about getting what you want…,” Izzy asserted. “It’s about belonging to something when the world has told you you’re nothing.” Then at episode’s end, O’Neill delivered a wonderful monologue with wounded Izzy’s last words. “I fed your darkness,” Blackbeard’s longtime ally apologized. “For years I egged him on, even though I knew you’d outgrown him. But the truth is I needed him.” And Izzy being Izzy, ’twas only right that he left us with one last, “Oh f–k off, you twat,” when Ed suggested he’d now have no family.
HONORABLE MENTION: Maddie Phillips and Jaz Sinclair
In Gen V‘s penultimate episode, stars Maddie Phillips and Jaz Sinclair delivered strength and heartbreak on behalf of their characters. When Phillips’ Cate realized that Shetty truly did love her like a daughter, the actress’ steely resolve broke to reveal a wounded girl in search of a mother’s affection. The way Phillips’ voice cracked with relief and her face lit up with a small, wonderous smile made Cate’s fierceness and anger when she later compelled Shetty to kill herself all the more devastating. And in denying Marie the opportunity to help Shetty, Cate forced the other girl to relieve the trauma of when her own mother died. Sinclair’s anguished pleas as Marie watched Shetty bleed out truly cut to the core. Between Cate’s terrifying turn and Marie’s heartache, Phillips and Sinclair made for a dynamic duo.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nia Vardalos
We were surprised when Nia Vardalos popped up in this week’s Chucky, and what became of her character — as gross as it was — was pitch-perfect black comedy elevated by the actress’ physical prowess. Using a voodoo doll, Tiffany forced Evelyn to slice up her own arm, peel the skin off her hands and dunk her face into a vat of boiling water. Vardalos committed 100% to the bit, selling the horror with wide eyes and shrill shrieks, while evoking the comedic spirits of Jim Carrey and Bruce Campbell with her stiff, doll-like movements and campy facial expressions. Not only was it one of the franchise’s greatest kills, but in just one unexpected guest spot, Vardalos showcased both her versatility and wicked sense of humor.
Which performance(s) knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in the comments!
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