This week in television started off strong on Sunday with a powerful examination of Killian’s character on Once Upon a Time. On Monday, Jane the Virgin gave me plenty of reasons to reach for my tissues (especially with the new storyline its opening up for Petra), and early frontrunners are starting to separate from the pack on Dancing with the Stars. Tuesday’s episode of The Flash was a time-traveling adventure, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine borrowed just the right amount from Parks and Recreation‘s excellent “Two Parties” episode. Also on Tuesday, tensions continued to rise in The People v. O.J. Simpson‘s penultimate episode. Finally, Wednesday’s episode of The Americans ensured that I’ll never be able to go to EPCOT again without thinking of Pastor Tim, Glanders, and Elizabeth’s dreams of Odessa.
There were some incredibly powerful statements made on television this week—from Killian finally saying he deserves to be saved on Once Upon a Time to Philip telling Elizabeth that he wants to run on The Americans. However, nothing could top the dramatic force of the breathtaking moments in The People v. O.J. Simpson in which both Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark are threatened with being held in contempt of court.
That explosive scene was the perfect example of how to make rising tension pay off. Darden’s outburst felt cathartic after weeks of mounting pressure and increasing failures for the prosecution. Sterling K. Brown might not have the profile or fame of the other actors on this show, but he is every bit their equal in terms of the power of his performance.
And that explosive reaction from Darden was followed up by one of my favorite moments so far on what I believe is one of the best shows on television right now: when Marcia Clark’s own frustrations boiled over, putting her in jeopardy of also being held in contempt, to which she replied (with pitch-perfect delivery by Sarah Paulson): “Shall I take off my watch and jewelry?” Because I don’t remember much about the trial, I had no idea this moment was coming, so when it did, I was blown away—not just by the moment itself but by the performances that made it resonate and the direction that made it almost unbearably tense. While so much of this scene’s brilliance came through in strong line readings, there was also so much being said in silence. Brown and Paulson are so good in their characters’ unspoken moments of connection and partnership, and this was another scene that showed that aspect of their palpable chemistry off to its fullest extent.
The People v. O.J. Simpson ends this week, and, while I know how the story ends, I’m still waiting with bated breath to see what these actors do with it. That’s when you know a show is great and a cast is masterful.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?