This was a great week for partnerships on television. Sunday’s episode of Once Upon a Time introduced a new potential pairing in the unexpected relationship between Zelena and Hades. On Monday, strong partnerships created some memorable routines to go along with memorable years on Dancing with the Stars. Tuesday’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine featured a pleasantly surprising bit of honest and open conversation between Jake and Amy during an undercover operation, and American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson ended with plenty of emotion and another reminder that the show’s version of Marcia Clark and Chris Darden’s partnership helped make it must-see TV each week. On Wednesday, Juliette returned to Nashville, which ignited some hope in my “shipper” heart that she and Avery might be able to rekindle their partnership someday. Also on Wednesday, The Americans started by putting its central partners in quarantine and ended with a sad death in a lonely prison basement. American Idol also ended this week, and I’d be lying if I said the reunion of Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman wasn’t one of my favorite things about that finale. Finally, Outlander returned on Saturday with a start I never saw coming but an ending that reminded me how much I love spending time swooning over Jamie and Claire.
Out of all the great moments between great partners this week, nothing topped the work done by two of the best scene partners on television right now: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on The Americans. In this week’s episode, the two shared a scene in a dimly lit bathroom that I have watched probably close to 10 times since it aired because it’s taken that many times to even come close to catching all the nuances in their performances. Watching Elizabeth have to work through the reality that she could die was painful enough, but nothing prepared me for watching Philip work through it. It was hard to see the normally stoic and strong Elizabeth look and sound so fragile and weak. (The statuesque Russell’s hunched posture in that scene conveyed so much.) But it just about destroyed me to watch Philip refuse to even consider a life without his wife and then almost fall apart when forced to consider it. In just a few short lines, Elizabeth showed how much her family has come to mean to her and how much their happiness now comes before them carrying on the mission. And in even fewer lines, Philip showed just how much Elizabeth means to him. Rhys and Russell have always made me believe the depth of feeling between their characters without ever making it feel forced, and that depth of feeling was like a warm light in that dim bathroom, adding another layer of honesty and emotion to TV’s best marriage.
Here’s a link to a GIF-set of this scene in case you want your heart to be broken by Matthew Rhys’s face.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?