Natasha Lyonne’s “Russian Doll” performance, season 2 on Netflix

THE ARTIST | Natasha Lyonne

THE SHOW | Russian doll

THE EPISODE | “Coney Island Baby” (April 20, 2022)

THE PERFORMANCE | Nadia may think of herself as a “prisoner of time” in Season 2 of Netflix’s sci-fi comedy…but there’s no one we’d rather be stuck with than Lyonne. As the wise Nadia, Lyonne delivered a masterfully entertaining performance, dropping quotable one-liners left and right while revealing that Nadia is heartbroken beneath all the jokes.

After seeing all seven episodes of Season 2, we could really give Lyonne that honor for one of them. But we’ll continue with Episode 2, where Nadia began to piece together the mystery of how her mother Nora (whose body she traveled, quantum leap-style) lost the family stash of gold Krugerrands. Nadia was a relentless joke machine throughout the half hour, dropping Cheers references no one in 1982 gets and explaining how human fertilization works to a pair of ignorant racquetball players – and with Lyonne’s singularly raspy and cucumber-cool delivery, just about every line she uttered we made her laugh. (“It’s a great story, and I’m sorry for all this polio” is a personal favorite.) It wasn’t all laughs, though: Lyonne was mesmerizing as Nadia dropped the shtick and bared her soul in an answering machine message to her mother, Lyonne expressing the decades of disappointment Nadia had accumulated in her mother.

Russian doll once again took us on a wild ride in Season 2, full of jaw-dropping twists and turns, but Lyonne is the true conductor of that ride. (She’s also written and directed several episodes this season.) Her endlessly funny and deeply touching work as Nadia is such a treat, and it’s also why we’d be happy to bend the rules again. space and time with her, and Again and again and again…

HONORABLE MENTION | Nurse Lucille Robinson usually comforts patients in need, but at the last moment Call the midwife on PBS, she needed grace and compassion. The dedicated midwife suffered a miscarriage just before delivering her patient Pam’s beautiful baby girl. And Leonie Elliott brought her character’s tearful inner turmoil to life by pooling her eyes and severing the umbilical cord while shaking while trying to appear calm. Even as nurse Phyllis forced her to lie down, Elliott’s Lucille curled up in a fetal position and worried about Pam’s blood pressure with a frown. Pam was fine but, unfortunately, Lucille’s misery was just beginning. As the cold reality of her loss came to an undeniable conclusion in the bathroom, Elliott’s pained face and stifled sobs broke our hearts and confirmed Lucille’s greatest fear. By the end of the episode, the mixture of bravery and sadness that tugged at the actress’s face foreshadowed the dismal days of Lucille and Cyril to come.

Better Things Pamela Adlon Episode 9HONORABLE MENTION | Pamela Adlon has always been excellent in better things‘ final season, and episode 9 was no exception. As his character Sam gallivanted across England with his family, Adlon’s idiosyncratic laughter and quick wit were on full display. But the journey across the pond was not all fun and games. It also brought major changes to their lives when mum Phil and daughter Max announced they would be staying in the UK permanently. The actress showed a mix of emotions that accompanied the news, ranging from confusion and shock to concern. Later, while filling in his younger kids, Sam tried to maintain the holiday vibe with a wiry physique that no one was buying. She finally seemed ready to embrace change until the episode ended with Phil’s beautifully sad rendition of Vera Lynn’s “Now Is the Hour.” The look on Adlon’s face said it all, and that’s exactly how we’ll feel once better things gone for good.

Tosin Cole on 61st StreetHONORABLE MENTION | Tosin Cole delivered a blistering performance as Moses Johnson, an up-and-coming track star suddenly caught up in Chicago’s tumultuous criminal justice system, in this week’s AMC drama 61st street. Cole was a constant force throughout the hour as Moses considered his next move as he ran from the police. He shone in those quieter moments, like in a conversation with Franklin where they talked about surrendering to him. You could just to see the inner turmoil in his mind about what happened plays out in his head. But what really stood out was Cole’s work in the final moments of the episode as Moses was taken handcuffed to his mother. The shock, terror and anguish he conveyed – heartbreaking innocence in his voice as Moses called out for his mother in a panic – was by far the most heartbreaking moment of the episode. Cole was asked to run the emotional gamut throughout the hour, and he not only rose to the challenge, he excelled at it.

Which performance(s) hit your socks this week? Tell us in the comments!

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