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This Week’s Most Noteworthy Performance

February 12-18
“Jack Pearson’s Son” | This is Us
Sterling K. Brown

I’ve been waiting to write about Sterling K. Brown for a while now, but I was waiting for the emotional episode that’d leave me completely and utterly in awe. An episode I’m sure we all knew was coming, and “Jack Pearson’s Son” was that episode.

Brown’s full-range of emotions conveyed a magnitude of despair in a haunting, raw exhibition of a mental and physical breakdown. Whether it was the shaking hands or the silent tears amidst the dwindling speech at work, Brown was baring parts of Randall that were downright heart wrenching to witness. And so much of what made Brown’s performance noteworthy, and also, Emmy worthy was the undeniable embodiment of the character. You can’t expose emotions like this and have it resonate with the audience without completely giving in to everything that the character is. Brown is a riveting performer, but this nuanced showcase of a man at his wits was his finest to date.

The single teardrops, clenched jaw, bouts of frustration towards William, stammering repetition, and the steady despair in his expression served as the evident display of a daunting internal turmoil taking place. From the beginning of the episode to the end, Brown was hard at work in a performance that could have been anything but easy. And his final dive into the calamity within came when Randall saw his sibling in the same room, as a result, allowing himself to be in such a vulnerable position, that his entire body gave out on him. Brown poured everything into revolutionizing a performance that could’ve easily been overdone, but instead, through meticulous acting choices, he gave us art — melancholic and destructive with a such substantial heart, it was groundbreaking.

If you looked closely Brown made Randall look like a little kid, lost, vulnerable, bruised, and broken all over again in a state that seems impossible to recover from. You felt Randall’s crumbling physicality to the point of tears, and for an actor’s work to resonate so profoundly with the audience, it means he’s done his job perfectly.

Honorable Mention:

“Jack Pearson’s Son” | This is Us
Justin Hartley
“Jack Pearson’s Son” gave its actors ample opportunities to shine, and much like his co-star Brown, Justin Hartley rose to the challenge. Hartley too has embodied his character beautifully delivering intricate performances that showcase a great amount of emotions without him saying too much. And I’ve often said in my reviews of the show that my favorite thing about Kevin is the evident showcase of growth that’s taking place in him. Through a confounded behavior Hartley illuminates just how much is often going on inside Kevin’s brain. And because he was so indifferent in his younger years, the inability to exhibit affection but the desire to do so is something Hartley delivers impeccably. In the final scene, Hartley and Brown were the perfect scene partners to each other.

As Kevin held his brother, Hartley displayed a multitude of emotions, but empathy most beautifully. You felt him break for his brother. You felt his profound adoration painstakingly take control of everything within him in a moment that’s thus far been the hardest, but most important to him. There’s absolutely nothing else that would be more vital than being by Randall’s side at the moment, and when you watched Hartley through the beginning of the episode, you could see the concern for Randall’s state take root in him until that final moment. It may not have been the first thing on his mind, but the concern for his brother was right there from the moment he stopped during their run. Kevin’s realization that Randall’s falling apart was masked with distractions but nonetheless a constant presence, which Hartley exhibits through his expression.

Also, be sure to check out this week’s Most Exquisite TV Moment, which discusses the brothers in their final scene.

Who were your favorite performers this week?

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