This Week’s Most Noteworthy Performance: Matthew Rhys

April 2-8
“Lotus 1-2-3” | The Americans
Matthew Rhys

Matthew Rhys as in The Americans' "Lotus 1-2-3"

It’s been painfully evident for a while now, specifically since “March 8, 1983” that Rhys’ Philip has been battling a whirlwind of unavoidable demons. This week, the exhaustion and decay Matthew Rhys brought to the character made it so easy to worry for Philip. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s always been easy to worry about these characters, but there was something different about how palpable Philip’s pain was in “Lotus 1-2-3”.

Performances on The Americans are never forced. They’re never overdone. They’re never too much. And because of this reason, it’s that much easier to feel intensely for these characters when the actors try to show us their innermost emotions. There are no performers quite as riveting as those on The Americans, and because of how impeccably the characters are embodied, it’s then effortless to care about these characters, and by extension, the actors.

“Lotus 1-2-3” gave Rhys ample opportunities to deliver his character’s struggles through the showcase of his inner deterioration masterfully. Philip’s inner decay was so visceral that every move he made only intensified the emotion he’d played on before. The sunken body language and the hollowness in his eyes were a thing of true genius.

It was the gradual turmoil that made his pain that much more intense. But the thing I appreciated most was the realization that this is only the beginning. There’s still so much to come, but the confession to Elizabeth was the right start. It gave him the opportunity to say very little while allowing her to see it all. And that’s what Rhys did best this week, he didn’t say too much, but he showed us everything. Whether it was the undercover sex he wanted no part of, the understanding that they haven’t really been seeing Henry for who he is, the heartache they’ve brought to Paige, the sheer bliss upon seeing Elizabeth in the end, or the realization that they’ve killed an innocent person Rhys gave us a full range of emotions brilliantly. And if this finale mirrors season three’s in any way, we’re in for something epic.

Who were your favorite performers of the week?

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