I’m aware that this isn’t the hottest possible take, given that Alexis Bledel already won an Emmy for her role in the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale—but her performance in Season 3 Episode 2, “Mary and Martha”, was incredibly acute and powerful. Too many (ok, yes, fine, not enough) rewatchings of Gilmore Girls have contributed to making this more surprising for me than it perhaps should be, but, wow:
The entire emotional arc of the episode is carried by the camera lingering on the tension and anticipated grief and implied, learned suffering that she carries in her face. One loooong shot after another, unrelieved by overbearing soundtrack or the other devices prestige TV uses when it can’t trust its actors to carry their weight, she builds up the self-doubt and uncertainty that stand in the way of an otherwise obvious denouement, one which probably seemed like a foregone conclusion at the end of the previous season.
Her performance lets do the show do what it does at its best, imbuing completely banal interactions with painfully expressive weight, letting an overhead shot of a car blocking traffic become a heart-breaking emblem of connection.
OK, you know what? This episode was fabulous. Is it possible all we were missing this season was a really fun villain? Because holy crap, this week’s villain–who is, by extension, revealed to be this entire season’s superbaddie–is getting a kick out of her evil role. And in turn, I am getting a real kick out of the episode.
Previously on Riverdale: Archie came to the hospital to kill Hiram but didn’t; Veronica found out her dad had swindled her out of ownership of her properties; Veronica and Archie teamed up to take down Hiram; the Farm offered Alice, Toni, and Cheryl help when they were emotionally vulnerable; Edgar got engaged to Alice even though he was totally already married to his fake daughter Evelyn and was also probably banging Cheryl; Betty helped Evelyn to escape from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy; Jughead had some Theories about the G&G game; Ricky tricked Jellybean into playing G&G with him; the Black Hood escaped and almost killed Betty.