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.
It’s prom night in Riverdale! Could I BE more excited?
Actually, this may sound a little unbefitting the supposedly intellectual, supposedly adult recapper who stands before you, but I was hoping for this episode to be MORE cliched. More fretting about who goes to prom with who. More meaningful dance scenes. There were some good scares and some great dresses, but all in all, I wanted it to be more Pretty in Pink, less Carrie. Alas, this is Riverdale. You don’t get to have this many plot twists if you waste too much time on prom antics.