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Performer of the Week: Sam Spruell

Performer of the Week: Sam Spruell
Performer of the Week: Sam Spruell

THE PERFORMER | Sam Spruell

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THE SHOW | Fargo

THE EPISODE | “Bisquik” (Jan. 16, 2023)

THE PERFORMANCE | We’re still not sure who, or even what, the mysterious bounty hunter known as Ole Munch is, exactly — but we do know that his every moment on screen was mesmerizing, thanks to Sam Spruell’s eccentric, animalistic performance. An unstoppable killer with a strange supernatural aura, Ole goes down as an all-time great Fargo antagonist, but in this week’s finale, Spruell dug deeper and found the faint flicker of humanity still lingering inside Ole in a supremely satisfying denouement.

Spruell didn’t appear until halfway through the finale, for an extended scene at Dot’s house — but what a scene! Dot returned home with her daughter Scotty with ingredients to make chili, but she found her husband Wayne chatting with Ole in her living room, a sight that made her blood (and ours) run cold. Ole calmly insisted that he still had a score to settle with Dot, with Spruell projecting a primal intensity, spitting out each word as if it hurt Ole to say them. But Dot and her family simply responded to Ole’s threats with kindness, and Spruell was riotously funny as Ole struggled to make sense of their domestic bliss, like an unfrozen caveman trying to understand an iPhone.

Dot put Ole to work making biscuits for their chili, disarming the hitman with cozy small talk, and Spruell visibly softened as Ole sat down to dinner, his anger gradually melting away. He launched into a sprawling, verbose monologue about his younger days eating the bitter sins of men, with Spruell spinning a web of vividly weird imagery. But Dot offered him a chance at redemption via a freshly baked biscuit, and Ole took it, first closing his eyes with pleasure as he bit into the biscuit, then breaking into a wide, ecstatic smile. It was a triumph of good over evil, and Spruell reminded us that even the most hardened of killers can be won over by a nice home-cooked meal.

Scroll down to see who scored Honorable Mention shout-outs this week…

HONORABLE MENTION: Shanola Hampton

We knew that Gabi Mosely’s dark secret would eventually come to light, but we weren’t prepared for how devastating the reveal would be, and that’s a testament to portrayer Shanola Hampton’s powerful performance in Found’s Season 1 finale. Through muted dialogue, Gabi came clean to her M&A cohorts about holding her kidnapper Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) captive for nearly a year. We didn’t need to hear what was said to fully grasp the emotional turmoil of that moment because her pained expression as the team walked away, and the heartbreaking manner in which she sank to the floor under the weight of that immediate loss, said it all. To see Gabi shrink so small — a far cry from the confident attorney who strutted into every room like she belonged and wore perfectly tailored fits like superhero garbs — was visceral and gut-wrenching. —Keisha Hatchett

HONORABLE MENTION: Emma Stone

HONORABLE MENTION: Emma Stone
HONORABLE MENTION: Emma Stone

The Curse flew off to bizarre new heights with this week’s finale — if you know, you know — but Emma Stone kept it all grounded with a hilariously committed turn. Stone was perfectly petulant and entitled as a pregnant Whitney complained to husband Asher about the fate of their HGTV show. But that petulance turned to sheer terror when Whitney awoke to found Asher inexplicably stuck to the ceiling, like gravity was pulling him up. It was a ridiculous plot twist, but Stone totally sold it, with a panicked Whitney doing everything she could to help Asher down before going into labor. Then as Whitney gave birth and gazed at her newborn child for the first time, Stone’s face was beautifully calm and serene, hinting that Whitney might be OK with Asher flying right out of her life. The Curse may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but no one can deny the finely calibrated balance of cringe comedy and heartfelt drama that Stone delivered amid all the madness. — Dave Nemetz

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

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