A new feature in which we spotlight shining stars (Note: Because of the holidays, this installment spans three weeks of intermittent original programming)
THE PERFORMER | Lily Rabe
THE SHOW | American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
THE EPISODE | “The Name Game”
THE AIRDATE | January 2, 2013
THE PERFORMANCE | It’s pretty tough to top lip-synching “You Don’t Own Me”… to a crucifix… while wearing a pilfered red slip… and owning it. But Rabe’s performance in poor, possessed Sister Mary Eunice’s swan song this week provided us with a real come-to-Jesus moment: The woman is one versatile actress.
In an hour’s time, Rabe cycled through all her faces of evil with campy flourish. Her sassy standoff with Sister Jude in the common room transitioned to what had all the appearances of a by-the-book order for electroshock therapy. “This is awkward for me, given our prior relationship,” she intoned to her former superior – and if you didn’t know about the devil inside, wouldn’t you have believed her? Then, faster than you can say “defrock,” she’d had her way with the tortured monsignor, who weakly protested that he’d given his body to Christ. “What has He given to you?” Rabe purred, relishing her corrupting role.
In her last temptation of the fallen holy man, she artfully switched between mocking him and teasing his ambitious dreams — then erupted in fury when her tempting words had no effect. Sweet Mary Eunice emerged for a fleeting, sob-filled moment that underlined Rabe’s skill at playing characters both unsullied and unsouled. When the young nun began her descent from Sister Jude’s “Stairway to Heaven,” we were sad to see the bedeviled bride of Christ go. Now I lay me down to sleep, let’s pray that Ryan Murphy next season Rabe does keep?
What performance knocked your socks off this week?