Performer of the Week: Ellen Barkin

TVLine | 8/18/2018 | Team TVLine
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THE PERFORMANCE | Honestly, it’s criminal that TVLine has never before lauded Ellen Barkin for her work on Animal Kingdom. Maybe it’s because week in, week out, she’s so solid that one performance is as impressive as the last. Maybe it’s because Smurf is so in control that her portrayer doesn’t get to tackle the kinds of showy outbursts and breakdowns that are catnip to this column. Whatever the reason she’s been overlooked, we’re giving her her (past) due now.

In Season 3’s penultimate episode, Barkin gave us the Cody matriarch on steroids, playing her with a smirk so satisfied that it made us feel corrupt just seeing it. As the queenpin not only bought back her boys’ faith in her but, adopting a well-practiced expression of motherly concern, laid the groundwork to paint oldest son Pope as, once again, crazy, the master manipulator made a mockery of sincerity, reducing it to just another weapon in her arsenal.

Smurf - Mind - Games - Pope - Shawn

As usual, Smurf saved her vilest mind games for Pope (Shawn Hatosy, who we’d also be singling out, had he not been recognized recently). While Mommie Dearest delighted in casting herself as the heroine who was giving him back surrogate daughter Lena, Barkin savored lines like “I just want us to be a family again” that came off more like threats than entreaties. And when Smurf turned on a dime, promising to forget the kid had ever existed so long as Pope kept her secret, we’d have sworn we weren’t watching an actress act but a killer strike.

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