Performance of the Week #2: Guillermo Diaz
It’s already been established that Huck’s past on Scandal was murky, full of murder, torture and other damaging events that caused significant damage to his mental stability. It’s also already been established numerous times that Huck is the show’s most mysterious and dangerous character, put on a leash by Olivia Pope but freely able to break free at any point. But it’s never been established–beyond simple mention, anyway–just how Huck became who he is, and ‘Seven Fifty-Two’ finally showed the process.
After being beaten and locked in a wooden box in the previous episode, Huck is rescued and collapses into a mumbling wreck, uttering the title of the episode repeatedly while rocking back and forth on the floor of Pope and Associates. His friends try to break through the barrier created by his breakdown but fail, and it’s only Olivia’s attempt that manages to pull him back. But before that happens, a series of flashbacks uncover Huck’s past, and Guillermo Diaz makes certain that what happened to Huck is as harrowing and dark as befitting the character.
Before Huck became Huck, he had a family; a wife, and an expectant child on the horizon. And then he received a job offer, one that he literally couldn’t turn down, and the process begun. Murder was his job from that point on; Murder, torture and death. And Huck enjoyed it. But his family’s existence was discovered by those he worked for, and suddenly he was thrown into a dark, windowless hole and kept captive for months of isolation and psychological maiming, until he re-emerged broken, changed, and begging on the floor of a train station waiting for Olivia Pope to come along and drag him back from the depths of Hell.
‘Seven Fifty-Two’ was essentially a demonstration of how one version of Huck was destroyed and replaced with a second. Guillermo Diaz has deployed strong performances on Scandal before, but none quite as impactful as in this week’s episode. His ease in playing two versions of the same character was masterful, and even when the scene shifted to the present with Huck collapsed on the floor saying nothing but three single words of dialogue, he shone more than he’s ever done before.
This episode was Guillermo Diaz’s hour–his chance to give Huck more depth and history, and to show why Huck does the things he does, and how his life has been altered by his choices. Scandal is a show full of broken characters, damaged to the point of absolute destruction by their pasts but fixed back together with sticky glue. The fragility is always there, but they’re whole for the time being. Huck is the most unstable of them all, and Guillermo Diaz did an astounding job of showing what happens when the glue holding Huck together melts and allows all the pieces to shift out of alignment, as well as how the complete piece became fractured in the first place. An Emmy nomination is definitely beyond reach, but this was his episode to show that he deserves one nonetheless.
Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
‘And Now His Watch Has Ended’
Choosing between Emilia Clarke and Guillermo Diaz was a difficult choice this week, but the ultimate decision to opt for the latter does not detract from the former’s performance being fantastic this week. The final six minutes of this week’s Game of Thrones were mesmerizing, character-defining and signalled a gargantuan step forward for Daenerys, and Emilia Clarke demonstrated what I’ve always thought–that she is the best person to play Dany, and nobody else could compare. Ever.
Jonny Lee Miller – Elementary
‘Dead Man’s Switch’
Elementary is an inconsistent show, but Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most consistent things about the show to date. This week’s episode gave him the time to show another side to Sherlock–one of guilt and pain–and it was not unsuccessful. His recollection of skipping rehab on his first day to score some drugs, and the subsequent guilt he’s felt since, was one of the strongest character moments I’ve seen so far.