Filed in Game of Thrones

TVLine’s Performer of the Week: Lena Headey

Each week, releases who they felt delivered the performance of the week. Unsurprisingly, Lena’s performance during the season finale of Game of Thrones titled, “Mother’s Mercy” earned her top honours.

If we hadn’t recognized Lena Headey for her devastating turn in Game of Thrones‘ fifth season finale, we would’ve deserved a walk of shame of our own. During the course of the episode, Headey took the Queen Regent — already at a personal low after weeks held in the High Sparrow’s prison — to Cersei’s nadir. Headey elegantly wove her character’s haughty nature into even the most groveling of confessions; though Cersei admitted to sinning, the actress’ face showed that the royal clearly thought she’d pulled one over on the priest by keeping the worst stuff to herself. Headey’s just-got-slapped reaction to the High Sparrow’s ominous mention of “atonement”? Perfection.

Thus began Headey’s subtle, beautiful portrayal of a woman burning with thoughts of revenge. Sure, the naked (via body double) walk through King’s Landing is what got people talking, but everything worth remembering happened above the shoulders, playing out in Headey’s eyes. We saw embarrassment, fury and disgrace seething behind the actress’ regal carriage, which Headey held together — even through chamber-pot dumpings! — until the gates of the Red Keep. Only there did Headey allow Cersei’s tenuously maintained façade to dissolve into angry tears. Bravo to Headey for conveying so much while saying — and, in a sense, wearing — so little.

Honourable Mentions: Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black), Anna Friel (American Odyssey) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)