There are some Outlander Top Actor features this season that have required a certain degree of debate. This one doesn’t. Season 4 episode 6 was dominated by David Berry giving a career-highlight performance as Lord John Grey.
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Lord John is one of the most-difficult roles within the Outlander world to play because so much of his pain lies within his repression. He needs to have a surface that is, at least when you first meet him, unflinching. He’s a powerful man within the British government and needs to know how to present himself. He needs to be a proper father figure to William and he needs to be able to flex the proper political muscles. Yet, he also needs to be able to deliver the proper leering look at Murtagh or challenge other characters on their beliefs. Meanwhile, there needs to be an ability to break down those walls and show an exterior that is raw and vulnerable. It’s a version of the character where he longs for a happiness that he has never quite found.
The scene with Lord John and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) was perfect. Both actors understood the emotional stakes there. Lord John was pouring out his heard in terms of his love for Jamie and also his loss — he would never have him under the circumstances in which he would like to have him. It’s the most painful of unrequited love, one filled with impossibility and aloneness. In his typical state, Grey would never admit to any of this. Yet, he was facing death and all of the walls were broken. Claire was there to hear him and he, in turn, was there to speak. He had to find a way to get some of those words out and properly express them. It was beautiful, but also soul-crushing when he explained the length of his jealousy — it was seeing the happiness that Claire had and what he didn’t. It was a summation of his complicated relationship with both Frasers.
Then, even after all of this, Berry was still able to flip the character to his more buttoned-up side at the end of the episode. This is a man who understands the different dynamics and labels that come within relationships, and this was a story somewhat of his suffering. Yet, Berry delivered through both his words and the physicality of his performance that for Lord John, seeing Jamie and experiencing his world was better than leaving it to the imagination, regardless of how difficult it was to be there.
Cheers to David Berry once more for what he did here — if there’s ever an episode that makes the case for a spin-off, we like to think that this is it.
What did you think about David Berry’s performance as Lord John Grey on Outlander season 4 episode 6? Be sure to share in the comments. (Photo: Starz.)