Now that we’ve seen two different standout episodes in season 4, coupled with a good many appearances throughout season 3, we feel confident enough to now say this: Lord John Grey is quickly becoming one of our favorite Outlander characters. To go along with that, David Berry is also proving himself not only to be a standout performer, and the subject of this week’s Top Actor feature; he’s also showing himself perfectly capable of leading a spin-off if that opportunity ever arises – we would watch that spin off all day.
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Of course, every great performance starts with great writing and the Outlander team seems to know and understand the layers of this character very well. He is someone who cares a lot about duty and understands the responsibilities that come with his position. He is a lord and knows that there’s a certain pattern of behavior that is expected out of him. Yet, there’s also a layer of torment and tragedy to Lord John. This is a man who is constantly chasing impossibility and feelings for Jamie Fraser that he knows he can never be with — at least on the terms he would want. He cannot help but love who he does, or the fact that it dominates a certain corner of his mind. That is so much so that when he takes part in Brianna’s psychology game on Sunday’s episode, he cannot help but blurt out that Jamie is his companion in the woods. It’s the thing that is within his heart and head and Berry understands that. He brings that layer of longing to the character.
Also, you see in his conversation with Brianna outside River Run later and the level of subtlety Berry brings to the role. You can sense his emotions, but you often don’t see them fully. As Brianna brings up the idea of marriage between them and at one point even resorts to blackmail, you can see everything from heartbreak and anger within his eyes. Yet, he remains fairly steadfast as a character and restrained — he plays Lord John as a man who often tries to think many moves ahead and someone who really is just out for his survival. This very concept, of course, can be defined in many ways — survival in the public eye and then survival of the soul. By eventually deciding to marry Brianna, he helps protect her, protect himself in the eyes of Jamie, and also in some ways allow himself to still play into an image that he wants the world to see.
With David Berry, Lord John is all about the layers — there’s what lies on the surface, the tiny peeks of his true self he lets through, and then the rare moments when his guard is entirely down. There were glimpses of this in season 4 episode 11, but then also glimpses in his conversation with Claire earlier this season. Through this range of emotion, you also get a sense of David’s true talent — someone who understands the heartache and resolve of this man, but also someone who doesn’t have the will to completely give up.
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What do you think about Berry’s performance on Outlander through the most-recent episode? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: Starz.)