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Performers Of The Month - May Winner: Outstanding Actress - Floriana Lima

This article is a collaboration from SpoilerTV writers - DJRiter, Abi Baker, and Zandarl.

One of the most vital aspects of keeping any television show successful is its casting. Casting directors are called upon to put together the "A" team of the show, the core group of characters that carry the bulk of the weight in episodes each week. It's a difficult task, trying to find the right mesh of actors and actresses that not only look good together but also are a perfect balance of acting styles and yes, that mysterious intangible, chemistry. They also have to surround that group with supporting, recurring and guest stars that blend or interact perfectly with the "A" team. And sometimes when casting these supporting, recurring or guest roles, magic happens. An actor or actress will be cast for a part, either for a one-shot appearance, or for a short series of appearances, but the reaction to the character/performer and/or their chemistry with co-stars will be so strong there is an audience demand to see more. The casting director for all of the Greg Berlanti produced superhero shows on the CW Network -Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl is a master at this, all boast stellar, talented casts, but he has also captured that lightning in a bottle at least twice!

Supergirl struck gold when Floriana Lima was cast for the role of Maggie Sawyer. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the character was brought onto the show, not originally as a love interest for Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), but instead, as an iconic gay DC character to help facilitate Alex's planned coming out storyline. However, after their first meeting on screen, the chemistry between the two actresses was electric, fan reaction stratospheric, and the writers and producers soon found themselves scrambling to incorporate more of Maggie and the talented Lima into stories. The result has been one of the most praised coming out storylines on television and a relationship that has been called one of the most realistic and healthiest on television.

Fans have responded in amazing fashion to the growing relationship between Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer. It has grown bit by bit throughout the season, with award-worthy work from both Leigh and Lima and culminated in an epic moment in Episode 19 – Alex, which many are calling one of the best episodes of not only this season but of the series as well. While the episode was called Alex, focusing on the kidnapping of Supergirl's DEO agent sister, the episode was a showcase for Floriana Lima as Maggie Sawyer. For her performance in this episode, she was voted by fans as Spoiler TV's Most Outstanding Actress for May.

Alex took the Maggie/Alex relationship to the next level and showed us the many sides of Maggie Sawyer. It was the first time, for an extended period, that we saw Maggie put her skills as a detective/police officer to the test. We saw her struggle to balance keeping focused on finding Alex, while in true Maggie fashion, holding her personal emotions close to the vest. And we witnessed the moment both she and later Kara realized the depth of her feelings for Alex. It was also the episode where Maggie was fully welcomed into the "space family". Kudos go out to Lima too, for performing many of those scenes while apparently ill, giving her voice a rattled, raspy tone that ironically helped intensify the rising panic and despair Maggie was feeling. It is also a testament to Lima's talent and chemistry with this season's MVP, co-star Chyler Leigh, that the depth and intensity of the feeling their characters have for one another were conveyed so intently despite them appearing together in only six scenes in the entire episode. In the most powerful of those they weren't even in the same room together! Scenes between Alex and Maggie (Leigh and Lima) have been some of the best on the show this season, and although to some there haven't been enough of them, this episode is the perfect example of it being the quality and not the quantity of scenes that matter. Maggie the cop and Maggie the girlfriend are definitely at odds with one another throughout this episode and Floriana Lima is masterful at showing us just how fine a line she has to walk in order to rescue Alex. The stakes have never been higher and Maggie puts all of her detecting skills to the test.

You can tell how important being a cop is to Maggie from the earliest scenes where she is acting as a hostage negotiator. She's calm and methodical and likely given just a little more time would have ended a successful negotiation, were it not for Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). Her rigid shoulders and clipped tone with Supergirl after she burst in to end the situation is just the first hint at the conflict that has been brewing. That conflict comes to a head at an awkward dinner that ends with a tense verbal sparring match between Lima and Benoist and sets the stage for the conflict they face.

Maggie was right to point out to Supergirl, that the girl of steel often leaps into the middle of a situation without considering the consequences. Something, Maggie as a cop, is trained to do. You could feel the frustration emanating off her, yet she never completely loses control, because it's a cop's job to stay in control. Yet, you see the actress skillfully flip the switch from Maggie the cop to Maggie the girlfriend after Kara's abrupt departure. Her entire body language and tone softens when she talks to Alex, telling her she has no problem getting along with Kara, that it's Supergirl with whom she has issues and that yes, for Alex she'll try to get along with Supergirl for Alex's sake. She quite prophetically announces she'd do anything for Alex, and later we see just how far she is willing to go.

This is yet another example of one of Maggie's greatest contributions to the show, and that is the ability to see situations with an objective eye, and delineating the difference between Kara and Supergirl is just a prime example of this. Another of the character's strong points is that unlike others, she appears to always be putting the needs of Alex first. It's not that Kara, J'onn (David Harewood) or the others are cruel or unfeeling toward Alex, it's that they are used to seeing her as the strong, capable agent and sister, being everyone's rock so to speak. However, this season the writers/producers have wisely used Maggie to give us someone with Alex's best interests at heart, but who in fact sees the more vulnerable side to Agent Danvers and this has been one of the highlights of the season and given both characters so much room to grow.

This has all been accomplished thanks to the skillful nuance Lima applies to her performances. A great performance doesn't rely solely on the words the actor is given to say, it's those little touches that bring a character to life and gives scenes heart and depth. In Alex, Floriana shows us two types of nuance that make this performance stand out. There's the nuanced side of Maggie the cop on display in the interrogation scenes with both Rick Malverne (David Hoflin) and his father (Gregg Henry). She makes the choice to have Maggie for the most part standing, arms crossed in a position of authority. In the first scene in the DEO after it's discovered Alex has been abducted, you at first see Maggie in a defeated position, leaning against the circular desk, but you notice her eyes are in constant motion and alert, and when Maggie the cop kicks in to point out that they're asking the wrong questions, she raises up and again assumes a posture of self-assurance and authority. It was a nice touch to have J'onn recognize and acknowledge Maggie and place his trust in her by first allowing her to interrogate Malverne, then later joining her in the subterfuge of pretending to be Malverne's father to get him to talk. At that point, whether he realized it or not, J'onn was showing his trust in Maggie and she became a vital part of the "space" family.

But, it's the nuances she gives Maggie the girlfriend that elevate her performance. In that same first scene in the DEO, you see Maggie struggling to remain calm, and before switching to cop mode, take a second to center herself by grabbing the table with both hands then literally and figuratively rising to the occasion. Lima shows us this again and again throughout the episode, these wonderful nuanced moments that beautifully illustrate Maggie's growing fear and desperation.

Moments such as the slight slip of the stoic expression on her face and suddenly standing when Malverne hits a chord while talking about his mother telling him he was garbage and useless during his first interrogation; then later, with time running out, the slight quiver of her chin then biting her lip to maintain control of her emotions when Rick talks about how he could tell how much she cared about Alex by the way she looked at her or the way their hands brushed (you have to wonder by her reaction if that was the exact moment Maggie realized she was in love with Alex, by the way, this man's words were affecting her); the look of stark terror on her face when Maggie and Kara race into the warehouse and see Alex seemingly unconscious in the tank; and the tender, gentle way she cradled Alex in her arms after Kara frees her from the tank, rocking gently, resting her chin on top of Alex's head and alternately kissing her head. The intensity of these small moments adds up to create a well-rounded performance.

Maggie finally reaches a breaking point in the heart-rending "firsts" scene where she pleads with a trapped Alex, via a computer screen, don't give up, to keep fighting because there were so many firsts they had yet to experience together. Maggie had managed to hold it together until that moment, then seeing Alex trapped and apparently resigned to her death, she broke and all the fear, desperation and love came pouring out. The way her hands shook as she held the computer; the raspy quiver to her voice (which was helped ironically by the fact that Lima herself, appeared ill during the filming of this scene) on the verge of tears, it was as if seeing Alex that way brought home the realization of what she was about to lose and it shook her to her core, but yet she summoned the strength to tell Alex to fight, to hold on. It was likely also the moment Maggie was pushed to deciding Kara's POV of punching your way of the situation was the only way she was going to save her girlfriend. This was Lima's finest moment of the episode, filled with sheer raw emotion that brought fans to tears. What makes this scene even more remarkable is that in all likelihood she was performing to a blank computer screen, yet still made us all believe she was seeing Alex trapped and likely dying. We felt every nuance- the fear, the desperation, the anger, the love. This was perhaps Maggie's character defining moment on the show. The writers delivered a powerful scene and entrusted it into Lima's capable hands. It was a moment that they had been waiting to write for her all season and Lima nailed it.

If you look back through this season you can see the slow build which leads to the conflict between Kara and Maggie, well more to the point her alter ego, Supergirl. Their relationship is put under further strain during this episode. When there is a fear of losing someone we love, we generally think about our own feelings, forgetting that others may care for them as well. Now we know Kara is not a selfish person but during these scenes, all she can think about is she could lose her sister. Maggie is realizing not only that she loves Alex even though she hasn't voiced the words but her feelings and her relationship seem to be disregarded which angers her as well. It's not a battle of one-upmanship or who loves her more, but recognizing you need to consider the other's feelings. When Winn (Jeremy Jordan) announces he has found Alex, Kara is all for rushing off, Maggie looks at how calm Rick is and then back at Kara who is already out the door you can see it playing out in her mind something isn't right. She chases after her telling her to stop but Kara doesn't listen to reason, Imploring Kara to listen, Maggie's parting words are you aren't the only one who cares about her.

Maggie was right, the timer is sped up due to Kara being reckless and rushing off. Rick teases them again when he lets Kara and the Maggie speak to her via the laptop Kara found. Alex's cell is filling with water at an alarming rate and she asks to speak to Maggie alone. This scene is from the heart and both actresses have you reaching for the tissues. Of course, the feed dies and Maggie turns on Kara, her fears, anger, and frustration coming to the surface. She could lose the woman she loves and never even got a chance to tell her. It's been spoken about how Floriana was losing her voice which added a raw edge but the depth of emotion is reflected not just in her voice but her eyes too. Maggie has just as much to lose as Kara and the delivery of those lines is so powerful and fraught with emotion it's no surprise, Supergirl's eyes glisten with unshed tears. It is a significant turning point for Supergirl, you can clearly see the moment on Melissa Benoist's expressive face that Supergirl finally understands just how much Maggie cares for, no, loves her sister.

The emotional range that we see from Lima as Maggie due to Alex being kidnapped is somehow both understated and immense. Chyler Leigh as Alex was great as well. These are truly two women who have been pushed to the edge in such a short amount of time and have thankfully come out of the other side of it, which only seems to have made them stronger. Again, this episode was truly a huge emotional journey for Maggie, and one can imagine that she's usually objective and level-headed, but as Rick says to Maggie ‘love can make people do things that they don't normally do.' This was something which again slowly built over the episode, and culminated in the twist that Maggie was the one to try and break Peter Thompson out of prison, and not Kara like the episode was trying to make us believe. Using Alex's gun to help break him out of his cell, carrying a little part of something connected to the person she's trying to save, essentially a metaphor for finding strength from Alex to do what she needs to do, was a wonderful way of connecting Alex and Maggie when they spent most of the episode apart. The fact that the scene was interspersed with a scene of Alex struggling added to the stakes of what Maggie was doing, and again connected them. You could see that Maggie was trying to contain her emotions as she knew time was ticking for rescuing Alex, and again, Lima showed this through her body language, managing to convey so much even when she wasn't speaking. She raised her shoulders to mask her feelings, she tried to shrug things off, she tightened her face and her neck clenched. There was so much to focus on that you could see her desperation when it came to how much she wanted Alex back, and only a strong performer would be able to do that. It was a bit of a letdown that Kara was the one to convince Peter to give them information on where Rick may have taken Alex, but it's understandable that the writers would have wanted to share the efforts of locating Alex between the two people who care about her the most.

It's hard to talk about the ‘I love you' scene without connecting it to the wonderful ‘firsts' scene. With the events of the episode, many were actually expecting Maggie to say I love you first, but her emotional journey in this episode alone, from what seems to be slightly emotionally repressed to openly trying to stop herself breaking down, to tearful smiles, is more than what some people go through in half a season, or sometimes even a full season. When she says ‘I love you' back though, it feels as easy as breathing and draws even the first-time viewer into their relationship and what they were feeling in that moment, even though they don't really know anything about them. The way her face breaks into a smile when Alex says ‘I love you' as if she can't contain her joy at hearing those words is as heartbreaking as it is enchanting. There are subtleties to her performance in this episode that truly make it believable that she does love Alex, and she knows she's so lucky to have her and actually has a chance to experience all those firsts with her that she wants to. The furrow of her brow and the softening of her face are just a few of the elements that Lima puts into the ‘I love you' scene that makes this confession a beautiful thing to behold.

Thank you, Supergirl, for casting Floriana Lima as Maggie Sawyer. She has made Maggie a vital part of your story. Even though Floriana Lima has moved to recurring status next season, there is no doubt that the writers and producers are well aware of what a powerhouse performer they have in her and will use her at every opportunity her schedule will allow in Season 3. Alex and Maggie's story is far from done. There are many more great scenes to come from Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh. Who knows, perhaps even a wedding in Season 3 of Supergirl?

Congratulations, Floriana Lima on being voted SpoilerTV's May's Outstanding Actress! A well-deserved honor. This is her second win this calendar year as Performer of the Month. With this win, as per SpoilerTV POTM rules, she will be ineligible for any nominations or wins for the remainder of 2017.

While this article has attempted to discuss Floriana Lima's incredible performance in Episode 19, Alex, there are sure to be moments that we have missed. What are your favorite moments from Alex and POTM winner Floriana Lima? Discuss in the comments below.

Aimee’s Note: Most of you may have noticed that this article wasn’t written by me and I wanted to take just a moment to acknowledge that. Performers of the Month was birthed from a tiny idea that I had that took off far beyond what I imagined. Each and every article requires many countless hours to ensure that the winners are properly honored. Unfortunately, due to other responsibilities, I wasn’t able to give the May articles the time they deserved. With that in mind, I took to the writing team and recruited a few fellow writers to help out. This month I wasn’t able to contribute anything to the articles, that won’t always be the case. However, this month, I felt confident in handing over control of the articles to my editor, DJRiter, who has edited every POTM article since November. There is no one that I trust more to ensure my vision for these articles than her. Make no mistake, I still had a hand in the articles and each one is being posted with my utmost support. I couldn’t be more proud of how they turned out and I have the highest level of gratitude for the teams that took the time to make these articles. It is our hope that we will be able to continue with these collaborative articles that allow many more observations to be made beyond what one person alone could see or highlight. This is a new chapter for POTM where we can provide even higher quality winner articles that highlight more and honor the winners more thoroughly. I will still be contributing to the articles as my own schedule allows and the managing of POTM remains firmly in my hands. Even if I don’t contribute to the writing I will still review every article before they post. Though, with these articles I only requested minor adjustments because they came out pretty darn near perfect. This is still a feature I’m committed to and with some big changes on the horizon for the 2018 cycle, I think this feature is only going to keep growing. Thank you to each and every single one of you for your participation in nominating and voting. For you, we will continue doing our very best to produce high-quality winner articles.

PLEASE READ: Please keep comments on topic and just discussing the performance of the winner

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