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Performers Of The Month - August Winner: Outstanding Actor - Dominic Sherwood

This article is a collaboration from SpoilerTV writers: Aimee Hicks (article lead) and DJRiter (contributing writer and editor).

Acting isn't an easy task in any genre, but sci-fi brings with it a whole new realm of challenges. Many shows have large ensemble casts, each deserving of extended screen time, but often limited in episodes to just a few scenes. Some are fortunate enough to have one or two players of such a cast that make more of an impact than others, talented enough to take those limited scenes and make them their own, catching the eye of the audience. And, where else could a character die and be resurrected in the same episode? In sci-fi, death isn't always permanent, but the characters that do return from the other side often come back changed in some way. What rarely happens is where a performer has to cram all of that into a single episode. Taking a character through an emotional action-packed journey is one thing then add in a death scene and the start of some sort of big grand transformative storyline and the acting challenges are off the charts. That's what Shadowhunters' Dominic Sherwood faced in Beside Still Water and he charged into every challenge with stoic strength and immense skill as he took Jace on an incredibly tense journey. Sherwood was flawless as he was tasked with working through a massive array of emotions and action heavy moments. It is all of these things, and so much more, that easily landed him with the title of the Most Outstanding Actor of August.

The Season Two finale of Shadowhunters was an intense episode that dove heavily into the mythology of the series. It also had very high stakes that forced all the characters to deal with unimaginably tragic circumstances. While everyone else remained behind, Jace and Clary (Katherine McNamara) raced off to Idris in a desperate attempt to stop Valentine (Alan Van Sprang). Instead of finding any help they encountered unexpected foes and became prisoners. It is in this moment that Dominic Sherwood had the first of several prolific moments that showcased his talent. Clary was slated for execution. Her head was placed on the stump and there was this terrifying moment of quiet when their eyes locked. This was a moment acted purely through the eyes of both performers. The connection between Sherwood and McNamara had to be intense enough to transcend the lens and slam into the audience. McNamara handled her side with every bit of grace as has become expected from her and Sherwood answered accordingly with such a look of intensity that the power growing within Jace was palpable. The show didn't need to add in the glowing eyes to convey the power that Jace had tapped into because it was already incredibly portrayed by Sherwood. Not everyone realizes how hard it can be to have to convey so much non-verbally and he absolutely nailed it. He had an exceptional scene partner in McNamara, but it was his side of the equation that made this scene so powerful. Then they followed it up with an awesome fight sequence which was the cherry on the top of this stunning scene.

But this was just the beginning. Dominic Sherwood wasn't done in this episode as he carried on into the next big scene where Jace was stabbed by Valentine. What made it even worse, is that the horrible moment transpired in front of Clary. Even as his life was draining away, Jace still tried to convey a message to her and painfully struggled to tell her that he loved her. Dominic Sherwood made some interesting choices in how he went about this scene. He could have overacted it and been overly serious or he could have played it to stoic and lost the emotion of the moment. What he chose was rather unexpected, yet ended up working perfectly for the moment. Instead of going too far either direction he chose a path that was directly middle of the road. He played the moment with external stoic charisma yet he allowed the emotion to well up at the perfect moments. As Jace stared up at Clary and tried to convey his dying message the tears that trickled down his cheeks were utterly heartbreaking. His acting choices showed that Jace was in shock and rapidly slipping away, but Sherwood made sure that Clary was the lone focus of Jace in those final moments.

Jace's most intense moments of the episode were with Clary meaning that those scenes relied heavily on Sherwood being able to lock into his connection with co-star Katherine McNamara. Luckily for the show, these two have a powerful chemistry that makes these highly emotional scenes all the more impactful. The final confrontation with Valentine was the big moment of the season finale. For it to work the stakes had to be astronomically high. Dominic Sherwood's big moment bookended this confrontation and in both cases, it was his connection with his co-star that really grounded the scene. What is beautiful about this partnership is that they are perfect together and deliver flawless performances as a united unit, but individually they are equally as unbelievably talented. When looking at either side of their scenes all that is visible are two powerhouse performers. They play off of each other incredibly well which allows them to bring to life these extremely intense moments where both performers shine. Even considering the power of this partnership there are still moments where one overshadows the other with some unbelievably powerful bit of acting. One such moment occurred at the very end of this epic-sized scene when Jace was resurrected.

When Jace gasped back to life he was confronted with the reality that he was alive and back with the woman he loves, but also that there would be dire consequences for what she did to save him. This forced Sherwood to once again play a varying array of emotions to illustrate both Jace's joy and his concern. While doing that he also had to show Jace's immense love for Clary which ended in an emotional kiss. This entire sequence from the last breath to the resurrection required an incredible amount of acting finesse that he traversed effortlessly. Jace as a character tries to always be strong and hide his emotions, but Clary brings out a softness in him. This requires Dominic Sherwood to constantly have to walk a proverbial tightrope when he shares a scene with McNamara. He has to stay true to who Jace is, but still, show how special Clary is to him. Stoic characters are exceptionally hard to portray because it can sometimes be hard to convey to the audience the complex emotions of the character that hides just below the surface. That isn't a problem for Sherwood as he's so connected to his character and to his craft that he conveys these things seemingly effortlessly.

While Sherwood shares a special chemistry with McNamara, he also has a powerful bond with everyone he works with. He just has a natural ability to connect with his acting partners. He has an impressively powerful chemistry with Matthew Daddario (Alec Lightwood) that is easily on par with the acting bond he shares with McNamara. Much like with McNamara it is the real-life friendship that helps to bring an intensity to what is transpiring on the screen. That was wonderfully portrayed in the moment when Alec arrived with Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) and Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia) fearful that Jace was dead. When Alec sees Jace alive both men were stunned. The confusion and wonderment hung over them, but in the moment, it was just about two men who have a powerful brotherly love reuniting after seemingly losing one another. Their embrace at the end of the scene was an endearing moment of brotherly love and relief. It was yet another huge example of just how aware Dominic Sherwood is with everyone he shares a scene with. He always delivers stunning moments no matter if he is solo or working opposite one of his equally gifted co-stars. This is a cast that works as a unified force and it shows in their final product. And this cast is a great example of an ensemble of young, wise beyond their years, actors who have learned the skill of knowing when to step back and allow a co-star to shine in a scene. Sherwood portrays the de-facto leader of the group which puts an extra bit of burden on both him and his character to always be right on point. And, just like every other moment this season, he doesn't disappoint.

While this scene was the big moment of the episode this wasn't how Jace's story would end for the season. He got a couple nice moments to enjoy their victory before things took another serious turn. As the episode wound to an end it became abundantly clear that Jace's worst fears were being realized as it became evident that his resurrection had somehow changed him. In the end, he was in agony and it was written all over Sherwood's face. The character is changing and clearly illustrating the consequences that are going to be paid for Clary resurrecting him. That means that Dominic Sherwood is going to have some incredible stuff to do next season. This storyline couldn't be in any better hands and he's sure to deliver some truly exceptional performances as this new storyline progresses.

This entire season was a tour de force for Dominic Sherwood and he was brilliant in everything he did, but he was truly outstanding in this season finale. Jace was put through an emotionally draining season and Sherwood was always right on point to bring each moment to life in stunning ways. He knows when to portray Jace as a stoic warrior and when to let his gentler side emerge. This episode gave Dominic Sherwood heavy material to work with and through his exceptional performances, it is clear why he was voted as the Most Outstanding Actor of August. Since we couldn't cover every exceptional or noteworthy moment from this episode please feel free to use the comments section to talk about everything we couldn't get to in the article.

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


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