Russell’s most transcendent and emotionally realized work as Elizabeth is when the masks she wears – as a wife, mother, and Russian spy – slip.
Placing Russell’s most iconic performances as Felicity Porter and Elizabeth Jennings side by side, you can see the vast physical and emotional terrain she can handle as an actress.
In the first season, that sacrifice came in the form of Gregory, a black radical Elizabeth had emboldened to join her cause, who is also her first real love.
A lesser show would move on, but Russell plays Elizabeth as if each step is weighed by the accumulation of her losses and tragedies.
These quick turns of emotions are what Russell excels at, but during the Young-hee arc, they also have a layer typically unseen in Elizabeth’s steadfast dedication to her cause: regret.
Russell consistently depicts Elizabeth’s calculations and hardened outlook with precise empathy and care.
In the sixth and final season, Elizabeth’s face tells a story more knotted and painful than ever before.