“Can you imagine staying in that world? No, you’d go mad,” Ann Dowd told The Hollywood Reporter in June. She may have been referring to the dystopian universe of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she could have easily been talking about another series that seems to have been created just for her: “Lambs of God.” In the gothic fairytale, Dowd plays one of three nuns living in a remote convent forgotten by time. To call her performance outstanding is a staggering understatement; it’s more akin to being wholly possessed by a character, one that makes Aunt Lydia look downright square.
Undisturbed by modern society, Sisters Margarita (Dowd), Iphigenia (Essie Davis), and Carla (Jessica Barden) just want to be left alone to have storytime, do crafts, and tend to their sheep flock, which they believe are reincarnations of their beloved sisters who have passed. So when the Catholic Church sends the young, strapping Father Ignatius to survey the abbey, they’re not exactly eager to roll out the welcome mat for their unexpected intruder. In fact, their version of hospitality makes Stephen King’s “Misery” look like a stay at a 5-star hotel, as they do whatever (and I do mean whatever) it takes to protect their eccentric way of life.
Set against a stunning backdrop of jagged, wind-swept cliffs, the series is a masterclass in the slow build, but it also pulsates with feverish mania thanks to Dowd, whose Sister Margarita comes so unhinged she swallows the entire scene. It’s as if Dowd was born to play a blood-swilling, butcher knife-wielding Mother Superior type. Perhaps there is no mad world in which she doesn’t shine.
So if you love her as strict disciplinarian Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” you will be blown away by Ann Dowd in “Lambs of God.”