TVLine's Performer of the Week: The Flash's Grant Gustin

grant-gustin-the-flash-pilot-cw-performance-barry-allen

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Grant Gustin

THE SHOW | The Flash

THE EPISODE | “Pilot

THE AIRDATE | October 7, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | He may not have leapt a tall building in a single bound, but Gustin’s performance in the pilot episode of The CW’s The Flash was pretty darn close to super-powered.

Despite having the hefty weight of a DC Comics legacy on his back, Gustin made it look effortless as his geeky crime-scene investigator Barry Allen transformed into the fastest man alive after a snafu involving a lightning bolt (generated by S.T.A.R. Labs’ malfunctioning particle accelerator) — and then embraced his destiny as the titular crime-fighter. Along the way, the actor nailed moments of whimsy, elation, heartbreak, fear and loss — all while exuding the kind of rare charisma upon which entire franchises can be built.

RELATED The Flash Casts Smash Alum to Play Gay DC Comics Villain Pied Piper

Gustin was particularly great in a scene at a deserted airport during which his S.T.A.R. cohorts put his new powers to the test. The twinkle in Barry’s eyes and his gleeful-kid smile as the world blurred by did as much as any special effect to transport viewers into the super-speed experience.

Later, though, when Barry paid a visit to his imprisoned father in jail and reaffirmed his belief in his innocence, Gustin’s vulnerable delivery served as a searing reminder not to dismiss him as “just” a CW/sci-fi/comic-book actor (labels that have infuriatingly held back everything from Battlestar Galactica to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Orphan Black in their quest for awards-season kudos). The tears streaming down Barry’s face, the way he raised his hand to the plexiglass divider separating him from his dad, the palpable mix of affection and despair and resolve emanating from his core, all combined to make it the pilot’s most powerful interlude. And considering The Flash also shut down a tornado by zipping 700 mph in an opposing rotation, that’s no small accomplishment.

POTWHONORABLE MENTION | As NCIS cast a spotlight on Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, TV vet David McCallum seized the opportunity to bring new texture to the character he has played for 12 seasons. As flashbacks revealed a young Ducky’s tie to a person of interest in this week’s case, McCallum in the present made clear the doctor’s deep love for Maggie Clarke (Tyrant’s Alice Krige), an old friend who broke his heart long ago, and with whom he has reunited in London. When Ducky and Maggie are held captive by a killer, the doc uses a scalpel to nick the guy’s brachial artery, a crafty move that would make Illya Kuryakin proud. Later, as Maggie and Ducky reflect on what might/should have been, he produces the train ticket he bought for her all those years ago, only to go unused. A second chance at romance? “All I know,” Ducky tells his true love, “is that I would like to stand here with you a little longer, next to you, and maybe just not say anything.” All told, a moving example of how McCallum excels when interacting with, you know, live bodies.

POTWHONORABLE MENTION | Sleepy Hollow‘s Lt. Grace Abigail Mills prides herself on not losing her head — a tough task, given where she lives — and we’ve been fans of Nicole Beharie‘s take-charge, slightly aloof portrayal from the series’ start. Monday’s episode, though, allowed the actress to play up Abbie’s vulnerabilities, both while pleading with Jenny not to shoot Sheriff Reyes and later, while trying to process the information in her mother’s file. Without losing the fire that drives Abbie, Beharie softened beautifully as the weary “leftenant” realized that her unstable mom really had been trying to save her daughters from the darkness that stalked her. Consider, too, the artful way that Beharie has been playing Abbie’s clearly conflicted feelings about Katrina’s return, and we’ve got nothing but fist-bumps and apple pie for the woman behind the Witness.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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61 Comments
  1. klutzygirl33 says:

    I have to say Brett Dalton and Iain de Caestacker knocked it out of the park during the scene where Fitz confronted Ward. It was emotional and painful, and Ward also confirmed what some of us have been saying for months – that he was trying to save FitzSimmons.

    • Badpenny says:

      Or he was just saying that and trying to manipulate a crazy person. :)
      .
      So far this season Ward has done nothing but attempt to emotionally manipulate everyone he has encountered. He is clearly trying to find weak spots and drive wedges so that someone will eventually free him.

    • DarkDefender says:

      Trust no one.

    • I have a feeling TV Line is waiting to put Ian here. They did something like tht lst yers, they would wait to the “Emmy worthy” acting of the season. When Fitz get to confront Simmons about her leaving, I think that will be the episode that will get Ian to be Performer of the Week and, if emmy’s voters get out of their asses, giving him at least a nomination.

  2. Brandon says:

    Uh…no offense to Gustin, but Craig T. Nelson & Bonnie Bedelia should have won this honor, hands down. Flash was solid, but Camille’s ‘in sickness and in health’ speech, then sliding Zeek’s ring back on his finger in the ICU was heart-wrenching.

  3. Burkey says:

    Iain de Caestecker from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    He’s been doing great work this season, but I was absolutely floored by his performance in episode 3 when he sees Ward for the first time since he dumped him and Simmons out of the plane. Amazing stuff.

  4. bj says:

    I loved the Flash on so many levels mainly because of Gustin. He was fantastic.

    And David McCallum was also great. After that scene with the ticket I was thinking I’d love to have him bring her back with him. You’re never too old for love. (And the fact that the actor is in his 80’s blows me away every week. He makes it look so effortless. What a great role model for young actors.)

    And you’re right, a comic book or sci fi actor will never be nominated for an award no matter how good they are.

    • herman1959 says:

      I don’t know about that, especially if Grant Gustin keeps up this level of performance over the season.

    • Liz says:

      Yes comic/si-fi never get any of the love. Also when your show is in The CW your pretty much ignored. This is why Arrow doesn’t get that stunt Emmy nomination when it’s clearly the best.

  5. spindae2 says:

    Hmmm don’t know Grant wouldn’t be my first choice. Especially with the amazing AHS premier both Sarah and Jessica knocked it out on Wednesday.

  6. Samantha says:

    I’m sorry, did you guys miss Agents of SHIELD this week? Iain de Caestecker was phenomenal! Can’t believe he didn’t get a mention.

  7. OM says:

    Iain de Caestecker from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Now that Fitz is ‘damaged’ de Caestecker has proven to be a phenomenal actor. Over those 3 episodes he stole the show, even though he was barely in 4 scenes an episode. And this week, when he finally saw Ward, the way he portrayed that panic attack was very realistic; and just overall that whole scene was really well done. I’m surpised he’s not gotten at least an honorable mention.

  8. shreya says:

    I love grant but cmon if Iain de caesteckers fitzs scene with ward didn’t break your heart I dunno what will!! He is hitting it out of the park from the past 3 weeks deserves the performer of the week

  9. Tran says:

    Grant Gustin is destined to be one of the breakout stars of the Fall TV season.

  10. OK, yes The Flash was good, but not (yet) great. Grant was very good, but Performer of the Week? First time I have not agreed with this. Not even close. The work Bonnie Bedelia did in Parenthood this week ran circles around the 3 good actors mentioned here.
    P.S. I hope you realize the fantastic work being done every week on Supernatural? Jared P. was particularly fantastic in the Season 10 premier.

  11. melita says:

    You guys are kidding right Iain de caesteckers fitz’s scenes are so gutwrenching and played so well by him I’m surprised you guys just can’t notice .

  12. Graciela says:

    Nathan Fillion reflection sensationally different emotions in CASTLE.

    • DarkDefender says:

      Agreed. The hitch and quiver in his voice as he said “I did this?” Was amazing. Also the brave, happy. Face he puts on for Beckett and still showing the frustration of his situation, not to mention you can see the gears turning that he will not stop trying to figure out what happened. It was great acting.

  13. Sparky says:

    Maybe a strange choice but yesterday’s Days of our Lives when EJ died in Sami’s arms was very heart wrenching and definitely brought tears to my eyes. Alison Sweeney in denial that EJ was dead was very sad and powerful to the point where she finally saw him in the morgue and she couldnt feel or hear his heart beating and it really hit her that he was dead was so emotional. Typically not a soap fan but I bought the relationship between the two of them. So sad that EJ died – did not expect it.

    • jbj says:

      OMG! EJ’s dead?! F-me for waiting for the weekend to catch up!

      • Sparky says:

        Whoops sorry. Very emotional episode……

        • jbj says:

          That’s okay! I knew James Scott was leaving, and that he finished work before Allison Sweeney. But, I convinced myself that the characters would leave together, and that it was just some crazy Days scheduling. I just didn’t see his death coming, and I am not entirely pleased at how they went about it. The scenes were powerful, but I am reminded of VictorTodd’s death on OLTL. They played it just as thoroughly, but in the end there was a twist. I won’t be convinced until Sami actually leaves. If it’s real, then there is still always hope that Allison will return and we’ll get Lumi part 1000. They were not as entralling, but were still fun to watch.

  14. Shaun says:

    Grant Gustin?Really?!Give it to a SHIELD actor.

  15. Amy says:

    While I agree that Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia were incredible, it is nice to see someone from a new show recognized – especially Grant Gustin. His performance made The Flash so great and one of the very few new shows I am excited about watching a whole season of.

  16. jbj says:

    Abby is the “2nd Witness”, not the “Woman behind the Witness”. It’s an important distinction, because part of Jenny’s current conflict with Abbie is that she was not one of the Chosen, despite being a Believer. Katrina and Jenny would be “Women behind the Witnesses.”

    • Brandy says:

      I was just about to write the same thing in regards to Abbie being the “woman behind the witness.” I seems that some critics & viewers alike have a microaggressive attitude in how they discuss Abbie’s importance in the show in comparison to Ichabod’s that’s unsettling, if not a bit flagrant. Abbie & Ichabod are the two witnesses that been chosen to prevent the impending apocalypse.

      Other than that, I agree that this week’s performance by Nicole Beharie is worthy of an honorable mention recognition.

      • Derik says:

        Actually, I think what the writer was trying to say is that Nicole Beharie is the “woman behind the witness” because Abby (the witness) is a character being played by an actress (Nicole).

        • Angela says:

          Bingo.
          And yes, I wholeheartedly agree with her getting some well-deserved attention for her performance this week. She had some great moments with Jenny, and I loved her attitude as she learned more about her mom as well. The way she looked at the end-I wanted to give her a hug and tell her everything would be okay.

        • jbj says:

          Abby’s gender is obvious, thank you! What was lost in the writer’s comment is that she is Icabod’s equal! As Brandy said, this has been a consistent problem with a lot of critics, which is unfortunate considering how often Icabod outright states that they are partners and true equals. As such, Abby stands **beside** him, not **behind** him! It’s the same number of letters, so not any harder to write.

    • Fran says:

      The woman in the “woman behind the witness” is Nicole Beharie. As in, they are complimenting the woman (Nicole) who is playing the witness (Abbie).

  17. Bwhit says:

    I’m catching up with Arrow Season 2 and finished the episodes with Grant Gustin plus I watched the Flash pilot (I’m on board for any show that brings Wenworth Miller back to my TV). I agree with this choice, he was excellent and this show is going to be a hit with him at the helm :)

  18. Shar says:

    I was a teenager when David McCallum hit the screen in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and all of my friends had serous crushes on Illya Kuryakin. It was great to see that the writers of NCIS paid homage to his most famous character haircut and turtleneck included. It was only after that I was able to appreciate him in his British films and I’m sure he must now be one of the few remaining actors from The Great Escape still working ( or alive?).

    • SMcMary says:

      Your last statement got me thinking and I believe he is the only surviving member of the Great Escape. Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, Gordon Jackson, and James Coburn passed away years ago. James Garner and Richard Attenborough both passed away within this year. It’s sad but you’re right it is wonderful that David McCallum is not only still working but getting honorable mentions for his performances. And I was a big fan of the Man From Uncle as well, almost 25 years after it first aired :)

      • Patrice says:

        Shockingly, I still have my “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” card, intact which I got when I was ten. :-) Even to a then ten year old girl, David McCallum was one of the most wonderful things to hit television–ever. And still is. He did an exceptional job and when his old girlfriend said “I thought you hated bow ties…” and he replied, “I do…” the entire mystery behind why Ducky always wore bow ties fell into place. To have it all fall into a longing for a lost love was very well done. I wish they would have more Ducky moments–he is one of my favorite characters.

    • Pat says:

      I am so glad to read of others who remember David McCallum in the “Man From UNCLE” during the 60’s. I also, was a teen back then and while others were loving Robert Vaughan I was loving David. I thought he was so sexy.

  19. Eliza says:

    I stopped watching Glee somewhere during Season 3 so the first time I encountered Grant Gustin was his appearance on Arrow.
    I instantly liked him! Thought “this guy could go far” and was very happy when I found out The Flash was getting its own series. No surprise he did such a great job in the pilot.
    Nicole Beharie does fantastic work on SH. And she’s so, so pretty.

  20. mollytanner says:

    I thought Bonnie Bedelia deserved an honorable mention. I also thought the actor who plays Drew was great when he was dishing Amber some honesty about Ryan’s problems and her indecision.

  21. Deb says:

    1) That deserted airport was Ferris Air which rather implies Carol Ferris, implying Hal Jordan and so possibly presaging Green Lantern.

    2) Ducky said “I loved that black turtleneck”, Women of a certain age would like to reply “Illya, we loved you in it”

  22. CJ says:

    There were some great performances to be found this week (particularly on Parenthood, as many others have mentioned), but Grant Gustin really put in a memorable performance in The Flash premiere and deserves to be Performer of the Week. Really stunning work and I am so looking forward to the rest of the season.

  23. redjane12 says:

    Rupert Friend playing Homeland’s Quinn, an agent with some serious PTSD was also a good candidate. His acting was pretty understated but powerful.

    • mollytanner says:

      Suraj Sharma did well being understated, too, especially in the scene where he found his family member under the blanket. He does a good job at conveying sympathy, but also showed good simmering anger when he was staring up at the drone.

      • redjane12 says:

        So true! I think I was less surprised because he was so heartbreaking in Life of Pi, I sort of expected it. Not that it takes anything away from his performance of course. Generally acting in Homeland is pretty good so that these two stand out is a real achievement.

  24. Rox says:

    I was fully expecting to see Iain de Caestecker get at least a mention here… He’s been doing some heartbreaking work on Agents of SHIELD this season, especially in this week’s episode.

  25. skrable2 says:

    Very pleased to see David McCallum get praised, and for that beautiful final line to be mentioned. As with the multigenerational cast of Parenthood, McCallum’s turn in the spotlight reminds us that fine acting that touches the heart can come from performers of all ages … not just from the stars of the hippest or newest shows.

  26. Kate says:

    All the men on Parenthood were fantastic this week.

  27. Parker says:

    What??? I was sure that this week I would be able to guess the POTW (would have been the first time in years though!) but no one from Parenthood (Bonnie Bedelia!!!) or Shield was mentioned?!

    I’m confused now!

  28. Some very powerful performances this week, many of which came from characters dealing with family drama.

  29. christopher bee says:

    Anothe week of some fantastic acting. I would have nominated Saving Hope´s Kristopher Turner and Erica Durance. That was an emotional Rollercoaster of both actors.

  30. Paul says:

    Bonnie Bedelia and Craig T Nelson for Parenthood. They knocked it out of the park.