TVLine's Performer of the Week: Grant Gustin

Grant Gustin Performance

THE PERFORMER | Grant Gustin

THE SHOW | The Flash

THE EPISODE | “Fast Enough” (May 19)

THE PERFORMANCE | With its game-changing twists, promising peeks into the future and more Easter eggs than you could shake Danielle Panabaker’s Killer Frost wig at, Tuesday’s Flash finale can remain confident in its summer-long stay on our DVRs.

But it was star Gustin’s tearjerking performance as an uncertain hero with the weight of the world — and its many alternate timelines — on his shoulders that made this a truly unforgettable hour of television. We barely held it together during Barry’s just-in-case farewell to Joe (“Goodbye dad!”), a fitting tribute to one of the most formative figures in Barry’s Life. Of the many things The Flash gets right, its portrayal of his relationship with Joe has always been one of our favorites.

Then came Barry’s long-overdue goodbye to his dying mother, which basically eviscerated what was left of our fragile composure. With each reassuring word, spoken through Gustin’s tears, it was like we were the ones suffering from a fatal stab to the heart. We haven’t felt that compelled to call our moms since J.K. Simmons’ Oscars speech.

But Gustin’s killer performance was about more than just his contagious waterworks. The episode, particularly that CGI-gasm of a final scene, presented a series of defining moments for Barry, who went from fighting to save his family to now protecting the universe at large. And Gustin was always up for the challenge, just as he has been since Day 1 of The CW drama’s flawless first season.

Mad Men Series FinaleHONORABLE MENTION | Allow us to co-opt one of the most ubiquitous slogans in the history of advertising and direct it at Mad Men‘s Peggy: You’ve come a long way, baby. And because of Elisabeth Moss‘ gorgeous performances, every single step of that journey was a joy to watch. Sunday’s series finale found Moss playing all of Peggy’s angles, from excited-about-the-future business woman (Moss’ face when Joan offered Pegs a partnership!) Don’s worried protégé (the concern coming off her in waves during their phone call!) to Stan’s reluctant lady (“I mean, I don’t even think about you!” she replies to his confession of love, Moss making Peggy a hilariously believable, flustered mess). We’ll miss the whole Sterling Cooper & Partners gang, but we’ll miss Moss — who took her alter ego from mousy secretary to kickass copy chief before our very eyes — the most.

Performer of the WeekHONORABLE MENTION | Dancing With the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli often goes overboard with his praise of the reality series’ best competitors. But there was nothing hyperbolic about his love for eventual Season 20 champ Rumer Willis and her season-ending freestyle routine, which Tonioli noted was full of “luscious beauty and bewitching intensity.” Along with professional partner Val Chmerkovskiy, Willis executed the routine with such a command of the dance floor, it was easy to forget the actress was merely an amateur competing for a Mirrorball trophy. And, even though her technically-precise movements kept us glued to our screens, Willis’ magnetic chemistry with Chmerkovskiy led to a performance so passionate we felt we were intruding on a private moment between the pair.

Performer of the WeekHONORABLE MENTION | Patti LuPone earned this humble plaudit a dozen times over in this week’s past-tense Penny Dreadful just by making Vanessa’s mentor, the Cut-Wife, so bitter and unsentimental that she was off-putting. But the actress more than earned the distinction, she outright owned it, upon revealing that what lay beneath the raggedy witch’s rough exterior was the heart of a righteous fighter, a heart hardened by the lifetime of wrongdoing to which she’d borne witness. So we knew how significant it was when the old woman at last opened up to Vanessa enough to reveal her name — Joan Clayton. And we felt as much as knew what a loss Vanessa suffered when, seconds later, Joan was made a victim of the ultimate injustice.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

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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59 Comments
  1. iHeart says:

    I don’t know, shouldn’t Letterman have been included here? because I feel like he should have

    • dude says:

      Why? Just because it was the last episode? It’s not like he gave a particularly great performance in his final episode. He mostly just cut away to clip packages and let his guests do the talking in the Top 10. He’s an amazing host but that last episode wasn’t worthy of performer of the week.

  2. Steven says:

    Stop. I can’t take Grant’s crying face. I’ll start crying all over again!

  3. Flash_fanatic says:

    Could not agree more with you on Grant Gustin! Would have been so gutted if he hadn’t got performer of the week. I’d go as far to say he’s been a performer of the season! He completely proved all of the doubters wrong in only his first season as a series lead! :-D

    • michael persson says:

      yes everyone said he would be a terrible flash because of glee, i had my doubt as well but damn his acting on flash is superb

      • Flash_fanatic says:

        There were so many times during this episode alone that I wanted to reach into the tv and hug the guy! A lot of times I watch people cry on tv and it feels forced to me. I can understand now why a lot of the cast were crying in the table read. It really was a super episode and Grant was a massive part of the reason why.

    • PurpleRain says:

      I never doubted him but I did not think he would be up to Stephen Amell’s standards. But since the pilot epi Grant has been a stellar performer and I’m hoping that the Emmy voters recognize him.
      I don’t live in the US so I’m not too sure why CW shows don’t get as many viewers as shows on other networks or why they don’t get much award love but Grant deserves to be nominated.

  4. Sarah says:

    Funnily enough, he got performer of the week for the pilot episode of The Flash too…

  5. amy says:

    I would definitely add Jon Hamm and January Jones to the list. Hamm gets a lot of attention, and yet I still feel like he gets underrated. And I don’t understand people who think Jones can’t act. “Birdy.” “I know.” That phone call was shattering, and those two were spectacular.

  6. bj says:

    Grant was amazing in this episode. Great choice.

  7. Ian says:

    Grant Gustin was indeed brilliant that episode. He does emotional fantastically, from any scene with Joe, Henry, or Iris. Candace too, did wonderfully with her material in these last stretch of episodes. Perhaps that’s why her and Grant have so much chemistry. They feel everything.

    I balled my eyes out at the Cut Wife’s death as well. Ironically, Patti and Eva as gothic momma witch with her little scorpion, were a match made in heaven. Encore!

  8. Penny Dreadful needs to find a way to bring Patti LuPone back!

    • Ian says:

      If you look at Patti’s IMDB….

      But Joan clearly died, so. But I mean, if Vanessa gets to reunite with her somehow, my heart will burst. I’ll die of emotion.

  9. omabin says:

    Thanks tvline for recognising grant gustin, that was very very deserving and i truly think this guy should be up with the big guys in the acting categories. He made barry allen the most relatable super hero ever for me, all season long, and his performance on the finale was indeed fantastic. Although the flash thankfully gets the respect it deserves for the most part, grant is very very underrated! So very deserving!

  10. herman1959 says:

    Grant really threw down in the finale, and he’s been great from the pilot on. Therefore, I’m hoping that he receives some Emmy recognition – a nomination, please. Although, considering how comic-based shows have done in the past, I wouldn’t count on it.

    • bj says:

      They should insist that the Emmy voters watch all the shows before they start voting on them. But most don’t even watch any of the shows on network tv and it’s the same cable shows nominated year after year. It’s not right.

  11. theschnauzers says:

    I don’t disagree with the choice, but Outlander’s Sam Heughan gusty performance in last weekend’s episode has Emmy worthy written all over it, and at least deserved a mention.

  12. Ralph says:

    Grant Gustin all the way. He is the heart of an awesome show. It is sad that Emmy voters will “poo poo” on a “sci-fi” show and NEVER even consider him for a nomination that he richly deserves. Looking forward to next year!

  13. Mary Picon says:

    He was great in Glee too but buried in that huge cast.

    • Ninja Princess says:

      I agree. I never rally understood why they suddey toned down Sebastian and introduced a new villain Warbler. Maybe they thought he might outshine some of the main cast, cuz in my book he did…

  14. Spitey Spice says:

    I really expected Tobias Menzies, Sam Heughan, and/or Catriona Balfe here. I guess you’re maybe saving a spot for the Outlander finale. If not, I don’t understand–those performances were unparalleled.

    • Mauigirl says:

      I totally agree! After those torture scenes at Wentworth, I thought for sure Sam, Cait and Tobias would be acknowledged for their performances.

      • Concerned says:

        Guys enough w outlander PLEASE. It’s a cheesy 90s syndicated show with butts. It’s Xena meets The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (look it up people!) if it was written by a romance novelist with the ability to add full frontal nudity. Acting and writing is bad cheesy cheesy cheesy. Honestly how could you think it deserves alveoli dates? In seriously asking too. It’s like saying Michael Hurst should have gotten an Emmy for Iolaus

        • Concerned says:

          Oops sorry that one part should read “any accolades” that was as confusing as someone saying they think this show should be acknowledged for anything more than a romance novel coming to life. Nice butts, bad acting.

          • Isobel says:

            Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan are British theatre actors with award nominations, they’re far more likely to be recognised by the Emmy’s than Grant Gustin

          • Concerned says:

            Al Pacino is a great actor….he was also in “jack and Jill.” just because they are British theater actors doesn’t mean they deserve awards for hamming it up in poorly written roles

        • Terri says:

          This was NEVER a show. You are confusing Outlander based on the novels with some other show. And if a DC comic character can get accolades why can’t we give accolades for a historical drama? And, no, it is NOT a cheesy romance. If you saw the violence in this show, you would know it’s anything but a romance show.

        • theschnauzers says:

          Concerned, it’s pretty clear you haven’t seen the show, or read the source materials. “Romance” is the least of the labels you can attach to Outlander. It’s as much historical, action-adventure, and sci-fi as it is “romance.” It’s multi-genre, which is hard for people who just want to dismiss it as “romance” to understand.

          And those of us here are the only ones suggesting “Emmy.” There is a chorus of television critics saying the same thing about Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, and Catriona Balfe, but in my mind of the three, Sam had the heaviest load to bear in the last episode (and from what I’ve read, in the next episode as well.) I doubt you can use the word “cheesy” when it comes to these last two Outlander episodes of their first season; “brutal” may not even go far enough.

          • Concerned says:

            I don’t think it’s just romance. Hence me comparing it to 90s syndicated shows like Xena… #justsayin

          • Jill says:

            To be considered historical surely the writers would have to get more of their facts right. To be considered for acting accolades Sam Heughan would have to act, not be a piece of cardboard with curly hair.

            Outlander just proves no-one should ever let American authors near anyone else’s history.

          • Cass says:

            Jill is probably English and hates how the English are portrayed in Outlander. Hate us Scots and Americans much, Jill?

    • Concerned says:

      Unparalleled compared to what exactly? TV history? I Dont think we are watching the same show LOL. Lemme guess fifty shades of grey is unparalleled for u as the best book AND movie of all time

      • Tess89 says:

        Do calm down.

      • Spitey Spice says:

        Haven’t read/seen Fifty Shades and don’t care to–not my cuppa. It doesn’t sound as though you’re enjoying Outlander, so why are you watching it? Just to make fun of it?

        These three actors gave amazing, riveting, gut-wrenching performances, IMO (which I’m perfectly entitled to, thanks). And don’t knock romance novels unless you’ve read a wide selection of them. If you have, you’re entitled to your opinion, but something tells me you haven’t. They’re written by doctors, lawyers, professors, maybe even your next door neighbor. They’re often brilliant, lyrical, and full of rich, painstakingly-researched detail, as with Outlander.

        And hey, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. isn’t in the same class as this show, but it was fantastic!

  15. Funny to think that one year ago, people were bashing the casting of Grant Gustin as Flash.

    • Tai says:

      That’s what I think every week. So many people said he couldn’t do it. And he’s been crushing it since the pilot. The finale was just heart breaking. The fact that it was very dialogue heavy but still engaging just demonstrates how talented this cast is.

  16. Katongo Katongo says:

    I thought Rose McIver or Rahul Kohli deserved atleast an honourable mention.

  17. LAwoman says:

    Elisabeth Moss and Patti LuPone were two of my favorites of the week. I didn’t even realize that was Patti LuPone on Penny Dreadful at first.

  18. IMHO says:

    Elisabeth Moss & Patti LuPone were fantastic this week.
    My favorite scenes from the Final 8 Episodes Mad Men were both of Elisabeth Moss.
    Peggy on roller skates while Rodger played the organ and Peggy arriving at McCann wearing ray bans with a cigarette hanging off her lip dirty Octopus picture in tow.

  19. PurpleRain says:

    Thank You Team TVLine for recognizing Grant Gustin’s amazing performance this week. The scenes with Joe and then his dad in prison and then the award winning scene was with his mum..even my husband shed a tear and he has not cried in 6+ years. Just thinking about it, I get all choked up….

  20. jeanann says:

    I was certain that Patti Lupone would be mentioned in the article but I am at least glad people mentioned her in the comments. Stunning. Between Patti LuPone, Eva Green and Helen McCrory, the entire episode was a master class. Agree with Grant Gustin’s performance, as well. Plus, a shout out to Sophie Turner.

  21. Well deserved Grant Gustin hopefully s2 we will get more Iris because Candice has some chops to

  22. Azerty says:

    Totally agree with your choice of Grant Gustin. Both scenes yoiu mentionned were excellent however the stellar scene which had me in tears was the scene between Barry and Henry. Now that Reverse Flash has been erased from reality there is no chance to see Henry out of prison but I think Barry has as much chemistry with Joe than with Henry.

  23. Pat says:

    Yes, to Grant Gustin. This actor is fantastic as the Flash and he just keeps getting better and better.

    • Cisco is the best! says:

      Cisco is greater he is funny and delivers every line in every scene to perfection for such a young man.

  24. jtrattray says:

    Grant Gustin has been great all season, and he was phenomenal this week. He really deserves this.

    Have to disagree about Joe though, he’s a terrible father. He obviously favours Barry and he’s awful to Iris.

    • Dr Wells knows says:

      Yes! Joe favours Barry way too much over Iris his own daughter by birth. Barry loves his real father more than Joe though!

  25. Mommaknowsbest60 says:

    Only person I would’ve added would be Mariska Hargitay on L&O:SVU.

  26. Cisco's Fan says:

    Cisco is the best he’s funny and delivers every time in every scene!

  27. Gue says:

    Grant’s just a cry baby!

  28. Temperance says:

    LuPone was spectacular in Penny Dreadful. Of course, everything about Penny Dreadful is spectacular. Seriously… it may be my all time favorite show now and that’s saying something.

  29. B says:

    Grant was amazing! Good looking and talented! Made me cry and laugh

  30. Brigid says:

    Brilliant choice! Grant was amazing all season but just on the top of his game for the finale.