Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Flash gets spooky, plus Justine Lupe on Mr. Mercedes and that Succession quiz

Danielle Panabaker, Justine Lupe
Danielle Panabaker, Justine Lupe
Photo: Robert Falconer (The CW), AT&T Audience Network

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Tuesday, October 29. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

The Flash (The CW, 8 p.m.): There’s been a fair amount of dark stuff on this season of The Flash thus far, what with Barry’s forecasted doom as well as lots of stuff with dark matter that fuels rage or turns people’s eyes all scary-shiny-black. But The Flash’s Halloween episode seems likely to turn that dial up to 11.

Just in case you didn’t catch the title of that promo, this episode is called “There Will Be Blood,” and we’re guessing it involves neither Daniel Day Lewis impressions, nor Barry Allen drinking a milkshake as fast as the speedforce will allow. It probably involves blood though. Put on your spookiest novelty socks, light that jack-o-lantern, and watch Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) flip his shit.

Regular coverage

This Is Us (NBC, 9 p.m.)
Arrow (The CW, 9 p.m.)

Wild card

Mr. Mercedes (AT&T Audience Network, 10 p.m.): There are a lot of Stephen King adaptations to be had at the moment—looking at you, Castle Rock; how’s it going, Doctor Sleep—and Mr. Mercedes is among the best. Frustratingly, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never seen it, as only DirecTV subscribers can watch it at the moment, but should you find a way, it has much to offer. Chief among its virtues are the uniformly excellent performances from a cast that includes Brendan Gleeson as Bill Hodges, recent Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome (who confusingly plays a character called Jerome), and Succession’s Justine Lupe, who our own Alex McLevy calls the “series MVP.” Lupe plays Holly, one of Hodges’ compatriots in solving crime, and a character who is of ever-increasing importance in the Stephen King multiverse.

We spoke with Lupe about Holly’s complexity, playing opposite Brett Gelman in a rare non-asshole role for him, what it’s like to hurl an iPad into the ocean, and that Succession quiz.

The A.V. Club: If we played a clip of Holly’s first appearance on the show and then skipped to a clip from the most recent episode, the difference would be shocking. How did you approach her continued growth and evolution as a character?

Justine Lupe: It’s kind of an amazing progression over the three seasons, right? You’ve seen in each season a different kind of big step for her. The first season was basically just stepping out of her tiny little home and her relationship with her mom, [getting some distance from] her mom’s overbearing tendencies. Then you see her develop into more of a functioning, independent woman who’s also a businesswoman. You see her run this whole operation, really stepping into being on top of Finder’s Keepers [the private detective business she runs with Hodges and Jerome]. And then in the third season, you see her step even further into her development with this love interest that she has, and she also has to really be brave and deal with her trauma from being in a mental institution. She’s been going through a fast track, and coming into her own and facing the hardest parts of her personal life with kind of this intense bravery. So much growth, and in all these different directions.


AVC: How has that affected your physical performance? Because it feels like Holly has a different physical presence now than she did in season one.

JL: Yeah. She still has her stimming, and the ticks that she has had from the very beginning, but she also is kind of owning her body, owning her space in a different way. She’s walking with a little less trepidation. I felt like in the first season, she’s being brave and putting herself out there in interactions that she has with Hodges, and in particular in Jerome, but she also is not quite used to it. And I think a lot of that was embodied in her physicality. And so as her emotional life grows, I feel like she’s also feeling more comfortable in her skin.


She’s also coming into her womanhood a little bit. A teenager carries themselves differently than a fully adult woman. Not that she was a teenager before, but she had been coddled and infantilized a little bit, and she’s now fast-tracking into being a woman. You see that reflected in not only the way that she carries herself, but with this love interest, also her clothing, makeup, doing her hair, and just pushing herself into places [where] she might’ve previously been a little bit uncomfortable.

AVC: It’s interesting watching you play opposite Brett Gelman, because he’s so warm and great on this show, but you also kind of want to shout at her to stay far away from him, because he’s played some incredible assholes.


JL: Yeah, “Don’t get with the Fleabag guy!” I love Brett personally, we became dear friends on the show, and I saw him embracing the opportunity to do something different. I’ve loved watching how he brings this sweetness and humanity and neuroses [to the character] and they’re very different, but they have a shared kind of sensibility. It’s been great watching that.

AVC: What do you consider the defining relationship of the show?

JL: I feel like there’s not necessarily one cornerstone relationship. I think it definitely centers around Hodges, but you see his web of relationships with all these different people, in all these different ways. His relationship with Ida [Holland Taylor] is special in one way. The one that he has Jerome is different. It’s about the life of this man, and I think that all of his relationships within the show provide something crucial. You see this moment in his life play out not only through the action but through these sweet, special, interesting, complicated relationships with everyone in the show. And I don’t know if that’s a kind of cop-out answer, but I do feel that way. I’m constantly moved by all the different sorts of colors that come out with each relationship.


AVC: The character Holly also showed up in Stephen King’s The Outsider, which came out last year, and it’s been revealed that she’s the protagonist of a book that will be out in the next few years. What’s it like playing a character that’s becoming more and more important to the work of the writer?

JL: It’s exciting. I have always felt an obligation to the character, because she’s so special. She’s an important, inspirational presence, and her story is really fascinating and dynamic. think that there’s a reason why she’s a fan favorite. I’m excited for more people to have access to this beautiful soul, whatever form she comes in. I wish more people got to see our show, because it’s really hard to see. This thing that we put a lot of time and love into, I hope it has a life [in the future] because I think it’s a little hard to find. I hope that [our interpretation of her] will be included in the life of the character.


AVC: On a much lighter note, if Holly were to sit down and take the Succession quiz that’s been making the rounds, who do you think she’d get?

JL: Oh my gosh. I almost want to go take the quiz as Holly. I don’t even know who’s on it, because I haven’t taken it myself. Is Willa on it?


AVC: It’s pretty much everybody.

JL: Did you take it? Who did you get?

AVC: I got Marcia.

JL: Oh, that’s good. That’s probably flattering. I’m going to take it. Is that annoying?


AVC: Not at all.

JL: Okay, pick a vice? Holly doesn’t really have vices. I guess alcohol, if she had to pick one. I hope I’m doing the right quiz. [She finishes the quiz.] Okay, I also got Marcia!


AVC: That’s great.

JL: I feel like that sort of makes sense. “While people are off underestimating you, you’re concocting secret plans and taking notice of the big picture. A lot of people in your life don’t seem to understand you, but that’s okay because you understand them just fine.” That sounds like Holly.


AVC: One last Succession question: What was the physical experience of throwing that tablet into the ocean? It’s maybe the most Succession-y thing we see Willa do.

JL: Honestly, I was so nervous about it, right, because I had to really clear some distance! There was some artistry to the way that it had to be thrown. I was focused on trying to get the moment in terms of the emotional reality—being frustrated and hurt by what she’s seeing, not knowing how to handle it, so it’s just like, “reject.” But along with actually getting the iPad off the boat, and clearing the side of the boat, there was a crew off in a little speedboat trawling on the side of the scene to retrieve it. So there was also an angle that I was supposed to hit. It was like far more nerve-wracking than I thought. It was this weird mix of trying to think it through technically and also be impulsive at the same time.


I loved that moment so much. It’s really fun. When I read it in a script, it was like, “that’s so fucking awesome.” I was really, really excited by it. But it a balancing act. You’re thinking, “what is this person actually going through?” And also making sure that you don’t hit the boat.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!