Heroic actor of the week (7/20): Jake Austin Walker

Stargirl -- "Brainwave" -- Image Number: STG109c_0060r.jpg -- Pictured: Jake Austin Walker as Henry King -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Stargirl -- "Brainwave" -- Image Number: STG109c_0060r.jpg -- Pictured: Jake Austin Walker as Henry King -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

In this week’s special edition of Heroic Actor of the Week, we take a look at how Jake Austin Walker stole the show with his amazing performance as Henry King Jr. in Stargirl.

It’s a strange time for superhero television. Not only are much of the regular scheduled programs – including Arrowverse regulars The FlashSupergirlBatwomanBlack Lightning and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – taking their annual summer hiatuses, none of them will be returning in the fall.

In spite of that (and indeed everything going on right now), we’ve all been able to seek some much-needed escapism in the brilliant new DC Universe series Stargirl.

Since its arrival on our screens back in May, Stargirl has presented us with a number of impressive performances. That said, its latest episode, “Brainwave Jr.”, caught us all off-guard as it contained perhaps the strongest offering of the show thus far – and perhaps even the best of the whole year.

Jake Austin Walker – Stargirl

Over the course of Stargirl‘s first 9 episodes, we saw multiple sides of Henry King Jr. He’s been the school bully, the troubled and overlooked son and he even showed glimpses of being a loving boyfriend. All of these facets of the character were convincingly brought to life by Jake Austin Walker, but none of them could have prepared us for the powerhouse performance he hit us with in what might just be his final installment of the show.

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Walker’s work over the past couple of episodes has been particularly impressive, as he managed to make the once-loathsome Henry – who was in the midst of discovering his own Brainwave-like abilities that he inherited from his father – a genuinely engaging person. Was the writing strong? Oh absolutely. But it was the empathetic way in which he portrayed him that had us all feeling for a character we once couldn’t stand (or at the very least understand).

But as Henry stood in that tunnel in “Brainwave Jr.” and plead with his father, it was hard not to find yourself getting a little tickle in your heart. Walker’s delivery of that monologue was everything. It was an empowering, thought-provoking, heartfelt and ultimately tragic performance that didn’t just attempt to appeal to Brainwave’s better nature, but made us feel things for Henry that this writer didn’t think he ever would. As horrid a human being as Brainwave was, you wanted him to change for Henry; you wanted Henry to have the father he deserved.

I don’t know if this is the last we’ve seen of Henry, but after that performance, I know it’s not the last we’ve seen of Jake Austin Walker on our screens. A truly incredible offering from the young star it was, without question, one of the finest performances to grace our screens this year. And it is one that this writer will find himself watching again and again.

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Stargirl streams on DC Universe on Mondays and airs on The CW on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Did Jake Austin Walker have you in floods of tears too? Check out previous Heroic Actors of The Week here.