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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Flash S2E1: The Man Who Saved Central City

The Flash
Series 2, Episode 1
The Man Who Saved Central City.

Hello! New ongoing, yes. Since this is sort of replacing Kamen Rider Drive (since I'll be doing Ghost fortnightly), you could say I'm just switching from one scarlet speedster to another, but in fairness, it was either of this or Iron-blooded Orphans, and I have no idea how long that latter is going to last.

I massively enjoyed The Flash's first series, going so far as to label it one of the best series of that crop of television, so in a way, this ongoing was a pretty natural choice, especially since ever seeing the (surprisingly late to be released) trailers for this second series, I have been quite hyped up about this series. Alternate universes! A speedster villain with a silly name! Wally West! It all looks to be good stuff.

This first episode picks up six months after Wells' death and the resulting singularity, with a Barry who, somewhat predictably, has pushed away all of his friends. During a ceremony in the Flash's honour, a metahuman with the face of a dead man and the power to absorb energy to empower himself appears to kill Barry, forcing him to reluctantly reunite the team. Meanwhile, Harrison Wells' attorney approaches Barry, giving him a video message that Wells left for him.

The Star Labs crew, Mk 2.

I'm not, all told, all that surprised that the show picked up after the singularity instead of immediately showing what happened there - let's face it, it's a pretty standard tool in the writer's toolbox, and as soon as they did that it became obvious that somebody on the team had died, which in turn made it obvious that it was Ronnie. After all, Stein is showing up in Legends of Tomorrow; Cisco, Joe and Iris all showed up in more or less the opening scene; and Caitlin still has a character arc she has to fulfill. It was predictable, even a bit hackneyed, but it worked despite that - and the reason it worked is, to be honest, largely because of Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker's performances.

(Of course, Ronnie isn't dead. He's in an alternate universe. That's not a spoiler, I haven't received that knowledge from any source, it's just bleeding obvious, because of course that's how this plot is going to pan out. Is anybody really in any doubt about that? I'd be surprised if anyone is.)

Which is fine, I don't think it was really intended to be a massive reveal, especially when the episode is more about Barry battling with his own sense of inadequacy: Our metahuman of the week, Atom Smasher, is really playing third fiddle as far as villain duties go, coming after Barry's staggering self-worth issues and Harrison Wells' beyond-the-grave shenanigans, and that's fine. As far as third fiddle villains go, he presents a decent physical threat, doesn't hog the limelight, and serves as pretty good set-up for our main villain of the series, blue speedster Zoom. 

Not gonna lie, I thought he was the Axecutioner at first.

It's nice to see Wells back, too, in video message format, giving us one of the biggest plot twists of the week: Wells giving a video taped confession to the murder of Nora Allen, with the justification that 'it doesn't matter, you'll never be happy anyway.' As with so much of what Wells does, it's ambiguous as to whether he actually does intend this for Barry's benefit, or whether he actually thinks it'll just make Barry more miserable down the line, or whether he's just doing it because there's no reason not to, or whether it's a combination of the above.

What's not ambiguous, though, is that Henry Allen is a terrible person. Seriously, Henry, you're going to pull the 'I'm leaving Central City because you won't grow as the Flash with me here' card? Basically telling your emotionally vulnerable son that even though you're out of prison, you're not back in his life, because you're going to deliberately stay away from him so that he can be a better superhero?

That's awful. You are awful. Say what you will about Wells, but after he did horrible things he at least never had the audacity to demand Barry tell him it was all right, so that he could assuage his own guilt over being a terrible person. You are a terrible person, Henry. I declare that Barry has two dads and you are neither one of them, because Police Detective Dad and Evil Speedster Dad are better at this than you. 

(He also has Assassin Uncle, because Malcolm and Barry seemed to really get along.)

I like the red and yellow balloons.

The episode ends with a - well, it's not a shock moment, because it was in the trailers, but with a slightly surprising moment of Jay Garrick showing up to warn the crew that they're in danger. Garrick has always struck me as the least interesting of DC's many speedsters, so I'm not overly hyped for his appearance, but then, I don't like the comics version of Barry, and I adore him in-series.

All in all, a very solid opening episode, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of this series has in store for us.

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