Our Christina Janke recaps and reviews The Flash series premiere! Follow her on Twitter @IntrotoGeek!
The Flash is finally here! The fastest man alive hit the ground running with his series premiere on the CW Network. Warning: spoilers ahead.
“To understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to do something first. You need to believe in the impossible.”
A very apropos disclaimer for an audience who still watch action hero TV shows grounded in reality. We know that has come and gone since Smallville and Supernatural, and again with Arrow. Even those, however, sort of cringed at the idea of going too crazy with the unnatural (at first). With the coming of The Flash, all bets are off right out the gate. We WANT the superpowers, and we WANT the super crazy that follows.
We first get a little introduction to Barry Allen’s childhood. When he was a kid, his mother was murdered by a mysterious lightning that enveloped around her. His father told him to run, and in a flash, Barry was swept away down the street. When he came home, his father was arrested and imprisoned for his wife’s murder. Since then, Detective Joe West has been taking care of him.
Flash-forward to present day, Barry works as a crack CSI lab assistant. His uncanny deduction skills look as if they rival Sherlock Holmes. In a neat way, the show illustrates his thinking process with minimalist animated graphics overlapping the crime scene.
Back at his lab, we meet love interest, Iris West. Together they go to Star Labs where Harris Wells is about to turn on their particle accelerator — Barry is an ultra nerd for theoretical science. They don’t stay long, however, when a thief makes off with Iris’ computer bag. Barry gives chance but is ultimately beat up. Thankfully Eddie Thawne, the city’s newest detective, stops the thief.
After giving his statement to the police at the precinct, Barry goes back to his own lab. This is where the scene from Arrow comes in. Last season, we see the particle accelerator at Star Labs explode, which is quickly followed by lightning striking Barry and throwing him across the room. Nine months later, Barry wakes up to Former Star Labs staffers Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, and the now paraplegic Harrison Wells hovering over him.
Wells explains that Star Labs was shut down by FEMA after the event killed 17 people. Wells further goes on to say that the accelerator was working perfectly until an anomaly occurred. After that everything became unruly and popped. The energy from the explosion went up into the sky and “seeded a storm cloud that created a lightning bolt” that hit Barry.
Wells heard about Barry’s condition — he kept shorting out the entire hospital every time he went into cardiac arrest. It was actually a misdiagnoses. Barry’s heart was actually beating too fast for the machines to pick up, convincing everyone that he kept flatlining over and over again. Wells and his team took Barry back to Star Labs for better care. No one knows why he’s been fully healed and that his muscles aren’t at all atrophied, but before anyone could run further tests, Barry rushes off to go see Iris and her dad.
Meanwhile, Central Bank is getting robbed by someone the police thought was dead — his plane was caught in the Star Labs explosion while getting away from Det. West earlier in the episode. Instead of a gun, this thief has a new weapon in his arsenal: he can control the weather. Yup! This is one of the many zany villains in Flash’s Rogues Gallery, Weather Wizard.
A happy reunion all around between Barry and the Irises, but it’s cut short when they hear about the robbery. While leaving, Barry’s super speed starts manifesting. He uncontrollably flings himself against walls, police cars, and finally a laundry truck.
He goes back to Team Star Labs to figure out what’s going on with him. They equip him with a “stellar” spandex suit and other goodies for a test run. Barry literally blows everyone away as he sprints down an old airstrip. As he’s running, however, a memory of his mom’s death pops into his brain. This distracts him and he crashes into a pile of traffic barrels, breaking his arm. Don’t worry, though, that arm heals in a matter of hours. Not. Fair.
Barry divulges this memory to Wells and friends. As he’s slowly coming into the reality of what’s happening to him, he’s better understanding what may have happened the day his mom died. He remembers seeing a man in the stream of lightning, whom we know to be one of the Reverse Flashes. Which one? My money’s on Professor Zoom.
Later, Barry makes his way to see Iris but instead sees her and Detective Thawne canoodling. Iris pleads with Barry to keep their relationship a secret, especially from her father who is now Thawne’s partner. Yeah, awkward and complicated. Their conversation is cut short when a car chase speeds past them, one cop car nearly hitting Iris and him. Barry’s speed saved them and chases after the criminal. Turns out the criminal is Clyde Mardon, aka the second Weather Wizard (in the comics). Before Barry can take him down, Mardon creates a thick fog to get away.
Det. West responds to the scene. When Barry tries to tell him that Mardon is alive and can controlt he weather, West goes off on Barry.
“Mardon is dead. There is no controlling the weather, Barry. Just like there was no lightning storm in your house that night. It was your brain helping a scared little boy accept what he saw. … Your dad killed your mother, Barry! I am sorry, son! But I knew it, the jury knew it, and now he’s paying for what he did. I have done my best to take care of you since that night and I have never asked for anything in return, not even a thank you. But what I do ask now is that you for once in your life see things as they are.”
Just as Barry storms off, Thawne comes up with a sketch of the suspect from some witnesses. It’s Clyde Mordon. The level of “Well, damn…” that on West’s face is incalculable.
Still pissed off, Barry charges back into Star Labs and confronts Wells and company about he not being the only one affected by the storm nine months ago. No, no he wasn’t. And they’re not even sure how many were affected. But that’s not exactly the most alarming thing Wells says:
“The accelerator went active, we all felt like heroes, and then… it all went wrong. The dimensional barrier ruptured, unleashing unknown energies into our world. Antimatter, dark energy, x-elements…”
All theoretical energies.
He further says that they’ve been searching for other “meta-humans.” Hey! That word sure sounds familiar! Barry starts to leave to find a way to stop Mardon, but Wells stops him and says that that’s a job for the police, that they should stay out of it. Barry’s only purpose for Wells and the future of Star Labs is to understand his own anomalies (i.e. super speed, super healing, etc) and somehow find a way to help others walk again, and so on. In other words, Wells doesn’t think much about using Barry’s powers to vigilantism, just scientific application.
This doesn’t go well with Barry, so he runs to Starling City to seek advice from none other than Oliver Quinn.
“I don’t think that bolt of lightning struck you, Barry,” says Oliver, “I think it chose you. You can be better [than me] because you can inspire people in a way that I never could. Watching over your city like a guardian angel, making a difference, saving people…in a flash.”
Now inspired, Barry takes up the initiative to seek out other meta-humans. To do that, he needs Caitlin and Cisco’s help. Cisco enthusiastically gives him a prototype suit originally meant to replace the traditional turnouts firefighters wear. How he anticipated the need for a material that can withstand high velocity is beyond me, but hey, I’m not a smart guy nor a firefighter. Meanwhile, Caitlin finds a way to locate Mardon, and it looks as though the guy holed up in the same barn he and his brother hid before getting away from the police the night of the storm.
Detectives West and Thawne got the same idea (sort of) and arrive at the barn first. Mardon easily throws them around with his powers, knocking out Thawne. Mardon thinks he’s a god and starts looking at bigger things than stealing banks like a two-bit crook. He starts creating a tornado which he’ll use to impose upon Central City. Barry arrives just in time and unravels Mardon’s tornado in a classic Flash fashion. Enraged that he’s been bested by some kid in a costume, Mardon resorts to using his gun on Barry. West, still conscious through all of this, shoots Mardon and saves a now unmasked Barry. Suddenly, West starts to believe every crazy thing Barry has told him since Barry was a kid. Now there’s an understanding between the two of them.
After beating Mardon, Barry visits his father at Iron Heights. This is a tender character moment for Barry for it illustrates his hopeless optimism even in the darkest of times. It’s why we love The Flash in the first place.
The epilogue shows Wells entering a secret room. Nothing too sinister about this scene…except that he can really walk and is looking at a holographic news headline dated ten years into the future! And the headline? It reads “Flash Missing — Vanishes in Crisis.” What the what?! Who is this guy? And holy crap, WHICH CRISIS IS IT REFERRING TO?
It should go without saying, The Flash is going to rock our socks off.