Legion contributor Shaun Rosado is recapping and reviewing The Flash for us this season! Follow him on Twitter @pneumaz!
Wow. That was an intense episode. I admit, when I heard that this week’s episode of the Flash, “Power Outage” was going to feature the idea of Barry losing his speed, I initially thought this was going to be an episode where the writers phoned it in. I mean seriously, how many times have we seen a TV show about a super powered individual suddenly lose their powers for 30 minutes to miraculously get them back at the end to save the day? Too many, easily. Which is why I was so surprised by how entertained by this week’s installment.
As we’ve discussed previously, the weakest part of the Flash has been the villains and while we have had some bright spots in Captain Cold and Plastique, the general consensus is the metahumans at large are just a bunch of angry misanthropes bent on revenge and money. This week though, we were given not one, not two, but three villains to juggle. I have to admit, it totally worked. Our brand new villain to the mix was a rarely seen metahuman by the name of Black Out. His power set consists of the ability to harness electrical current, but also filled him with a hunger to drain larger and larger power sources in order to sustain his abilities. We’re given a quick flashback of his origin, as he climbed an electrical tower during the supercollider incident which not only gave him the mastery over electricity but also killed his two best friends in the process. Ten months later, he is back in Central City and causing problems. So far, so cookie cutter. It’s what happens next that really gets the story moving in the right direction.
We’ve been given glimpses inside of Harrison Wells’ Chamber of Secrets where he reviews future events but we also find out that he keeps a detailed journal of Barry’s evolution into the Flash, cataloging his failures and successes. Wells, concerned that Barry isn’t pushing himself hard enough chastises him for playing the hero too often instead of helping S.T.A.R. Labs in researching the transformation of his body, like they agreed. Appropriately humiliated in front of Cisco and Caitlin, Barry rushes off to stop Black Out from hurting people. The resulting confrontation strips Barry of his powers as Black Out absorbs all of his speed, which is commonly depicted on the show as lighting. Unable to regenerate his speed, Barry is back to normal hum drum mode and is pretty emo about the whole situation.
This was pretty interesting in that Wells reveals that the Flash is his greatest invention/gift to the world and he will not lose that to a freak accident. The tension is really cranked up to eleven as we see just how protective Harrison can get about Barry and his “legacy”, allowing the rest of Team Flash a glimpse into the man he really is and how driven he is to keep that legacy intact. Admittedly, I didn’t expect that. On a show like Flash, it’s fair to say that Harrison Wells is a slow burn character, revealing tid bits here and there which culminates into a massive reveal a season or two into the show. While that does seem to be the case here, it’s refreshing that the writers are actually cracking the facade in unexpected places allowing the main cast a chance to see the bogey man that almost assuredly lies beneath the surface. Then, to make matters worse, he finds our villain from last week Girder and offers the man freedom if he can kill Black Out. This, was a cool fan moment. A man made of solid steel fighting someone who could manipulate electricity…I admit, I squeed a bit.
On the flip side of the equation we’re treated with a villain whom I’ve always loved since Batman The Animated Series: The Clock King. That’s right, our intense calculating master of time from last season’s Arrow is getting a transfer to Central City. Even though he’s never been depicted as a particularly deep or driven character, I’ve always enjoyed the fact that the man worships time and if one can have the patience to master how to handle it, you can orchestrate any plan/crime/event down to the second. Seeing his return was a nice treat that also gave us another piece of connective tissue between Arrow and Flash.
What really made his appearance so great was what it meant for our tried and true “hero saves the day” formula. During a city wide power loss thanks to Black Out, the Clock King holds the CCPD hostage with 8 officers and Iris. Now in any other show, the villain would make demands and basically ham it up until our hero in question became repowered and saved the day; but with Black Out seeking revenge on Wells for his transformation, we’re given a real dilemma: how can Barry save everyone? The answer is, obviously, he can’t. During the Clock King segments, it becomes more and more clear that Joe, Iris, Eddie and the rest of the CCPD are on their own. This gave us some fantastic moments as Eddie tries to play the hero, screws up and is almost mortally wounded. All said, this was a phenomenal turn of events because this forced Iris, who has always been a strong self reliant character in the comics, to save herself. By the end of the episode Eddie is at the hospital, healing from his wounds, Iris stopped a madman, and Joe was able to see his daughter really prove how strong she is without help from our main character! Masterfully done.
Back at the Barry plot, we see the fallout from the Girder/Black Out face off. Our metal giant who seemed invulnerable, *gasp* died, which solves a big plot hole I complained about last week: Girder knew the Flash’s identity! Well, you can’t tell anyone if you’re dead. So that solves that. As far as Barry’s power loss is concerned, we find out that Team Flash was able to restore his abilities but for some reason he’s holding back; unwilling to tap his full potential again. In a beautiful moment where Wells admits to Black Out he is not a nice person and rattles off the names of numerous heroes in the DC Universe, we see Barry tap back into the Speed Force and save our anti-social founder of S.T.A.R. Labs as he is willing to die for his sins. Another calculated risk by Wells gets Barry back into the scarlet suit and we’re treated to a very unusual fight.
As before, Black Out is able to siphon off Barry’s speed but this time Barry, fully in the moment and no longer letting his brain get in the way, burns out our pseudo-villain; killing him. Admittedly, this was a bit of an anti-climax. While I enjoyed Black Out and felt he was given enough back story to earn this kind of rage, I felt they kind of copped out here in the end. By killing both Girder and Black Out, we’ve now set the score board back to zero on villains who know the Flash’s identity. It’d be a refreshing change of pace to keep a few around as a threat to his safety at any time. Regardless, while it was a quick goodbye to these two Rogues, we were given so many fantastic moments with Wells that it more than makes up for it. Even now, Team Flash is becoming suspicious of the good Doctor’s motives as they piece together the mystery of their founder.
As a total package, this episode is continuing the Flash legacy of excellent storytelling. While sometimes they stumble on a worn out plot or even paper thing antagonists, the writing team keeps up a fantastic story that more than offsets the deficits. Next up, the great Flash/Arrow crossover where Andrea Levine and I will tackle maybe the greatest bromance of all time. Til Next Week Flash Fans!