This series is certainly starting with a bang. A lot of things are happening in this episode, all at once–both plot and character development.
We’re starting to see more of Barry’s past, for example. We’re seeing more of his relationship and past with Iris and Joe. We’re seeing how his work for STAR Labs, his work for the police force, and his private need to be a hero–and save his father, if not his mother–are coming into conflict. And those pesky metahumans are starting to come out of the woodwork.
As we open, Barry’s taken to superheroing full force and is pulling children from burning buildings, but we’re seeing him struggle with what choices to make in specific situations–as shown by his desperate begging for advice from Cisco. Each character has their own perspective on the vigilantism. Cisco is enjoying playing Oracle; Caitlin isn’t so happy. Wells thinks Barry needs encouragement, and the Detective is firmly opposed, at least at first. And maybe they’re right: this early in his career, Barry has no idea how his powers work and how they’re going to grow. Barry’s sudden headache worries everyone. How else is his biology going to evolve throughout the season? And how is he going to eat that many tacos and still fit in his form-hugging jumpsuit? Still, I love the show is exploring to some extent the limitations of his abilities. At some point I think Barry’s going to have to make a choice: chase metahumans for STAR Labs, or save ordinary people.
The metahuman of the week is pretty awesome. I need to track Danton Black down and find out if his character, named Multiplex by Cisco, has connotations in the comics. I’m more familiar with some Flash villains than others. When I first saw our criminal of the week split up, my first thought was Jamie Maddox. Black seems to be the character Multiplex, who can clone himself at will. I’m fascinated with how this works - do they all have one mind? Do the others just have faint echoes? How do the clothes and guns and bullets replicate as well? This can’t be a biological thing, it has to be some sort of quantum duplication ability. (STAR was apparently able to clone clothing, too, from a blood sample. Hmm.)
Who is Barry’s “Dad”? He seems to have three potential male figures in this episode: Barry’s biological father, Wells, and Joe. Detective Joe is really growing on me. He’s a guy who really cares for a troubled kid that he happened to rescue and raise with his own daughter. In this episode he showed me he REALLY is a Dad. He’s being pushed away–but he’s not walking away. He’s still going to be on Barry’s back like wings on fleas. Each “dad” seems to have their own goals for Barry. I’m sorry about this conflict–and he’s right; the STAR Labs folk really do think they’re better than the cops, and they’re not. I just don’t get why they’re not seeing the obvious: train and integrate Barry as a police officer or Federal Marshal. The logic IS obvious: if you have people able to control weather, you need someone who can run really fast… on your team. And it’s become clear that Barry needs team support. Maybe he modeled his idea of a team after the Arrow’s tight group. By the end of the episode they’re all agreeing they need each other.
It all comes to a head when Iris reveals her new obsession with the mysterious red blur – and Danton Black invades STAR HQ. Again the special effects, fantastic and appropriate throughout the episode, really shine here. I was gritting my teeth with concern when Black’s army advanced… and cheering when Barry pulled himself together and came up with a plan, and won through with the support of his newfound team.
The glimpses of Barry’s childhood had a powerful payoff at the end of this episode. I think the producers learned a lot from Arrow, and I can’t wait until next week.
Bits and pieces
-I loved the opening rescue, but honestly, I don’t understand why he wasn’t paralyzed as a scientist - wouldn’t the rapid speed create a sort of fire vortex behind him, running the risk of creating greater damage to the building? The effects definitely show the flames moving in reaction, so that part, very cool.
-Barry’s Iris obsession. Granted, she’s a hottie, but I’m starting to get the feel there’s more to it. Interestingly, a lot of discussion on the Internet about Barry's sexuality in this iteration.
-Barry forgetting to take his street clothes to a crime scene. And forgetting to take the tag off.
-That moment when he shares himself totally with Iris… at superspeed, so she’s unable to hear, and all before her sugar falls into the cup. This show is really playing with how the Flash’s speed affects his life.
-At times I wonder how much Barry notices. The character comes across as young, inexperienced, and in some ways innocent. I got the feeling we, the audience, are seeing a lot more than Barry does right now.
-I keep going back to the pilot. It seems clear there’s two blurry individuals now. Is Wells Reverse Flash?
Caitlin: You can’t be running around like a supersonic fireman.
Joe: Your ability to multitask is truly remarkable. You can embarrass me, the captain and yourself all at the same time.
Criminal: How considerate! You’re wearing your finest jewelry. Almost like you knew we were coming to rob you!
Barry: So an IV bag and I’m good to go?
Cisco: [chuckling] Try 40.
Wells: Guess you were thirsty.
Caitlin: We’re gonna need to fashion you a new diet, based on your metabolic changes.
Cisco: …I’ve done a few calculations. You need to consume an amount equal to roughly 850 tacos. Unless we’re talking cheese and guac, which is like a whole other set of equations.
Joe: You think because you can run real fast that you’re invincible? You’re not! You’re just a kid. My kid.
Wells: Some people, when they break, they can’t be put together again.
Barry: Joe, what I said about you not being my father–
Joe: Barry, I know. I know I’m not your father.
Barry: You’re right. You’re not. You’re just.. the man who kept me fed, and in clothes, who sat by my bed at night until I fell asleep because I was afraid of the dark… helped me with my homework, you taught me how to shave and drive and you dropped me off at college. Sounds a lot like a dad to me.