The Flash: Pilot

Dr. Wells: "I believe anything is possible. Maybe you will too."

This episode shows us that the Flash has a Superman complex, and it's buried deep. A blockbuster of an episode, but one which leaves me with the possibly ironic question–can they keep the show going at this speed?

Barry Allen has a tragedy in his childhood that makes him both motivated to help others and uncertain of how. We met him in Season 2 of Arrow; as a forensic specialist, Allen did his best to help Oliver Queen. He even proposed the now-ubiquitous mask. When he develops powers after an accident at STAR Labs, he sees his chance to become the hero he wants to be. This episode set the bar pretty high for a series pilot, in terms of special effects and potential plot.

Along the way, we’re introduced to those who will be the lead personalities this season. Grant Gustin is doing a good job of showing us the gangly-teenager phase of Flash; I wonder how well he’ll grow into the role. Detective West (played by Jesse Martin) impressed me quickly with how much he revealed of his character. And while I was prepared to hate Barry Allen for dumping Felicity and moving on with someone else–even though I think it’s the best in the long run–his daughter Iris seems intelligent and opinionated enough to be worth our time. And Dr. Wells? We'll have to see how this complex, duplicitous character works out.


The idea of the STAR Labs accident causing various meta-humans to appear in the city should give us plenty of meat for Season One action, however. Mardon was a fascinating villain; his increasing powers meant he developed a God complex to perfectly match Allen’s inferiority complex. I think there’s an implicit warning in this episode. At the end of the pilot, it was established that Allen’s current speed is somewhere around the 700 mile per hour range. This seems really “low” considering that in the comics the legendary Flash can cross dimensions due to the power of the Speed Force.

This may be a writer or directorial decision, and if so I think it's a great one. Part of the success of Arrow has a lot to do with the character dealing with his own limitations. Oliver Queen isn’t Superman, and he had to learn how to be a hero without being Superman. The Flash is a lot closer to being ├╝berpowerful, but rather than having him be that powerful right off, they’re having him grow.


It’s inevitable Flash will be compared with Arrow, and it was great to see Oliver Queen appear on the pilot. What worked for Arrow was a focus not on the power or the superhero but on the man. The producers of Flash have everything set up for a potentially powerful first season; I’m hoping they focus on Barry Allen the man, and not so much on Barry Allen the superhero. Even in the comics, it’s Barry’s personality that really drove his series, and the more we explore superheroes in television and film, the more we see people prefer fully realized individuals, not caricatures.

Bits and pieces

The testing scene was kind of hot! I go for the swimmer/runner build, and both the spandex practice costume - and the eventual full leather regalia - scream sexy. I’m not too sure about the weird helmet though.

Loving the relationship with the surrogate father Detective West. The anger throughout on the Detective's part–first at Barry for what he thinks is a set of lies, then at himself for not paying attention–it spoke of a powerful relationship. I’m having trouble squaring this with the fact that Barry clearly has a good relationship set up with his existing father, who’s still alive.

For a moment I thought the Smoke Monster was now Mardon's accomplice!

Does it seem obvious to anyone else that young Barry Allen basically saw his future self? It did to ME… at least until the ending. In the "Secret Origins" comics, Barry actually goes back in time at the moment of his death and creates himself. The writers seem to be melding many storylines into one here.

Wells and his agenda… Wells and his agenda… I want to know.

Quotables

Wells: You’re not a hero. You’re just a young man who was struck by lightning.

Overall

For a pilot, this was pretty awesome. Three and a half out of four heat-resistant costumes.

9 comments:

garyb said...

Wonder what will happen when he exceeds 761.2 M/H. Hopefully he won't run -at- that speed very long.




(Speed of Sound)

JRS said...

Good question. I think the answer would be nothing. There would be a sonic boom of sorts but as I understand it planes cause the kind of extensive booms they do because they're high up. The Flash is close to the ground and much skinnier and lighter than a plane; the trail he would leave behind would be substantially smaller. Geeks? Ideas?

J.D. Balthazar said...

This was a lot of fun, but mostly set up. I liked the little details, especially the cage with the Grodd sign, and the fact that Barry's father is the guy who played the Flash in the original TV show.

More importantly, the man in the blur that killed Barry's mother had an inverted costume. I don't know about any show spoilers, but that describes a certain fast running villain to me. In fact it looked like a yellow man, and a red man running around Barry's mother so fast that it was nearly impossible to see. Or perhaps I'm wrong.

Anyway, great review. I hope this show can live up to the its potential. Which is exactly what I said two years ago when Arrow premiered.

Billie Doux said...

I liked it. It felt a good bit like Arrow in style, and I like the way Arrow started slowly and grew, while constantly developing Oliver as a character. The supporting characters are interesting -- like you said, JRS, especially Detective West. And I get why Barry would have a complicated relationship with West, since the guy was basically his father for half his childhood as well as his mentor and friend at work, plus he's the father of the woman Barry is interested in. It's a lot of good set-up. We'll have to see what they do with it.

I have no idea what will happen when Barry exceeds 761.2 mph, but I'm sure we'll find out. And I like that there are physical limits to explore.

Nice review, JRS. :)

Josie Kafka said...

I liked it! I expected to, in fact, since I enjoyed the crossover episode on Arrow so much last season.

Jess Lynde said...

The hubby and I really enjoyed this. A very solid premiere. It felt a little bit goofy at times, but Grant Gustin is tremendously appealing. Quite a winning lead. Like J.D., I loved that they had John Wesley Shipp playing Barry's dad. Awesome bit of casting! And I liked the tidbits of mystery the writers left us with. "Wells and his agenda," indeed. Looking forward to what comes next!

Tisherey said...

I loved this pilot. But I was also expecting to since I am a huge fan of Arrow. I loved the lighthearted/fun nature that this series promises and the music that ensured that sense. My one gripe about the pilot is that everything that happened could be seen by Barry's intro in Arrow or by the trailer. Barely any new information was given, it was mostly setup.

"Wells and his agenda..." Anyone else think Wells is actually H.G. Wells and maybe not so nice? Perhaps he is the yellow man J.D. Balthazar suggests and the red is Barry Allen, both of whom have gone back in time to destroy/stop the past from happening. And they leave the "present" of 2024 to go to the past. Intriguing pilot.

Anonymous said...

No scientist would use a phrase like "it's lightyears ahead of" like Barry Allen did.

Also there was a contradiction with his observed speed versus the speed he was running when he discovered he was fast. And making the tornado to die out, too.

Seemed decent for a pilot, but those kinda caught my eye. Or ear. Something.

Marianna said...

I just started watching this series, and it's fun so far! I was a little disappointed that he seems to have forgotten about Felicity, but I'm hoping that will be remedied in the next episode or two. Anyway, thanks for the great review! I'll be following along!