The Flash: The Flash Is Born

"Looks like you were born to take a beating."

A man of steel meets a man of speed. And they go boom, while the other actors in the episode dance carefully around each other.

As this episode opens, Iris West is writing again about the Streak (I can't wait to NOT hear that name anymore; it makes me think of underwear washing commercials.) She clicks send, closes her laptop, and immediately gets picked up by Barry, who can't really stay away from her. Symbolically, she refuses a call from Eddie, but before Iris and Barry get fully into it, they're interrupted by sirens. Our metahuman of the week is a joyriding jock who can (shades of Colossus!) turn his skin to steel. He blocks bullets, breaks Barry's hand, and turns out to be a bit of a bigheaded bully. (Count the Bs.) Detective Joe West and Eddie Thawne, on the scene, witness Barry rescue a child - and this sets off two secondary plots as West pursues the Tornado that Kills Barry's Mother, and Eddie begins exploring the impossible.

This episode is a mixed bag; it's as if it were written by two different teams. The writing for this show always borders on cheesy – which is fine; any superhero worth their salt is a little cheesy. You can't run around saving people without some cheese. But Iris and her writing consistently grated on me, and so did the proverbial A-plot.

Tony Woodward (Greg Finley), despite being one of the hotter bits of beefcake on the show so far, is a pretty one-sided character. Why is he a bully? What's behind his rampage? What's behind his obsession with Iris and need for fame? I don't think we ever find out. Barry's fights with him emphasize his meekness, geekiness - but point out a plot hole I haven't really seen discussed. How the hell does a forensic scientist wind up so innocent after several years of work and dead bodies? The Flash might have been born as a name in this episode, but to me, Barry took kind of a step back as a hero, not a step forward. I don't know about you, but in the end I didn't want Tony Woodward in prison. I wanted him converted. The character tastes sort of like potential Jayne Cobb from Firefly.

Mind you, I didn't think any of this while WATCHING the episode. I thought COOL! COOL! Special effects are incredible, and the slow increasing of Barry's powers (we saw him in the pilot at 600 mph or so, and he's gotten 200 mph faster since then) is awesome. I won't overshare, but when he breaks Mach 1, I was cheering.

It's the secondary plot of this episode that really got to me, that showed me excellent acting. They dropped the cheese and found they didn't need it. Jesse Martin and Tom Cavanagh consistently gave me chills, and their dialogue was several grades higher than what we saw in Plot A. The detective senses something off and he's highly focused on tracking down what he smells. We are left in some ways not really sure about what's happening in either character's mind. By the end I was fairly sure we're going to see Professor Zoom and the Reverse Flash coming up–but I'm hoping the writers take a hint and keep their focus on engaging cat-and-mouse plotlines like these. The schmaltz will get old soon.

Bits and pieces

Barry's quickly-healing broken hand. I saw it coming-serious ouch.

I can't get enough of Jesse Martin. He and Tom Cavanagh are going to be the bones holding the show together while the other actors find their footing through the season. Watch.

Cisco's awesome battle robot.

The fact that the battle robot kicked serious Barry buttock.  (OK, B seems to be a theme today.)

There's a lot of hubbub online about who will turn out to be whom from the Flash mythos. I'm betting Wells as Professor Zoom and Thawne as Reverse Flash. Wouldn't be surprised if they were working together by the end of this year.

Eddie Thawne is becoming more likable as his character develops. I liked the fight training.

The ending is way too melodramatic - a knife and a bloody message on a photo of Iris? But I admit I felt the hair on my arms stand on end.


Cisco: "You're lucky he didn't knock out your teeth. Those puppies don't grow back." Hmmm... foreshadowing?

Young Barry: "You want me to hit a girl?"
Young Iris: "He wants you to try."
Younger Joe: "She's tougher than she looks... "

Joe: "When did you move to town, Dr. Wells?"
Wells: "Something tells me that you already know the answer to that question, Detective. This whole 'help me solve the murder of Nora Allen,' you were never looking for my help, were you?"


Two and a half stolen joyrides. A great episode for special effects, and great interaction between Martin and Cavanagh, but kind of clunky overall.


Billie Doux said...

Much agreement with your review. The standoff between Martin and Cavanagh was fascinating because the actors did such a terrific job of portraying that there was a lot going on in their heads that they weren't saying. But Iris is such a poor Lois Lane imitation. I mean, did they have to replicate the Superman movie scene on the rooftop? There was even talk of her favorite color and I was expecting "pink".

Joseph Santini said...

She also reminds me strongly of Chloe from Smallville. And not just because of the reporting... the hairstyle seems really similar, too!

Patrick said...

For the most part I loved this episode. The stuff with the villain was fun, and Barry breaking the sound barrier was excellent. I really like how they've handled Eddie lately. As a romantic rival of Barry's it would've been real easy to make him a jerk, but he's not. He's good at his job, he doesn't mistreat Iris, and he's also cool towards Barry. I loved the scenes where he's teaching Barry to fight. There was an ease between them, I hope we get more Barry/Eddie scenes in the future. I'll be interested to see if Eddie pursues what he saw, and how he'll react to it.

The stuff with Joe & Dr. Wells was very good too. We know that there's something sinister going on with Wells, he has knowledge he shouldn't and he's willing to kill to keep things secret, but you can't pin him down as "evil" either.

But Iris, man I want to slap that girl. She was warn by Barry both in and out of costume that her writing about "the Streak" could put her in danger, and she brushes it off. Then what happens? She winds up in danger from someone who wants to get to Barry through her. And she's STILL brushing it off. I get that she sees a higher purpose in what she's doing(her talk about the guy who's on fire? I like how they've been slowly laying the groundwork on his eventual appearance), but she could at least be a little less cavalier about it. Iris isn't as bad as Lana was on Smallville, but they need to seriously work on her character. As much as Barry's hopelessly in love with her, I have no real desire to see the two of them together. Barry & Caitlin on the other hand, I would have no problem with them exploring, provided they don't rush it. :)

LOVED the ending with the re-appearance of the Man In Yellow(Reverse-Flash, Zoom, whoever he turns out to be). I did not see that coming, not this early in the season. A part of me worries how they're going to sustain things, but considering these are the same people in charge of Arrow, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. :)

Jess Lynde said...

The Wells-West material was definitely great, and the supersonic punch was fun, but, as you all note, Iris continues to be a big problem.

Do they want us to dislike Iris? Because they really doubled down on reasons to not like her this week. They gave us her annoying insistence on maintaining her blog, even after being presented with ample evidence that it does, in fact, put her in danger. Do they think we'll admire her hutzpah or something? Because she just seems foolish to me, not brave. It's not like she's a war zone reporter or trying to expose corruption or a criminal empire, thus putting herself in danger for worthy journalistic reasons. She's just blogging about a mysterious dude helping people! She's no Veronica Guerin.

Then they started to make Eddie likable, just as they show Iris ditching his calls to make goo-goo eyes at the Flash. Geez. Don't make me like the boyfriend she's going to dump for the hero, if you want me to find her a sympathetic character!

russell1256 said...

The Flash is turning into the metahuman of the week. That is dangerous for a show and could get old very fast.

Josie Kafka said...

I've got a really stupid question: do superhero stories--the comics, the movies, etc.--exist in this universe?

When Dr. Wells said "a man of steel," it was the perfect opportunity for a Superman joke. Cisco could have made one. But he didn't, which makes me wonder if Superman stories don't exist in this world.

But then, if so, how does everyone know that a cool super-human (or meta-human, whatever) needs a cool name?

Patrick said...

Josie, this being a DC Universe show, I doubt other DC properties like Superman exist as fiction to these characters, but I'm sure they live in a world where comic books exist. On Smallville for example, there was a made-up comic called Warrior Angel that Lex loved when he was a kid. They probably have similar stuff in the Flash/Arrow-verse.

Marianna said...

Did anyone else notice Iris's monologue via her blog exactly quoted part of the opening of the pilot? They both said "To understand what I'm about to tell you, you need to do something first. You need to believe in the impossible. Can you do that? Good." As annoying as Iris can get, I'm glad they threw that in to show why she and Barry are so close.