The Flash: The Flash Reborn

"Bring me the Flash... or else your city falls."

This premiere was a great watch, but the followup was a mixed bag. The story, the cinematography, the mad science were all great and for once the romance and especially Iris were completely on the nose. Son, brother, best friend, colleague, husband - Barry’s absence is a hell composed of all these absences. But getting Barry back is a journey which revolves around two poles - Iris and Cisco. And I'm not sure these two entirely work together.

As we get into the changes in the new season, we find Barry's absence for the past six months has devastated the team, but also pushed Cisco and Iris especially to new places. Iris is now a relentless team leader, driving the team to keep the city safe in Barry’s place, with careful shields set in place to protect her from the world. Cisco has fully stepped into the character of Vibe and has worked up quite a few tricks to play with Wally. But they all miss Barry, and when a weird samurai with some serious powers shows up searching for Barry, Cisco decides to find a way to bring him back to help.

Now, I'm happy he decided to do so, but I would not have complained either about four or five episodes of just watching Iris play Felicity for Cisco and Wally, with Joe playing Men-in-Backup with his giant electric gun as they go after Peekaboo. I think they were a fantastic superhero team by themselves, and only the team’s own inner insecurities led them to use their ‘failures’ as an excuse to bring Barry back. They loved him, but I think they really didn’t need him as much as they think they did.

I liked tonights Iris more than I have in a long time - but I'm still not sure how Real she is as a person and a woman. The fact that she was reacting to pain and driving herself and the team forward instead of whining and retreating to her apartment made me feel like I was watching Iris reach a new level of maturity. I actually felt like Iris was being more Barry than Barry, especially towards the end of the episode when she literally, I’m fairly certain, pulls the plug on Cisco’s total madboy attempt to pull Barry out of the Speed Force. But what about her life? What happened to the blog and her journalism? Has she dropped everything to work for Team Flash?

Cisco felt like a leader this episode, and he looked absolutely fricking amazing, both as himself and as Vibe, but unfortunately he and Iris are set at careful odds with each other. He corrals the Berlantiverse geniuses, including Felicity and Curtis. He creates a feat of Mad Science which stuns even me - I had no doubt throughout he could pull Barry out of another world. Cisco’s issue is different from Barry’s. He doesn’t have a superhero complex - but he does have a protection complex, perhaps partially because of the loss of his brother in this timeline. He’s going to bring Barry back because Barry’s his people. Cisco thinks he can always fix the Universe later. Iris doesn’t have superpowers, and perhaps just can’t permit herself to think in those terms. In a way, Cisco saying hey, I should be the leader makes sense but is also kind of pathetic, because Cisco's way of being a leader is to bottle up everything and get discovered then tell everyone they should have been following him. Which they do, initially...

But Iris pulls the plug on Cisco's genius plan. Because every time they’ve broken the universe Bad Stuff has happened, and apparently she's the only one who's paid attention. Iris has gotten good at cataloguing and predicting the potential Bad Stuff while Caitlin and Cisco have gone all Mad Science with Barry and the Wellses over the years. She knows that despite her desire, she has to think of the welfare of the city and the people inside it. She gave up her love for that ideal. Not when Barry went into the Speed Force, but when she made herself believe he wasn’t coming back. Barry told her to be strong and I think while he was gone she became stronger than he is in some ways. I think that is going to be important for this new season, because she seriously managed Team Vibe from what we saw, and I don’t think she’s just going to drop that. Nor should she; it would be a shame. But hey - she has a job! Or does she?

Fortunately - or perhaps unfortunately, she's too late in pulling the plug, and Barry comes back with a schizopathic condition, unable to interact with the world around him or do much more than make gibberish symbols which Cisco desperately tries to translate (because, after all, if there's a problem with Barry, it's Cisco's fault for bringing him back. Or maybe Iris' fault for pulling the plug at the wrong moment. To their credit the team doesn't care about fault at this point - only solving the problem.) Oh yeah, and Barry is badly scruffy (which length of beard should solve the how-long-was-he-in-the-Speed-Force question.)

The turning point is faith. Cisco has faith, in his powers, his team, and Barry, to fix whatever is wrong with the world. But Iris is more concerned with reality - heck, he’s in a lab, she’s a reporter, right? When Joe shares his homily about church - and religious overtones were spread throughout the episode, this was just the most direct version - he’s trying to convince Iris to restore that faith. To be honest, this surprised me. I thought Joe would be more in favor, I guess, of the new Iris as a cop; he’s bound to have seen pain and the places pain can bring you. He’s always been one of the more conservative members of team Flash. But instead he sparks Iris’ decision to do something impossible. And then he goes, I'm going to have faith in Iris, and Barry, and he goes and begs Barry to help.

And it works. It’s plain and simple and pure - Iris endangers herself to save Barry’s mind. He defeats insanity to save her. I am curious about the fiery look he has this season - is it just the Speed Force? Whatever it is, it helps him defeat the Samuroid, and I hope it'll help out with Creepy Villain Guy, who apparently created Android Samurai. To really understand how powerful Samurai is, he is capable of kicking Vibe and Kid Flash butt with one blow. This is after an entire season of making a point that Wally is faster than Barry, so we are talking mega powerful. And Android Samurai was a created thing. How powerful is Creepy Villain Guy? And, is it just me, or does his costume look totally fake? The Thinker has been blared as the upcoming villain all summer long; I was hoping for something more realistic.

And let's not mention Caitlin. Who is now working as a bartender. But seems to have controlled her Frost side. At first I thought it was with alcohol and drugs, but now I know it's by randomly beating up seedy bar guys. On the other hand, we had great moments with Caitlin and Cisco, including lots of geek jokes, and I honestly loved that line - "You wouldn't like me when I'm frosty." It does seem weird having her just jump back into being with the team, however.

This was a great episode though. I felt it really recaptured the fun comicbookiness of the first year of the Flash. I think it leaves a lot of great questions and storylines open for the coming year. And I think we're all thinking the same thing - the Speed Force is going to be exacting some Barry-shaped revenge for all this once it finds out it has a little quarky ball....

Flashbacks

Cisco: No, not yet. The computer keeps telling me it's random gibberish.
Caitlin: Maybe it is?
Cisco: No, it's not. Barry's trying to send us a message. I know it. I mean, he spent all this time in the Speed Force. Maybe now he knows the answers to life, the universe, and everything.
Caitlin: So you think all this crazy writing is Barry's way of telling us 42?

Iris: Duck! Wally: I don't see no ducks. Peekaboo: Peek-a-boo. Your only warning, boys; stay back. Wally: She meant the other duck.

Flashpoints

This episode echoes the first - "The Flash is Born" - in the title.

The Speed Force Bazooka was seen last season as an attempt to stop Savitar.

The shaving scene with Joe and Barry was both sweet and weird. It felt like Iris should have been doing the job, but I think she was avoiding Barry at the time.

I think Barry was simply out of phase with time when he returned from the Speed Force. I am wondering if everything he said will be explained this season.

Overall

I'm giving this a 3.5 out of 5 retooled Speed Force Bazookas. Scruffy Barry is cute enough to get a 4 by himself, but the contradictions of this episode held me back. Looking forward to more though!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fun episode...and some nice character moments for Cisco, Caitlin and Iris in particular.
Like with Flashpoint premiere last year i think they squandered a big opportunity to fully embrace all the aspects they could of...(anyone who watches Agents of Shield last year and saw their Framework arc should understand...That's what Flashpoint should have been)

This episode had too many moments of 'that was cool, but why'' and everything was resolved all too easily. I love the Flash but that is two of Flashs Major comic story arcs that have been wrapped in an episode.

Just realized in this episode that the actress playing Cecile was in Angel as Harmony's rival co-worker in that highly underrated Harmony centric episode.

JRS said...

OMG YES SHE WAS SURVEY SAYS VAMPIRE and because you said that...

Did anyone else feel a Bargaining Season Six vibe here? He even comes back wrong.

Deborah Gallegos said...

The Thinker? I've remained spoiler-free so far so I had no idea about The Thinker. Looking at him, I was going to guess he was Metron from The New Gods.