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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.


  1. 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".

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


  3. 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. :)

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. I am not crazy about Iris either - but her father and Barry Allen are both lying to her. They are also putting themselves in danger all the time, so it seems hypocritical to tell her not to do something because of that. Especially when she has a mean right hook.

    Finally, how can a superhero expect to go unnoticed? Even if he is super-fast?

    Really want to find out more about Wells!

  10. This review and the comments to this article are examples of the misogynoir (anti-blacknesss & misogyny) that pervade fandom and that CP & Iris have faced since the instant the casting of this character has been announced.

    There's not much difference between Iris's blog and Chloe Sullivan's wall of weird and her dogged pursuit of finding her best friend's secret. In fact, while Iris is simply reporting on events that are happening, and trying to find a pattern, Chloe's actions tended to be more invasive, and more based on her crush/obsession with Clark.

    Just because the men in her life want to infantilize and gaslight Iris does not mean that we (the audience) are supposed to agree with that narrative. Her actions where Tony were concerned are coded as brave & useful because her blog didn't so much expose her to danger but it drew him out in a way nothing else was likely too. (Also this review and the commenters have skipped the part where it was made very obvious that more than half of Tony's fascination with Iris's blog was due to *Iris* herself, and his twisted little crush on her. It's very likely that blog or no blog, he'd have been sniffing around her now that he had powers to "show off". Her blog just added to his jealousy/rivalry of the Flash because Iris was writing about the Flash, not him).

    What puts Iris in danger is the fact that Barry and her father are keeping secrets from her. In the end, she quits her relationship with the Flash when he proves dangerous to her and her loved ones (Eddie) when he takes information she gave him (about Eddie wanting a task force against him) and possibly his palpable attraction towards her, as a reason to attack Eddie.

    TL DR… But this review/ most of the comments definitely point to a problem with the Iris character but the problem isn't the portrayal - it's the willingness of the audience to receive it.

  11. Sillyrabbit -

    I didn't like the Wall of Weird either and didn't watch Supernatural. I thought Chloe was another character who was badly written, which is kind of my point in this review and why Iris reminded me of Chloe.

    I'm very sensitive to how people of color and people with disabilities are portrayed in the media. I couldn't deal with how Glee portrayed other Deaf people, and had to stop watching that despite my love of musicals. Writers come up with these great and trendy ideas, but followthrough is important. I love reinventing comics. I think things come to life when they're reinvented. But just setting up the game pieces isn't enough for a compelling, convincing story.

    Iris wasn't trying to find a pattern with her blogging - she was sensationally obsessed with blogging the Streak in the beginning and actually had to learn to broaden her horizons somewhat to lose her saccharine worldview and be a real reporter.

    Now is this me misogynistic and racist for pointing out this portrayal, or is it a bunch of writers who are mostly white struggling to portray a balanced healthy Black woman with a career and life goals who isn't overshadowed by her absurdly overpowered brother-slash-boyfriend, who is somehow a fully-educated CSI specialist whilst Iris, supposedly the same age, is an unemployed blogger? Compare this to how the show portrays Joe as a complex and nuanced character or how the Night Nurse is portrayed on Netflix. If Iris was on the same show as Claire Temple she'd be schooled in human relationships. Personally, I appreciated the decision to change the character's race as a new approach to the comics series but don't think it's entirely worked out.

    As a Puerto Rican, I have issues with how Cisco is portrayed on this show for the same reason. These characters aren't real, but I want them treated realistically.

    At the same time I want to recognize this comment and the context it's made in. Characters like Riri Williams and Kate Kane have come forward and revolutionized comics and there IS a lot of white male blowback (WHAT? You can't make them X color! You can't give them X hair!) I appreciate that and oppose it where necessary. But that's not my motivation behind critiquing how Iris is written. Later, in Season Three, I think the authors are finally getting a handle on her, but it's still hit or miss, and I struggle to see them develop Iris consistently. I won't get into the future, but I remember even in this episode I worried she never gets beyond being a vaguely defined romantic interest.


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