Jessie Robertson reviews the first episode of The Flash….
Not since May 18, 1991 has The Flash, in full red spandex, raced onto the small screen but tonight that all changed. Picking up before, during and after last year’s Arrow episode “The Scientist” where Barry Allen , mild-mannered (and always late) Central City Forensic Assistant first appeared in the DC Universe’s ever-growing TV presence, the opening episode had everything you could ask for in a debut: set up, tons of characters, themes established and some awesome action. I’m going to be with you this whole season (along with Arrow) recapping and going over every single episode, so let’s get started.
When Barry Allen was a young boy his mother tells him that having a good heart is better than fast legs, which sets up Barry’s whole mind-set. He witnesses his mother’s strange death right in front of his eyes as a yellow blur that looks like a lightning storm swirls around her in a Zoom (see what I did there?) Barry’s father was arrested for the murder since no other suspect could be found and has been in prison for most of Barry’s childhood into his adult life. We see he was almost surrogated by Joe West, a tough Central City detective whose daughter Iris was best friends with Barry as a kid. Fast forward to the future and Barry is an accomplished forensic investigator who works with Joe at CCPD to solve crimes. Iris is still Barry’s best friend but he can’t make it any less obvious that he’d like it to be more. Both Barry and Iris are instantly likeable on-screen and have an immediate chemistry.
They are on their way to STAR Labs to see Dr. Harrison Wells turn on his particle accelerator, which as Barry explains to Iris will more than triple our understanding of everything in the universe. While there, a thief snatches Iris’ laptop bag and Barry chases after him but the thief subdues him, giving more weight to the fact that Barry is maybe not cut out for his future career. The thief is stopped by new detective Eddie Thawne, labeled Det. Pretty Boy by Joe, who will be a big part of the show. Barry heads back to his lab and watches the media coverage of the story when something goes wrong; the accelerator is malfunctioning, which creates, in addition to many other things, a lightning storm which causes a bolt to strike Barry. His heart stops and he’s taken to the emergency room but his heart seemingly gives out over and over again until he lapses into a coma.
9 months later….
Barry awakens in STAR Labs and meets Cisco Ramone (tech guy) and Caitlin Snow (defacto nurse) , two of the three employees left there. Barry also meets Wells, now in a wheelchair after the accident, who explains to Barry that they need to keep him for further testing to find the full extent of what the lightning did to him. Barry gets out of there quickly (while scoring a sweet STAR Labs sweatshirt) and goes to find Iris. Their reunion is exactly what Barry hoped for, but something is amiss; a waitress in Iris’ coffee shop drops a tray and it’s all in slow motion to Barry. We got through several scenes where he is starting to discover his powers, super speed, and how he’s not quite got the hang of it yet. He goes back to STAR Labs and the crew hooks him up for a test run at Ferris Airstrip (in comic continuity, where Hal Jordan works) and they find out, yes Barry can run extremely fast, faster than anyone alive, but his emotions can throw his concentration off-balance. Barry thinks of his mom’s death and stumbles, breaking his arm. The good news, it turns out, he’s fast healing and the arm has repaired itself in 3 hours.
Meanwhile, the accelerator’s destruction has had other effects as the same night, Clyde Martin and his brother were on the lam from Joe and his partner Chyre for some robberies. They managed to evade the cops in a helicopter but flew directly into the path of the energy wave the accelerator emitted and downed their heli. Martin was presumed dead until a new string of bank robberies started occurring, and in every case, storm like atmospheres were found. As Barry and Iris have a heart to heart about her new boyfriend (Eddie) he sees Martin fleeing the scene of a crime and decides to test run his new abilities. There’s an awesome scene where he just bolts right into the passenger side of Martin’s car and jerks the steering wheel, flipping the car on its top. Martin gets out and produces a heavy fog and Barry realizes he was also affected, telling Joe he can manipulate the weather (like a Wizard I’d say.) Joe, with Iris on hand, has a stern heart to heart to Barry about his wild theories and that his father really did kill his mother and it’s time to let go of the lightning storm idea. Moments later, Thawne clues Joe in that Martin may very well be alive. Harrison also tells Barry that the police need to be responsible for Martin and that Barry is not a hero, even though he has always wanted to be more. This prompts him to make a visit to Starling City and talk to Oliver Queen, the only hero he knows. Ollie delivers some pretty heavy-handed dialogue but the scene functions as a catalyst for Barry to just jump into it and try to become a symbol for heroism in Central City.
Before the final showdown begins, Cisco provides Barry with a new suit of flexible polymers that will protect him from both harm and his super speeds. Caitlin tells Barry they can monitor his heart levels, speed, etc. through the suit ala Iron Man from the Lab and he’s off. Joe and Eddie have arrived back at the scene of Martin’s “demise” to find him and they anger him to the point where he starts a tornado. Barry arrives and tries to cut the legs off the storm by running around it but Martin knocks him out-of-the-way. Harrison speaks to Barry that he was wrong and Barry really is a hero and to run, Barry, run! So Barry Runs! He breaks the windstorm down and Martin is so shocked that someone else has powers, he hesitates to shoot Barry and Joe gets the drop on him. I need to point out the special effects of the tornado and Barry running around it are absolutely amazing for television and just seeing Flash, in the costume, blazing around in a blur of red and yellow is everything you could hope for.
The premiere wraps up with Barry and Joe agreeing that something other than Barry’s dad killed his mother, Barry visiting his father and reassuring him he will get him out of there and Barry adopting the name his friend Oliver gave him, as he saves a hapless cyclist from an accident and we go to title screen. The premiere episode packed a punch and they gave you every part of the recipe in a tight 43 minutes, with all the main characters introduced, the back story of Barry, the accelerator’s impact and the clue that it could lead to any number of characters, as well as some incredible action and special effects. The Flash is off to a good start and as expected, Easter Eggs! Just to name a few, we see Linda Park reporting on the particle accelerator story, an empty animal cage broken apart in STAR Labs labeled Grodd, and the ending scene of the show, where Harrison inexplicably stands up in a secret room and brings up an image of a news paper story from 2025 revealing the Flash has vanished in a Crisis. Amazing Stuff.
Before we go, and if you don’t want predictive spoilers, stop reading now- my first prediction is Harrison will be Zoom, aka Barry’s mother’s killer. Thanks for reading and see you next week!