The Flash premiered last night on CW. I had heard the pilot called stunning by those who saw it at early screenings or when it was leaked online (which was some time ago, but I avoided watching it through non-official channels). The Flash tells the story of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, “Glee,” “Arrow”), a geeky CSI Investigator from Central City who was introduced and eventually struck by lighting by a freak storm caused by the particle accelerator on Arrow last season. The Flash is about Barry discovering his newly gained power of super speed and a world where the extraordinary exists. Greg Berlanti and David Nutter, both executive producers on “Arrow”, are also executive producers for The Flash.
I recap the epsiode and insert a some thoughts below. Beware of spoilers if you haven’t watched it yet.
The Flash begins with footage of a red streak moving through the city and a voiceover from Barry telling us
“You need to believe in the impossible, can you do that?”
We then cut to Barry as a child while he he’s tells us he’s been running his whole life and sometimes he escaped what he was running from while other times he didn’t. We see him being caught and bullied but when he explains to his mother why he was in the fight he explains that he was trying to protect other kids from being bullied. It’s the first instance, in The Flash anyway, that we learn more about his character. He is a protector, even at this own expense. We then see the story that was related to us in Arrow; we see the murder of Barry’s mother by some supernatural type force that couldn’t be explained. As dark and depressing as this event is, we do not linger on it or exploit the dark nature of it. This is refreshing and sets the tone for the episode. And as Barry runs back to his house we cut back to “today” where Barry is running to a crime scene.
At the crime scene we see Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin, “Rent”, “Law and Order”) and his partner talking about another robbery with Clyde Martin as a suspect. Captain David Singh (Patrick Sabongui who was actually in a couple episodes of “Arrow”) lectures Barry about being late and Detective West stands up for Barry and provides an excuse. This exchange serves to begin illustrate the relationship between the two. Back at Barry’s lab, processing evidence we are introduced to Iris West (Candice Patton, “The Game”, “One Tree Hill”) who is absolutely adorable and has some great lines (“I’ll be more muffin top than woman”) and is even able to mention twerking in an entertaining context. Iris and Barry head to STAR Labs to see the particle accelerator turned on, but unfortunately they miss it because someone steals Iris’s laptop and Barry goes chasing after the thief only to end up being hit in the stomach for his trouble. The thief is caught by Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett, “The Vampire Diaries”) aka Detective Pretty Boy. The beginning of the episode is introducing characters left and right but it doesn’t feel forced or unnatural.
After his time at the police station in the aftermath of the crime, Barry heads back to his lab where he ends up being struck by lightning (in a scene that “Arrow” fans will recognize). We also see the energy wave that causes Barry to be struck spread through the city and end up crashing the plane that Clyde Martin boarded in his escape from Detective West. We see Barry in the hospital where the doctors say he’s flat-lining, but in actuality his heart was moving too fast to be measured. We flash (haha) forward nine months to see Barry awaken from his coma in a room inside STAR Labs with two characters who will also be familiar to “Arrow” fans, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). Barry looks in the mirror and is visibility confused, “Lightning gave me abs?” At this point, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh, “Ed”, “Scrubs”) arrives and begins giving Barry some exposition: essentially he doesn’t know what happened other than the fact STAR Labs is now a hazardous location, 17 people died in the explosion, and many others were injured, himself included. Of course Wells wants to study Barry, but Barry wants to see Iris. And while out in the world he starts to experience his powers in short bursts before realizing what he can actually do. Meanwhile, a man, the not exactly dead Clyde Martin, is robbing a bank using strange weather making powers. Of course Detective West is sent to the crime scene with his new partner, Eddie Thawne.
We next find Barry testing his powers in an airfield with Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, Harrison Wells manning observation technology. While Barry is running, he connects his ability with his mother’s murder and his distraction causes him to essentially trip and fall and break his arm. But the arm heals in a measly three hours(as a klutzy person, I could certainly use Barry’s healing ability). He explains to Wells that he saw a man inside the ball of lightning and he knows that man killed his mother, despite everyone blaming and convicting his father of his mother’s murder.
We next see Iris and Eddie kissing and of course Barry sees them too. While Barry and Iris walk and talk, Martin comes driving by and Barry takes off after him. When Martin creates a fog bank to get away, Barry realizes the particle accelerator meltdown impacted more than just him. He tries to explain to Detective West, without success, that Martin is alive and has abilities. Detective West tells Barry to “see things as they are.” Barry storms into STAR labs wanting answers and Wells explains the unknown that was released and that they’ve been searching for other ‘metahumans.’ It becomes clear that Wells sees Barry as a lab rat that can restore his career and prestige. He tells Barry
“you’re not a hero you’re just a young man who was struck by lightning.”
At which point Barry begins running to clear his head. We’re shown the aftermath of his mother’s murder, including his father being arrested. Barry runs 600 miles to see Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell, “Arrow”) in Starling city. At this point, we realize we’ve been hearing Barry’s story as he relates it to Oliver.
“All my life I’ve wanted to do more, be more…what if I’m not a hero?” Oliver tells Barry he thinks the lightning chose Barry. He tells Barry, “You can be better because you can inspire people in a way I never could. …saving people in a flash.”
When Oliver finishes dispensing his advice, he puts on his mask and jumps off the building to which Barry says, “Cool.” Barry takes off running as Oliver watches from the side of another building and says “Cool.” It’s a silly moment that made me giggle but also helped prove the different between Arrow and The Flash. It was yet another moment to inspire and portray hope.
Of course, Barry returns to STAR labs to get their help to catch Martin and other metahumans causing havoc in the city. He then gets his cool costume courtesy of Ramon and heads out to stop the delusional Martin by unraveling Martin’s tornado, which he does after getting a pep talk from Wells. Of course Detective West was there and witness Barry’s feat and realizes that Barry’s dad is innocent. Let’s hope Detective West believes everything Barry says now! It’s got to be hard to have your entire world view change in the blink of an eye. It will be interesting to see how Detective West adapts.
The episode ends with Harrison Wells entering a secret room and then standing up! But that’s not the real shocker. He then goes to a fancy holographic screen which shows a newspaper from the future, from 2024 to be specific and a headline that says “Flash Missing Vanishes In Crisis.” I’ll admit I went a little nuts when I saw that. It is obviously alluding to the game changing comic event ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths.’ I realize this doesn’t mean we will see Crisis portrayed, but it does keep with my theory that all the different aspects of DC Entertainment can and will be connected as a result of The Multiverse. I don’t care if I don’t see other huge DC characters in the Universe, it’s the subtle hints and Easter eggs that get this DC girl excited. I don’t have to see it to know there a relationship. But in the context of this series, it is also very exciting because it opens up several interesting possibilities with the Harrison Wells character and the potential to explore the time travel abilities of The Flash. No matter what, it was a pretty cool way to end the pilot.
So I loved this first episode of the Flash. It’s one of the few comic stories brought to life that has set a hopeful tone and that’s refreshing. It another reason I’m happy they chose to start a series about The Flash based on the Barry Allen character as opposed to Wally West or Bart Allen. The Flash shows heart and promising story lines that continue to include important character relationships. Given the strong first episode and the continued success of Arrow, I have high hopes for The Flash and have no doubt it will succeed.
Speaking of Arrow, I should note that while the pilot has several callbacks to Arrow, both blatant and subtle, The Flash does stand entirely on its own. As such there is no need to watch all of Arrow before starting The Flash (though I still you think you should watch Arrow because it’s awesome and there are bound to be some other references and crossovers as we continue). The Flash can be enjoyed entirely on its own merits.
What did you think? Are you going to continue watching? Are you watching Arrow today? Stay tuned for my recap of the Season 3 premiere tomorrow.