Same Geek Channel: ‘The Flash’ Episode 201

Columns Same Geek Channel Television
On your mark, get set... Source: CW.
On your mark, get set…
Source: CW.

Welcome back! If you’re wondering where Corrina has gone, I’m afraid she has given up reviewing Flash because stupid plot events drive her nuts. Instead, she’s amusing herself by writing “Cory loves Martin” in the margins of her notebook.Thankfully, I live to snark. Shall we?

We open with facing off against Cold and Heatwave. Cool visuals, and smarter use of super speed than almost any episode last season (although reaction times are still weird). What a cheerful beginning, gotta be a dream sequence. And yes, yes it is.

Sad Barry is sad. Source: CW.
Sad Barry is sad.
Source: CW.

The “my name is Barry Allen” monologue establishes that a solid half a year has passed since the finale. Barry is on his own because it will protect the people he cares about. Yeah because that worked out so well last season. There’s going to be a Flash Day, but Barry isn’t interested. Cisco is now working for Central City PD, and is cute as ever. No one has really seen Caitlin, who is now working at Mercury Labs, with Tina McGee. Then Iris shows up and reminds Cisco who Barry’s best friend is. Her brilliant idea? Actually go and talk to Barry. Wait, no one thought of that in the last six months?

Barry is apparently fixing up buildings destroyed six months ago, and is now up to where they all hung out.  Part of me wonders if that’s the most constructive use of The Flash’s time, and the other part of me wonders why it’s taking so long. Anyway, flashback! Barry stopped the singularity by running around really, really fast…really. But it’s not enough and Ronnie and Stein have to merge and then un-merge in the singularity. This can Only Go Well

TOTALLY not a last kiss, you guys. Source: CW.
TOTALLY not a last kiss, you guys.
Source: CW.

Barry snags Stein midair, but nope, no Ronnie. So now we know why Barry is punishing himself – for not saving Ronnie, and because he doesn’t think he actually saved the city at all.

Cut back to present day; specifically to Flash day. Man, someone is making a killing on those Flash shirts. Insanely, they’re going through with this despite no clue that the Flash will actually show up.I don’t think any mayor is going to “present a key” to someone who might not show up. Oh look, there he is!

The Flash, picturing the audience naked. Source: CW.
The Flash, picturing the audience naked.
Source: CW.

Aaaand someone throws a hot dog truck. Meet Atom Smasher, aka Al Rothstein of another universe, aka the doppelgänger of the guy we see murdered at the beginning of the show. The special effects for him growing huge were pretty neat. Not sure why his mask opened, but hey, now we have a hook. Oh, and it turns out that nearby x-ray equipment was damaged by the fight. I guess we know how Al gets his nickname (and wait till you see who gives him the name).

Iris has a new plan to get Barry to let them work with him –  Let’s not ask Barry if he wants us back in his life, let’s just go for it. You can tell she was raised by the same guy as creepy Barry. Meanwhile, an attorney comes for Barry. Turns out STAR labs was left to Barry, and is going to go into receivership unless Barry watches a video on a thumbdrive.

This was a whaaaa moment for me: Eddie shooting himself made Eobard vanish, but everything happened exactly the same way? Because if he never existed, then how are we where we are? But before we can think too much about that, an alarm at STAR goes off…Barry speeds off to find Team Flash there, not a threat.They use the equipment to find the big bad, but Barry runs off without his com system.

Oh G-d, Atom-Smasher eats radiation? That’s so cheesy, in a “but I love it” way. It’s nice to see Barry whipping out the twin torneadoes right away, but in the time it takes Al to bulk up, Barry could have run away. Again, super speed, writers. Geeze. But we have another flashback! Joy. And that one has jumped 6 months too. Very touching scene with little Barry and Joe, resolving to another touching scene with Barry and Joe.

Hug, you guys! Source: CW.
Hug, you guys!
Source: CW.

Then we go on to Barry and Caitlin having a “I-blame-myself-for-his-death” off visa vi Ronnie. Speaking of death, we get to see Harrison Wells’ will…and wow, good thing Barry watched it. Wells/Eobard confesses, setting the wheels in motion to free Barry’s dad.

Although the "delete everything before this"? Total evidence tampering. Lets not even talk about chain of custody. Source: CW.
Although the “delete everything before this”? Total evidence tampering. Let’s not even talk about chain of custody.
Source: CW.

So everyone is happy and Team flash is back! They use a Flash Signal to call Atom Smasher out… which is cute (as is the quip Cisco throws out about how he came up with the idea), but how exactly does no one else go to investigate that? They trick him into a nuclear power plant, and somehow overload him.We find out that someone put Atom-Smasher up to killing Barry, someone named Zoom, and then he dies (convenient). But who cares? Barry’s dad is out!

Awww, hugging! Source: CW.
Awww, hugging!
Source: CW.

Is it okay to note that Henry’s welcome home party is kinda sad? Did he have no friends other than Joe who would want to see him freed? Maybe that’s the real reason he tells Barry he has to leave town. Seriously, that is a really weaksauce “because we need it to be like this for the story” writing. What man gets out of prison after that long and just runs out of town?

I’m willing to forgive that though, because our episode ends with Jay Garrick. Without spoiling anything, Jay was the original comic book Flash. This is going to be such fun.

So how’d they do? Absolutely one of their stronger episodes in some ways. The cast is clearly comfortable with each other and Iris is given stuff to do. One can argue that Ronnie was fridged, although we all know he’ll be back. In fact, I suspect we’ll see Barry and Caitlin flirt – but not get together, as Linda is due back as is Patty Spivot, another Flash love interest – and then Ronnie comes back and they fight over her.

Overall though? They have me for another season. Pass the popcorn.

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7 thoughts on “Same Geek Channel: ‘The Flash’ Episode 201

  1. I guess i was excited to see this show but left with a Meh feeling at the end. It seems they are doing the Buffy is gone for summer school routine here. I would rather have enjoyed it take off where it left off or did the entire reboot of the universe. And still Eddie Thawne’s brave death was just dumb.. God, if I knew I was going to produce a child that would become Hitler, why not just get a vasectomy? No needless death and we would still have the character this season. And where is the original Dr Wells who would be alive today??

  2. My thoughts about this episode are markedly different. To sum it up in three words… “not very effective”.

    We open with the dream sequence. It was a cool use of action and another way to shoehorn Ronnie-as-Firestorm, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave into the episode, but what was the purpose of the dream sequence? To show us that the Flash works best when he works with a team? That all work and no play makes Barry a dull boy? We get that throughout the episode — are beaten over the head with it, in fact. The dream sequence just didn’t cut it for me, especially since it wasn’t a “dream”. We don’t have Barry waking up (maybe from being knocked out or from passing out) to find that Ronnie died saving the city or that Barry passed through the Singularity and is in another world. Maybe a world where Ronnie survived and Team Flash, including Ronnie and Harrison Wells, are alive and working together. No, we get Barry, awake, standing in the abandoned STAR Labs as our transition.

    On the subject of sequences that just didn’t play well, we have to talk about the flashbacks. If you’re going to use flashbacks (or any device) as a storytelling tool, you’re going to draw comparisons to other shows that have used the same device. We don’t have to stretch very far to draw comparison between the way flashbacks were used in this episode and the way they have been used in Arrow, which shares the same story universe. When used effectively, flashbacks both enhance what we see in the current storyline AND they tell a story of their own, complete with beginning, middle, and resolution. In this episode, not only did the flashbacks seem random and not really enhance the current storyline (Joe cares about Barry… good thing we have a flashback to tell us that, because I was really starting to wonder), but they had no narrative throughput of their own.

    Now, onto the plot. “You give the people of this city hope” is a theme that is carried over from the comics to the small screen. We’ve heard it throughout last season and early in this episode. Forget that it’s only been in the year or two since STAR Labs blew that Central City has had to deal with meta-humans. Forget that prior to the Singularity six months earlier that the Flash existed in the public eye as little more than a rumor on Iris’ blog. But, let’s take it at face value that after the Singularity the people of Central City have come to recognize the Flash and are given hope by his presence. Then surely more than two dozen Flash tee shirt wearing people would show up at the Flash Day rally. Take Team Flash, the mayor, Jay Garrick, and Atom Smasher out of the count, and you’re left with what, 15 to 18 people in Central City who are truly hopeful now that the Flash is protecting the city. Now, I’m not sure what the population is in Central City (growing every day with people fleeing Star City, apparently), but again, the Flash Day rally is just not very effective in driving home the point that the Flash is really embraced by Central City.

    (Okay, maybe two dozen is an exaggeration. There were at least 30 people in that crowd.)

    Barry’s survivor’s guilt is reasonable, but not sold very well. Outside of a couple of actors, the performances in this episode just feel wooden. The Flash is a visual program. The red blur. The speed force. It’s a “show me don’t tell me” program. This episode felt like there was too much flat exposition. “Barry’s pushing us away.” When we see that in the exchanges and relationships, it’s more effective than when Iris and Joe are standing around talking about how Barry is pushing everyone away. Those dialogue-heavy-but-not-really-advancing-the-story scenes feel like weak writing. As if the writers are sitting around a table saying things like “But what if the viewers don’t know that Barry’s pushing everyone away by his actions in scenes X, Y, and Z. Maybe we had better add a scene between Iris and Joe talking about how Barry is pushing everyone away.”

    Compare that to the scene between Cisco and Caitlyn. Caitlyn has withdrawn herself from the group, too. But we don’t get beaten over the head with exposition about it. We get an effective scene between Cisco and Caitlyn and later between Barry and Caitlyn to show how torn up she is over Ronnie’s death and how she is hurt both by the loss and by her decision to separate herself from the group. Her survivor’s guilt felt more convincing. Her journey from separation to rejoining the team felt more authentic. Caitlyn was given a fraction of the screen time to deal with the aftermath of the Singularity, and her story felt much more alive than Barry’s same journey. In fact, Cisco and Caitlyn were the only performances in this episode that felt like they had life in them, not “go here, do this, say that, and on to the next scene”.

    The visual effects with Atom Smasher looked hokey, especially compared to the other effects used throughout the show. I like the idea of Atom Smasher growing and shrinking, but the CG was especially off-putting. My wife, who was just passing by at the time, paused and asked if this was the TV program or a video game trailer.

    Then we get the “Henry out of jail free” card. His father being unjustly locked in prison has been Barry’s motivation for everything he has become up to this point. The red and yellow streaks Barry saw the night Nora was murdered drove him to be obsessed with “the impossible”. Barry’s need to catch the Reverse Flash and obtain Henry’s release was the driving force of season one. How many times did Barry visit his old man in Iron Heights last season? Now that Henry’s free, he’s going to up and leave town? What? Again, this feels like a decision made just because that’s where the writers wanted the plot to go. Not grown organically from anything we’ve seen on the show. One way this could have been handled better would have been if over the course of a few episodes, we see that Henry’s presence somehow negatively impacts or distracts Barry from being the Flash, causing Henry to make the painful decision to leave Central City. Instead, we get a welcome home party and a “see ya later kid”.

    Then there’s the lost opportunity that the Singularity event provided. From last season’s finale to this season’s premiere, we were left wondering how the Singularity impacted Barry. It brought heroes and villains from another word to this one. Ronnie died. Flash saves the city and gives two dozen people hope. That’s it. Those story events could have come from just about any plot device. A freaking wormhole opened over Central City! We didn’t have Barry coming back down to find that his father was murdered and his mother in prison all those years ago. We don’t have Barry in a world where Harrison Wells is actually Harrison Wells, not Eobard Thawne. We don’t even have a world where Eobard Thawne’s existence has been erased and thus Henry and Nora are both free, alive, and well — or worse, Henry’s free, alive, and well but Nora is still dead from a car accident or something. All those possibilities squandered. I really hope the writers have something big planned for this season that makes the cost of not exploring those other story possibilities worth giving up.

    I’m in for the season. I like the Flash and this shared television universe it shares with Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow too well to abandon ship after one poor episode, but I need The Flash to give me a little hope.

  3. Thought it was fantastic and among the best they have done.

    I too, thought it would be “the Flash Light” . .or at LEAST have Cisco glare at Iris for naming it that. (maybe they can give it to the city to use to call Flash to celebrations he wants no part of?).

    anyways. . super strong episode and I loved it — despite the casting news for the spin off being out there for months (so anyone paying attention KNEW exactly what was going to happen with Ronnie in that flashback).

    I thought it was kind of refreshing that Caitlin blamed herself. . because you know what?. .she kinda has a point!

    Jay is too young for me.. even if coming from an alternate world, and I think introducing Zoom is a *huge* mistake that is going to confuse the hell out of non-comic readers (how is he different from Reverse-Flash?. . but the costume is the same???).

    but other than disappointment that Al was played as a villain (tho if you were paying attention, he really wasn’t, he just wanted to get back to Earth 2).. i had no real problems with this very strong episode.

    good stuff. ALMOST as good as Sleepy Hollow was 🙂

    1. although thinking about it, why ISN’T papa Allen pissed off?

      “and don’t worry about that extra 6 months I rotted, because you couldn’t return a lawyer’s call. . .”

  4. This was a real dud ep for me. Minor villain threat and resolution, that’s fine for an episode that’s not _the series opener that says much of the city got blackholed_ but as is, isn’t too exciting. Then you’ve got the cast being scattered but not really for silly reasons (and nobody thinking “let’s phone each other”), Barry’s dad leaving is obnoxiously fake drama that doesn’t need to happen, Jay Garrick’s arrival being a scene I like but can’t be much of a cliffhanger for non-nerds (“who?”), and by their own established time travel rules, shouldn’t Thawne being erased have changed the timeline?

    I absolutely believe Joe taught Creepy Barry and Iris not to take no for an answer. Was that his dating advice?

  5. Everything about this episode sprinkled lame sauce on the meal imho. How many more whiney, emo superheroes do fans have to endure? Jeez, you think they’d have learned something from Arrow by now. Flash was a nice, mostly comic relief to the draggy downer Arrow has become.

    “Oh no, I can’t save everyone, maybe I should jump off a bridge and end it because these abilities can’t fix the entire planet.”

    Whatever, go ahead and jump lamer cry-baby. Maybe its because I work in the helping industry already and know first hand that Messiah complexes don’t work and will eat you up inside if you truly believe your the end all, be all of someone else’s life. Maybe its just because it has been done to death in the superhero genre and I am totally over it.

    Either way, it was an awful start. It’s not drama, its terrible writing. The next time a superhero cries a bucket of tears and goes emo over someone they couldn’t save, I am donning a cape, popping a cigar, and twisting the cap off a bottle of whiskey for the sole purpose of saying, “Yes, you can. Yes you can Barry Allen, the fastest moper alive.”

    And that stupid excuse for writing his dad off the show was just plain lazy. I mean, at least say he had to go honor his wife’s memory or something. Send him to Aruba where they had their honeymoon. Have him tell Barry he never got closure. Give him a good reason to go away… don’t play the “Nobody knows me or likes me so I am leaving” crybaby routine.

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but the episode blew chunks after what I thought was a really good season finale.

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