A lot of shows are given a pass in their first season. People say that shows need to figure themselves out on their initial go-around. I find this to be agitating when it comes to exploring new content. I don’t want to sit through thirteen hours of television or more to get to “the good stuff.” Thankfully, I didn’t have that problem with The Flash. The show launched out of the gate with confidence in itself and its tone, and though its approach may not have jived with everyone, I found it to be a cartoonishly sincere adaptation of one of comic’s greatest heroes.
So, now we’re here with the start of season two. When your season ends with a black hole opening up above the city, you have a lot to measure up to. Did The Flash‘s season premiere do that?
I think one of the issues with “The Man Who Saved Central City” is that it takes the approach of a Flash episode from the middle of the run. It’s mostly a “villain of the week” episode with the on-going drama feeling very trite (though, in all honesty, plenty of the drama in this show is appropriately trite). We find out that Ronnie a.k.a. Firestorm sacrificed himself to stop the black hole from destroying Central City, and Barry is bumming hard about this (as well as Eddie’s death. Yeah, he’s definitely not coming back). I wouldn’t mind this being Barry’s dramatic focus in the episode if it wasn’t for the fact that we know Ronnie is okay. How else is he going to show up in Legends of Tomorrow in January? This sucks a lot of the air out of the episode’s arc.
Luckily, the standard Flash stuff is still on point. Our villain this week, Atom Smasher (who becomes a hero in the comics), is the expected level of goofy for this show. His CGI growing is questionable, but I’ve learned to accept those missteps with this show. Save the budget for more Grodd. We also get a typical tease with Atom Smasher’s mention of Zoom. Seems like Atom Smasher comes from another world. Maybe he has ties to Jay Garrick? More on him in a bit.
Returning to the show has made me realize that The Flash lives and dies by its cast. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) both have cheery moments in this week’s episode, and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is as nerd-baitingly adorable as ever. Even though she ended up being a pivotal part of the episode, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) didn’t feel quite as back-to-speed (*sigh*) as most of the other cast. At least Iris (Candice Patton) and her determination to de-funkify Barry redeems the female cast for this episode.
Probably the biggest shock of the episode wasn’t the release of Barry’s dad (OG Flash John Wesley Shipp) thanks to a confession by Harrison Wells (please let Tom Cavanaugh return somehow. PLEASE), but the fact that Barry’s dad just left the show. …What? The excuse he gives (“You can’t be all that you can be if I’m around, Barry,” or something to that effect) makes it feel like an actor-motivated action rather than a character or plot one. This was the biggest curveball of the episode, and I’m kind of peeved about it.
But, let’s end on a high note: Earth-2 Flash is in the house! As cool as it is to have Jay Garrick as our teaser, it makes it seem like the second episode will be the real premiere for the show. We’re getting into multiverse territory here and I love it. The wackier this show gets with its comic book source material, the better.
Favorite moment: Barry and Joe working together to blow up propane tanks in Atom Smasher’s stupid face.
Unfavorite moment: The Flash-Signal. Not only was it corny, but Cisco didn’t make it any better with his explanation of its creation. “I don’t know. I think I saw it in a comic book somewhere.”
Next Week: Flash of Two Worlds