It finally happened, Flash fans! The Scarlet Speedster is back and Season 2 is off to a promising (and shocking!) start. This was a very emotional premiere from minute one, which opened with Barry’s hallucination that everyone was alive and happy (including Eddie). Unsurprisingly, it faded away until all that remained was Barry standing alone at S.T.A.R. Labs, having pushed everyone away because of his grief and guilt.
Taking place six months after the singularity crisis, this episode focuses on Barry’s emotional trauma, specifically how he doesn’t feel he deserves to be called the man who saved Central City. In his mind, that honor goes to Ronnie and Eddie, who both died helping him. Our first shock of the night was learning that Ronnie Raymond (but not Martin Stein) got sucked into the singularity. Personally, I found it hard to believe that one half of Firestorm survived and not the other. Which leads to a big question–did they actively separate, or was it by chance? And the other important question: Is this part of the set-up for Legends of Tomorrow? My money is on yes.
Anyway, now Barry’s hogging all the pain and regret he can because
that is the superhero’s duty he doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt because of him. Barry is so scared he’ll lose more people he cares about, so he’d rather take on every risk himself. He probably also thinks his own death would be less painful than having to live through another loved one’s death. And when he’s not going solo on crime, he’s trying to clean up Central City by putting Jitters back together, rebuilding businesses at night, and others. It’s a coping mechanism, hoping so that all of the physical fixes can someday amount to a emotional one.
But Barry’s team isn’t willing to be pushed aside, and they push back just as hard. Joe and Cisco especially, who seem to be the CCPD’s new dynamic duo. Cisco builds the weapons and Joe uses them on criminals (I loved the idea of The Boot, even if it didn’t work on Atom Smasher). Plus, Iris has her own plan of getting Barry to accept his friends back into his heroic mission. Kudos to the showrunners for delving into Barry’s psyche and using it to develop not just him as a character, but the team of people around him. Everyone on Team Flash is trying to cope, but they come to realize they’re stronger together, and that’s exactly what this show is supposed to be about.
The Flash Day celebrations were fun to watch, and seeing Jay Garrick in the crowd was even more fun! For viewers hadn’t been spoiled (I.E. not me), they’d likely think Garrick was a new threat sent to spy on The Flash. But he’s much more than that, as we’ll come to see. Plus, his perfect timing at S.T.A.R. Labs was highly amusing. No one could get in, huh, Cisco? Right…
I must give props to the writers of this episode for that Batman reference. Having the “Flash Signal” light up to call out Atom Smasher then having Cisco say he got the idea from a comic book was a stroke of brilliance! Atom Smasher was a bit of a lackluster opponent made more interesting by having two of him running around. We’re teased to the idea of multiple universes by Barry finding Atom Smasher’s other self, an ordinary welder named Al Rothstein. Rothstein was found dead, but his meta-human lookalike is very much alive and after Barry. But Atom Smasher is only a small part of a greater scheme, as he revealed that he’d been sent to kill Barry by Zoom. And the way he whispered Zoom’s name sent a small chill through me.
Though Atom Smasher was a large focus, this episode didn’t forget about the Season 1 baddie, Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash. He left a video message for Barry and, in another shocking turn of events, he admitted to murdering Barry’s mother! The recorded confession is enough for Henry Allen to walk out of prison a free man, and there is a touching party thrown to welcome him home.
Seeing Barry and his father together is always a treat, but the final scene between them was a bit sour for me. Yet another shocking component of the episode come when Henry tells Barry he’s not moving in with Barry and not even sticking around Central City. The reason? Barry can’t grow into his role as The Flash if he’s distracted by his dad being around. The scene was meaningful and well acted, but I call bull on that cop-out reason. The reality is that Barry’s dad’s actor is only a guest star, so keeping him around isn’t an option. Even with that in mind, I still say it was stupid.
But Barry’s moment’s with his adoptive family are anything but stupid! He had some heartfelt conversations with both Joe and Iris about his role as The Flash and how those who help him chose to help him, regardless of the consequences. Part of Barry’s hero journey is accepting that his dangerous life needs a network of support, and they will gladly accept the danger. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Almost like every superhero out there has had the same conversations with their friends and family. Regardless, it was delightful to watch Barry bond even more with the Wests.
And of course, right at the end as the team is admiring the newest version of Barry’s suite, we get the final shock: Jary Garrick striding into the supposedly secure lab, introducing himself and warning Barry that his world is in danger. Cue the dramatic music!
So what’s the verdict? I give this episode 9 out of 10. I just can’t look past Barry’s father leaving for a ridiculous reason, as well as the odd notion of having only half of Firestorm get sucked into the wormhole. The rest of the episode, though, was strong and a great set-up for a whole new world (oh no, Disney’s lawyers are gonna be knocking down my door) for Team Flash to deal with. This premiere had a great balance of dramatic action and emotional tension, which is something all comic book shows should strive for. It makes viewers happy, right?
What did you think of the episode? Looking forward to meeting Zoom? Share in the comments! And enjoy some memorable quotes from the premiere:
Caitlyn: “That light was the perfect bait, what made you think of that?”
Cisco: “I don’t know. I guess I saw it in a comic book somewhere.”
Martin Stein: “That’s where you’ll find your Atom Smasher. Because he absorbs atomic power and he well . . . smashes things.”
Cisco: “Come here. That’s a great name. Welcome to the team.”
Iris: “Someone should try to get through to him [Barry].”
Joe: “Maybe his best friend?”
Cisco: “Joe, believe me, I’ve tried.”
Joe: “I meant her [Iris].”
Henry: “Central City doesn’t need you to be Henry Allen’s son, it needs you to be The Flash. My kid . . . the superhero.”
Iris: “Well, if you keep getting no for an answer, stop asking questions.”
Joe: “I say that! You’re quoting me to me?”
Iris: “What can I say, you are a very smart man.”
Iris: “Barry, everyone in this room cares about you but we also care about this city. We all want to make a difference and that means fighting meta-humans and that means working with The Flash. You can’t deny us that. Not anymore.”
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