Yesterday, I went on a bit of a rant about how DC was getting trumped by Marvel on the big screen. The opposite is true on the small screen. Sorry, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there’s only one comic-based superhero show to watch on Tuesdays: The Flash on The CW. After one of the best pilots of the season, how was Team Flash going to follow through on episode two?
Well, by fully embracing its superhero-ness, for one. Grant Gustin’s opening narration even poked fun at similar type internal monologues — *cough*Arrow*cough* — before diving right into the action. And this week’s cold open was literally on fire as we saw Barry saving folks from a burning building.
Episode 2, “The Fastest Man Alive,” picks up a few weeks after the events of the pilot, and Barry has been doing his guardian angel thing with in-ear assistance from Cisco ever since, to the chagrin of Caitlin. Though the three had agreed Barry should use his new found superpowers for good, they disagreed on how. Caitlin thinks they should be stopping metahumans instead of saving regular humans. Eventually, the team also learns a limitation to Barry’s powers.
Turns out that his metabolism is also on hyper speed and is causing Barry to pass out when he over exerts himself. And thus, the comics’ high-protein bars are introduced on to the show. Speaking of the comics, I loved how they tested Barry’s vitals while on a Cisco-modified treadmill. Wonder if he added any cosmic properties to it as well?
In fact, there were tons of nods to the comics throughout the episode, starting with the latest meteor freak metahuman menace: Multiplex1. Interestingly, Multiplex is actually a Firestorm villain which hints at the eventual arrival of Ronnie Raymond on the show. This is not a spoiler, by the way, since he was actually mentioned in the ep. Plus, Robbie Amell (the cousin of Arrow star Stephen Amell) has already been cast.
In the comics, Danton Black was the former assistant to Dr. Martin Stein — the other half of Firestorm, who will be played on the show by Victor Garber2. In the DC Television Universe, though, Multiplex is a disgruntled former employee of Simon Stagg’s — another comic import who has ties to Metamorpho. PS, if Metamorpho ends up on this show too, The CW’s Justice League will be way cooler than whatever Zack Snyder can put together.
The last nod to the comics is making Iris take journalism classes in grad school. The fact that she also hates journalism was a bit reminiscent of Erica Durance’s version of Lois Lane on Smallville. Iris’ eventual obsession with a red Blur who saves people will be even more reminiscent of Smallville.
Superheroics aside, the highlight of the episode was the further development of Barry’s relationship with Joe West. It goes without saying that Jesse L. Martin has been one of the best casting decisions in a show full of great casting choices. His performance alone made the admittedly clunky flashback scenes watchable. I also might have welled up a bit when Joe and Barry shared a few fatherly slices of pizza too.
I think The Flash has really found the sweet spot where fun, emotion, drama, and great special effects3 all meet. That said, I could do without the constant flashbacks to Kid Barry or the post-credit “Harrison Wells is mysterious” stingers. Also, Iris’ obliviousness to Barry’s feelings are getting close to parody, so hopefully that resolves soon enough.
Other than those minor nitpicks, The Flash continues to be one of my favorite shows on television and a model for how to do DC characters in live action. The movie division could learn a thing or two. It’s almost hard to believe that these are the same folks responsible for the Green Lantern movie.
- Also dug how they explained the naming convention of the Flash Rogues. Cisco initially dubs the villain “Captain Clone” which foreshadows how Captains Cold and Boomerang likely get their monikers. ↩
- Which begs the question: is a Firestorm show the next to spin out of the CW’s DC Universe? ↩
- Speaking of special effects, can you believe the end battle between Flash and all the Multiplex clones was on a mini-network like The CW? Remember how the Burly Man Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded was considered a technological marvel in the early aughts? Yeah, they’re doing way better than that on a TV budget now. ↩