I bet you didn’t think that our second season would include Barry Allen ditching Team Flash to become a mysterious midnight contractor, Cisco becoming a semi-cop, Harrison Wells making things right, and Iris West actively-in-the-know regarding all things concerning The Flash. Yes, that all happened… or did it? I don’t know who or what to trust anymore after the re-imagined reality that was the episode’s opener.
It’s like one minute you’re in a bear hug (Barry-hug?) with Grant Gustin… but then you pull back to realize you’ve been hugging the sharp bony angles of Ezra Miller instead. NO NO NO. NOT MY FLASH. HE IS NOT MY FLASH. #NotMyFlash
Before we superspeed into things, did anyone else spend this fine Fall Tuesday floating around thinking “FLASH IS TONIGHT. IRONICALLY, THIS PREMIERE HAS SPED UP ON ME. AND I AM EUPHORIC” while smiling at strangers? I don’t remember anything about the 15+ hours leading up to the words “Last season on The Flash.”
Also, new season, new recap format. Maybe, I’ll occasionally revert to play-by-play, overanalytical commentary, but just as we have a new Flash!Barry, we also have a new NOC!Christelle
who realized that she just uses recaps as an excuse to rewatch each Flash episode and pause every two minutes and additionally waste four hours laugh-crying at different Flarrow GIF-sets. Is the SPOILER ALERT implied? I don’t need to tell you what happened.
WATCH THE EPISODE.
Where are they now?
Barry Allen/The Flash: the only current member of the Team
because everyone else has been kicked out of the club as protection; secretly repairs buildings and businesses damaged during the Singularity Event; still lives with Joe and Iris; still works for the Central City Police Department as a Forensic Scientist; blames himself for Eddie and Ronnie’s deaths; believes he failed Central City and his friends.
Joe West/ Papa Joe: head and creator of the newly established Anti-Meta-Human Task Force; still the best dad on television.
Iris West: still working for Central City’s Picture News; still grieving Eddie, channels her Olivia Pope in white and cream business attire; is not written into a corner by the writers who have heard our complaints, hopefully.
Cisco Ramon/ Vibe: metahuman; recruited by Joe as the CCPD’s Scientific Advisor for the Anti-Meta-Human Task Force; wants a police badge; can still see between alternate timelines; thinks he is Barry’s best friend; owns a dope lightning bolt polo that I want.
Caitlin Snow: works at Mercury Labs; doesn’t speak to anyone who doesn’t work at Mercury Labs (apparently); blames herself for Ronnie’s death because she didn’t leave Central City when he asked.
Ronnie Raymond/50% Firestorm: dead; sacrificed himself during the Singularity.
Dr. Martin Stein/50% Firestorm: is still kind of crazy; makes all people everywhere cry when he asked about the fate of Ronnie (“…Ronald?”)
Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash: dead; still a dick; left Barry a posthumous video message telling him he’d never be happy; confessed via video message to the murder of Nora Allen; no one knows about this video message yet.
Barry’s Alternate Universe Opening
That’s the brilliance (both literally and metaphorically) of this premiere’s false opening: we see the show we’re used to. Hell, we see the Barry we’re used to… though perhaps he is a little more glorious, a little more confident, and a little more fully-formed as a hero with a complete team and family.
This daydream is where we/Barry expected to be at this point in his hero’s journey; the bright, happy scene is a stark contrast to how our greyer story will actually unfold in this second season. After rewatching Barry’s Alternate Fantasy scene after learning the truth, it’s clear which parts of reality Barry not-so-subtly “fixes:” his biggest challenge is two con-men with science-guns and not a planet-destroying Singularity, Ronnie Raymond flies in unfailingly for the superhero tag team + to kiss his wife + banter with his Firestorm husband, all Team Flash members cheer Barry on including Eddie as a cop buddy and Harrison Wells as a non-evil mentor.
Oh, and Barry’s grinning from ear-to-ear the whole time.
Barry: “I didn’t do it alone.”
Caitlin: “You’re never alone.”
Cut to a lonely Barry in a lonely lab. It’s quiet. We don’t know what’s going on. We sit on our couches/at our computer desks/in our beds yelling at the screen, “WAIT, SO WE GOOD? WE ALL GOOD? WE DID IT?” I mean, our people seem to be doin’ okay… but there’s an air of melancholy and the color is desaturated. Is this The Flash or Arrow? Our team is mostly alive, and time passes, but it feels slow. Subdued.
I didn’t think beginning the season in an imagined reality was meant to trick us as an audience. I, personally, enjoyed the flipped storytelling. It’s a dynamic choice by the showmakers to stir our curiosity about the current lives of Team Flash by revealing the fate of that tragic day in a non-linear fashion. Each reveal hits that much harder: Caitlin doesn’t hang out with the team anymore because she’s grieving Ronnie. Barry/The Flash has gone solo, and the city celebrates being saved by a man who doesn’t believe he succeeded in anything.
I wonder if the rest of the season will be a back and forth of staggered revelations; I hope not, otherwise we’re tonally shifting too far into Arrow territory. Instead, I hope that each episode from now on gets lighter, brighter, and more hopeful until, eventually, we’re back on the winning track that made the show so popular during it’s pioneer season.
Barry as an Unreliable Narrator
Maybe it’s because I’ve recently binge-watched Mr. Robot, but I don’t trust anything Barry perceives to be the concrete reality anymore. He’s alone a lot now, I guess. I think he still lives with the Wests, and he’s still doing the forensic scientist thing, but the disconnect obvious.
How often does he sit in S.T.A.R. Labs concocting what-could-have-been’s? And Barry’s brain is FAST — I doubt he’s meditating to clear his thoughts. He admitted to the audience in his new intro speech that he isn’t dealing with any of it and there’s only one thing left for him to do: “I run.”
During Henry’s Congrats-On-Getting-Out-Of-Jail party, I thought Barry was having another daydream. Was Daddy Flash (Henry Allen) really released from prison? Was he still alive? Is he healthy? Is he actually leaving Central City, or is Barry’s brain creating an alternative?
As of right now. I think — purely because of Joe West’s reaction-confirmations — that it’s real, but the Mr. Robot in me can’t help but wonder whether or not the slow-motion CW montage set to “Renegades” is too happy to be reality.
What Worked, So They’re Running With It
From what I watched, this show is still solid in its strengths and will continue to play what worked the most last season. Flashbacking to baby Barry grieving to Joe after his parents’ death and cutting to Joe’s solitary figure watching over Barry in his hospital bed signaled to me that the Joe/Barry relationship will remain one of the pillar’s of Barry’s characterization.
The importance of actual comic book characters — including the ridiculousness of some of those names — is still celebrated. While the premiere’s Villain-of-the-Week plot was barely a blip utilized as a tool to reunite the team, to remind us that not only metahumans have powers, and to inform us of the season’s Overall Big Bad Guy.
There’s no doubt the NOCs love Cisco as our meta voice and representative, but also as a character who acts as a meta literature device. Now that he’s meta-Vibing through other timelines… can he see how the current plot of Gotham is going down? Or maybe he actually sees a world where they could potentially meet Bruce Wayne? Cisco’s existence fuels me like crossover crack.
I must also mention the obvious dangling of Westallen and Snowbarry. That’s all I want to do: mention it. Because all y’all crazy. (Don’t worry, I’m crazy too.)
Super-quick Things (Mostly Questions):
- I was not impressed by the Atom Smasher CGI… but that’s okay. They must’ve used most of the budget on the gorgeous Singularity + Firestorm sequence.
- Is this really the last time we’ll see Ronnie Raymond?
- THE FLASH SIGNAL aka the “Flash Light”
- Why did Daddy Flash leave so speedily?
- Zoom? Whom? Zoom.
- Is Iris really doing as well as we think?
- Why does Barry look like a gotdamb supermodel in his paparazzi shots by Jay Garrick?
- I’m interested to compare the two different ways Iris and Caitlin cope with the deaths of their fiances.
- Quick! Someone edit the flashback to the end of the first season finale so we can watch the event play in real time.
- My Nerd of Color CHAMP:
I’ll see you next week when we find out more about the Crimson Comet, Jay Garrick! For more, follow me on twitter: @christellexoxo