I’m loving the scheduling of our weekly comic book TV fix. We kick the week off with the bumbling, inconsistent “Gotham” and then Tuesday we zoom over to the fun all-out superhero show that is “The Flash.” This week, a new villain comes to Central City leaves Barry seeing double…or is that triple? Luckily for us though, this episode proved the series debut was no fluke — “The Flash” is gonna stay the funnest comic book show on Earth.
Playing with the comic fans who are used to Barry’s introduction, Barry skips over his fastest man alive spiel and races to stop an apartment fire. Cisco is directing him while the rest of Team STAR is elsewhere. Quickly erasing any doubts that the season’s budget was exhausted on the series premiere, Flash zooms along and the apartment flames look especially imposing. Flash saves a few trapped inhabitants, but is exhausted after the rescue and now Caitlin’s on the radio, decidedly not happy that he’s risking his life on regular folks instead of the dangerous meta-humans on the loose. That’s cold Caitlin.
Joe’s calling from a crime scene at a convenience store. Barry speeds over (a phrase I’ve got a feeling I’ll be writing a lot) and quickly determines that while the security cam only caught one robber, Barry calculates there were six.
The Joe and Barry scenes are fun, with a nice banter and comfort level between Gustin and Martin that you’d typically see in Season 3 of a show, not the second episode. Barry has another dizzy spell and we flashback to young Barry and Joe. Looks like instead of life on an island, we’re going to watch the formative years of young Flash. Young Barry, who we’ll be referring to from now on as “YB,” wants to see his father, but Joe is not having it. YB goes bratty and says Joe’s not his father and he hates him. Words hurt Barry, they hurt.
William Sadler stars as Simon Stagg, a longtime evil business tycoon in DC Comics and the Lex Luthor equivalent to the hero Metamorpho. Stagg is celebrating a new cloning technique and hosting a big gala. Iris and Barry are there, but so is the store robbers and it is in fact six of them and they’re after Stagg. Sadler was great casting. He plays such a terrific smug bastard.
Barry races to save a security guard, but after the rescue, his body can’t handle it and he passes out. Team STAR, specifically Caitlin, is not happy Barry kept his dizziness from them and Cisco says she hasn’t been that upset since Ronnie vanished. So those of you thinking Caitlin’s fiance would in fact be Firestorm, you are correct.
The team has a way to gauge what’s happening with Barry and longtime Flash writer Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg take the opportunity to work in some major fan service with the introduction of the not-yet Cosmic Treadmill. This show is determined to create at least one geek-gasm moment an episode, isn’t it? Team STAR quickly figures out what’s wrong with Barry — he’s not eating enough to cope with his new metabolism.
Joe meanwhile goes to Barry’s lab and finds Barry’s secret map revealing the known information and headline clippings of his mother’s murder. This is a very sly nod to a constant chalkboard in the Johns co-written “52.” Joe, being an actual capable detective, spots the STAR sweatshirt and heads to the lab to tell Barry to stop risking his life. Barry says Joe’s not his father. C’mon Barry! What the show is making look surprisingly easy is establishing these character dynamics so quickly and effectively that we understand everyone’s perspective without weeks of dragging this subplot out.
Stagg’s bodyguard – Mr. Java (just like the comics!) – comes to the thief, Danton Black, whom he partnered with to take down Stagg. Black wants Stagg’s home information, but Mr. Java’s betrayal will only go so far and he attacks Black resulting in five lookalikes to come out from Black and pummel Mr. Java.
Back at Barry’s office, Iris is mad because Barry no-showed to help and she wants to know what’s going on with him. We get a very cool sequence where Barry races around her and says all the things he wants to tell her before she finishes pouring sugar into her coffee. This show is taking some fun risks with what we’ve come to expect from our weekly comic book TV shows and it’s paying off.
Stagg talks with Joe and Eddie about Black, who was a former employee. Before Joe can convince Stagg to get to safety, Black attacks and unleashes more duplicates. Joe is able to shoot and take out, but more come out. Barry learns of the shootout and arrives in time to save Joe, but he’s ill-prepared for a physical threat as Black’s duplicates nearly kill him and send Barry beating a hasty retreat.
At STAR Labs, Barry is doubting he can be a hero and tells the team he was wrong for thinking he could make a difference. He has another flashback of visiting his father in prison. He tells the guard the lightning man killed his mother, but Henry tells YB to go back home with Joe so he doesn’t have to see his father in jail.
Joe is once again offering to help protect Stagg, but Stagg says he’s ready for Black this time. Wells rides in and he has a nasty exchange with Simon. These two have history — none of it good. After Stagg leaves, Wells tells Joe that Barry is going to resume being the Flash, but the doubt Joe is placing in him could kill him more effectively than any meta-human.
Iris gives Barry the good news. She’s found a story — she’s going to get the scoop on
The Blur, The Hood, The Red Streak.
Caitlin and Team STAR were able to replicate a double using some of Black’s blood and she tells Barry he can beat Black by identifying the prime source, which he’ll be able to tell by whoever is showing signs of exhaustion. Nice way to tie that all together from earlier. Joe comes by and offers Barry a pep talk to go stop Black as he’s the only one who can do it. Pardon the pun, but I’m glad they sped up the adult figure not being on board with the hero being a hero subplot.
At Stagg’s office, Black takes down the security and is about to take down Stagg when Flash arrives. Bullet time sees fresh somehow with Flash. Continuing “The Matrix” homage, Black goes Agent Smith on Barry and creates dozens of clones. I kinda wanted to see Flash suck them up in a whirlwind, but randomly punching the crowd works too.
Just as the odds are starting to become overwhelming, Joe reminds Barry he believes in him and Barry stops the prime Black, who tries one final desperate attack and falls outside to his death … maybe. A drop of blood could theoretically bring him back. Cisco has a better name for Black — Multiplex — and since he’s been named he’s definitely going to return at some point.
Joe comes to Barry’s lab with pizzas and an offer to help clear Henry and get him out of prison. Barry apologizes and credits Joe for raising him like a dad. You knew that line was coming all along, but it was a nice moment.
Back at Stagg’s office where Wells has quietly rolled in. Stagg is thrilled about the appearance of the man in the red mask, but Wells doesn’t want him harnessing Flash’s power and stands up to stab Stagg to death saying the fastest man alive has to stay safe. Wells’ motives are going to be a key subplot this season. And that may be the one thing with the show I hope develops very slowly.