Well this sucks. Not the show, but the fact I wrote an analytical piece on the season 2 premiere of The Flash and the document resulted in corruption. Oh well, things happen. I’m not going to spend time rewriting every single criticism, but I liked the episode enough to want to write about it one more time.
You have been warned.
“The Man Who Saved Central City” begins six months after the season 1 finale. Barry Allen has pushed his loved ones away and remains in a depressed state of being. Caitlin is working at Mercury labs while Cisco landed a job at the metahuman task force at the local pd. Joe, still a father to everyone, easily keeps up with Cisco’s witty dialogue. They don’t miss a beat.
Ronnie and Professor Stein combined to form Firestorm to destroy the singularity The Flash was struggling with. Their attempt was successful, although Ronnie vanished and is presumably dead. Stein was caught by The Flash before turning into street yolk.
Darkness surrounds Barry’s spirit, breathing new life into an otherwise playful show. I love how light-hearted The Flash usually is, but this episode displayed several strong themes and emotions, including depression, which of course is a natural human state. The sliver of negative emotion easily grounded the show and its characters.
Barry, dealing with new wounds, reluctantly attends a ceremony for The Flash. Right before The Flash accepts the key to the city, Al Rothstein, or Atom Smasher, played by wrestler/actor Edge, attacks with massive force. It was about the only time my suspension of disbelief faded.
Al Rothstein is vanilla as villains get. Initially the character might seem like a total Bane rip off, but the character is actually a noble super hero that helps the Justice League in comics. The Bane look-a-like can grow in an instant, wreaking heavy destruction with the flick of a wrist.
I’ll be honest, the CGI caused laughter in the room I was in. The growth effects made Edge look like a “Stretch Armstrong” knock off. The CGI is possibly the worst I’ve seen on television to date, and the bar is set low for TV these days, since budgets for said programs are minuscule. It’s going to sound rude, but it looks like two inexperienced high-school students just learned how to use free plug ins in cheap editing software. Edge wasn’t doing a bad job delivering lines however. He might have even known the character’s backstory, judging by his acting and speech. More on his good-guy moment later.
The rest of the season 2 premiere relies on simple, over-the-shoulder, cookie cutter conversations, save for a few key bits of information.
Barry is confronted by a man that gives him a thumb drive. He’s told that Thawne left him a message and that if he doesn’t watch it, he’ll lose the S.T.A.R. labs estate. In the message, Thawne admits to the murder of Barry’s mother after his failed fifteen year experiment to take Barry Allen down. He asks Barry to delete the first part of the video and send the second part to the police, which has Thawne admitting to the murder of Barry Allen’s mom. The Flash keeps up its great track record when it comes to tying up threads.
Team Flash reunites and figures out how to defeat Atom Smasher. He’s taken out with a massive dose of energy that they trick him into absorbing at a nuclear plant. Before Atom Smasher dies, Flash calmly asks “why?”
Cliche as it might be, the response is a barely audible:
For those of you who don’t know, Professor Zoom is another dangerous speedster that goes toe-to-toe with Flash on a regular basis. He’s an evil and swift reckoning force that deals copious amounts havoc, wherever he lands.
From there, Barry’s exonerated father has a celebratory return home. At his welcome home party, he explains to Barry that he needs to leave, seeing as Barry has a new family and entire city to protect. The father-son conversation gave me “feels,” but I was desensitized to the notion of love after the overuse of mostly static, medium shots, and close ups. The scene blew its load so early on, and as a result, I wasn’t able to consume the warmness the show attempted to provide.
Overall, the cinematography was played safe, perhaps to procure a wider audience who may not be familiar with last season’s bold, if not daring aesthetic. The adoption of the more classic style of shooting clashes with the script itself.
How could I forget Iris? Maybe because she’s as boring as ever. The squandered potential for Iris amazes me. At one point Joe refers to her as Barry’s “best friend.” The love interest for Flash has been used as a tool. She’s never given any worthy dialogue and has yet to do anything meaningful or noteworthy. Don’t expect anything different. You’ll be disappointed. I’m not begging for her to leap across buildings, but I am asking the show to respect her as talent, and as a character. Using actors as “tools” is a big no-no.
The coolest moment is awarded to the last few seconds. Team Flash is standing in S.T.A.R labs when suddenly a figure emerges from the shadows, informing everyone of impending doom. The character is Jay Garrick, a heroic speedster. The conclusion and cut to credits was a great way to keep us coming back for more. I can’t say I’m not excited for more great Flash interpretation.
The Flash’s swift return reminds us that comic-book adaptations can cross emotional lines. Flash doesn’t quit being fun, but it doesn’t ignore our other feelings, either. The new Team Flash is a strong as they were last season, unified by passion, loss, and newly attained wisdom. Although the new episode is safer than previous episodes, those who stick through are rewarded multiple times. The show still needs flesh out certain characters, but if it’s teaching us anything at all, it’s that patience is a virtue.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash (© 2015 The CW).