Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Fastest Man Alive: The Flash Season One Review

"My name is Barry Allen, and I'm the fastest man alive. When I was a child, I saw my mother killed by something impossible. My father went to prison for her murder. Then an accident made me the impossible. To the outside world, I'm just an ordinary forensic scientist, but secretly I use my speed to fight crime and find others like me, and one day I'll find who killed my mother and get justice for my father. I am the Flash."


Faster than his MCU counterpart, not to mention still alive.

  To say that the DC Comics "Movie Universe" is a fragmented mess is an understatement of metahuman proportions. Between the Nolan "Batman" films and Snyder's Superman catastrophe "Man of Steel," it seems like DC cannot get the engine running to jump start their cinematic universe properly, the same way Marvel has for almost a decade. By DC's own design, they have stated they do not want to copy the competition and would rather do their own thing. Which is valiant and all, but has left a hole of cohesive continuity in their films that Marvel has excelled at. And then came Arrow. Known as the best (superhero) show on TV in some circles, Arrow started the DC TV Universe the same way Marvel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to capitalize with the medium for storytelling.

  After 3 seasons, Arrow has been remarkably adept at successfully adapting for television arguably the lesser member of the Justice League of America (i.e. DC's Avengers). But something happened in season 2 of Arrow, most comic fans definitely took notice when one Barry Allen (played with critical success after much initial hesitation by Grant Gustin) was introduced and The Flash was announced as a spinoff show to continue DC's TV universe, one that so far has shown more promise and stability than Zack Snyder's current vision.

  But how can The Flash coexist in an universe as rooted as Arrow, where Oliver Queen (the amazing Stephen Amell in a role that has taken a life of its own) is essentially "Batman with arrows" and where they don't have room for things like time travel and metahumans? Easily, as evidenced by the first season of The Flash, which started off with a solid first episode that took us, the audience, for a ride that spanned 23 weekly episodes; with a phenomenal mid season finale that threw the time travel wrench into the mix, and a finale that not only provided one of the most infuriating (in a good way) cliffhangers in the superhero TV genre, but a small window into concepts like multiverses and alternate realities/timelines. 

  CW's The Flash is not without faults, the romantic subplot, an anchor for a lot of Barry's decisions and drama between him and his adoptive sister Iris West (the gorgeous but easily irritable Candice Patton) was overplayed from episode one and didn't help matters when a romantic triangle was introduced with Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett, in a role that eventually became crucial but had overstayed his welcome as a character). Thankfully, Barry's adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) provided the voice of reason and a lot of real tension to our hero's first round of lackadaisical "villain of the week" episodes that plagued the initial batch, reminding the viewers of Barry's plight to solve his mother's murder and proving his real father's innocence; all the while attempting to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Flash and keeping his secret identity from his partner Eddie and Iris.   

  The S.T.A.R. Labs crew: Cisco Ramón (the witty and exceptionally dramatic when need-be Carlos Valdes), Dr. Caitlin Snow (the very "hit and miss" Danielle Panabaker), and Dr. Harrison Wells (
Tom Cavanagh, and the MVP of the entire season) provide the viewer with the necessary explanations for the metahuman emergence and Barry's role as The Flash to stop it. Cisco's semi-weekly naming conventions for villains was pretty funny and Snow's initial reservations about everything surrounding these super powered villains was a nice dueling perspective that helped Barry find his own voice and personal opinion on what should be done (by him) regarding these threats to Central City. But it was Dr. Harrison Wells as the Reverse-Flash, the time travelling Eobard Thawne (not to mention Eddie's future descendant), that truly stole the show.

"Emm Vee Pee!"

  The entirety of season one hinged on the mystery surrounding Barry Allen's past and murder of his mother by a mysterious yellow flashing figure. When we, as the viewers, discovered Dr. Wells/Reverse Flash's long con that involved him wanting to train Barry to become fast enough to produce "Speed Force" to allow him to travel back to his own timeline, after he had gone to Flash's past to kill his mother, and thereby planting the seeds for Barry to eventually become The Flash; it was enough mental dexterity juggling to leave even the most seasoned comic book alternate timeline/multiverse reader scratching their heads and wanting for more to be explained on a weekly basis.That doesn't take away from villains like: Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd, Heat Wave, Streak, Firestorm, among others; but having an overarching plot (and villain) taking most of your series' spotlight is good for the eventuality of redemption by your hero. A "villain of the week" format just enforces this, as Flash's most obvious weak episodes were exactly those, unless they contributed to Wells machinations against Flash. I would be foolish to not mention the multiple crossover moments between Arrow's established universe, including the actual "Flash Vs. Arrow" episode that had no business being as good as it was, considering it was a TV matchup. Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice is going to need more than guttural threats in order to deliver, or else they'll have to live with the fact that their "lesser" world will outclass them.

  All in all, The Flash season one left me wanting more. But I was thoroughly satisfied with the initial showing, and I can only hope that the CW provides us with a second season to rival Arrow's second take. An alternate universe Flash story would be right up my alley, especially if a certain helmeted Flash would make an appearance.

"Hug it out, bruh!"

SHR Rating:

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