Review: ‘The Flash’ – ‘The Flash Is Born’

Senior Television Writer
11.18.14 52 Comments


A quick review of tonight's “The Flash” coming up just as soon as I calculate the number of bugs you swallow while running…

“The Flash Is Born” introduced Barry's famous superhero codename into the world of Central City, and introduced another villain from the comics in Girder, albeit retrofitting him into Barry's grade school bully – then staging their climactic fight in the halls of that school to make sure we got the point. On the one hand, this show (like “Arrow”) can sometimes lay things on really thick. On the other hand, Barry's supersonic punch was every bit as cool as Cisco sold it to us as, and Iris' thrilled reaction to seeing her hero in action up close was played very well by Candice Patton, and those were ultimately the more important parts of the episode.

That said, there remain several Iris issues that are less the fault of Patton or the character herself than of the way she's being written. The first is the step-sibling aspect of her relationship with Barry, which is hard to avoid when we get more flashbacks to the two of them as kids being raised under the same roof by Joe. It just undercuts every attempt to sell Barry and Iris as this great predestined romance, because you understand exactly why Iris has never looked at him that way: he is, for all intents and purposes, her brother.

The second is the secret identity business, which makes even less sense than ever after this week. Joe doesn't want Barry to tell Iris the truth about his powers in order to keep her safe, but keeping her in the dark only encourages her to maintain this blog about the Streak/Flash, which in turn attracts the attentions of a dirtbag like Girder, and will presumably bring her more trouble in the future from other meta-humans looking for information on the Flash. Bring Iris into the circle of trust, and either she stops blogging altogether – the request to cut it out carries more weight if she knows who's really asking her, and why – or at least goes into it with eyes wide open and a direct line to Barry if things go pear-shaped. This just puts her in danger for the sole purpose of generating conflict on the show – and because secret identities are a trope of the genre – and not because it's something that either Joe or, especially, Barry would do. And even though Iris is acting in good faith because the men in her life are idiotically not giving her all the information she needs, the fact that she keeps either getting into trouble or causing problems for Barry inadvertently makes her into an irritant, rather than someone whose future with Barry we should root for(*).

(*) For another example of this phenomenon, see Bradley Cooper's Will Tippin, who spent the first season of “Alias” investigating SD-6 and accidentally making Sydney's life more difficult. Even though his intentions were good, and even though there was a more plausible reason for keeping him out of the loop than the characters have here with Iris, it led to much of the audience taking a strong dislike to the character (Cooper and JJ Abrams have both talked about this), and the show had to drastically alter his circumstances (including bringing him in on the secret) to rehabilitate him with viewers.

Elsewhere, it seems clearer than ever that Harrison Wells is the Reverse Flash (or Professor Zoom) who traveled back in time to kill Barry's mother (and put him on the path to his current destiny), and who here steals the case file and threatens Iris to get Joe to leave the case alone. As “Harrison is secretly evil” epilogues go (assuming this is what that was), this was one of the more compelling and less repetitive, and provides a legit reason for Joe (and the series) to table that investigation for a while. And I'm guessing Iris' line about the meta-human who is on fire but doesn't burn up is going to lead us soon to our first encounter with Firestorm.

Good hour overall, but there remain some bugs to be fixed (if not scooped out of poor Barry's mouth).

What did everybody else think?

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