A review of tonight's “The Flash” coming up just as soon as I leave some posts on the Science Showcase website…
Yesterday, we found out that Mark Hamill would be reprising his role as the Trickster from the '90s “Flash” TV show, and in tonight's episode, Amanda Pays got to play a slightly different (and certainly less friendly to Barry Allen and his friends) take on her role from that show, as scientist Tina McGee. (Here's a brief glimpse of her putting John Wesley Shipp's Flash through his paces.) As much fun as it is to get these reminders of the TV Flash of a quarter-century ago – including Shipp's ongoing presence as Henry Allen – this “Flash” isn't just a nostalgic wallow, but a show that has come into its own with a speed befitting its hero.
After last week's fun “Arrow” crossover event, “The Man in the Yellow Suit” went heavy on all the big stories of the season so far: the murder of Barry's mother, the mystery of the Reverse-Flash's identity (coupled with the mystery of Harrison Wells' agenda), Eddie's anti-Flash task force, the death and rebirth of Ronnie Raymond, Barry's feelings for Iris and his relationship with both of his fathers. And when I say “heavy,” I mean emotion as much as plot concentration. This was an episode where a lot of things happened, and several big answers were apparently revealed, but where the most important scenes dealt with how the characters were feeling about it all.
So while it was exciting to see the two speedsters battling in a football stadium, both going so fast that it looked less like a superhero fight than a laser light show, I was more affected by Henry Allen telling Barry that their family had lost enough at the hands of the man in the yellow suit, and that he'd rather his son live his life than get justice for him and Nora. For that matter, all the talk of the light generated by both Flashes tied in nicely to Joe's speech about what bringing Barry into the family meant for him and Iris.
I still think the backstory of Barry and Iris' relationship wasn't the best choice the creative team made – even here, after Barry makes his declaration to Iris, she still looks at him with sisterly affection and concern – but the Henry/Barry scene at least touched on the reasons why Barry would have let himself fall into a sibling relationship with her when it was the last thing he wanted.
The Ronnie/Caitlin/Cisco material felt a bit a bit shoe-horned into an episode that was already bursting with both personal Christmastime confessions and lots of Reverse-Flash action, and it also suffered from a few odd editing choices. (Caitlin's first encounter with Ronnie was cut in such a way that it wasn't clear how much either of them saw of each other, and therefore how freaked out Caitlin was feeling when she hid around a corner.) But the intervention of another superhuman(*) – and one who wasn't just being introduced in this episode – was probably the best way to resolve this initial battle of two Flashes, since Barry is going to need some time to get good enough to beat his opposite number, while there needed to be something or someone to stop the bad guy here.
(*) DC has been using “metahuman” going back to at least the '80s (the first time I recall it in heavy use was circa the “Invasion!” miniseries), and I've never liked it. Sounds like one of those technobabble terms invented in a futile attempt to give the subject legitimacy, when it still involves people with powers in colorful costumes. Ain't nothin' wrong with “super” as your adjective, fellas.
And unless we're heading for a few more twists (always possible with this kind of show), it sure seems like I was right in my earlier assumption that Wells and Reverse-Flash are one and the same. Not only does Wells have the yellow uniform (and a take on the classic Flash ring from the comics) in his secret room – along with the ability to modulate his voice to sound like Reverse-Flash – but both characters appear to be time travelers. There's the football fight dialogue suggesting this is the first time Barry has fought Reverse-Flash, but not the other way 'round, not to mention Cisco's theory that there were two speedsters in the Allen house 14 years earlier. (My assumption: at some point, Barry will chase Wells through time to try to save his mother, only to wind up witnessing her murder again from a new angle.) If that's really where this is all going, and not just an elaborate feint, it makes dramatic sense to make the big bad someone who's also so important to Barry, and the idea of Reverse-Flash as someone encountering Barry out of chronological order also allows for some twists along the way, including the possibility that by the time he's posing as the founder of STAR Labs, Harrison has perhaps become less evil and wants to protect Barry for reasons beyond preserving his own future.
But we'll see. So much story still to tell, but the show's been a blast so far.
Finally, I've read some complaints that I'm treating reviews of this show (and, “Arrow” and “Agents of SHIELD”) differently from how I've covered “Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” in terms of being more open about discussing the source material and things that haven't yet been revealed in the comics. That's a not unreasonable complaint, given the rules, but I do think these shows are different to the extent that they're playing with (some of) the audience's knowledge of the comics, and the ways they twist certain characters and concepts from those books so they're not necessarily the same here. All the comic book shows are taking some time off after this week, so I may rethink how the comments should work going forward, but for tonight, I'm saying it's okay to talk about all things in Reverse-Flash and Firestorm mythology.
With that said, what did everybody else think?