On CW’s The Flash last week, we got to see how things could have been for some of the metahumans that Barry has gone after in his debut season when Bette Sans Souci aka Plastique made her own live-action debut. Things didn’t end so well for her, regrettably so, but we got to see some great things happen nonetheless. For one, Barry learned a couple of new tricks that he can do with his super-speed, and we also got to see yet another sneak-peek at the future supervillain Gorilla Grodd in a flashback to five years before the current time, when Harrison Wells was in league with General Eiling. Great stuff. Damn.
In this week’s episode, the sixth of the debut season, we see how the legend of The Flash is finally born. Till now, he has been known only as The Streak, much like Clark Kent was known as The Blur on Smallville in the later seasons, and how Oliver Queen was once known as The Vigilante and is now known as The Arrow. Going up against a new meta-human, Barry is forced to confront some truths and with writers Jaime Paglia and Chris Rafferty, we also get to see the show address two of its biggest elephants in the room: time travel and Reverse-Flash. This was way too awesome for words, even for a show like The Flash.
The new episode, “The Flash Is Born“, introduces us to Girder aka Tony Woodward who is the villain-of-the-week. In a rather neat twist, it turns out that Tony is also one of the school bullies who used to beat up Barry when he was a kid, in the wake of his mom’s murder and his father’s imprisonment for the same. Till now, we’ve seen how Barry has dealt with new crises and people completely unfamiliar to him. But now, we see how he deals with someone from his past, a past that was defined by him being weak, defined by him not being strong enough to defend himself. To face something like that, to own up to that even, it is a massive step forward for the hero, and writers Jaime Paglia and Chris Rafferty are absolutely awesome in how they deal with all of this, plus the ongoing story threads for the season itself.
The big thing is, of course, Girder and Barry’s three showdowns with him. Yes, three. Girder can turn himself into a really strong metal, all of which he owes to his origin story that ties in the dark matter wave from Harrison Wells’ particle accelerator explosion. Of course, since Barry doesn’t have super-strength, he can’t really do much about it, and he is shown up by the villain twice, until he finally gets things right on the third attempt, though even that takes some doing.
After building up his skill-set last week with him being able to run up and down buildings and also run across water, this week we see him build-up some serious super-speed for a high-velocity super-punch that totally rocks. There’s a bit of a gaffe in the episode related to this, when Cisco and Caitline are trying to test out the former’s theory about the super-punch, and there not being a connection to that and to the actual super-punch itself, but it is a minor complaint and, frankly, the only complaint that I have about the show.
Of far more importance in the episode is the fact that Barry gets to have some down-time with Eddie, someone he has been seeing as his nemesis since the start of the season. We all know that Barry is in love with Iris, but he hasn’t been able to say anything to her about it, and while he was in a coma, Eddie came into Iris’ life and now they are a couple. Things are still a bit cold between them, though its not for lack of trying on Eddie’s part. I’m quite surprised at how Eddie has turned out actually. I was all prepared to hate him when the show started since I thought he was going to be the Reverse-Flash, but I don’t think that’s the direction the show is going for, possibly because that is too obvious a red flag.
So yeah, Eddie and Barry chilling out in this episode, with the former instructing the latter on some boxing lessons and in how to use some speed and power to his advantage, all of it being a metaphor for Barry being able to take down Girder at the end of the episode, this is all awesome. Beyond awesome even. It is so great to see these two bond, and for Eddie to get some more layers to his character, some bits and pieces of his background that you wouldn’t really have imagined otherwise. It is great.
Then there’s the whole subplot involving Joe looking into Harrison Wells’ past to see how he fits in with Nora Allen’s murder. He’s got the theory in his mind that there was a meta-human like Barry, with the same skills-set, active back then, fourteen years ago and that he was the murderer. Of course, Wells’ shoots it down since, firstly, it isn’t possible for there to be a metahuman powered by particle accelerator explosion at that point in time, and also because I have this sneaking suspicion that it is actually Wells who is Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom (take your pick!) and so he has a vested interest in heading Joe off that theory entirely.
In the process, we learn a bit more about Harrison Wells’ past life in Central City and even what drew him there. It is interesting certainly and given the kind of liar and manipulator that he has been shown to be, I’m taking it all with a grain of salt. But I’m definitely interested in his backstory now. There’s tons of potential here, by far, and I think that the show is doing a great job of addressing all of it.
Knowing that the show is executive produced by the same people who are working on Arrow as well, some of the narrative similarities are quite obvious, such as the point of the flashbacks in Arrow to the lessons of The Flash in how the heroes take the villains down, whether flesh and blood or of the mind. This can sometimes be annoying for a viewer since these tend to be rather unsubtle, but so far The Flash hasn’t led me astray and that’s what I’m counting on.
Regardless, this episode was pretty darn great. The visual effects are top-notch, such as the scene where Barry prepares for his big run-up to the super-punch and lightning flashes in his eyes as he begins. Or even the scenes where Tony turns parts of his bodies into metal to escape some form of harm or cause harm. The show keeps getting better and better without fail!