Next week we are going to see what the last six episodes of The Flash and the current season of Arrow have all been building towards, an epic crossover between CW’s two greatest shows to date, bringing together two of the most prominent superheroes of recent years, Barry Allen aka The Flash and Oliver Queen aka Arrow. But before that, we have seen a lot of things happen on The Flash as the mysteries surrounding Harrison Wells deepen and Barry starts to learn all of the cool little things he can do with his speed powers.
Before we get to the crossover next week, we have this week’s episode which brings together two different supervillains for Barry to take down. But it is not going to be easy since he loses his powers against one of them early on, and the rest of the episode is all about him coming to know who he is and what he wants to be and what he believes. It was quite an excellent episode and a good primer for the crossover too. The best that can be said about this episode is that all bets are off regarding Harrison Wells, and I find that a great approach.
This week’s episode, “Power Outage“, brings together the Clock King and Blackout, one a distinctly Batman villain who debuted previously on Arrow, and the other one of Barry’s own villains I believe. There are two distinct storylines in this episode, which is where the two villains come in, and I definitely enjoyed this episode since it was jam-packed with heavy-hitters, pun intended.
The first story deals with Blackout, a man who gained his electrical vampirism when he was caught standing on a power tower during the particle accelerator explosion. Since then, he has seemingly wandered all through Starling, doing something that is not explained in the episode. It would have been nice to get some explanation in that regard, but at least the story didn’t spend too much time explaining his origins before we launched into the story proper, which is that he tries to drain an electrical station before being stopped by the Flash, though Barry ends up losing his powers in the encounter.
From then on, we see as Barry struggles to confirm his identity to himself, and decides on what he believes in, regarding his powers being given to him for a reason. And the best part of it all is that we get to some really touching scenes between a lot of the characters, especially when Barry tries to face down Blackout (Farooq) and convince him that what he is doing is the wrong thing to do. He doesn’t just charge in willy-nilly, he tries to talk the bad guy down. That’s get him major cool points from me.
And, we also see some more ruthlessness from Harrison Wells, who has really thrown off all of my initial assumptions about him. He has a very clear invested interest in making sure that Barry survives to the Crisis in 2025, but he has also killed people to make sure that happens, and he is also kind of a villain in the shadows so to speak. There’s a big mystery being built up around him, and it comes into clarity somewhat when we see him log daily reports about Barry in his hidden room, where we also learn that the AI controlling the room is named Gideon. At this point, I’m leaning towards him being either a Flash from the future, come back to shepherd the world through the eventual Crisis and ensuring that Barry is there to save the day, or he is Barry himself, which would be kind of an odd thing really.
But, that’s the fun about it all, and I love that there’s no clear direction and all options are currently open. As with Arrow, I have faith in the creators for The Flash to do something that surprises me, especially since they haven’t let me down yet. Given how things were in last week’s episode, this one too is about identity. Identity is important for a superhero and it is nice to see the show deal with something like so. All the more important since Barry actually loves having these powers and as Harrison notes, he is flashy with them too, pun intended.
The second story in the episode is related to William Tockman, who debuted in a second season episode of Arrow previously. In this episode of The Flash, he is apparently being moved between prisons, and when Blackout does his thing at STAR Labs in the second half, he stages a breakout of his own, killing a couple of SCPD officers in the process, and even injuring Eddie Thawne. William Tockman, if I remember right, was a decent presence on Arrow and he has gotten quite eccentric since then. The actor who plays him seems to enjoy the role and really makes it his own, but I confess that I found the performance to be a bit overdone at times, and being a bit too dramatic with it too, kind of like how Joker usually is, or more in the vein of the 1960’s Batman live-action series.
Since Barry loses his powers early on, he is powerless to do anything to help and Joe, Iris and Eddie against Tockman, and I liked that, since it allowed others to step up instead, which is vital in having a strong supporting cast. And The Flash has never disappointed me on that front. Since the episode breaks up the usual format of the show so well in throwing so many wrenches into the process, the shakeup is a great thing and the writers definitely pull it off.
Perhaps the most striking moment in this episode is when Caitlin confesses something to Barry in the climax: that she has already lost someone close to her previously (her fiance Ronnie Raymond) and she can’t afford to lose anyone close to her again. For any Barry/Caitlin shippers, that is certainly going to suggest a romantic interest between the two of them, and I wouldn’t be against the writers eventually going down that route, though it might make Ronnie’s eventual return as the superhero Firestorm a really awkward thing between the characters. But for me the value is in how the characters are bonding with each other. Before, Caitlin was someone who went through the motions of her work at STAR Labs. Now, she is someone who has lightened up a bit and has started to enjoy life once again. She has begun to care again. I like that.
And of course, the end stinger is with Harrison Wells, who makes an interesting about turn with regard to his views about Barry’s true strength, and where we go from that is anyone’s guess. But I’m certainly looking forward to the next few episodes, especially since next week is the big crossover and the mid-season finale after that is going to properly debut the Reverse Flash after all!!