Flash: The Fastest Man Alive

logoBack for episode two, this week’s episode of Flash is one of the speedster’s many nicknames, “The Fastest Man Alive.”  It starts off on a very amusing note.  Many shows have voice-over intros done by the lead character.  This one is by Barry, but he acknowledges that the intros tend to repeat themselves by breaking the fourth wall with the aside of, “But you know all that already.”  That was a nice, not quite in-joke, and counterpart for the heavy, drama-laden shows like the companion show Arrow.

Also differing from many shows, and even comics these days, the show starts with Flash helping people trapped in a burning building.  This isn’t a plot by a supervillain, it isn’t some big scheme, it’s just a disaster in a big city that Flash keeps from becoming a tragedy.  They do use it to show some limitations to Barry’s powers, but it was nice to see a hero, well, being heroic.

The team back at the lab is a bit divided about Barry’s exploits.  Cisco is helping Barry by providing information and guidance, but Caitlin is a lot less happy about it.  Dr. Wells is more in the middle, not as angry as Caitlin, but cautioning Barry that his powers are new and they don’t know what’s happening with them yet.

Like Arrow, Flash seems to be laden with flashbacks.  On this show, they are mostly about Barry’s childhood.  So far, these have been drama flakes that I don’t think improve the show or the stories at all.

Iris so far seems to exist solely as plot device and (unrequited) love interest.  She ends up dragging Barry to a ceremony for humanitarian industrialist Simon Stagg.  Stagg and his bodyguard, Java, are both known from the comics.  Simon Stagg is the man who caused the accident that turned Rex Mason into the freakish hero Metamorpho.  There was a lot of speculation when it was announced Stagg had been cast that Rex Mason would be on the way.

The event is interrupted by a group of gunmen who seem to tie in with a robbery Barry and Joe West were investigating earlier in the show.  Barry doesn’t manage to catch them as his powers flake out again.  Back at STAR, they run some tests which involve a device that looks like another item from Flash’s history, the Cosmic Treadmill.  What they eventually work out is Barry’s powers are burning through his body’s reserves, and he needs to eat a lot more than normal to fuel them.

This isn’t new, but isn’t Barry’s issue.  In the comics, when Wally West first became the Flash after Barry’s death, his powers were a lot more limited than his mentor’s had been.  One of those limitations was the need to eat huge amounts.  They used that same weakness on the original show, and seem to have carried it over here.

Detective Joe West tracks Barry down at STAR and they have an argument.  After Barry storms off, West and Dr. Wells have a conversation about Barry.  While all this is going on, Java meets up with the gunmen from earlier in the show.  The gunmen are all one person, who we eventually learn is Danton Black.  Once again, taken from the comics, this is the real name of usual Firestorm villain Multiplex.

Barry faces Black and gets beaten badly.  The fight does let them figure out more or less what’s going on with Black, that he’s creating duplicates of himself.  Both West and Wells try and fail to get Stagg to lay low during this chaos, which leads to a conversation between West and Wells about Barry.

There are several scenes of Iris and Barry arguing.  I think they’ve fallen into the habit of taking a close friend for granted.  Iris assumes Barry has nothing better to do than help her with her projects, and Barry figures she’ll forgive him for blowing her off over and over.  Between that and the unrequited love interest bit, Iris is becoming my least favorite character on the show.

With a lot of pep-talks and advice from the STAR crew and Detective West, Barry manages to defeat Multiplex.  Multiplex does offer a tragic motivation for his attacks on Stagg, and they make him a more sympathetic character.  Unfortunately, he follows in Weather Wizard’s footsteps as villain of the week who dies at the end.  Too many live action adaptations do this, which negates the entire concept of heroes having recurring foes.

There’s a nice upbeat moment near the end when Barry tells his team he couldn’t be doing his hero routine without them.  It’s a nice, cheerful, team building kind of scene.  Unfortunately, they pretty much completely undercut it by the scene that follows between Wells and Stagg.  Suffice to say that Wells is very, very protective of Flash’s future.

I like the way they are showing Barry.  He’s an actual hero, risking himself to save others, and not acting out of revenge.  I don’t like the darkness that Wells seems to represent.  Whatever he’s come back to ensure or prevent, he’s doing some awful things, and I think Barry would be horrified.  I hope whatever Wells is up to gets explained soon.

I’m still really enjoying the show, but I wish they’d keep it a bit lighter.  The scenes with Barry, Joe West, Cisco, and even Caitlin are good.  Whatever agenda Wells is working is leaving an undercurrent of darkness that I’d be happier without.

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