Not sure whether it was better to call this “CW’s The Flash” or “The Flash (2014)” so I just went with 2014.
Initially, Prime Reactions was supposed to be for new movies as it’s been a long time since I followed much of any live-action television series. It might surprise you to know I haven’t seen Arrow (minus the episodes with Barry) and I haven’t started Gotham. Still, if you’ve read my recent posts, you’d know I’m a big fan of The Flash (the 1990 show and his animated appearances anyway) so I was really anticipating this one. Doubt I’ll be covering every episode of this show but a review of the premiere certainly feels like a Prime Reactions post so here you go.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.
I’m probably not going to like the Cisco Ramon character. He seems like an awful comic relief character straight out of a Michael Bay Transformers film. Singing along to Poker Face, name-dropping Facebook, wearing a Big Bang Theory shirt (I know it’s got a lightning bolt like Flash, but still), saying “dude”… Finds out a bank robber (i.e. a bad guy) has powers. “This just keeps getting cooler.” Wells tells Barry that Iris came to see him often. Caitlin says “She talks a lot.” but what does this guy add? “Also, she’s hot.” Gyargh… It’s just like Michael Bay not knowing how to appeal to young people so here’s a character who acts like a stupid teen and is into hip things. Considering how good some parts of the episode were I feel like they’d know better. Later, when Barry asked for Cisco and Caitlin’s help he mentions that both of them lost something. We learned earlier that Caitlin lost her career and fiancee while mentioning that Wells is in a wheelchair for life. What did Cisco lose? I assume his career was also shot but he’s the only one without a unique loss. I’ll be fair and say that he’s at least not as useless as a comic relief in a Bayformers movie but he’ll likely be just as irritating to watch unless there’s a grand development for this guy. Considering I had to believe that one scientist in the 1990 Flash show helped Barry, I kind of wish it was just Caitlin and Wells who made the tech and ran the tests. Not sure this character was necessary. He just seems so out of place.
The other thing that I didn’t care much for was the romance. I can’t believe it’s episode one and we have a love triangle already. I have an extreme dislike for love polygons with any number of sides. Plus, Iris is either oblivious to or just ignoring Barry’s feelings for her and that was sad to watch because we like Barry. Not only that, there’s the Caitlin character who could be a potential love interest. Oh, but what about the girl who works with Oliver in Green Arrow? Didn’t she and Barry have a thing going? Sigh… Beyond the cartoons I don’t think I’ve ever been invested in the romance of a super hero show/movie. They feel forced in just so there is a romance. Most of the time the girl is nobody’s favorite character and the time spent there could be spent developing other things or just making the movie/episode shorter and more coherent.
Case in point: Clyde Mardon. A glaring problem with the Marvel movies as I’ve mentioned in my Guardians of the Galaxy review is the terrible villains (besides Loki). They’re beyond generic, have little or no character, and they basically want to take over the world or destroy something. That’s exactly what Mardon is. I don’t know if this was the intent of the creators to have this guy be nothing but that’s what it felt like. Sure, villains in old comic books didn’t have the depth they do now so if that’s what they were going for, great? Now, this isn’t a movie so we may see him later as he hasn’t gotten his Weather Wizard name yet. There’s got to be more to this guy than barely raising his arms with a dumb expression on his face. Of course we may have some serious villainy coming up with what happened in the final scene so I’ll take what’s going on with that guy if we have to lose out on this guy.
After watching the episode, I really wanted to know on what grounds Barry’s dad got arrested. Because he was the only one at the crime scene? We don’t even know how Barry’s mom was murdered. It looked like she was just in the middle of the “man” running in circles then her body ended up outside. Seeing flashback bits of the trial or some evidence would’ve been nice. Joe gave Barry a really hard time about this. I want to know what was so convincing to him that it was without a doubt Barry’s dad. That whole conversation felt contrived and should’ve come in when the audience got more information on the murder so we know where he’s coming from. Here, he just seemed like a jerk. And how dare Barry say things that make sense in the context of what was happening with the weather-related bank robberies? Joe only had several eyewitnesses saying the same thing along with video footage of indoor storms as evidence; but Barry, “For once in your life see things as they are.” By the end of the episode, he believes Barry but also has to drop a line about having Barry promise to keep Iris out of it. Hmm, I wonder if that’ll hold true until the end of the series? Still, the dynamic between Joe and Barry might get more interesting now that he knows about Barry’s powers and believes in his father’s innocence. I’ll be a little lenient on the reasons for the arrest because the real killer might’ve perfectly framed Barry’s dad somehow. It’s just after watching this episode a few times, I’m anxious to see this resolved or explained because it really stood out and I want to see Barry’s dad get out of jail.
“You’re not a hero. You’re just a young man who was struck by lightning.” This was what Wells said to Barry after he “screwed up” helping an offscreen guy whose car randomly flew onto the scene which lead to that guy dying. I didn’t get this because it’s not like Barry had Spidey-Senses and got a chance to try and save that guy. He more or less did what he could to stop Mardon so while not a complete win, it wasn’t a failure. He even saved Iris from getting run over. Not seeing the problem here except that the plot needs you to doubt yourself so we can have an Arrow cameo. “I don’t think that bolt of lightning struck you, Barry. I think it chose you.” So cheesy… Anyway, we get to Barry’s second confrontation with Marden where Wells comes back in to inspire Barry. This felt out of nowhere too. It’s not like Wells learned anything or had some revelation that Barry was right. He just comes in, says what the plot needs him to, and Barry succeeds. I suppose it’s arguable whether we needed to see him learn a lesson or not but I’ll save judgment for when more episodes air because there’s clearly more to this character. Perhaps there’s a reason he needed Barry to win despite just telling him a few scenes ago not to do hero things?
This one I’ll admit is a nitpick but I wish the suit wasn’t such a dark red. I’m so used to bright red Flash in everything else that this was jarring. Even in the 1990 show which felt similar in style to the Tim Burton Batman film still had the bright red suit and most of the time he’s fighting crime at night. When Barry suits up to confront Mardon at night, it barely mattered that the suit was red. It’s not like I couldn’t tell at all but I wish it was more bright and noticeable. I guess it’s a thing now that superhero costumes need to be dark like the story.
Phew… Onto the positives.
Barry Allen is just so… likeable. Right from the beginning when he gave his narration, the first few lines had so much energy that I couldn’t help but be excited with him. This Barry Allen is the kind of young superhero I enjoy. He’s obviously hero material and is driven to do what’s right but he’s also not bogged down by the tragedy in his life. Those events affect him greatly but when I see him in his daily life he just acts normal or as he always would. He clearly won’t be as dark and brooding as Batman nor will he be as bland and characterless as Superman in Man of Steel. He also doesn’t have to build two personas similar to how Batman is the real Bruce Wayne while Bruce is just a character. As time goes on, this may change but for now I enjoy every moment he’s on screen. When he was analyzing the tire tracks all Sherlock-like and from that was able to determine the vehicle and its potential whereabouts, that was cool and it’d be nice to see more of that, especially when he’s fighting villains. I always like when the heroes have smarts on top of their powers they can rely on. During the more serious moments when he said his dialogue with a sense of urgency, that just felt right. He knows there’s no time to waste with Mardon out there and he’s doing what he can as a true hero would. Grant Gustin did a fantastic job in this episode and his performance will easily be one of my favorite things about this show.
My absolute favorite scene was when Barry visited his father in jail. John Wesley Shipp was in top form here. I was more invested watching this scene than any other part of the episode and not just because we have the past and current Flash on screen together. There was so much emotion going on and incredible acting from both of them. I don’t know much about Barry’s father as a character but the conversation told me all I needed. I can really see the bond between father and son and I hope it doesn’t take until the end of the series for him to get out of jail. I’m always worried about good shows getting cancelled on a whim without conclusion or ending on a cliffhanger. With all the positive reception though, I have high hopes. Beyond the villains to come, the endgame of proving Barry’s father innocent and explaining how he got arrested is what I’m most looking forward to.
Now, while there were clearly more negatives than positives I still enjoyed the episode quite a lot and would easily recommend it. For me, it’s just easier to talk about the things I didn’t like even in things I do like. While I may not care for some of the characters or their actions, the acting was great. The people working on the show definitely seem like they know and understand the source material. Always a plus, right? Overall the episode was a good setup to the series. The points I made in no way will keep me from watching this every week. Lots of interesting things to come as well with the little hints they dropped too. Regarding the romance, it’s only the first episode so it could end up being well done and believable. There just isn’t a good track record with most of the similar shows/films I’ve seen and to have a love triangle already just didn’t sit well with me. Prove me wrong, crew of The Flash.