THE FLASH: Guess who’s back!
By Justin Carter
And we’re back!
The Flash proved to be last season’s big surprise. As the spin-off to the surprisingly great Arrow, there was a certain skepticism from fans when the same creative team announced they were about to tackle the fastest man alive. But fun characters, an understanding of the personality and optimism intrinsic to Barry’s character, and the spot on casting of Grant Gustin had people sold on the show from episode one. All of that, combined with a consistent streak of episodes, made for one of the best shows of the year. Season two’s ambitions are grander than last year, and now it’s finally time to see if the series’ debut season was more than just a string of luck.
As our season opens, the Flash has saved Central City from Harrison Wells’ catastrophic singularity that threatened to swallow the world whole. He’s spent the past six months going it alone after the death of Eddie, but it doesn’t seem like the most logical choice for Barry. Despite being overprotective of his friends and family, they are the ones who ultimately make him who he is. Unsurprisingly, it’s a foregone conclusion that Team Flash will come back together by the episode’s end; just because Caitlin is working at Mercury Labs and Cisco’s with Joe on the Anti Metahuman Task Force doesn’t mean that their paths won’t eventually cross.
In any case, it turns out that the real man who saved Central City wasn’t the Flash at all, but Caitlin’s husband Ronnie. We learn that while Barry ran inside the singularity, Ronnie and Stein, acting as Firestorm, merged the event horizons by detonating inside of it. Barry was able to save Stein, but Ronnie wasn’t so lucky, so he’s dead. Or at least, dead by comic book standards. To everyone else, the Scarlet Speedster is the one who saved them all from certain doom, and he’s the one that gets a day dedicated to himself and the key to the city.
But Flash Day doesn’t last long, courtesy of musclebound metahuman Al Rothstein, who’s also recently been murdered at a power plant.
The now very much alive Rothstein, later named Atom Smasher by Stein, has the ability to absorb radiation and is hellbent on killing Flash. Played by WWE star and Haven regular Adam “Edge” Copeland, Smasher exists in the episode mainly for two purposes. The first is to be a catalyst for Team Flash to come back together and start protecting their city, but the second, and more immediate purpose is to hint at this season’s big bad, Zoom, who tempts Smasher with the promise of taking him “home” if he ends the Speedster. The CG for Smasher when he grows is decent, but the action with him is, whether by design or accident, minimal, and it’s easy to forget that he even talks given how most of his screen-time is spent watching him through his Bane mask.
“The Man who Saved Central City” is a breather episode following a season that ended on such a heavy note, and in that regard, it does its job fairly well. Our heroes are back together and Barry gets Henry out of jail thanks to a video message from Wells, which is a really sweet moment until Henry decides to leave town. It’s understandable why Henry’s leaving, because in a sense his son now belongs to the city and not just him, but following so many great emotional moments with both of Barry’s fathers last season, his leave-taking feels like a bit of a cheat. Henry’s bound to show up in the future, but until then, we’re stuck with a guy by the name of Jay Garrick, who up and declares that the world, as we know it, is in danger.
Never a dull moment for Team Flash, but this certainly makes for a fun time. It’s good to have you back, Barry.
Additional Notes and Moments of Awesomeness
- “Where’d you get the idea for a Flash signal?” “Got it from a comic book somewhere.” Subtle, guys, real subtle.
- Cisco’s ability to detect and remember alternate timelines manifests itself here briefly when he firsts sees the Atom Smasher. That’s definitely going to lead to some fun in the future.
- After a year of awful security, STAR Labs now has increased measures to make sure nobody shows up out of nowhere! Of course, it doesn’t work the moment Jay shows up in front of Team Flash, which makes it all the more hilarious.
- Really hope the show makes the most of Victor Garber and Carlos Valdes here, because Cisco’s hug after Stein names Atom Smasher was delightfully funny.
- One episode in the season, and Jesse L Martin isn’t letting up on giving us the feels as Joe. Damn you, Jesse.
- With Jay showing up so soon in the season, the multiverse is about to get blown wide open. And it’s gonna be awesome.