By Justin Carter
Secrets and lies are a big part of comic books at the moment.
Marvel’s Avengers is currently going through the consequences of secrets and lies with an arc called “Time Runs Out,” one of Batman’s Robins has faked his own death, and of course, there’s Arrow and its characters’ tendencies to withhold information until the very last possible second. That trend continues with The Flash, which carried an undercurrent of secrecy and deception throughout last night’s episode, going so far as to have Caitlin declare that Team Flash “does not keep secrets.”
Barry’s spending his time as a forensic investigator for the Central City PD, using his powers to save people, search for other metahumans in the city, being generally bad at keeping up with his personal life, and searching for whomever killed his mother. The various balls he has to juggle all fall out of his hands over the course of this episode. Saving people is taking a toll on his body to the point where he’s passing out, Iris and Joe are getting fed up with his disappearing acts, and Barry himself is frustrated at the lack of progress he’s making with his father. Not helping is Danton Black, who can create clones of himself and is hellbent on killing Simon Stagg, a wealthy corporate scientist who stole Black’s research and allowed his wife to die before he could provide a new heart for her.
Black, nicknamed Multiplex by Cisco at the end of the episode, suffers the same problem as the villains on Arrow do in that they aren’t given enough time to breathe and become something more than one-note. Visually, his powers are interesting–there’s a nice blur effect when he starts to create a copy of himself, almost like he’s having a seizure, and there’s nothing quite as disturbing as watching a hand grow out of his wrist–but Michael Smith plays him too steely eyed and glaring for most of his performance. I really hope that this changes, because the final fight with him, where Barry fights through his hundreds of clones in slow motion, was visually impressive.
Until there’s a villain that’s high profile and visually interesting enough to be a great villain, the show will succeed by its character relationships, and it’s still strong in that aspect. Jesse L. Martin and Grant Gustin have a good father-son dynamic at the heart of the show; there’s a clear thread of love buried underneath their tension. Joe’s clearly out of his depth here, and the fact that boy he raised is one of several people with superpowers is a very difficult pill to swallow. Martin does a great job of being overprotective in both the flashbacks and the present day, but in a way that comes across legitimately and not just forced by the writers.
The relationships between the characters are all rock solid, with the exception of Iris’ current interactions with Barry. Candice Patton and Gustin still work together, but the show isn’t entirely sure if she’s going to be Lois Lane or Mary Jane. It keeps contriving ways for Barry to not tell her how he really feels, which is annoying in and of itself because she has a boyfriend already, but it’s hard to buy that she never picked up on Barry being into her after they spent over a decade living together. Eventually, this relationship is going to be strained once he really has to start lying to her about being a hero, because this is the CW and they love to stretch that out. Patton has already said in recent interviews that Iris will be in on the action, but whether this means she’ll be dabbling her hand in the police force or get powers of her own is currently up in the air.
Complaints aside, the second episode of The Flash does a good job of keeping up the pace set from the pilot. With Joe and Barry now working together to find out who killed Barry’s mother, there’s a genuine sense of progression, and Wells’ still unknown motives are fun teases towards something greater.
It took me a while to figure this out, but Black looks like a mix between Tom Cruise and Ethan Hawke, and I just could not shake that from my head.
I like to think that Wells stabbed Stagg at the end partly for that “don’t get up” comment from earlier. Who wouldn’t?
Jesse L. Martin, you sir, can rock a hat.
Caitlin’s fiancee was mentioned again, which can only mean that he’ll be showing up within the next handful of episodes.
So Wells is definitely a time traveler, but is he a hero or a villain? He’s intent on keeping Barry alive, but to what end? Theories have ranged from Professor Zoom to Booster Gold.
- I kind of want to know how Cisco figured out the science that meant Barry would have to eat 850 tacos to maintain his newly sped up metabolism.