BWW Recap: Central City Gets a Hero in THE FLASH Series Premiere!
With comic book references aplenty, the Scarlet Speedster, "The Flash," speeds onto television for a second time (the first being the 1990 CBS series that lasted a single season). Here's hoping The CW has better success.
Episode One of the CW's THE FLASH is essentially an "origins" story that serves as a double flashback of sorts.
As fans of the hit show ARROW know, in episode nine of Season 2, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) saved the life of ARROW -aka Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), left the vigilante crime fighter with a mask to hide his identity, and then returned to his own home town of Central City only to be left in a coma after being doused with chemicals and hit by lightning.
The first ep backs things up a bit to fill us in on a bit more backstory.
"My story is pretty simple. My whole life I've been running. Usually from bullies. Sometimes I escaped. Sometimes I did not," Allen narrates. We see a Young Barry (Logan Williams) getting beat up and then explaining to his mom (Michelle Harrison as Nora Allen) that he interceded when the bullies were making fun of other kids because they were different (we get it: Barry's always been a hero). His mom tells him, "it's better to have a good heart than fast legs."
Nora is not long for the show, though. In the next scene, Young Barry is awaken with a noise, heads downstairs and sees his mother killed by a yellow blur (Do crime-fighting superheroes ever not come from a home where one or both parents have been killed? But I digress). To the delight of comic book fans everywhere, we're barely five minutes into the show and we already have our first comic book character eluded to (the yellow blur most likely being Eobard Thawne aka Professor Zoom/ Reverse Flash; one of The Flash's arch enemies).
Barry's dad (John Wesley Shipp, who played the title character in the 1990 television series. Yeah! Shout out to fans of the original CBS series) tells Barry to run. Young Barry does.
We flash forward to today (well, "today" as in before Allen visited ARROW and fell into a coma; the pilot is trying to set things up for those people who didn't see ARROW), where grown up Barry is still running just as awkwardly as he did when he was his younger self. Allen is running late to a crime scene. Captain Singh (Patrick Sabongui) asks Barry what is his excuse this time (something tells me Barry's days of always being late are about to change). Detective Joe West (played by Broadway vet Jesse L. Martin) is already on the scene with Singh. The Mardon brothers (Clyde and Mark) are back in town and robbing banks again.
Mark is known as "The Weather Wizard" in the comic books -he's a villain that can manipulate the weather. THE FLASH just got its second villain reference and we're only one episode in.
West tries to cover for Barry by asking him if he finished running the errand he asked. Barry hands over a candy bar from his pocket and apologies for taking a few bites. Something tells me the chief isn't going to really buy this excuse.
Barry begins his investigation. He's able to identify the get-away car from just looking at the tire tracks.
Back in his lab, Barry is visited by Detective West's daughter, Iris (Candice Patton). She's stopped by to both ridicule Barry for being such a nerd and to look at some "atom-smashing thing." He tries to explain why the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator is such a big thing. She still doesn't get it (this, despite being stressed about her dissertation). Iris talks her dad into letting Barry go to see the accelerator to get fired up for the first time.
They share a moment. He's trying to tell her he likes her. She thinks he is being shy about discussing other girls around her (seeing as they grew up together and are practically brother and sister).
Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh, best known at ED on the series of the same name), the head of S.T.A.R. labs takes to the podium.
A thief makes off with Iris' laptop and Barry gives chase (missing the big event).The thief eludes Barry, but is stopped by Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett, formerly from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES), who Iris refers to as "Detective Pretty Boy" when she sees him in the following scene in the police station. Hard to argue with her. He is easy on the eyes, as they say.
While Detective West tracks down Barry's lead, Barry heads back to his loft/make-shift lab. A storm is rattling the skylight and leaking into his loft. (this is the moment comic book fans have been waiting for).
We cut back to West and another Detective at the farm. They remove the cover over a car to reveal the car used in the bank heist just as someone starts to fire at them from up in the hay loft. West and the detective duck for cover, engaging in gun fire.
It's one of the Mardon brothers and he says "I've got a plane to catch" just as he shoots the other detective in the neck. West tells him to "hang in there" (which is TV show code for: this guy's as good as dead) and the Mardon's escape in a crop duster.
Back in Barry's loft, Barry is watching the unveiling of the accelerator on the news and hears that S.T.A.R. labs is being evacuated as the storm may have knocked out the particle accelerator's cooling system.
Barry watches from the window of his loft (which has a fantastic view of the city that makes me wonder how he can afford it) as the particle accelerator in the middle of the city sends lightning throughout the city and lights up the sky. Standing in front of a bank of glass windows is probably not where you want to me standing when there is about to be an explosion.
We cut back to the farm and West watches the crop duster get split in two by the impact of the burst of energy from the exploding particle accelerator.
Back in the lab, Barry finally thinks it is a good idea to close the skylight. He reaches for the chain, but then stops to watch various beakers on a table start to boil. A lightning bold cracks through the skylight, hits him and sends him flying into a shelf of chemicals.
Barry is being transported to the hospital. The lightening has literally burned a hole through his Chuck tennis shoes.
Iris runs into the emergency room as doctor's zap Barry to try and resuscitate him and we cut to THE FLASH logo.
Back from commercial break and we are told it is nine months later. Barry is slowly waking up as Doctor Caitlin Snow (played by Danielle Panabaker, whose character in the DC comics goes on to be the villain Killer Frost) and Cisco Ramon (Broadway actor Carlos Valdes, whose character in the DC comics becomes the super hero Vibe) bicker over him. The pair reminds me as equal parts Willow/Xander (from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) and Fitz and Simmons (MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.) It's cool if Barry gets his own Scooby gang like Buffy.
Barry awakens with a "where am I?" Barry is trying to assess what has happened. Snow is all business and asks him to urinate into a cup. Ramon, meanwhile, explains that he was struck by lightning. Barry looks at his reflection. "Lightning gave me abs," he asks.
Snow explains that normally when you are in a coma, your muscles suffer atrophy, but Barry's seem to be in a constant state of regeneration.
Wells, now wheelchair-bound and looking very much like Professor X from XMEN (albeit with hair) welcomes him back and tells Barry "we have a lot to talk about).
S.T.A.R. Labs was closed after the accident. 11 died, countless other (including Wells) were injured. Wells goes into detail about what exactly happened. For the non-scientist among us: machine go boom.
Barry leaves, heading into the COFFEE SHOP where Iris works. He sees another waitress drop a tray as if in slow motion.
Cut to a bank where one of the Mardon brothers (played by Chad Rook) who clearly somehow managed to survey the plane being torn in two) is in the process of robbing said bank. He generates a storm cloud in the middle of the bank.
Back at the station, Detective West is welcoming Barry back. Barry watches as a criminal in the process of being booked reaches as if in slow motion to grab an officer's gun. Barry zips over to the guy in a flash to prevent him from grabbing the gun. He leaves the station as his hand starts to vibrate. He suddenly goes for a super-fast run.
The S.T.A.R. labs gang are back. Barry emerges from a S.T.A.R. labs truck wearing a red lycra one-piece ("It's a little snug," he says), a goofy red helmet and goggles. Barry comments that Snow doesn't smile much. She advises she has reason not to. Her once promising biology career is over, her boss is in a wheelchair and the explosion killed her fiancé. Thanks, Debbie Downer.
Barry takes his mark and then sets off. It literally blows everyone away. He flashes back to the burst of energy that encircled his mom, killing her. It distracts him long enough that he goes crashing into a bunch of barrels, seemingly breaking his hand.
Back at the police station, Detective
Pretty Boy Thawne takes the bank teller's statement. She describes a hurricane. Third bank robbery with a freak storm attached to it. Detective West checks surveillance tapes and IDs a partial license plate.
Back at S.T.A.R. labs, Doctor Snow confirms Barry broke his hand, but it is now healed after only three hours. Ramon is captain obvious -telling Barry he needs to learn how to stop. Barry explains that the memory of his mother's murder is what distracted him. Barry's dad was immediately fingered as the murderer and sentenced. Barry is even now more convinced that he saw someone else that night: a man who shares Barry's new-found abilities.
Back at the coffee shop, Iris is dating Detective Thawne, but they are keeping the relationship on the down low seeing as her dad is his boss and all. Barry watches them from across the way that isn't in any way creepy in a stalker way.
Cut to Barry and Iris discussing the relationship. Barry doesn't want to have to lie to her dad about what he saw. In the distance, a police car is chasing another vehicle. Everything slows down again and Barry grabs Iris and dives out of harm's way as the police car smashes into a pillar right where they were standing. Another slow motion shot and Barry gets a good look of the villain driving the black car. It's one of the still-unnamed Mardon brothers. Barry takes off running toward the car, actually catching up to it. He dives into the passenger side window as Mardon makes a play for his gun. Barry grabs the wheel, forcing the car to roll. Mardon walks away from the crash unscratched -just like Barry. Mardon conjures up some fog. Another car crashes into Mardon's. Barry moves out of the way just as that car comes flying at him. The fog clears and Mardon is gone.
Barry tells Detective West that it is Clyde Mardon (a deviation from the comic books; but given no mention of Mark being dead is ever said, he could still become the Weather Wizard 2.0), who has gained the ability to control the weather. Barry's conviction of his father's innocence comes brewing to the surface. This is a fight that West and he have been having since West took Barry in.
Detective Thawne arrives with a sketch from one of the eyewitnesses to the bank heist. It matches a photo of Mardon.
Barry confronts Wells with another obvious statement: Barry wasn't the only one impacted by the explosion. Wells comes clean. The explosion caused a dimensional tear. They have no way of knowing how many people were exposed to the resulting matter and anti-matter that leaked. Wells has been searching for other meta-humans like Barry. Good and evil were exposed in equal parts as Barry tells them a bank robber has the abilities to control the weather. Barry vows to stop Mardon before he hurts anyone else.
Wells sees Barry as a source of untold medical advancement (beginning with his ability to heal in hours) and tells Barry he's no hero, he's "just a young man who was struck by lightning." Barry sprints from the lab, flashing back to his dad being arrested. He runs so fast, his jacket catches on fire. He stops just to see a sign pointing to Starling city (home of ARROW).
He meets up with ARROW (Amell), who tells him he wasn't struck by lightning, he was chose by lightning to inspire people and "save them in a flash.: Arrow's parting words to Barry is to take his own advice and wear a mask.
Back at S.T.A.R. labs, Barry asks Snow and Ramon to help him catch Mardon. And The Flash's Scooby gang is formed. Ramon has been working on a suit to replace the traditional ones worn by firefighters. Heat and abrasive resistant, it happens to be designed to withstand high velocity movement.
Snow, meanwhile, has been using her tablet to track weather patterns off of satellites (apparently, there's an app for that). She has Mardon's location.
Cut to the Mardon farm. Detectives West and Thawne have followed Mardon there. Mardon explains that he doesn't just have a god complex, he is God. He conjures up a burst of wind that knocks both detectives down.
West picks up the unconscious Thawne and runs out of the barn as Mardon begins to create a tornado. Barry arrives wearing his new suit. He is going to try and run in the opposite direction to negate the effects of the tornado. West watches it all.
Mardon swats THE FLASH like a fly. Enter Wells for the 11th hour pep talking telling him "You can do this. Now, run Barry. Run!"
Barry stops the tornado, but Mardon has a gun. He cocks it and is about to fire at Barry, but West shoots first. Mardon falls.
The next morning, West and Barry share a one-on-one amidst the wreckage. West's world has been shattered. West apologizes for not believing Barry.
Cut to prison. Barry is visiting his dad. He tells his dad that he isn't going to be in prison much longer as Barry finally has a way to find and stop the person who is actually responsible. Barry's dad tells him to let it go.
Back at the lab, Ramon puts the finishing touches on the suit -a lightning bolt dissecting a circle.
In the final moments, we have a major reveal: Wells enters a secret room at S.T.A.R. Labs. He gets up out of the wheelchair and then uses a strange machine that shows a newspaper from April 25, 2024 (!?!) indicating THE FLASH is gone and the world is in crisis.
So is Dr. Wells a good guy or a bad guy?
In the comic books, S.T.A.R. was founded by Robert Meersman. It seems odd that a show that seems so steeped in the canon of the comic books would diverge from the comic books without there being some plot-driven motive behind the departure. My money is on him being some sort of time traveler (his name is just too much of an homage to H.G. Wells). We'll no doubt learn more in future episodes.
And with that, THE FLASH speeds off onto episode two. Tells us what you thought about the episode and stop by next week when we recap the Scarlet Speedster's next adventure
Below, check out a sneak peek at next week's episode titled 'Fastest Man Alive':
Below, check out the just-released FLASH 'Heroic Trailer' and see what's ahead this season:
Photo Credit: The CW