TV review: ‘Flash’ series premiere catches up to speed quickly, thoroughly
By Jeremy Costello
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The series premiere of “The Flash” followed a similar formula to a lot of superhero origin stories, but that’s a good thing. “The Flash” perfectly balanced an introduction storyline and a full timeline, and it was packed with action and awesome CG effects, especially for a television show. And right away, it had a brief cameo from Arrow, a superhero of another CW show! (DC said there would be plenty of crossover material.)
Flash, of course, is the world’s fastest man. A character from the DC universe, Flash can run ultra fast. But even a simple idea like that was presented in a well-grounded fashion that shows the strain that running at super speeds can put on him. Barry Allen (Flash’s actual name) may be a superhero, but he’s still a human. The deconstruction of his powers, which included the vibration effects on his bones, had a good balance of realism that a lot of good superhero movies have emphasized, as well as fantastical superhero-ish take-it-on-faith qualities, which worked just fine. The first line of the show is narrated by Allen: “You need to believe in the impossible.”
In just this one episode, we got a good establishment of several storylines and plot points centered around Flash. We saw how his mother died — a gruesome death as she was caught in the middle of a strange electrical storm. We saw how his dad was sent to prison for murdering her (which he didn’t). When Allen learned who really killed her, he even visited his dad in prison and redeemed his feelings about him (not that he hated him, because Allen always knew it wasn’t him). There’s a touching moment that shows some vulnerability with Allen when he uncovers a secret pinboard that has a bunch of newspaper clippings regarding his mother’s death, his father’s arrest, etc. It’ll be interesting to see what feelings he has harbored later on.
Allen’s relationship with Iris, his childhood friend, was established with zip and style. Iris is a young, brash hot-shot college student with a wonderful heart, and wouldn’t you know, she’s really attractive, too. During the episode, he has that classic realization that he likes her even though they’ve only been just friends (similar story to Spider-Man, except Mary Jane liked him back). He, of course, gets jealous of her new boyfriend, who is a cop. Obvious relationship drama will surely follow.
As a professional, Allen is a crime scene investigator, and a brilliant one at that. Part of the show followed the classic pattern set by shows like “CSI,” which worked in this setting. Allen, of course, works with Detective Joe West, who is Iris’ father, creating some immediate and natural tension. Joe eventually discovers who Allen is, and tells him to stay away from her daughter, for her safety’s sake (similar to “Amazing Spider-Man”).
About midway through the episode, Harrison Wells, the CEO of Star Labs, has his new scientific experiment -- a particle accelerator -- go wrong (stop me if you’ve heard that before in an origin story). It causes a huge electrical storm that engulfs the entire city. Allen gets struck by lightning in the process and is knocked into a coma for nine months. After he wakens, he discovers he has his superpowers.
It’s always fun to see this stage of the superhero development. Flash zips through traffic and sprints down raceways. At the end of the episode, when he’s fighting the first villain of the show, who can control the weather and creates storms, Flash zips around and “untwists” a tornado with his blazing speed, which, by any definition, is really cool. Other side effects include the ability to heal his bones (he broke an arm, which healed three hours later),
The beginnings of other characters -- Firestorm, Plastique, Heat Wave (even a couple character I’d never heard of -- were the first signals of the group called the Metahumans, so there’s huge potential riding with them in this show. “The Flash” is supposed to be within the DC cinematic universe now, so all of this stuff hopefully becomes relevant down the line, too.
Even the final scene had a big twist. Wells, who now is paralyzed thanks to the malfunction of his scientific experiment with the particle accelerator, somehow just stands up walks around in this secret room he made. He opens up a holographic newspaper from the future, which had some disturbing news about Flash.
I didn’t think a superhero series premiere could have so much packed into one episode, but “The Flash” pulled it off nicely. Here’s to hoping the rest of the season is as great.