I have mentioned previously on this blog, and to friends, that the TV series The Flash (from CW) is a show I genuinely enjoy, but at the same time am regularly frustrated by the quality of some of the writing. To be fair, I get the pressure on writers that work on recurring TV series like this. Short turnaround times, high pressure to balance faithfulness to the source material, while still keeping fresh, creating overarching series plots, while also delivering regular 40 minute essentially self contained stories for each episode. This is not about bashing the writers. This is about deconstructing the reasons I can feel passionately in both positive and negative aspects for the same show.
So I will work through each episode, deconstructing and taking down commentary as I go. I will be dropping spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go watch it and then come back. If you don’t plan on watching it, then this will have no contextual relevance to you.
I did collect comics, including DC, when I was younger. So I am not completely ignorant of the Flash’s lore, while at the same time, most of my collection was during periods when Barry Allen was not The Flash.
And I will put this foreward at the beginning of the post for each episode, just like The Flash has that little introductory ‘My name is Barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive’ section at the beginning of each episode. Also, my text will be colour coded. Green for parts that I thought worked well. Pink for parts that bugged me. Red for parts that had me yelling at the screen in incredulity. And blue for parts that are neutral or just commentary, observations or speculation.
Season 1 Episode 2 – The Fastest Man Alive
Arrow quote – The good you do will far outweigh the bad. Hmmmm… when these guys meet up again I seem to remember Arrow saying something a bit different.
Really digging Cisco’s geeky shirt collection.
Apartment building fire where apparently no functioning fire alarms exist causing inhabitants to be trapped in a burning building in their dressing gowns. Trope. A weak one at that.
Caitlin angrily reprimanding Cisco and Barry gives me shivers knowing her future.
Barry Allen is a CSI that pays so little attention to detail that he doesn’t notice the tag on his jacket. Kind of need something to explain how Barry not only hasn’t lost his job, but also gets to work completely unsupervised all the time.
First childhood flashback sequence is yawnworthy, doesn’t really add anything to any character or the current plot.
Simon Stagg – established DC character linked to Metamorpho the Element Man. Raising fanboy hopes here of an appearance from Metamorpho if not as part of this episode, at least somewhere down the track.
Armed gunmen storm the event. Multiple armed gunmen (at least to the casual viewer). A security guard draws on them. All four turn around and draw on the guard. What armed security person would draw on multiple armed gunmen and not fire the second any of them made even the slightest indication that they would fire on him? Not this guy? Complete deer in the headlights.
Positive, the synchronised gunfire from the clones. Nice detail.
I accept that somewhere it needed to be established that speeded up metabolism means Barry needs to consume more calories to fuel his speed. But that is kind of a well Duh! moment that the STAR Labs crew should have picked up pretty much straight off. Minor point. Note to Grant Gustin. Keep in shape because this also means you will get criticism if you start letting your weight slide.
Start making better excuses. Best line of the episode? The other contenders coming from the later Stagg/Wells chat round 1.
Reasonable exposition to remind us of Ronnie Raymond without being clunky.
Love the treadmill that is clearly modelled on the comic book Cosmic Treadmill.
Second childhood flashback. Still not adding anything, but seems to be building to something that could tie things together and hopefully not make these a something other than a waste of screen time.
Barry needs 850 tacos daily. So somewhere in the vicinity of 2 and a half of these daily:
(from Epic Meal Time)
Though I don’t think super metabolism negates the cholesterol. Also, that works out to over $1000 per day in food costs (based on a per taco cost of around $1.20 per taco). I guess Wells is wealthy enough to fund that though since he can keep a defunct power plant in the middle of a city for his buds to play Superfriends in. But that could have been called out specifically instead of the time spent on the dull flashbacks.
Barry pulls the you’re not my father line on Joe. Well, it kind of gives a basis for the flashbacks, weak as it is. Kudos for Jessie L Martin’s performance there. Just the expression of hurt on receiving that line. Remembering that this dialogue is being shot in a double overshoulder with occasional group shot, so probably recorded in at least 3 separate sequences. Yeah, points for Jessie.
Java pops by. Another DC character linked to Stagg. Further getting fanboys excited about both Stagg and Java as potential semi-regular antagonists. Neatly leads in to demonstrating Captain Clone’s power. Oops, I guess Java wont be reappearing.
Not going to touch the illogical nature of clone powers. Comic book physics, regardless of how dubious, give it precedent.
Boxes of empty donuts. Presumably part of Barry’s new dietary regime. But a speedy metabolism shouldn’t mean immunity to diabetes. Missed a real opportunity to slide in a PSA here about proper diet. eg: Barry scoffs junk for a couple of days. Caitlin then shows him the dietary regime designed to best suit Barry’s needs with a quick lecture about superspeed not being a cure for diabetes and heart disease. A dash of humour about broccoli being on the list (Barry makes a face), and a quick comment later when Joe brings pizza about earning a cheat day.
Barry superspeeds while talking to Iris. If you play a recording at increased speed, it doesn’t change the volume, just the pitch. Plus, he manages to do it fast enough for Iris to not even visually notice, but not displace enough air to shift a loose paper? Note: This section is not in pink because despite the flaws, it didn’t annoy me. If anything, it added to the likeableness of Barry’s doofy character.
Barry conveniently can recognise stem cells instantly and despite the lack of relevance to CSI investigations, has a working knowledge about them. At least occasionally suggest that Barry picked up some of this random science from the Discovery Channel or something. A geek is not a synonym for a person that has expertise in all fields that are even remotely sciency (plus can speak Klingon).
Stagg calling a guy a criminal mastermind when his record thus far is to steal guns from a display in a store, pull a snatch at an event whose security was so woeful it consisted of a single Security Guard that forgot how to fire his weapon, and suspected of being part of a group that murdered a lone henchman. Lame. Actually, even assuming that the individual the police have as a suspect is the leader of the suspected gang of hooligans (since the cops dunno about the clone thing yet) is a pretty ignorant assumption. In the comics Stagg relied heavily on Java. Arrogance is one thing, but Stagg was never that stupid.
Convenient barrels to hide behind are convenient.
Somebody manages to call the station and mobilise them. Yet in both the before and after scene at the shootout, nobody is holding a phone or radio or anything suggesting that they were the ones that made the call?
Barry’s adoptive father is being shot at and he only superspeeds to his locker. Then stopping to admire the emblem on his suit in boring-speed for dramatic effect. Eyeroll.
Why under any circumstances would Black unmask and demonstrate his abilities to Joe? What possible reason? Joe just shot one of his clones. If Black had just replicated behind his own convenient cover, the cops wouldn’t have had a clue. They would have just been more confused about how many hostiles were there.
Black also no longer fires his weapons synchronised. Okay, it makes more sense to spread his shots now strategically, but given that Black dumbly seems to think he has this won for some reason , it would have been cool to do another synch shot.
First scene of Flash being a dumb@$$ at hand to hand combat. Forgetting to use the ONLY THING HE HAS GOING FOR HIM, his speed, and getting pummelled for a bit. At least it adds to his character’s growth. I would have liked to see an episode where he whacks a baddie at superspeed doing far more damage than he intended because physics.
Cisco naming villains with dodgy names. Actually, as lame as that feels, given how many of Flash’s enemies have pretty lame names, I think it works.
Another flashback at the prison with Dad. No physical contact, but a minor can walk in off the street without a guardian or an appointment or being on an approved visitors list (Dad didn’t want him there) to visit whenever he wants in a room with no physical barriers between them. I’m not an expert on prison systems but that seems pretty suspect. This flashback scene at least builds on Barry’s relationship with his father, but the flashbacks in this episode still haven’t justified themselves for me yet.
Eddie giving an interview and refers to the shooter. Should that not at least be shooters as in plural? Eddie wasn’t present when the guy went clone mode. Even if Joe had told Eddie, no way he would just believe in a human replicator. This is the crazy making stuff. Where the show lazily fails to adhere to its own continuity.
Stagg vs Wells dialogue. All of it.
Joe and Wells conversation. This should have caused Joe to be increasingly suspicious of Wells. But Wells plays on Joe’s borderline obsession with keeping his family safe and in character, Joe buys right in to it, while at the same time demonstrating Wells’ manipulative cunning. Nicely done.
Back at the coffee shop and Barry appears to have polished off 7 plates of pie or something. In front of Iris. Without her so much as batting an eyelid at his stress eating explanation. Uh, these guys are basically family and the coffee shop is closed. No way Iris just signed up to wash 7 dishes because Barry wants more pie. Ill just take your plate and get you another slice. She is a waitress at a coffee shop who isn’t an idiot after all.
Iris latches on to The Streak as a story. Barry’s initial resistance to dissuade her is understandable.
Room full of genius science types and not one of them considers the possibility that the spare clone in the room could connect to its prime at any given moment? Meanwhile Joe shoots first at an unarmed man because when he moved a girl squealed. Even knowing he was a clone, the lack of time between seeing the clone’s face and firing was a tad fast for my taste. Also the first time since getting his powers Barry doesn’t hit speed mode the moment he hears the sound of a bullet firing.
Stagg knows there’s a killer after him so when he hears gunshots he heads toward them, unarmed and without any backup.
Kind of cool effects moment inspired by Matrix movies where Smith clones go stacks on on Neo. Not original. But cool. Also earlier Barry dodging a bullet had a complete Matrix feel to it.
Stupid clone guy does the one thing that will get him killed by cloning and giving Barry too much weight to hold on to – and Barry is too dumb to realise he could have run and at lest tried to break his fall. Then suggesting that the guy motivated by murder just wanted to commit suicide. Weaksauce.
Barry gives cringe-worthy motivational speech to his team.
Final scene where Joe turns around to help Barry find a way to prove his father’s innocence. Kind of ties up all the flashbacks, poorly. The bland flashbacks were too cliched to work overall. Bit of a AWWW moment with Joe late in the episode.
Endscene with Stagg and Wells. Truly disappointing to end the potential that Stagg’s existance in the Flash’s universe represented. And after all the attempts on his life does Stagg just not have any security still alive? Wells revealing his dark side, I am fine with. But severing any hope of seeing a Metamorpho? I felt a little cheated.