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 Going Rogue
Multitasking testing. Only Barry doesn’t use his speed for the one thing that would be really powerful. To stop, think and strategise on the chess game. True to character at least.
Truck in reverse can outspeed an armoured vehicle. Seems unlikely.
Kandaq reference. Would be cooler if there was any chance of Black Adam popping somewhere in the future. But with the character committed to the cinematic version of the JLA and with Dwayne Johnson cast, any TV version would automatically suck by comparison.
Barry corrects the Captain about the number of robbers and follows up with about the lamest excuse imaginable. Can spot liquid nitrogen usage on sight. Barry’s clumsy ridiculous CSI methodology is getting increasingly on my nerves.
Leonard Snart. Breaking the alliterative name cliche so often found in comics, but replacing it with one of the more unusual names. I wonder if there is a story behind it? Casting Wentworth Miller. His portrayal is deliberately toeing the line with being corny and he nails it.
Iris started a blog inspired by journalism. Why not. Barry argues about it. Mildly in character given his (and Joe’s) predisposition to paranoia when it comes to Iris. But in a world with Tumblr and WordPress and the like, starting a blog is pretty inocuous a thing to argue against.
Felecity Smoak pops in from Arrow in one of her infinite number of outfits. Which if anyone ever changes about her, a large percentage of Arrows followers will instantly quit the show. And if she is killed, there will be riots until she gets dropped in to a Lazarus pit.
Snart manages to get footage of the streak. Blurry but enough to make out a humanish shape. Funny how with all the security cameras, traffic cameras, etc – he scores on his first try.
Mentions sister. Fanboys smile. Snart demonstrates his cold calculating nature. Focusing so much on response times that had his identity not already slipped, I could have suspected this villain would be the Clock King.
With barely 60 seconds of actual screen time, our Captain Cold manages two temperature puns.
The Blur is a man. As opposed to what, exactly.
Felicity instantly picks up on the Barry / Iris vibe. Given the flirtation Barry had with her during his appearance on Arrow, interesting.
Taking a moment to appreciate Felicity Smoak. She has a comics book basis. Having rarely followed Green Arrow, she was new to me. But here they have managed to cast an attractive, charismatic woman. One who pulls off the geek chic while at the same time being a walking fashion show. I am sure every episode there are female viewers exclaiming, “She wore that to work?!?!?” Meanwhile, despite her geekiness, she is also forward. The opposite of shyness that many who identify as geeks possess. She is also the moral centre that pulls Oliver from the dark side toward being a hero. The geeky fandom that are attracted to women see in her something akin to a paradigm of what geeky girlfriends could be (meanwhile the other demographic get to see Oliver with his shirt off a lot). I really wonder how much of the character is what the writers and director intended, and how much is Emily Bett Rickards. Because somewhere in that mix, they made a little magic.
Felcity innocently says I wanna see it. Yeah, innocently…..riiiightt.
Barry’s shoes smoke after one of the shorter runs he has done on the show. Setting up for a later (also completely innocent) scene.
No hesitation whatsoever about showing Felicity around STAR Labs. Yes, Felicity has proven ability to keep a secret, but doofus-head Barry has no concept that maybe someone else (or anyone else) might not feel the same comfort about sharing the info. A point Barry consistently proves by dropping the news that Felicity knows The Arrow.
Harrison Wells entry. Knows all about her. Future knowledge aside, smoooooth.
Felicity raises a few highly poignant questions, which Wells dodges smoothly. He has his smooth game on this episode.
Meanwhile Barry is really nailing the geeky overcompensating to impress the girl and coming off doofy perrformance.
Eddie / Joe conversation while on stakeout seems a bit unneccessary. One, as if sitting in plain view in a vehicle outside the front entrance of the museum is even remotely likely to lead them to Snart. Snart is not a front door broad daylight kinda guy. The awkward conversation mildly builds on existing themes and is beginning to make Joe come off as am @$$.
Iris setting Barry and Felicity up is cool. Barry’s weak denials are at least consistant with his polar shifts from super science smart guy to utterly clueless geek.
Gun needs goggles to protect user from glare. A fact that never seems to effect anyone else on the show when the gun is being used nearby and they haven’t got goggles.
Genius weapons dealer hands someone (who is either unknown to him, or a known psychopath) an armed and loaded deadly weapon with no backup or any kind of protection. At least the criminals in this town are a mental match for doofus-head Barry.
Barry has to explain E=MC Hammer for members of the TV audience too young to remember 1990. Hang on, is Barry old enough to remember 1990?
Felicity decisively puts to bed the question behind whether she is in to Barry. Once again, boldly breaking with the geek cliche, but doing it in style.
Feel free to buy yourself that dress. – Line of the episode nominee (though in real life often followed by…. and then the fight started)
She even laughs at his E=MC Hammer unfunny.
Bobby Bovine McFeely story. As ridiculous as this is, it could be funny if as the show ventures in to time travel, Bovine McFeely became a recurring inside joke.
Hang on, Cold is with the tour group? Does that mean that he did walk in through the front door in broad daylight and our crack stakeout team just missed him???
Coffee shop level trivia night has fully integrated tablet based scoring system enabling them to announce the winner instantaneously…… Maybe this is some kind of rent-a-trivia night you can hire that has the whole kit and kaboodle. That could be a thing I suppose.
Iris goes for the boyfriend questions. That seems heavy handed and unnecessary, but given Barry’s preclusion to obliviousness, it could be just to make sure the point has sunken through that thick skull of his.
She’s perfect for you. So what are you waiting for Barry. Cut to scene. Because he has no answer. But given Iris’ personality, that is a bone she isn’t likely to let go of, unless it becomes superfluous to the story of course.
Cisco realises his cold gun is missing. Did the broker suggest the Heat Gun came from the same place. (double check) Nope. The two weapons were presented in otherwise identical cases, but only the cold gun was confirmed as coming from STAR labs.
Okay, STAR labs has custodial staff we never see. I wonder what they think when they dust the Flash suit handing in the corner. Oh, and the janitor could break in to a security code protected weapons cage. Not only the lack of security at STAR labs given its dangerous contents, but the lack of any initiative to address that problem despite continuous security breaches is a point where suspension of disbelief fails.
Cranky Wells makes an appearance. He only shows his face when Barry (and Well’s ultimate plan) are endangered. Consistent with his ultimate plot, yes, but his team must be asking questions about his blood sugar levels, the change is so dramatic.
What can it do? Bad stuff. Because our audience hasn’t figured out what weapon we are talking about and of course one scientist talking to another wouldn’t think they actually wanted an informative answer to their question.
Lets call the cops because someone went through a museum tour twice? These museum security guards are on the ball. More so than most of the police force.
People cosplay to a coffee shop trivia night? Central City has the kewlest nightlife….. Or a gratuitous play to the geek demographic.
Snart is laying an obvious trap for the police as a lure for the speedster. Interesting how Snart immediately fixates on the person who foiled one of his plans. Suits his pathology.
Barry stops and focuses on the flash frozen usher(?). But Snart chooses not to deliver the coup de gras. Also fits Snart’s pathology. He wants to look his enemies in the eye as he destroys them. Plus I suspect Snart has enjoyed this battle (especially because he is winning) more than his normal capers, which is at least in part why he so willingly takes on the role of the Rogue.
Speed shouldn’t offset cold unless Barry could apply heat (say via friction) to the cold spot before the freezing cut off blood supply and started causing serious damage.
Cisco built a contingency against a super powered individual. Yes, these moves always create trust issues but it IS A LOGICAL MOVE.
Why didnt you tell me you built a gun to stop me if I go evil? Hey Barry, ever looked up contingency in a dictionary? Lets get all upset that someone was clever enough to create a plan B in a world that sorely needs it and IGNORE THE FACT that they left it in a place so poorly secured that a janitor could steal it. Yup, that isn’t an issue that needs addressing whatsoever.
Barry gets his douche on and lays the guilt trip on Cisco. Has his head too far up his rectum to notice that the world doesn’t revolve around him (just the core plot).
Joe gives a rational explanation for why he is treating his partner and his daughter coldly. Not sure I buy it but without having ever been a cop or been close to one, I’ll reserve judgement.
Okay, so you’re going to bail on a psycho killer who is armed and you have the drop on him. But you try and negotiate your way to freedom? The evidence is this ends with you pulling the trigger while you have the chance or you ending up as a popsicle. But we have already established that Central City is populated by dumb criminals. Perhaps its an indictment of their education system. Snart lets them walk. Perhaps only because they challenged him in the one way that really matters to him – suggesting that he can’t beat the streak.
Barry touches on why seeing the random die is affecting him so irrationally without saying it. It is because he also saw his mother die and couldn’t save her and this event brought those memories back to the surface. Subtley delivered since Barry doesn’t come out and say it in this treadmill scene with Felicity. Unusually subtle given the way the show usually handles emotions like that.
“Freeze” – cold pun number, what, eleven this episode? I didn’t actually count, it just seems like a lot.
Cisco is strategic enough to consider the need for a contingency against metas, design and engineer a weapon that Tony Stark would be envious of, but wouldn’t think to build in any kind of safeguard to the weapon to prevent misuse? I guess this would be a pretty boring episode if he did. But I’d have preferred if Cisco had already built in the location mechanism to the weapon, and just needed to finish the software to ping the gun to locate at the appropriate moment in the plot.
Barry amps up the douchery but cutting off the team, without whom he would be dead a few times over. Still too caught up in his own %^&&% to even acknowledge that the crew he is now treating like pond scum just delivered Snart to him. Not even a thanks to Felicity. Mommy issues or no, this is behaviour that makes me want to reach in to the screen and slap Barry. Yeah, lets take on the baddie who nearly killed him last time with zero support. That isn’t unbelievably stoopid at all.
Felicity points out that friends recognise when their friend is too stupid to see their own stupidity. Making her the smartest person in a room full of scientists and continuing to be far too awesome than any one character has a right to be.
Cop opens fire in a crowded train station without so much as a warning. Yeah Snart is a 12 on the deadly scale, but Joe seems a better cop than that. Eddie calls Joe on his douchery showing he has a spine (positive) while running in to the line of live fire (the opposite of positive).
Cold is so confident that he tells Barry how he is going to lose before beating him. And Barry is so stupid that he stops to listen to him instead of taking him out at superspeed the moment his mouth starts flapping.
Cisco bluffs Cold. Points for Cisco for gumption. But if Cold really thought Cisco was a threat, he would have left the diamond when asked. I think Cold likes the idea of letting Flash go so he can freeze him again another day. Subtle to an extent that is unusual for this show.
Kind of lame goodbye between Barry and Felicity given the flirtations. The reasons get addressed shortly but the parting at STAR labs is pretty anticlimactic. Felicity could always have hinted that Starling City isn’t all that far at Mach 1……. wink wink.
Iris is actually naive enough to believe that people are not allowed to have any secrets. The annoying aspect of her character.
Train conversation between Barry and Felicity explains away the episode’s flirtations nicely. Seals it with a kiss (probably for the commercial) but leaves the dynamic so that each can go back to their own show and settle back in to their respective friendzones.
End scene. Set up for Heatwave. Interesting that Cold chooses such a hothead (see I can do it too).
Edit: Between a waning interest in continuing this series of posts and interest sparked in new shows to watch, I am going to discontinue this process. Ultimately I learned that the things that really frustrated me about the show are where it fails to adhere to its own continuity. It is expected that in a comic book based universe, some of the laws of physics may not apply as they should, after all those universes aren’t usually created by physicists. But the convenient shortcuts in an established character suddenly behaving in ridiculous fashion for the sake of an episode’s plot progression is frustrating. And conveniently forgetting facts and principles established in your own c0ntinuity for expedience is painful. I am still sticking with the show, though I have all but given up hope for its predecessor, Arrow.