Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Flash - Episode 1 - City of Heroes - "Stumbling over destiny."

When I was a kid I got a Justice League of America book/tape set. (Yes, youngins of today, that no doubt makes no sense) It meant you could listen to the words of the book dramatized (with some sound effects thrown in) as you read it. It had the classic main heroes working together.

One line in the book sticks with me over all these years. "From Central City runs the Flash!" Barry Allen racing out of his hometown on a mission. I have had a long standing love for the Flash character. Ah, speedsters. Granted, most of my experience with the Flash has been with Wally West in the role. But the Flash as an overall characters has usually had it's own feel.

Central City has been different. There's a hope to it. Flash has a Rogue's galley. But they have rules. The Flash has a family that grows. There's a Flash family, and a Flash legacy.

And now he's running back onto TV. As I mentioned in an earlier look, the Flash has had a live action show before. But now, with improved effects available it will be fun to see what can be accomplished.

The series is based on the current version of the character, as seen in DC Comics (and called the Nu52 by many fans). I am not the Nu52's biggest fan. But I do appreciate how much of the innate Flash goodness that does remain.

And having this be a live action series in the vein of Arrow (and Gotham) means they can take the show and characters in their own way, deviating from comic lore some.

So let's look at the first episode of The Flash.

The first episode is entitled, "City of Heroes".

So let's start with the city. Central City. A nice sized city in the Midwestern United States. It's usually associated with Missouri, with the city of Keystone City over the river in Kansas. So it could be seen like a Kansas City stand in. With the bridges we see around the city at the start of the pilot, we could almost imagine Keystone City being here. Maybe it'll be a section of Central City in the show.

The show opens with our origin story. Barry was a normal little kid. Then one night he saw something inexplicable.

Among other things he saw the environment around him slow down, with an aquarium's water floating up.

Then downstairs, he seems his mother surrounded by blurs of red and yellow light.

That night she is murdered. And his father his accused of the crime, then convicted. And, yes, that's John Wesley Shipp from the previous live action Flash series. Honestly, since see him tied to this show I have been struck he'd have also looked pretty good as Jay Garrick, the original Flash.

"Don't forget your school lunch in the fridge!

As a result, Barry grew up without his parents, and became obsessed with what happen that night.

Chasing odd cases, he was led into the field of criminal forensics. He also may have been guided there due to the fact he was raised in the family of Joe West, detective. He ends up working for the Central City police.

And it does seem he is quite good at his job. It's nice to see him shown at work, and being quite competent reading a crime scene. We'll see if that comes in useful as the series continues.

They are using the effects that a lot of people may be familiar with in shows like Sherlock. You see Barry's analysis play out.

Joe West has a daughter, Iris. She's been friends with Barry since childhood. Barry carries a longstanding crush on her. But he has yet been able to express his feelings. And she seems to be largely oblivious to it.

Then we have STAR. STAR Labs is an advanced research company which is readying to activate a new particle accelerator in Central City.

And the activation does not go well. A number of people are killed.

And a shockwave, or some type, emanates from the lab. Among it's impacts is striking and destroying a plane being flown by the Mardon brothers, bank robbers on the run from Joe West. (I'll get into the comic world connections not tied to this first episode after covering the episode.)

At the police station, Barry is at work. And he suddenly has deja vu. The chemicals he uses in the lab start going all floaty.

And then the fated lightening comes crashing down into Barry Allen.

The strike throws him back into a rack of chemicals, causing them to splash on him.

Barry is knocked unconscious by the blast. And he is clearly changed.

They are using a lot of Barry Allen's classic change. Struck by lightening, a rack of chemicals are altered and then explode into Barry Allen. He awakens with his speedster abilities.

But over the years his powers have been gaining more of a prophetic nature. Forces were at work to bring about the Flash. The STAR Labs accident seems to have put events into motion to hit Barry Allen with strange particles that alter him.

And others.

Months pass for Barry as he lies in a coma. STAR Labs takes over care of Barry, as they are the only ones that can comprehend what has happen to him.

Cisco Ramon, a brilliant young engineer, and Caitlin Snow, a brilliant biochemist, take charge of his care.

"I'll get a warm bowl of water to put his hand in."

But he soon awakens, and he's quite confused. Harrison Wells, founder of STAR Labs explains the accident to Barry. He also tells him that he lost some people, his facility has been shut down by the government, and the city is not fond of them now. Wells was also injured in the explosion, now using a wheelchair to move around.

"Then the X-Men called and said I was infringing..."

Barry is excited to be able to hang out for a little in STAR Labs, but he wants out. The first thing he does is find Iris, and reconnect. She had been visiting him, but now he can talk to her.

"Barry! You're alive...And I totally didn't sell your comic collection to fund a
trip to Venice!"

He also goes to visit Joe West. He sees the state of things, and meets Joe's new partner, Eddie Thawne.

"Barry! ...We definitely didn't sell your vintage toy collection to buy
new softball uniforms!"

But all this time Barry has been worried. He's seeing events happen eerie slow. And he manages to stop an escape attempt in a split seconds. Going outside he finds that his hand is out of control.

"Shh, hand. I know you've been out of action for a year."

Then he starts bouncing around, finally slamming into the back of a parked police car.

Then, thinking he's gotten it figured out, he dashes down the alley, and then slams into a laundry truck.

He decides that he needs answers about what has happen to him, so he returns to STAR Labs. And they decide to do a test. They take him to an old airfield for a little run.

Caitlin doubts he can do what he says can. Cisco thinks it all sounds cool. And Wells thinks Barry has to discover what he's capable of.

Suited up, Barry readies to see what he can do.

With the read he's wearing, the goggles, and the tousled hair, he really reminds me of Impulse, another speedster. I assume that is just a coincidence birthed in my brain.

"Just so you know. I'm not the impulsive type." 
And Barry runs. And he goes faster and faster.

As he goes his mind wanders back to the night of his mom's murder. And then he hits a barrier. He ends up breaking his arm.

Luckily for him, his powers also include healing at super speed. That may sound great. But what if your bones are set right when they heal? Not good.

"...What have you been doing with your hand?"

Meanwhile, one of the Mardon brothers reemerge. Clyde Mardon. He gets back into the old business. Robbery.

After making his demands, he suddenly causes a fog and wind to rise up and fill the bank.

Elsewhere, Barry spots Iris out on a date with Eddie Thawne. She takes him for a walk to explain that they aren't telling her dad about the relationship. Suddenly Mardon races by in a car. Barry spots him and decides to play hero, after one of the cop cars chasing him almost hits him and Iris.

He leaps into the car beside Mardon. He fights him for the wheel, and they crash. Barry gets ready to take down Mardon. But Waldon creates a thick fog that obscures them and the whole road. And he's gone. Worse a car comes through the fog and hits the crashed car. (...I kind of think this is Barry's screw up.)

Joe hurries there and is pissed that his daughter was anywhere near danger. Barry tells him that it was Mardon. Joe dismisses this as another of the crazy theories that Barry obsesses over.

Then Thawne comes over to Joe and shows him the sketch from the bank robbery. It's a perfect match.

Let's just not get into a talk about how bad witness sketches actually prove to be. They never prove to be this good.

"Yeah, we had a local comic artist in town who offered to help."

Barry is annoyed to realize that he isn't the only one changed that night. Wells explains that the wave came out of the explosion and dropped all sorts of weird particles and effects around the city. There is no clear idea yet how many people may have been affected or changed.

We also get mention that the people affected are metahumans. This has been the go to term in DC Comics for people with super powers for the last 25 some years.

Frustrated, Barry goes for a run. He ends up in Starling City. (Hey, Arrow!) He searches out Oliver Queen. They talk about what he could do now. Queen suggests that he be his city's protector. Be at crime scenes and trouble in a flash. Also he suggests that Barry put on a mask. (That was the advise Barry gave him a year before.)

"So you get super powers, and I still don't have a boxing glove arrow. Unfair."

So Barry goes to Caitlin and Cisco for help.

Caitlin begins tracking meteorological disturbances in town. Cisco has a fun toy for Barry to try.

A suit. He was building for firefighters to use to handle heat and other stresses. But it should be useful for Barry as he hits high speed, deals with different temps, and when things hit him.

He also can use the special ear pieces which he used earlier (They had lightening bolts exteriors. And their origins is reminiscent to how they were introduced in the old 80's show. But how else can you semi seriously introduce lightening bolts on the side of the head?).

Meanwhile, Joe West and Eddie Thawne track down Mardon to his old farmhouse.

But they don't have the jump for long. Clyde Mardon whips the wind around, and tosses them. Eddie is knocked out.

Then Mardon starts a whirlwind that builds and builds to an alarming level.

Oh, man. Now the Tasmanian Devil? Things have gotten serious.

As Joe tries to take cover with Eddie, some debris flies at them. Suddenly a blur flies in the way and knock it away.

"ZIP! Sorry. I'm just trying out catchphrases."

Then we and Joe get a look at the first iteration of Flash's outfit. ..It can use some work.

That's better. Not perfect, but better.

"I know what your thinking. This could still you a cool disc-shaped metal hat."

Barry tries to come up with a plan, and then decides to try running counter to the funnel. He hopes it might shut it down.

...Has anyone called Mythbusters about this?

But Mardon knocks him to the ground.

"Okay, that's embarrassing. I think I tripped on a snail."

He gets up, gets a pep talk from Wells, and runs again. He goes faster and faster, and...

You know he's humming the Underdog theme song in his head, right?

...knocks out Mardon's funnel.

Frustrated, Mardon just goes back to basic and plans to shoot a winded Flash. But Joe comes up and shoots Waldon dead.

Now Joe West is in on Barry's secret.

But he asks Barry to not tell Iris. She needs to be kept out of the danger this will attract. Also Joe now realizes the crazy story that Barry told him as a kid is true. He believes that his father is innocent of murder.

And now Central City has hero racing around the city. A guardian angel there to catch citizens in danger.

From Central City...

Along the way, Cisco adds a logo to the outfit.

Also, Cisco is a BIG 80's Flash Gordon fan.

And Barry visits his dad. He reaffirms his faith in his dad, that he's proud of him, and that he will prove his innocence.

They aren't allowed to touch, because it would destroy the timeline.

And for one last reveal for the episode, Harrison Wells goes off to a secluded spot and the wall weirdly opens. Call me crazy, but I say it opened in a futuristic way.

"Wait? Was I sitting in a wheelchair this whole time? Embarrassing."

Then he steps out of his wheelchair, and then he takes off his glasses.Standing at a weird podium in this futuristic looking room, he looks over a newspaper article that he activates.

It's from 2024...and it tells us that Queen Inc is going to merge with Wayne Tech!!!

...It also says the Flash will vanish in a crisis.

So a massive near world ending event, and a business merger somehow still made the front page?

It seems something is going to happen to the Flash in ten years time. Also, he will be improving his outfit in that time. Just looking for positives.

So, what's the deal the Wells?

Guess we'll have to see.

NEXT TIME! Flash versus the ultimate multitasker!


This is a good intro to the new series. It helps to introduce the basics of the Flash, his world, his friends, and what dangers he will be facing. I would like to think that anyone watching will be able to understand what they are getting into.

The show has a positive feel to it. Barry is a nerdy eager do gooder. His reactions to finding his this fast is all smiles. He feels like a very classic hero.

Now, I have said before I am not fond of having to add death and pain to the Flash's origin. It makes him more like Superman and Batman. But on the other hand, Barry Allen for me has always been a boring character. (Credit to Wesley Shipp for making me like him on the older show.) But adding this quest to his personal life, and the added dynamics do give viewers more to get into, and adds some needed depth to Barry Allen. Allowing Barry to have a dad around that he can reach out to is nice. And having Joe West as another support is nice.

Cisco and Caitlin work so far. They are a bit quirky, but Wells lost most of his staff after his debacle. No doubt they are the last ones left who wanted to be connected to him. But I hope with more episodes we can get to see them more balanced. As it is, Cisco is the eager fan. Caitlin is someone dealing with loss. Let's see where they go from there.

Then we have Wells. Okay at this point I will start to veer into comic spoilers and concepts. AND THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Looking at what we learn about Wells at the end leaves me wondering just what he is, and what he is up to. That room has, what to me looks like a designers attempt to suggest future. Does that mean Wells has time traveled? Does it mean he's come from the future? Or does it mean he's been to the future? Or has he just connected through some portal to the future?

First of all, having him in the wheelchair evokes thoughts of a particular Flash villain. Hunter Zolomon. He was a disabled police officer who was forced to use a wheelchair do to an incident with Gorilla Grodd back in the Wally West days. He became obsessed with the Flash helping right his life. When the Flash refused to go back in time and do this, he decided it was because the Flash needed improving through tragedy. And this lead to the events that created Zoom, a twisted speedster. He was then obsessed in improving the Flash by causing him pain and suffering.

Seeing Wells in the wheelchair got a lot of people wondering about his ties to Zoom. Also he is pushing Barry to strive in the episode. But the fact the wheelchair is just a ruse suggests something different.

He seems to have access to information from the future. The Flash has a number of connections to the future. So that seems like a more likely issue. But is it a good or evil connection. A chunk of his family comes from the future. Once upon a time, Iris was a woman from the future. His nephew Bart Allen, who becomes the hero Impulse, is from the future. The Flashes have at times chosen to live in the distant future. A lot of comic sources from futuristic characters. He could be an Allen or a West. Or he could be someone eager to undo the Flash's fate.

He could, if we want to stretch, be from the distant future and the Legion of Superheroes. Or even the time travel hero Rip Hunter.

On the evil side of the coin. The future offers a family dedicated to destroying the Flash, and the Allen family. That family may have a familiar name, Thawne. Yes, like Eddie Thawne. The family feud starts with a Malcolm Thawne, who was the twin brother of Barry, who was separated from the family at birth. He became obsessed as an adult in destroying Barry and his legacy. And the animosity continued into the distant future. There Ecobard Thawne managed to gain super speed powers and come to the present. As the Reverse Flash he becomes a deadly threat to the Flash and his friends.

The other noted event we should mention when it comes to Thawne is that he in recent years has been written to have traveled back in time so he could kill Nora Allen, Barry's mom.  And we see in flashbacks that someone that looks a lot like him does attack Nora.

But are Wells and Thawne one and the same? Is he a descendant of Eddie Thawne? Is it Eddie? Or has he come from the future to be a counter to him?

We'll have to wait and see.

The show offers a sight of one other future villain. Grodd.

Gorilla Grodd. I am wondering what he will be like. In comics he is a member of a species of large, powerful, and super advanced apes that live in a hidden city deep in Africa. (And whenever you describe that you can't help and wince at what that does sound like.). Grodd was power hungry and vicious, he also has a propensity for mind control.

It seems like Grodd in the show will be a normal gorilla that was changed. So will he be more humanoid in the show? His classic ape self? And will he be seeking other gorillas to use, or change? (I'm thinking Rise of the Planet of the Apes.)

One other thing to mention now is Clyde Mardon. In the show we see he has a brother who seems to be killed when their plane crashes. In the comic world, Clyde was the other brother. He was a scientist that build the tech to control the weather. His brother, Mark, kills him, and then Mark Mardon becomes the Weather Wizard.

At the end of the show I was surprised to see Mardon killed. I would have thought they wouldn't want to off a classic member of the Rogues Gallery. BUT we have assumed that Mark Mardon died on the plane. What if he's alive, and he also has the same powers? What if will be wanting revenge on Barry and Joe?

We'll see.


There were a few shout outs in the show to Flash history. Some of the cops they had on the show are from the Keystone and Central police departments. And some other sights can be seen in the comics.

We also get a Green Lantern shout out when they visit a Ferris Air sight for the test run. This is the business that Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) worked for. It's owner also went on to become the Star Sapphire. But this should not reflect on the series, unless in a year or two DC decides to put out a Green Lantern show.

The only one that really excited me was the reporter we see outside STAR Labs. Linda Park. She was the wife of the Wally West Flash. She went through some different careers, including being a news reporter.

Of course seeing her there like this is a reminder that she won't have that same tie to the Flash family that I am missing in the comics (since the reboot of all things DC Comics). It's a shout out. But it is appreciated.

I look forward to see what comes with the show.

Here's a trailer for the season. Look forward based on this, and other news, for a lot of the Rogues Gallery to appear this season. And some them look like they will be using tech. (In the comics all of the rogues seem to have gotten powers,and switched from being tech guys.) Look forward to see how Captain Cold operates in the show. (I know he won't have his blue parka look. But still.)

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