Friday, October 10, 2014

The Flash - Pilot Recap

Nobody thought much when the CW announced it was working on a Green Arrow show. Come on, he's not even Batman. But the show became a juggernaut for the teen drama/sexy vampire network and by season two they decided it was time for a spinoff.

Enter The Flash.

We were first introduced to clumsy, cocker spaniel puppy Barrie Allen (Grant Gustin) in season two of Green Arrow. It was an interesting choice as we learned how he got his powers, got to see him awkwardly flirt with awkward Felicity, become best buddies with Ollie, then they stuck him in the deep freeze for nine months to cook until the writers could figure out what happens next.

The Flash opens with the schmaltzy, go to character-building trope for nerds: Barrie Allen got picked on by bullies as a kid. He'd try to defend himself, but his father told him to run away (plot point!). We know he has to be a good guy because he was picked on and beat up as a child. ‘Tis Superhero law!

Because that isn't enough, they also threw in a dead mother to open with. You’re a rare super hero if you make it to adulthood with a mother still kicking around. Child Barrie wakes from sleep to find liquid floating out of his fish tank (I guess he loses his fish the same night, too). He hurries downstairs as flashes (wink wink) of red and yellow blurs zip around his screaming mother. Within the blurs he spies a face hiding in the yellow. Anyone with even a passing history of the Flash already knows who this is. For the sake of spoilers, I will call him Zune.

Somehow, child Barrie is transported a mile away from his home and begins to run back. That transitions to the present day where older Barrie is running to a crime scene, a small case in his hand. We learned back with Arrow that Barrie's a CSI, but apparently he's a CSI for the cheapest and tweest police department. He's not allowed a car, or to have anyone swing by and pick up the criminal investigator, or even anyone else to assist him. He doesn't even get a real lab. Instead, Barrie does his investigating out of a loft refurbished from an old warehouse. Which it seems is also where he lives, surrounded by wire racks of food dye in glass bottles. (Being comically late was something someone should have talked the writes out of. It’s an uncle joke, you laugh the first time, then grow angry with each subsequent telling.)

Barrie goes all Sherlock for a second (blissfully brief) and realizes there's poop on the tire tracks. He uses his innate feces super powers to determine that the murderer must have come from this one farm and nowhere else. Poop is that specific.

We're introduced to Iris(Candice Patton), the daughter of our main stockphoto detective and nearly life long best friend. Which means, of course, Barrie is hopelessly in love with her. She very politely and correctly explains that he's like a brother to her, but you can see the phrase "friendzoning" turning through his head. Luckily, he doesn't throw a fit, or whine, but the show seems to be leading down the "he deserves Iris" road.

While at a rally about the super collider (groupies go crazy for physics), Isis has her dissertation stolen (because everyone takes their dissertation for a walk). Barrie tries to run after the guy, who knows a black market he can sell hard sociology data too, but gets clobbered. Instead, a pretty cop swings out of nowhere and stops the guy.

And that cop's name is Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). Dun dun dun! (Obvious spoilers from that annoying fan - though Arrow's danced around using names and then backing off, so it's hard to be 100% certain)

Iris is unimpressed with him at the time, calling him a pretty boy who keeps score on his busts. Uh-huh. Methinks the writers doth protest too much.

But to the accident. We have to mentally jam in the two Arrow episodes Barrie was in before this scene. He's now back from his brief Starling City foray, chucking things around his lab/apartment and moping because he missed out on attending the big super collider onswitching. At the same time, the detectives are on the poop bust, staking out a farm.

They burst in on a stringy haired blonde guy named Clyde (the slack jawed yokel), who shoots captain deadweight and tries to escape in a plane. Except, just as he's taking off, the super collider goes all critical wonky and a burst of energy smashes up the plane, sending his body crashing hundreds of yards to the ground.

Barrie, still moping to himself, looks up as the energy smashes through his windows. Because super collider energy isn't enough, he's also struck by lightning AND falls into a vat of his food dye chemicals. Rather than come up with one possible superpower source, they decided to mix all three in a bucket and dump them on his head.

The rest of Arrow's season and a summer later, Barrie wakes up not in a hospital but inside the warehouse floor of Star labs. He's rightly freaked out as two fast talking scientists hover over him (why is it always fast talking scientists? I miss the days of Bunsen and Beaker), telling him he's been out for nine months. Oh and we kinda destroyed parts of the city, decimated the building your comatose ass sat in for nine month, and got our boss, Wells, paralyzed. Oopsie. And we stole your body, but it’s okay. They said we could have it for study. Rather than remain with the people that kidnapped his body from the hospital, Barrie leaves.

His first stop is to catch up with Iris, still working at a coffee shop. Maybe she got her dissertation stolen again. We get a quick flashey sense scene when time slows and Barrie watches a waitress fumble a tray of mugs. He freaks out a bit, but tries to remain calm by waltzing back into the police department to check in. This gives him a chance to have even more power freak-outs as he smashes into a cop car window, a truck, and just general mayhem. Everyone takes a man twitching and breaking police cars surprisingly well, just the sort of bewildered nod and a sense of “Oh, not this again.”

Because this is still a super hero show, we need a baddie of the week even if he can't get much characterization or do anything all that evil. Mysterious man slides an "I'm here to rob the bank" envelope to a teller, who glares at him with an "I don't have time for this shit" look. He steps back and dun dun dun! It's Clyde, amazingly not with broken limbs. He holds open his arms and a fogger kicks in from under his shirt and robs the bank with his mighty powers of condensation! The detectives refuse to believe this guy is real, despite eyewitness testimony from three other bank robberies, until they see some cell phone footage of Clyde going full Malestorm on them.

Barrie's facing his own superhero crisis and goes back to the people that stole his body. I get the impression this guy is way too trusting for his own good. Good-natured funny bro, Cisco, whipped up a Flash emblem from his cereal box and pins it to Barrie's wrestling outfit. The female scientist, Caitlin Snow, waves her windows products around and delivers some science babble, giving Barrie the perfect opportunity to flash his Nice Guy™ teeth again.

He asks her why she never smiles, and rather than open up, or feign one so the weird kid doesn't keep pressing the issue, she tells him that "she paralyzed her boss, her fiancé died in the explosion, and her bioengineering career is over." I'm not sure why a bioengineer was working in a physics lab to begin with, but it shuts up Barrie and he gets to running.

The writers realized that some people might nitpick the physics a human going near the speed of light. So, during Barrie's little test, he has a mental freak out and smashes into some barrels he'd have hit anyway. He breaks his wrist, but because healing factor is all the rage these days, it sets itself in three hours.

Back to Iris and we find out, surprise surprise, she's getting down with Eddie Thawne (dun dun dunnnn!!) Barrie catches them kissing, and she begs him to keep it quiet because she doesn't want her dad to find out. All detective dads are incredibly overbearing and want to lock their daughters up in a convent until they're 45, apparently. He agrees and makes sad puppy dog eyes as if he had a chance with her. She thinks you're her brother. That's creepy. Move on!

Because we haven't hammered home all the nice things Barrie will do for Iris, a car chase breaks out. Malestorm (Weather Wizard - maybe. We're down two Count Vertigos by now on Arrow. Names are traded like baseball cards) tries to drive through them, but Barrie throws Iris aside, probably cracking her ribs in the process. Flash may have super healing powers, but average humans still not so much.

He takes off after Malestorm by jumping into the car. I'm not sure how he thought that would help. Maybe he believed the person was lost and he wanted to provide directions. Mostly, he distracts the driver causing the car to flip and roll. Malestorm rolls out of the wreckage and kicks up his fog machine again. But there's still a lot of time left in this episode so rather than have it out there, Malestorm runs for it.

Barrie gets a yelling at from his Detective stand-in father and told he's not a hero. The first response of the not-a-hero is to run away. He heads back to Starling City to have a heart to heart with Arrow. If there's someone I want no nonsense, helpful advice from Oliver Queen ranks just below the Joker. He tells Barrie he won't be a vigilante, he has to fight for his city, which sounds an awful lot like a vigilante, but whatever Ollie.

The new crowned Flash returns home to find Bunsen and Beaker have miraculously already designed a suit he can wear. Originally, they wanted to humiliate firemen in the molded/padded red leather monstrosity, but Barrie's a much better choice.

He straps on the Flash costume and is out the door. Because he must have a police scanner hidden up his ass, he runs back to the poop farm where Malestorm's been hiding this whole time. We're not dealing with a criminal mastermind here. Malestorm says he wants bigger and better things, so he turns himself into a tornado. I'm a bit hazy on how he'll make a lot of money by destroying buildings, but that was also Merlin's big plan with Starling City and it worked out perfectly.

Barrie's idea to stop the tornado is to run counterclockwise to it. The scientists are all freaking out because it'll be either 1. dangerous and maybe kill him or 2. cool! I don't understand why Mr. Super Fast doesn't just run into the middle of the tornado and knock Malestorm out.

Of course, somehow Malestorm is able to chuck something at Barrie even as he's going 200 mph, and toss him on his butt. We get the obligatory "You can do this. We believe in you. You're a hero" speech. Barrie gets up and is able to take down the tornado with the speed of his shredded feet. Then the detective lumbers up the hill and shoots Malestorm I'm guessing dead, but it's hard to say.

Because we still have to tease for the season, while everyone's celebrating the death of Clyde, we cut to Wells wheeling into a secret room. After the door closes, he stands and marches menacingly to a podium with a headline from Infinite Crisis...I mean the future. As we all know, people in wheelchairs are secretly faking it and evil.

Congrats Flash. You're not the hero this city needs, or wants, or is even sure about, but I guess you'll do or something. At least you don’t have a body count that could rival some super villains unlike a certain verdant vigilante who’s not Batman! Seriously though, that outfit is hilarious.

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