‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 1: ‘The Man Who Saved Central City’
The long wait is over. One of TV’s best shows is back, and we could not be more excited. But as we don’t cover The Good Wife here at ComicsAlliance, let’s shift focus over to another really good TV show, as The Flash returns from the season break with a strong opening episode, 'The Man Who Saved Central City', directed by Ralph Hemecker, with story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, and teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg and Gabrielle Stanton.
This week we have Atom Smashers, Golden Age guest stars and a whole new status quo for The Scarlet Speedster after last season’s shocking finale.
Dylan: As usual, I’m Dylan Todd, and this season I’m joined by Ziah Grace. Ziah, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’d never seen season one, you’d only read the recaps, right? What did you think?
Ziah: I gotta say this opening did a lot to get me excited. It’s action-packed, well-shot, and gets across how much Barry Allen lost in the first season without too much unnecessary exposition. Have all of the previous episodes been like this?
Dylan: To varying degrees, yeah. It’s very much a show that does not slow down, narratively (which, I mean, it’s The Flash, so that makes sense, I guess), which is a blessing and a curse.
For this episode, we get introduced to the new status quo: Cisco’s working for the Central City Police Department as part of their Metahuman Crimes Division or whatever, alongside Joe “The Best” West. Iris is still writing for the newspaper with the silly name. Eddie is still dead (RIP) after killing himself to retroactively wipe Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash/Whatever Other Names He Had from the time stream. Caitlin Snow is working at STAR Labs’ competition, Mercury Labs, but I doubt that’s gonna last because the set for their lab looked kind of crappy. Her husband, Ronnie Raymond --- aka ½ of Firestorm, which I refuse to acknowledge is any sort of acronym --- got lost in the Sky Whirlpool from last season’s finale, while the other half, Dr. Martin Stein, got left behind because this show needs another middle-aged science man to yell at the computer while Barry’s fighting some rando monster person every week, apparently.
Meanwhile, Barry’s being all sullen and withdrawn because it works for Ollie Queen, I guess? Oh, and something about him not wanting his loved ones to get hurt or whatever because there has to be some sort of narrative arc for him this episode.
Did I manage to cover everything?
Ziah: Yeah, that about sums up the status quo for everyone. Oh, except the police boss has a beard. That seemed new, right? Also, does Barry sleep now that he has Flash powers, because if he’s cleaning up the city every night and doing police work all day, that’s not a whole lot of time.
Dylan: Let’s just chalk that up to comic book logic and say that something-something advanced metabolism, yadda-yadda. And yeah, Barry is moonlighting as an overnight contractor, though I’m curious if he is licensed and bonded or is the reconstructed CC Jitters gonna collapse on itself when somebody sneezes while drinking a cappuccino.
Along with the Villain of the Week, Atom Smasher --- who we’ll discuss a little later --- this episode also introduces some weirdo guy who is stalking Barry and taking his picture. Fun!
Turns out he’s Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. How’d that revelation land for you, Ziah?
Ziah: Well, I was actually surprised! I probably shouldn’t have been considering how much teasing this season’s released for his appearance and the crossover between universes, but they did a good job seeding him in right before Atom Smasher’s appearances, so you didn’t get a chance to dwell on it for too long. And while you’ve mentioned Professor Stein as yet another old man yelling at Barry, he really seems like someone who relies on mentor figures (Wells, Henry Allen, Joe “Business Beanie” West), so I think he’ll be a really good addition to the cast.
Dylan: If nothing else, it gives us a chance to see Victor Garber say really stupid pseudo-science stuff and also try and “rap” with the kids, which is always a treat. But yeah, they seem to have figured his character out a little bit now that it’s looking like he’s a recurring guest as well as cast member of the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series. He’s less abrasive and more like a nerdy uncle. Though him getting icked out by Ronnie and Caitlin kissing and then saying, “I’m just glad you didn’t do that while I was still inside you,” was some hardcore Tobias Fünke ish.
Who else stood out to you?
Ziah: I have to say that Cisco is incredibly charming. His bit with Joe at the Flash Day was a delight:
“Expecting super-powered flying monsters.”
“That’s a reasonable expectation.”
In fact, most of the dialogue was really well-done, punchy without being too clever, and smoothing over some of the necessary exposition. The show seems like it’s having fun with itself, and that energy and enthusiasm is definitely contagious. Like when Barry’s response to a black hole is to run into and around it, and it actually works, I was definitely on board.
Still, there’s some really weird moments in this episode. For one, Barry kills the crap out of Atom Smasher? Was killing his supervillians something he did last season? Because this felt really at odds with the rest of the episode.
Dylan: Yeah, a lot of the villains on this show don’t last, much to my chagrin. Not that I thought the wrestle man who played Atom Smasher (Adam Copeland/WWE’s The Edge, not to be confused with the U2 guitarist or the place you should not push Grand Master Flash because he is standing close to it) was anything special, but them continuing the trend of burning up super-villains is not my favorite thing. Also, as we see from the 2.5 seconds we get of Captain Cold and Heatwave --- who are somehow more campy than they were in the first season --- recurring villains are fun!
Ziah: More than that, being able to reach into past continuity and use characters in new ways and team-ups is a staple of superhero stories, so it’s a little disheartening to hear that they get rid of supervillains quickly. Especially because the Flash has one of the best rogues gallery in comics when it comes to mixing up teams and goals. If any show would be best served by having a deep pool of villains to draw from, I’d think it’d be this one.
Dylan: If it’s any consolation, most of the villains they used up in season one were pretty bad. On a scale of One to CGI The Rock From The Scorpion King, how CW were those growing effects?
Ziah: I give them a Final Battle From Blade; actually pretty charming! They’re not great, but the show not dwelling on melodrama and having a sense of humor really made it seem like a small deal, so my suspension of disbelief was pretty high off the floor. I’ll say that the “If he wants energy, we’ll give it to him” was pretty groan-worthy, just because it’s such a common solution to any problem in a sci-fi show. How’d the climax of the fight work for you?
Dylan: It wasn’t my favorite bit of the episode. I think part of that stems from the fact that Atom Smasher was treated a pretty generic villain who really just existed so he could provide a few fights to break up all the “new status quo” stuff and say something cryptic before he got unceremoniously nuked to death. I mean, even the Weather Wizard in the pilot got a little more backstory/character development before he was callously dispatched.
Ziah: Yeah, this is definitely a premiere episode of Season 2 of The Flash that ends with Barry Allen nuking a guy who… really only killed himself, right? That seems like a huge reaction to one murder. And oh man, when I saw the mirrors for Flash Day, I thought for sure they were setting up Mirror Master. Has he shown up yet?
Dylan: No Mirror Master yet. Maybe this season? I don’t know though, as it looks like this season’s going to be a lot about Multiverse-type stuff now that we’ve (too tidily?) solved Nora Allen’s murder and saw the demise of the Reverse Flash. Season one had a lot of Firestorm villains used as plot fodder. Speaking of which, this episode continues the proud tradition of making the show more about Firestorm --- specifically Ronnie --- than the Flash, with Barry moping around because Ronnie was dead and him and Eddie are the real heroes and a-bloo-bloo-bloo.
Ziah: Yeah, up until Iris called him out on the moping, I figured he was sad because Eddie killed himself to erase Professor Zoom, aka his science dad, which is a pretty decent reason to mope around for a bit.
Dylan: Man, I don’t even think Eddie liked Eddie, though. At least he got a heroic death instead of getting written off the show by moving out west to follow his dreams of opening a pizza place with some pretty colorful characters as clientele!
Ziah: Maybe this episode put some water on that Firestorm plot, though, and we can focus more on Barry doing Flash stuff. Is Firestorm joining Legends of Tomorrow? I’m a little confused how all these shows fit together. Supergirl’s in a different continuity, right? And Legends ties-in with this and Arrow?
Dylan: The CW shows all share a universe, with Arrow and Flash being the flagship shows. The CW also produced some tie-in cartoons featuring Vixen, set in the same CW continuity, for its new digital platform, CW Seed. Legends of Tomorrow features characters from both series (including Martin Stein from the Firestorm contingency), and runs during the hiatus for both of those shows, so CW can keep raking in those superhero show ratings that Flash --- and, to a lesser extent, Arrow --- has been bringing all the boys to the yard like so many milkshakes.
Supergirl, which debuts later this month on CBS, is developed and produced by a lot of the same people as the CW shows, but is set in its own continuity, tho nerds everywhere are holding out hope that they crossover. (Sorry nerds; keep dreaming.)
Ziah: Got it. Okay, so back to Flash, why on earth did Henry Allen just leave after being released? Because there were shades of Poochie there with the, “I am no longer needed here” dialogue.
Dylan: One of my favorite things was Henry Allen’s look of abject terror when his son immediately suggests they split a bachelor pad. Like he was gauging if he could make it out the door without Barry stopping him or if he was gonna have to jump out an upstair window under the pretense of using the bathroom.
Ziah: That was no joke one of my favorite moments of the show.
Dylan: The meta-reason is that, with Nora’s murder solved thanks to Harrison Wells’ video testimony, there’s no story-driven reason for him to be around any more. He doesn’t serve the narrative, so he gets to retire to a farm upstate where he can pet the rabbits.
Ziah: Haha, true, but it would’ve been nice if he’d had something to do. It gives us something to laugh about, but you’d think he’d want to see his friends and son for longer than a day, if he has nothing better to do.
Dylan: Let’s be real: him bolting on his son during his “just got out of jail” party was the only interesting thing Henry Allen has done. Ever. And the dude has been in prison for 14 years. He has plenty better things to do, if you know what I mean. (I mean sexy things.)
Ziah: But I was actually confused about that whole plot. Why did Harrison Wells admit to it? He was a pretty complete villain last season once his disguise was revealed, right? So why would he get Barry’s dad out of prison if he was dead?
Dylan: Yeah, I don’t know, man. It really flies in the face of Wells’/Eobard’s massive heel turn in the last few episodes. Like I said, it mainly happens because the plot dictates that it happen. I’m sure somebody in the comments will tell us a pretty good reason for it, but right now, it just seems like it happens because it needs to happen.
Ziah: That’s fair, and my take on these kinds of necessary housecleaning bits is that as long as they’re dealt with quickly and never mentioned again, they’re fine. If this is the show just sweeping those plot points under a rug, that’s great; they don’t need to ever be talked about again. It certainly doesn’t detract too much from stuff like Barry and his Chemistry Crew making a Flash Signal to lure out Adam Smasher.
Dylan: That was a fun touch, as was the new costume bit. I’m still not sure how Barry’s going to pay for the upkeep of STAR Labs on a CSI investigator’s salary, though.
Ziah: Maybe he’ll start charging for contract work. The CW can sneak a Damage Control spin-off in right now.
Dylan: Barry Allen starting up an on-call plumbing business on the side. Coming this Fall… The Flush!
Ziah: Dylan, you are a treasure.
Dylan: In that somebody should bury me in the ground and forget about me for a couple hundred years, yes. Ziah, anything else you want to bring up? What is your one hope for this season?
Ziah: I was extremely pleased that there was no hint of Iris/Barry romance, in this episode at least, and besides my fervent hope that all superhero shows cater to my very specific desire for G-list supervillain appearances, those two siblings not being a couple is tops on my wishlist for this season. Other than that, more Captain Cold and Heatwave. They seemed fun.
Dylan: Me? I’m a simple man with humble wishes: that Iris gets to do something other than be a thing for Barry to pine after (though her finally getting let in on the secret that Barry is the Flash has given me a lot more patience with their possible romance) and that Caitlin gets to do more than pine after her beloved, stupid Ronnie. Also, more Business Beanie and some sort of episode that involves Barry having to eat a lot of hot dogs and/or pies.
Until next week; keep on Flashin’.