‘The Flash’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 3: ‘Things You Can’t Outrun’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of the the Flashest Recaps Alive. Here we’ll recap the episodes, dispense some Flash Facts and talk about what works, what doesn't and where the series might be headed, as we try and keep up with the adventures of Central City’s finest hero, Barry Allen: aka the Red Blur, aka The Flash.
This week, we’re looking at the third episode episode of the first season, which finds The Flash squaring off against a man who can turn into a cloud. You will believe a man can cloud in this week’s episode, “Things You Can’t Outrun”!
FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week
The episode opens with Barry and his (basically) sister coming out of The Vogue theater after seeing a merely okay (according to Barry) zombie movie. The marquee offers up a double-serving of fan service, with mentions of Blue Devil (a Hollywood stuntman who gets stuck in a demon costume before getting demon powers and a giant fork) and a biopic about Rita Farr (an Olympic swimmer-turned-starlet who gets exposed to volcanic gases and learns she can grow, shrink and control the size of her limbs). Barry is
boring the hell out of Iris explaining the intricacies of zombie cinema to Iris, before launching into a mansplaining frenzy about ant-fungus which, naturally, loses Iris. She’d rather be talking about her latest obsession: The Streak. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Not the Ray Stevens song.)
Iris says “he’s out there,” and Barry tries to throw her off the scent by suggesting that maybe The Streak is a lady, but Iris apparently has a pretty keen peen-dar cuz she knows The Streak is a he. Iris gets a call from Detective Eddie Thawne, the Once & Future Reverse Flash, and drops that she’s headed over to Eddie’s house tonight, which means they are totes boning. This elicits an eyeroll from Barry.
While Iris is planning her trip to The Bone Zone with Eddie, Cisco Ramon calls Barry to let him know there’s an armed chase that the cops could use a hand with. Barry Flashes over, apprehends the guy, and tosses him, handcuffed, into the back of the police cruiser, and Flashes back before Iris can say, “No you hang up first.”
Barry suggests they get something to eat; Iris points out that he eats like a ton and isn't gaining weight, which prompts Barry to all but wink at the camera and say “I've been … jogging.”
Meanwhile in a vaguely Middle Eastern restaurant, some gentlemen are about to eat some dinner. You know these gentlemen are from another country because they refer to each other as “my uncle,” and “my nephew.” One of the wait staff flips the OPEN sign to CLOSED and locks the door, but UH OH, the key breaks in the lock and HEY maybe this guy meant to do it because he’s smiling about it.
You can tell this guy is up to something because he has alopecia and is vaguely Middle Eastern, which we in the TV stereotype business refer to as “A Double Whammy.” (Seriously, this is all a bit lazy.) The Uncle proceeds to give a speech about murders and how much he loves crime and stuff, but starts choking on a green gas that’s rapidly filling the restaurant. He just happens to suffocate as he’s talking about their enemies drawing “their last breaths,” which is “a little too ironic, dontcha think?” to quote The Bard.
The Nephew tries to shoot out the glass, but The Uncle already said earlier it was bulletproof so they all choke on the gas. Again, very ironic. Not unlike rain on your wedding day, or a free ride when you already paid.
The next morning at Central City PD, one of the cops from Barry’s high speed chase is bragging about how he caught that perp last night all by himself, no help at all, nope, none whatsoever, which chafes Barry a little. He humblebrags about it to Joe, who in turn calls Barry out for being a glory-hound. Barry then responds that it’s not like he wants a museum built in his honor, which is cute because in the comics, that’s what happens.
Up in Barry’s lab, Joe plops a banker’s box of evidence from Nora Allen’s murder and tells Barry that they’re gonna go through it piece by piece until they find a way to help get Barry’s dad, Henry Allen, out of Iron Heights prison. He also gives a line about how the jury in the case “moved too fast,” and I think maybe we can cool it on the references to speed in this show. Running this and fast that; I mean, we get it.
Eddie walks in and tells them that there are hell of dead gangsters in a restaurant, so it’s off to the crime scene. Barry says that they've been poisoned, but they can’t find any sort of canisters or anything, and the doors are locked from the inside, which is weird, and then Barry – IN FRONT OF EDDIE – says, “Unless the gas had a mind of its own,” and buddy, maybe you can ix-nay on the eird-way uff-stay when other people are around? Especially guys who have studied your blog and who are way too nice to be for reals?
Barry points out that if this were normal gas, everybody should be dead in the same place, but these dudes are spread out all over. Joe makes some great faces and then is like, “Maybe you should call your ‘friends’ to help us here (wink-wink).”
Cut to: S.T.A.R. Labs, where Joe and Barry try to pick the S.T.abbers' brains on what could be going on. They spout science-babble, but I was more interested in Vibe’s baller Catbug shirt than making sense of their geek speak.
Joe is like, “Yeah, 1.21 gigawatts or whatever; but what are we gonna do with these bad guys once we catch them?” Wells points out that this hasn't been an issue, since their last two rogues died, which I was just thinking about. I mean, I know the Flash has a pretty deep bench of Rogues, and they seem to be okay with adding in villains from other franchises (namely last week’s inclusion of Firestorm villain Multiplex), but if they’re gonna keep up this “Freak of the Week” premise, they’re gonna run out of bad guys halfway through season two if they keep letting them die.
Harrison Wells, the super-genius who blew up a sizeable chunk of the city with his particle accelerator, then suggests that they build a prison in the basement of the aforementioned accelerator. Which seems like a greeeeat idea, right? Nothing can possibly go wrong here.
Flashbaaaaack to the night that Wells fired up his little disaster machine. Cisco warns him about the thunderstorm, but Wells is like, whatever. Then we’re introduced to Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin’s assumed-dead, but probably just got Firestorm-ed fianceé. They’re bickering playfully about their honeymoon, which is how you know he’s about to die. They may as well be discussing what he’s gonna do once he retires from the force in a week. Wells gives a little speech and says how it feels like he’s waited for centuries for this moment. Because he’s from the future.
They fire it up, Wells pops the champagne and WHAA-?! it’s hanging in the air all weird! What is going on?! (J/K we know what’s going on. It’s the Speed Force or something.)
Back in the present, Barry brings Caitlin along with him to the police station in an effort to get her out of the lab where her fianceé got immolated by her boss’ science machine, and also because it’s Take Your Judgmental Science Friend To Work Day. It’s great because Caitlin gets to see how everybody at Barry’s work is terrible to him, including Captain Singh, who’s upset because Barry was supposed to get him some report on the gas murders. One lady call him “Lab Rat” and shoves a gun at him. FLASH FACT: It’s pretty emasculating.
Barry fetches the report for the Captain using his run-run powers, which leaves his lab even messier than it already was. The Captain tells him to clean it up, and as much as Singh seems like kind of a tool, he’s kind of right, as Barry’s lab has always felt pretty dingy and gross. It’s all rusty and old-looking. CSI? More like CSI’m Gonna Get Hepatitus C If I Sit Down, am I right?
Back at the West home, Joe’s watching old interrogation footage from Henry Allen’s arrest when he almost gets busted by Iris, but he manages to hand-wave it away all slick-like.
Eddie shows up for some Afternoon Delight with Iris, but finds Joe at home and gets all flustered and tells Joe he wants to go back to the crime scene to check out some stuff. Then he fakes some IBS so he can talk to Iris alone. She says she’s gonna tell her dad, just not now cuz “he’ll kill us.” Eddie, ever the smooth-talker, looks at Iris and says, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Right now, Iris, you’re killing us. And by ‘us,’ I mean ‘my balls.’” He's a classy guy, that Eddie Thawne.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco and Wells are standing in a pretty CW-y set, talking about retrofitting the accelerator to be a prison for metahumans, and then flashbaaaaack to Cisco and Ronnie as the accelerator about to blow. Ronnie can mitigate the blast, but there’s a chance he won’t make it back within the two-minute window they have. It’s all very heart-wrenching and heroic and stuff.
At Barry’s lab, he has a chat with Caitlin about Ronnie and how dreamy he was. Caitlin mentions that Ronnie used to say they were like “fire & ice,” a line which literally made me groan because, see, in the comics Ronnie is Firestorm and Caitlin is Killer Frost. Get it?! Barry’s computer beeps and it turns out there’s two sets of DNA in the victim’s lungs, which sounds pretty gross.
Cut to a shopping mall. Remember those? A Molly Shannon-looking lady is getting onto an elevator when the door is stopped from closing by the alopecia guy from before. He sort of looks like the guy from original The Hills Have Eyes had a baby with Vin Diesel. Or like a hip Nosferatu.
Back at the lab, Caitlin and Barry are like, “OMZ what if the metahuman doesn’t control gas; what if he becomes it!” Which it turns out is exactly what he does, cuz he waits for the elevator doors to close and then gasses the heck out of Judge Molly Shannon. Barry hears a report on the radio about a gas attack at the mall and Flashes over there. He tries punching the Gas Man, but it’s hard to beat up a guy who can turn into gas, apparently.
Gas Man (okay, okay, he’s actually sort of based on the Starman villain, The Mist) takes off, but not before Barry can get a lungful of him. He scoots back to S.T.A.R. Labs and is gasping for air, telling the S.T.abbers to cut him open to get the sample out of his lungs so they can track the guy down easier. Caitlin shoves a huge needle into his lungs, Pulp Fiction-style, and Barry passes out.
Thankfully, he heals easily, and he wakes up all raring to go. He heads back to the police station and finds Joe so he can whine about not being fast enough to save the lady and not being able to save his dad from prison. Joe is like, “Knock it off. You’re doing your best. You can’t save everybody. You sound like Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, which we all know is the worst of the prequels despite having some pretty great action set-pieces in it.” Also, we get some great Joe Face.
I’m gonna be really sad when they Uncle Ben him. He’s seriously the best part of this show and if you don’t agree, you are a Scarlet Wrongster.
Downstairs, Eddie is being super-condescending to somebody who called in a Streak tip at the mall when Iris shows up to talk to him. Eddie thinks she’s there to break up with him, so he acts kind of like a jerk. But no, Iris is like, let’s tell my dad, WHATEVER and kisses him in the foyer of the cop factory.
Barry and Caitlin have another heart-to-heart where soft piano music plays in the background. There's a lot of that in this episode, which is great if you are a person who records soft piano music for television shows, but a little less great for us, because it means we have to see CW stars mope around. They basically have a guilt-off, then decide to go down to the basement together to help Caitlin get some closure on the whole “Ronnie got atomized,” thing. Flashbaaaaack to Caitlin running to the door and then a Max Fischer-esque recreation of that scene in this year’s Godzilla remake with Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche. It's super-sad and stuff.
Cisco calls them upstairs and Wells mentions that the gas is hydrogen cyanide, but there’s also a sedative mixed in. Barry recognizes the two compounds as being given to people who are being executed, which leads them to conclude that Cloud Man is actually (wait for it) Kyle Nimbus, who was executed the night of the explosion. My notes for this section read as follows:
KYLE NIMBUS?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!
For some reason, I can be perfectly okay with Victor Fries and Edward Nigma, but this one is a step too far. Anyway, they figured who Cloud Man is now and they figure out his next target. Did you guess it was Joe West? Because it is. Barry’s all raring to Flash out of there, but before he can leave they make sure to give him Checkov’s Antitoxin, that will most certainly be used to save Joe’s life.
Meanwhile, Joe is visiting Henry Allen in prison. It is as awkward as you’d expect, with Henry being a bit cold to Joe, who tries to bury the hatchet, telling Henry that “new shit has come to light, man,” and that he’s gonna do what he can to get Henry out. But it turns out that Nosferatu Cloud Man is also on his way to Iron Heights, vaping thru the gate and into the vents. Henry basically forgives Joe, saying it’s okay that he didn't believe in him because he always believed in Barry. Because Henry is a perfect human who never does anything wrong. But then The Mist seeps in, chokes out the guard and then gets to choking out Joe.
Barry shows up, just as Joe is starting to convulse on the floor and he gives him the antidote. All the antidote. Glug-glug-glug. Henry is staring at The Flash, but Barry blurs his face so his dad doesn't know it’s him. Once he’s sure Joe’s stable, he’s back out after the Mist, who is just strolling out of the prison. The Flash stops him, tells him he’s “going somewhere he can never hurt anybody ever again,” which is supposed to mean their new super-prison, but sounds pretty frickin’ ominous given the fates of the last two villains he’s faced off against.
Barry and the S.T.abbers realize that he’s gonna have to beat this dude by not beating him. (Did anybody else get really thrown off by Cavanaugh’s line-read for “Gas is the least-stable form of matter….“? It was suuuuper-awkward.) He’s basically gonna have to tire him out. Which is a cool solution, finding a way to defeat his villains that isn't just punching them until they fall out a window or until they can get killed by a cop. More of this, please.
So, basically, The Flash has to dodge The Mist, keeping him in his gas form to wear him down. It’s a decent VFX fight, considering this is the CW, and a good use of The Flash’s power set. Anyway, the guy gets tired, Barry punches him. The fight is over.
Cut to Joe’s hospital room, where he gives some good Joe Face to Barry, who’s dozing off in a chair. They get all mushy with each other, with Barry bringing up that he totally could have broke his dad out of jail tonight, but since that was like, illegal and stuff, he didn't. Iris and Eddie show up to tell Joe they’re dating, but he cuts them off by going, “Well, no duh, you dummies are dating. You’re hell of obvious about it and I am a good detective, I mean really.” Then he “playfully” “threatens” to shoot Eddie and they all have a good laugh.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells, Cisco and Caitlin all stare at Cloud Man, who is locked up against his will in a secret underground prison. Which seems like something a supervillain would do? Caitlin sort of points this out, that this is kind of a crazy plan, and Wells is just like, “Haha. Yeah.” and wheels off. Cisco and Caitlin have another soft piano music scene where they talk about Ronnie before they decide to get drunk and/or eat ice cream, whichever comes first.
The soft piano music follows us to Iron Heights, where Barry is visiting his dad. Henry tells Barry about how, as a baby, he skipped walking and went straight to running. Which I call bullshit on, but whatever. Then we get Barry’s Scrubs-y wrap-up voiceover. He drops the titular line and says that we can’t outrun pain. (The more cultured among you will also remember that pain don't hurt.) Oh, and also he stops a mugging by giving the lady back her purse as well as the knife the mugger was holding to her and for a second, you can see the will to stab appear in her eyes for just a second.
We finish off the episode with the, by now, typical Harrison Wells epilogue, where we see that the particle accelerator explosion was no accident, that he was GASP! watching Barry all along from his secret future Cerebro room! That he planned the whole thing! I told you guys he was not to be trusted. I TOLD YOU!
FLASH FACTS: Random Observations
- They’re seeding the Firestorm reveal pretty hard this episode with the introduction of Robbie Amell’s Ronnie Raymond. Hopefully it lives up to the hype when he finally shows up.
- I have some problems with Barry’s mom and dad, mostly in that they’re not remotely real characters. Every single thing Henry does is perfect, and it annoys me. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or the acting or both, but whenever Shipp is on screen, I don’t buy him as a character, even in a fairly broad superhero TV show. Even Marlon Brando’s Jor-El had a hint of being a bit full of himself, but Shipp’s Henry Allen is an untouchable ideal, which is kind of boring.
- This week’s villain, The Mist, was a villain for both the 1960s Starman Ted Knight, as well as his son, the 1990 Jack Knight. He also had a daughter, Nash, who took up the mantle of Mist, forced Jack to make a baby with her with the intent of turing it evil, and got shot by her dad when she started to have a change of heart. Beyond the name and powers, there’s not a lot of similarities between this Mist and the comics version.
- I’m glad they seem to be pushing Caitlin as a possible love interest for Barry, if only because I’m kind of really grossed out by his weird hang-up on Iris, who is A) plainly not interested, B) dating somebody else, and C) basically Barry’s sister. I've seen enough TV to know that Barry and Iris will probably wind up together, (unless Candice Patton gets a Hawaii DUI or something) because Eddie’s obviously gonna heel-turn eventually and Ronnie will most-likely come back once Barry and Caitlin have almost-kissed, but I’m okay with keeping that off for as long as possible. Preferably after Barry learns that it’s okay for a lady to not be into him/not always smile for him.
- Somebody who I promise is not me has started a Faces of Joe West Tumblr, so you should probably check that out. That this exists based off of a joke I put in last week's recap is kind of my favorite thing in the world.
FLASH-FORWARD: Future Happenings
The preview for next week’s episode shows another Arrow crossover, with Emily Bett Rickard’s Felicity Smoak showing up, as well as the first glimpse of Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold.
Looks like we’re in for a...