‘The Flash’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 2: ‘The Fastest Man Alive’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of 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 second episode of the inaugural season, titled “The Fastest Man Alive.” How does it stack up against last week’s (pretty good, actually) pilot? Read on and see Flash…natics?
FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week
We start off with Barry doing his intro voiceover, but then he breaks the fourth wall, and it’s kind of great. I like that this show is taking itself just serious enough. This is a good thing. Keep it up, The Flash television show.
Barry’s rushing to a fire at an apartment that I swear I lived in when I lived in Yonkers for a brief time, but it’s probably an apartment in Canada. He’s going 350 miles an hour, which is good, because as we overhear, the fire truck is still two minutes out, a response that is met with a “People are going to die in there!” from the dispatcher. The poor, harried fire chief on the CB just resignedly spits back an “I know,” and now I want to see more from these two, with the dispatcher saying obvious things to the fireman who just takes it with an eyeroll and an exasperated look.
Barry shows up in his newly-flashed-out Flash costume, with the requisite accented yellow piping. Vibe/Cisco is playing wingman back at S.T.A.R. Labs, eating candy and just generally being a chill dude. Apparently, Caitlin is not cool with this, because he’s hiding it from her. Back at the fire, a distressed mother’s looking for her daughter, who’s still trapped in the blaze. Barry rescues her and a few other people while Caitlin gets hell of pissed at Cisco for enabling Barry’s Flashing. Back at the fire, Barry gives his second-best line of the evening when he tells Cisco that “there’s fire everywhere!” at the fire he went to.
Barry saves the lost daughter and a few other people by the time the firemen arrive. Caitlin tells him to get his butt back to S.T.A.R. Labs right away and Barry starts to head back, but UH-OH, he has a little baby headache. I WONDER WHY THAT COULD BE HMMMM.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin tears into him, reminding him that he’s not a “supersonic fireman,” which would be a pretty good band name. The obviously evil Doctor Wells wheels himself in, and tells Barry that not to sound like a
major creeper “broken record,” but they’re “just beginning to understand what [Barry’s] body is capable of.” Yeesh, man. Wells wheels off, Caitlin storms off, Cisco asks him if he’s okay cuz he gave off some weird readings for a sec, but Barry’s like, “NOPE NO PROBLEMS HERE,” which is exactly the opposite of what he should be doing.
Joe West calls from a crime scene and, yeah Barry's supposed to be there but he’s … running late. (womp-womp) Barry gets to Hex’s gun shop (Yay! Fan service!) but he forgot his civilian clothes so he maybe steals (?) an outfit from a store across the street and heads in. The security camera shows one dude who apparently stole a craaaazy amount of guns/bullets, but Barry’s counting at least six sets of footprints that are all apparently identical. He then sort of insults his boss, Captain Singh, who already obviously has it out for Barry and you start to wonder how he’s managed to keep his job this long.
Joe is apparently thinking the same thing, cuz he tries to point out that Barry’s extracurriculars might cut into his day job. Joe asks Barry if he’s told Iris about his Flashing and Barry says no, I didn’t, cross my heart and hope to die for really reals, and Joe, again, will not have any of this sass-talk.
Then we get a flashbaaaaack to Joe, catching Young Barry trying to run away to prison to visit his dad. Joe stops him, Barry throws a fit, gives him the “YOU’RE NOT MY DAD!” and storms off.
(An aside on what recapping this show has already done to me: in Joe’s living room hangs a poster for jazz drummer Chick Webb, but as I am ignorant in both DC lore and jazz, I had to Google that ish to make sure that wasn't some sort of Easter egg that I needed to flag here. By the time this season wraps, I will have constructed my own string and pushpin-filled wall of screencaps of this show, newspapers blocking out sunlight and surrounded by jars of my own urine as I rock on the floor and hum to myself. Pray for me, dear readers.)
Back in the present, Barry’s in his lab, using his Flash-hands as a DIY centrifuge, which leads to another fainting spell. Barry, who is a scientist who was struck by lighting, who then spent nine months in a coma and then gained zoom-zoom powers, just brushes it off like it’s NBD and continues doing science until Iris comes in, looking all good and stuff. She reminds Barry that he was supposed to go to a charity event to honor Simon Stagg, who is some rich SOB who is getting an award and also supposed to be the subject of an article for Iris' journalism class. OOPS Barry forgot, because he’s also the Forgetfulest Man Alive.
McHandsome Eddie Thawne shows up and is acting all weird until Barry reminds him that he knows about him and Iris and that they can kiss, so he *immediately* starts shoving his tongue down her throat while Barry stands there, a single teardrop rolling down his cheek.
Thawne/Future Reverse Flash (?) lays it on thick with a line about how it’s hard “keeping a big secret” and all but waggles his perfectly-groomed eyebrows when he says it. Like, we know he's the Reverse Flash, right?
At Stagg Industries, scientist and philanthropist Simon Stagg (played by Death from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, aka William Sadler) is accepting his award and yep, this dude is obviously a scumbag. He talks about his work on “organ transference” which 1000% sounds like a thing a supervillain would be into. It also sounds like a really clunky euphemism for sex. Iris and Barry have a little talk that allows Barry to pine a little more for Iris, but it’s interrupted by Iris trying to get Stagg to answer some interview questions, but getting brushed off, which in turn is interrupted by a bunch of superninjas (not to be confused with Supah Ninjaz) who announce that they’re there to rob the crowd. And then they rob the crowd.
This is all interrupted by the dumbest security guard ever, who decides that he’s going to take out six armed dudes at once after yelling “FREEZE!” at them, thereby blowing any surprise he might have had. This dude did not think this through. Luckily, The Flash is there to save the day in Bullet Time™, depositing the guy in a hallway before trying to stop the superninjas, but failing because he passes out in the alley.
He comes to with Iris hovering over him and they walk inside to find Joe West and Eddie Thawne there, taking statements. Joe pulls Barry aside and gives him a stern talking-to. Joe also gives Barry this amazing look:
See more of these great Joe West looks at facesofjoewest.tumblr.com.
Joe tells Barry “no more heroics” and then he’s like, “You’re not a real cop so cool it, okay?” We get to see Barry’s crestfallen face again. It’s becoming one of my favorite things.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin continues to rip into Barry for not telling them about his fainting episodes. And she is 100% right! He should have said something! Duh! They’re gonna do some tests, so they have Barry run on a
cosmic Cisco treadmill. He gets going hell of fast but then he passes out and slams into a bunch of cardboard boxes full of roughly one million packing peanuts.
At Barry’s lab, Joe finds Barry's Crazy Wall and flashbaaaaack he’s remembering when Barry successfully ran away and he knew exactly where to look for him. In the present day, he sees Barry’s S.T.A.R. Labs sweatshirt, and he heads over there to look for him. Detective work!
The S.T.A.R. Labbers have figured out that, basically Barry needs to eat more now that he’s Flashing around all over the place. Cisco calculates that he needs to eat about 850 tacos to supply his body with enough energy to do his Flash stuff and I can’t decide if that is racist? I mean, they have the Latino character thinking in tacos as an energy unit? Am I just being too reactively Liberal here? Anyway, Joe shows up and tries to put his foot down on the whole superhero thing. Professor Ed says “We all want what’s best for Barry,” and I’m looking at him like, “No you don't. You are a creep.” Is Wells like a Flash superfan like Kathy Bates in Misery only from the future? *Shakes Magic 8 Ball* SIGNS POINT TO YES.
Barry points out that there’s a lot of weirdos walking around out there now thanks to Professor Ed’s supercollider explosion and Joe’s like, “And you’re gonna just catch them?” He then very sweetly calls Barry his kid, which prompts Barry to get all indignant, giving Joe the “You’re not my real dad,” treatment, again, before launching into a pretty effective speech about how he’s gotta do something. Joe gets frustrated and tells the S.T.A.R. Labbers, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and I’m pretty sure that’s a Donald Rumsfeld quote.
Meanwhile, at some docks somewhere, Simon Stagg’s bodyguard, Java (See Flash Facts below for some background on him) is meeting with the head superninja, basically selling Stagg out to the creepy-looking dude under the ninja mask. Creepy Looking Dude tries to scare Java, but fails his Intimidation check, so Java clocks him on the jaw and walks away. As soon as Java's back is turned, Creepy Looking Dude goes all “Stripe in the water fountain at the end of Gremlins” and pops a bunch of clones out of his body to beat Java to death. RIP, Java.
At Barry’s lab, Joe drops off some skin cells from Java’s murder scene and freezes him out when Barry offers to help catch the murderer, who he rightly hypothesizes is related to the earlier attempt on Stagg’s life. Iris walks in to remind Barry that he was supposed to meet her at the coffee shop to tell her about boring science shizz, but he forgot. Again. Somebody is gonna get a Franklin planner from Iris West for Christmas and it’s not gonna be Joe.
Barry utilizes his power to do some super-speed creeping on Iris, basically stopping time to tell her all about his Flashings and about how much he loves her even though she’s shut that down at every step. After his little poutburst, the ScienceTron 3000™ beeps to let him know that the analysis on the skin cells Joe just dropped off is complete. Turns out they’re “naive” stem cells. Remember earlier when I said that the bit about the fire being "everywhere" at the, you know, fire was the second-best Barry line in the show? Well here comes the first one, when Barry tells Iris that the cells, “Only come from babies,” in the most concerned, serious voice with the most concerned, serious face. It’s a thing of beauty.
Iris asks if this means the killer is a newborn and man, I realized that I was asking the same thing because I know next-to-nothing about the Flash. I mean, he fights a dude named the Weather Wizard; maybe he fights a baby? Maybe there's a Rogue out there who's like The Baby Baron or something. Stop looking at me like that, I mean, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
At the Stagg Industries’ warehouse, Joe and Eddie talk to Simon Stagg. Joe whips out a picture of a former employee, Danton Black, who had this idea for “therapeutic cloning” but claims that Stagg stole it and fired him. Stagg’s all like, “Nah man, it’s not him, okay?” even though with a name like “Danton Black,” you either wind up a mad scientist, a supervillain or, in this case, both at the same time. Like, literally as Stagg is saying, “It’s not him,” Black and his clones show up and literally say “And here we are,” while shooting a crazy amounts of bullets at the detectives and the philanthropist.
At police HQ, word has got out that there’s a bunch of superninjas with zipper-jackets shooting up a warehouse because everybody’s vesting up and rushing around. There’s a great exchange with the captain where Barry asks what’s going on and the captain says, and I'm paraphrasing here, “Not now, Barry; I don’t have time to tell you that there’s a bunch of gunmen shooting up this warehouse and also your adopted father and his generically handsome partner went to this warehouse to question philanthropist Simon Stagg about who might be trying to kill him and who also already killed his bodyguard, and they are all being shot at in this warehouse, which is to say that Joe, Eddie and Mister Stagg are all beings shot at, so I’m in a big hurry and just don’t have time for all your questions, okay?”
Barry Flashes up and heads over there, saving Joe and beating/getting beat up by Danton Black’s Clone College. He manages to escape back to S.T.A.R. Labs before the superninja-clones totally mangle him. Caitlin and Cisco patch him up/lecture him about getting blood on his speed suit. (It was at this point in the episode that I figured out the guy’s name was “Danton” and not “Anton”, ie. “Abbey,” not “Arcane.”) Doctor Wells pulls up the file on Black, and Cisco dubs him “Captain Clone.” Caitlin loves the name. J/K she hates it because she hates everything. Cisco vows to come up with a better name (George Cloney? The Clone Ranger? Rocket Raccloone?) and Barry decides that Joe is right, he can’t be a hero. Professor Ed tries to talk him out of it, but he’s made his decision. He’s Flash-man … no more!
As Barry runs off, we get a flashbaaaaack that picks up after Joe’s flashback, with Barry finally (somehow) making it into Iron Heights prison to see his dad. He goes to hug Old Man Allen, gets a stern “No physical contact!” brush-off from the guard and now I wish that Barry had found his dad in that prison, having a love affair with an ice cream sandwich. Alas, my Flash/Arrested Development fanfic will have to remain isolated to my Blogspot account – arrestedflashvelopment.blogspot.com – because Henry tells Barry to leave, to go with Joe, who’s shown up to take Barry home and, might I add, is rocking a killer green trilby/jacket combo.
Barry runs to Iris’ coffee shop, where he finds Eddie beaming at himself on TV, bragging about how he saved the day before taking off with the smuggest grin ever slapped on a face.
Back at Police HQ, Joe – who has now seen Black getting his clone on back at the warehouse – tries to talk Stagg into going into protective custody, but Stagg ain't havin' it. Nope. Just then, Harrison Wells wheels himself in the room and does that ironic slow-clap thing for Stagg, who tells Wells “Don’t get up,” and then makes this face:
Frickin’ rich people, man. Stagg exits stage left and Joe and Wells have a little talk about Barry. Wells tells Joe that Barry needs to help protect the city, that Barry might have quit for a second, but he’ll be back, and unless Joe believes in him, Barry is gonna fail. He says that “doubt” is Wally’s enemy. Jesse L. Martin does a pretty great Joeface and we cut to…
Barry and Iris at the coffee shop, where Barry has eaten basically everything in the whole world. Barry apologizes for being a jerk and offers to help Iris come up with another topic for her journalism article, but she’s already solved that problem: she’s gonna do a news story on The Red Blur, which Barry all but spit-takes at. So it looks like Iris is gonna be Lois Lane-ing The Flash. Okay, sure. Barry gets a call from Caitlin demanding he come to S.T.A.R. Labs like immediately because there’s a creepy Danton Black staring right at her and OH NOOOO!
Oh wait, it’s just a clone she made from the clone-blood she got out of Barry's speedsuit, but the clone is barely functional. Wells theorizes that it's a shell that takes orders from Dantonimus Prime, the OG Danton. Everybody’s feeling pretty good about the science they just did when the meat puppet lurches to life, scaring the pee-pee out of everybody. Thankfully, Joe arrives just in time to straight up murder it without a second’s hesitation. He then steps over the lifeless clone body and gives Barry an actually great pep talk. Black is making the move against Stagg and, basically, Barry’s the only guy who can stop him.
At Stagg Industries, Simon Stagg listens as his elite security force gets murked like amateurs. Black almost shoots Stagg, but Barry manages to zoom him into the next room. A pretty cool fight between Barry and Black ensues, with a million billion Dantons punching at Barry while also delivering some character exposition, Tomax/Xamot-style, with the different clones picking up the sentence form the last one. Turns out Black had a wife with a degenerative heart condition, hence his interest in “therapeutic cloning.” Stagg stole his research before he could test it on his lady, so she died. :(
Barry fights with way through the mass of
Agent Smiths Danton Clones and manages to pinpoint the Prime and knock him out by just banging his head against a metal pole reeeally hard BUT WAIT he’s up and charges at Barry, who moves out of the way but OH NO the Prime runs through window and is about to fall BUT HOLD UP Barry manages to grab his hand BUT WHAAAAT? Danton makes a little weird baby hand come out of his wrist and he pulls Barry’s hand off before he SPLATS all over the sidewalk like an overripe watermelon.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, they all are like, “Well, that dude died. Bummer.” and then Cisco is like, “We should call him ‘Multiplex,’” and nobody tell him this is a bad name, which is the real tragedy of this episode. Barry gives them an altogether too earnest speech about how he may be the guy doing the running, but when he’s out there helping people, you’re all out there with me. Then he drops the third-best Barry Allen line in the episode:
At Barry’s crime lab, Joe brings a buttload of pepperoni/olives/jalapeños pizzas that sound delicious/also like they would give you maaaajor heartburn. Joe tells Barry that they’re gonna work together to figure out how to get Barry’s dad out of prison. Barry apologizes for saying that Joe’s not his dad and I’m not gonna pretend like this scene didn't give me a case of what the kids on Tumblr call “the feels.” I’m not a statue. I’m just a man. Also, I was hoping to see Barry speed-eat those pizzas. Hey, Flash producers, can we get an episode where Barry has to like, speed-eat a bunch of food or some aliens or bad guys are gonna blow up the world? Some real Silver Age nuttiness. Also, an episode that recreates this cover, but if not that, just more of Barry eating things super-fast. I don’t know why I am very behind this idea but I am. Please and thank you.
Then we get another Harrison Wells epilogue, with him going to see Simon Stagg. Stagg goes off on this weird tangent about how he’s basically gonna harvest Barry’s super speed, but Harrison is like, NOPE, and he stands up, walks over to Stagg and stabs him all cold-like and I TOLD YOU NOT TO TRUST THIS GUY.
FLASH FACTS: Random Observations
When Caitlin’s ripping into Barry, Cisco remarks that nobody’s made her that mad since her fianceé Ronnie died. “Ronnie,” is, of course, Ronnie Raymond, aka Firestorm, who it was recently announced will appear on the show played by Robbie Amell, aka Fred from the Cartoon Network Scooby Doo live-action movies, which are Not Very Good. Robbie is also the cousin of the guy who plays Arrow on TV’s Arrow, so…
Simon Stagg is a character that’s appeared here and there, originally created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon in The Brave & The Bold #57. Stagg is the wealthy industrialist who bankrolled adventurer Rex Mason’s trip to Egypt. Stagg didn't like the fact that his daughter, Sapphire Stagg, had fallen for Mason, so he sent him to some musty-ass tomb and then had his bodyguard, Java, clobber Mason and leave him for dead. Oh, and did I mention that in the comics, Java is a caveman? Because he is. Anyway, in the tomb, Mason was exposed to a meteor and he became Metamorpho, the Element Man. The rest, as they say, is history, until there’s a capital-C Crisis or the New 52 hits or whatever.
Danielle Panabaker is maybe not the best choice for Caitlin. Everything out of the character’s mouth is wonky science-speak, and Panabaker seems to really be struggling to sell it. Hopefully she’ll get a little better at it, but it’s just not working for me.
I liked the pilot, but I kind of loved this episode. It’s still pretty CW-y, but it’s also a show that’s not afraid to be a little goofy and also has an abundance of heart.
During the break, I saw a commercial for Vampire Diaries, which is weird because last night I was watching an episode of The Good Wife from season 4 where Diane Lockhart is vetting herself for a possible state supreme court seat and Kalinda, the firm’s investigator, finds out that somebody using Diane’s computer is writing Vampire Diaries erotic fanfiction. Anyway, that was a kind of weird coincidence. Also, The Good Wife is a really good television program. That is all.
Grant Gustin looks an awful lot like John Mulaney when he’s in that suit.
They sure are killing off these villains willy-nilly, huh? I mean with Multiplex, they have an out, because he's just a bunch of clones and who's to say they got the Prime, really? But seriously, save some of these guys, Flash producers.
Do you think that Danton Black, aka Multiplex, made himself a mixtape that was just Björk’s “Army of Me” over and over?
FLASH-FORWARD: Future Happenings
The preview for next week’s episode promises that The Flash will fight a guy who can turn himself into poison gas and I’m trying really hard not to make really terrible fart jokes, so I’ll just see you next week, okay?