TV - The Flash Season 1, Episode 1

The Flash

Steve Hendry with his fast paced thoughts on The Flash pilot...

The Flash is, well… you know The Flash. You’ve read the comic books, played as him on Injustice, and got the t-shirt like Sheldon Cooper’s. Except you don’t know him yet, not in the context of this series anyway. This isn’t a straight lift from page to screen and New 52 rules certainly don’t appear to apply, Barry clearly fancies Iris, but it’s her that doesn’t see it. Fear not though continuity freaks, with Geoff Johns on the scriptwriting team this is guaranteed to be a thrilling ride. The Flash is very much set now, ‘now’ being if you’re up to date with Arrow, but you don’t need to have watched Arrow at all to enjoy it. Arrow is reviewed on this site by the editor and I won’t be queering his pitch in these reviews. But some of this episode’s goings-on have already happened in Arrow. But they’re new as far as we’re concerned. Confused? Don’t be. This first episode is as accessible to newcomers to the DC television universe as it is possible to be, yet is replete with more easter eggs than a branch of Thornton’s in March. So strap in, and enjoy the ride with the Scarlet Speedster!

Unusually for a comic book superhero, Barry Allen was bullied as a kid and has parent issues. Ha. Barry’s origin story has a little more to it than most lazy recycling of the dead parents trope though; his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp) is serving time for the murder of Nora Allen, his ma, after an alien force ripped through the family home. It’s easy to see how Barry later ended up as a forensic analyst for Central City P.D. at such a young age; his predecessors were clearly going to work on an LSD breakfast if they managed to find evidence against Henry from that crime scene. The childhood background stuff is done with quickly, with a glimpse of the sexy effects we can expect throughout this series, the fish tank being especially cool.

Bringing us into the present day, at the scene of a fatal bank robbery, we meet Joe West (Jesse L Martin) and his partner Martin Clyne. West is the CCPD detective who’s been a third parent to Barry since that life-changing experience. All grown up, Barry (Grant Gustin) has a keen eye and nose for his job, and steers West and Clyne toward well-known local wrong-‘uns the Mardon brothers. We meet Iris (Candice Patton), Joe West’s daughter, who is oblivious to the clumsy and unreliable Barry’s tongue dragging on the floor whenever she’s around. She slings poor Barry straight into the friendzone on their way to Star Labs’ big press conference.

Now, a slow-paced Smallville-type series this is not. From the next scene, and the introduction of Star Labs’ top banana Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) at said conference, events move at an incredibly brisk pace. During Wells’ big speech, Iris’ bag is whipped from her shoulder, giving Barry the chance to become her hero. Unfortunately for him, suave copper Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) steals his thunder, catching Iris’ eye in the process. You know that feeling when that girl you fancy doesn’t notice you, then she swoons over some ponce in a suit, you arrive home after a beating from a street urchin, get struck by a lightning bolt from a freak storm caused by a dodgy particle accelerator, then spend nine months in a coma? All that was missing was “Bad Day” by REM playing in the background.

Following up on Barry’s tip, detective West and his partner confront the Mardon brothers as the storm brews. Mark and Clyde escape in a light aircraft which doesn’t get far before the storm disintegrates their getaway plane in mid-air.

Fast forward nine months, and Barry wakes to the friendly faces of Cisco Ramone and Caitlin Snow, who work for the dodgy Harrison Wells. I don’t like him. He’s sly and creepy and he’s up to no good. Of course he starts running time trials on Our Baz, and Cisco gets all excited, he’s getting a good ‘vibe’ from all this. Sorry. Joking aside though, there’ll be plenty of kids wanting a pair of those trainers. There won’t be many takers for the comedy suit Barry’s bombing around the track in though. Barry confronts the shady Wells, who reveals the truth about the storm. “You’re not a hero” he tells Barry. I think he’s jealous of his haircut and trainers.

While Barry’s been in a coma for nine months, Clyde Mardon has been somewhat busier, reinventing himself as Weather Wizard and robbing banks. Yet it’s Iris whose change of direction in life is more concerning for Barry. She’s taken up with Eddie Thawne, Joe’s new partner, while Barry’s been asleep.

Like I said before, Arrow reviews are to be found elsewhere on this site and very good they are too. If you’re not a regular Arrow viewer though, the rooftop meeting between Oliver and Barry is still pretty straightforward, and exciting. The two series will cross over later in the year and The Cult Den will be there!

Barry enlists Cisco and Caitlin to catch Weather Wizard, but Joe and Eddie arrive ahead of them. They find a Clyde Mardon who’s developed something of a God Complex. Thankfully our hero agrees with Oliver Queen rather than Harrison Wells, decides he is a hero and unravels a tornado, forcing an apology from Joe in the process. Keeping Iris’ secret from Joe isn’t going to end well, especially when Eddie’s alter-ego is eventually revealed.

The closing sequence is revealing to say the least. We’re surely clearer now about two things, firstly that Harrison Wells is at it with a snide benefits claim and I’m phoning the social. Secondly, he’s rebuilt his business in the style of Biff in Back to the Future, combining time travel with a Racing Post subscription. The big reveal is that newspaper front page though, and it surely wouldn’t be there at all if the CW network weren’t going to deliver on it.

I’m not going to use any ‘fast-paced’ gags here, suffice to say though that this pilot has done its job with style and efficiency. Grant Gustin may not be the DC Movie Universe’s Flash, but based on the CW’s output, along with Gotham, against what’s planned by Warner Brothers post-Nolan, the television series look set to wipe the floor with the films. Cracking stuff here and a good standard set, let’s just hope The Flash doesn’t slow down. No, not even sorry.

Image - CW.