The pilot episode was a fairly strong start, it was a bit shaky at first but with sparks of promise. I had very high hopes for the show given the success of its cousin show, Arrow which I enjoy every week. Due to my high hopes and that The Flash hasn’t yet hit its stride I was cooler on the pilot episode than I would have liked to be. It was good, but nothing Earth shattering, fortunately this episode I found myself internally saying; “that’s more like it”.
This episode was really enjoyable and raised my opinion of the show in a single episode. Cleverly, the CW have taken the hit on the pilot episode so that in the further instalments they can hit us with everything they have. My theory is that the reason I was slightly lukewarm on the pilot was because they were using that episode to lay the foundations. The writers were getting all of the establishing out-of-the-way so that they do not have to waste any time in the future. The pilot episode had to be used to establish The Flash’s origin story and his relationships with secondary characters. They have effectively built all of these foundations in the first episode so that now they can start testing them. It wouldn’t have made sense for the producers to start testing the bonds in Barry Allen’s life straight out of the gate.
The other reason that this episode was so much fun was because they have already began pushing the limits of Barry’s powers as well as factoring them into an action scene. We got a better look at how The Flash’s powers look close-up, previously we have only seen a lightning flash bouncing around the birds eye view of a city like a pinball as well as the occasional shot of Barry jumping through the air to catch someone. In this episode we were treat to a full view of The Flash’s powers just as they are properly turned on. This view came in a scene in which Barry was once again undergoing tests at STAR labs. Allen was running on a treadmill, we were able to see the full appearance of The Flash’s powers as his speed escalates. Building up from a jog Allen eventually makes it into a sprint and then, a blur. When Barry has been running in the form of a grey smudge for a while orange sparks begin to crackle from the blur. This of course is the Speed Force, this is an intrinsic part of Barry Allen’s power; when he begins to run, I mean really run the blur stuff was just jogging for him, he can access the Speed Force. I assume at some stage that The Flash will go into the Speed Force in more detail but from the comics the Speed Force is the true drive behind The Flash’s powers, with it he can move through walls and even travel through time.
As for injecting The Flash into scenes of action this episode did it beautifully. The writers have handled Barry Allen very well in my opinion, he wants to be a hero and save people but he isn’t a warrior. He isn’t the best fighter in the world by any stretch of the imagination, in this episode he actually gets his arse handed to him in a fight with six people. The show has a unique appeal, in that the hero isn’t amazing at everything, he just has powers and is trying to work out how to use them effectively to the ends that he desires which is to save people. Though Barry comes into his own a bit more in the episode, working out the best way to use his powers to combat assailants in at least one scenario, previously he is getting through altercations by the skin of his teeth. The final confrontation between Barry and Multiplex had the best of both worlds, you were still able to relate to Barry as he wasn’t destroying the competition the whole time, he was struggling. However, he did seem to have much more of a handle on his powers, he managed to seem quite competent in the fight scene, taking out multiple assailants. So you get the entertainment of seeing a hero that can annihilate the villains while still having relate able and engaging action. Though it is nice to see a superhero that isn’t amazing at everything for once it will be fun in the future to see Allen become more competent at fighting. The Flash’s powers have great potential for chaotic and entertaining fight scenes, the scene in which Multiplex creates hundreds of clones, The Flash sprinting through the crowd throwing replicas aside left and right on his way to the original is just a taste of this.
Something to mention is also the quality of directing in this episode from David Nutter, Nutter’s directing complemented the action perfectly. Nutter displayed an eye for action on the screen providing just the right angles to show enough of the action and creating a desired reaction to what was happening on-screen. Blake Neely delivers another excellent superhero soundtrack gaining momentum from the quality score work he is doing on The Flash’s sister show, Arrow. The deep universe work being done by CW in Arrow and The Flash goes as far as the soundtrack, it isn’t enough for them that the two shows should crossover in the odd episode, they also want continuity in the soundtrack. When the Arrow (Green Arrow) appears on The Flash or vice-versa their themes go with them.
The relationships are also realistic, which is surprising given that the show is about a man who can literally run at the speed of light, the pilot including him running around a tornado created by a meta-human, the opposite way to stop it in its tracks. The producers are aware that you can’t relate to a character that is perfect at everything which is why he isn’t automatically amazing at combat and why he desires a woman that doesn’t see him that way. People adore flawed characters with issues. Obviously in this instance the problems I am talking about aren’t the appearance of a villain that is trying to rob banks by duplicating himself, real issues like self-doubt or doubt from others.