In my opinion, this episode of The Flash was the best so far. Having got into the swing of things with their DC TV shows CW have real confidence in their writer’s abilities. Although you have the occasional filler episode many instalments of The Flash and Arrow are given the same gravitas and effort as feature films. The writers behind these shows are fans of the source material and write every episode as their dream story for the character. Almost as if these are the kind of things they fantasized about seeing in the character’s movies.
Iris West’s inner monologue as she writes her blog serving as the narration in the prologue of this episode was a nice touch. Many of the scenes in this week’s episode were proof of how well the character of The Flash works on-screen. This is an incredibly visual comic book character that is practically made for TV. It has excellent potential to create amazingly visually pleasing action set pieces. The fight scenes in this episode and those previous are evidence of this. Speaking of the action scenes, what I thought was a step forward about the action scenes in this episode was that unlike previously Allen is very hands-on. Previously Allen has found clever ways of running rings around his enemies using speed and quick thinking, in this episode he was forced to combat a very physical assailant with physicality. This is a good step forward for the character, although the smarter tactics are something that need to stay as they are traits of the character, for Allen to be cemented as a superhero he needs to occasionally show that he isn’t afraid to get physical with the villains.
Now lets talk about the character of Eddy, the complexity of the writing of this character and the story lines are surprisingly complex. In any other show he would be the character that Barry and the audience hates. However, a testament to the writing of the show is that you can’t help but like the guy. He isn’t an ass to Barry regardless of the fact that Barry is competition, in fact in this episode he acknowledged this fact. He also revealed that he felt threatened by Barry initially because of this, but in early episodes he treat Barry as a friend despite this. He also went out of his way to help Barry in this episode and revealed that in his school days he was just like him. If this was another show Eddy would be a complete douche that we are all supposed to hate. However, once again the show puts us in Barry’s shoes, because Ed is with Iris Barry should hate him, but he just can’t find any justifiable reason to dislike the guy. We are experiencing the same conflict as Barry, we want to dislike Ed because we are rooting for Barry, but is Ed all that bad?
Another way that The Flash deviates from the other shows in its genre is in the area of side characters. In many superhero TV shows or just science fiction shows in general, Cisco and Caitlin would be comic relief. The disturbing trend in action orientated shows is that the scientist characters are always annoying and there to just crack jokes while contributing nothing but the occasional moment of utility when the hero needs to know something technical. The Flash does not fall into this trap of lazy writing. Cisco and Caitlin are of key importance, many times Barry would be dead without them. Though they aren’t strong in the same way as Barry or the other meta-humans that feature on the show, they find other ways to contribute in times of crisis, often being the ones that take control and turn a bad situation into a win when things are going wrong.With their science knowledge they are able to give Barry advice when he is devoid of a plan; they can save Barry when he needs medical attention; even provide him with crucial information when he is fighting crime. Not to mention the fact that unlike their kind of character in other shows, Cisco and Caitlin are actually likeable. Cisco’s writing and delivery is spot on when it comes to comedy moments, he is just genuinely funny.
The dialogue in this episode was thick with DC comics references and foreshadowing to key events in the character’s future. For example, there is a moment at STAR Labs when the team are discussing how The Flash can beat Girder. Cisco suggests that Barry run at the speed of light to create a sonic boom, Allen responds: “I’ve never gone that fast!” Harrison Wells simply responds: “…yet” This is foreshadowing to events in the comics which no doubt will happen in the show at some point, when Allen runs at the speed of light. He runs so quick that he travels through time. By referencing time travel they are also referencing Reverse Flash in a secondary way. As The Reverse Flash is the villain with Barry’s powers from the future who travels back through time. There is also a nice little moment when the team are discussing the villain, Girder. It is said that the villain they are going up against is a man who can turn himself into steel. The line that then comes out of Harrison Wells was a lovely little reference that isn’t blatant but not too obscure at the same time: “Interesting…a man of steel”.
The idea about the sonic boom being able to combat Girder was genius, the scene in which they described it was brilliant, it made so much sense which is odd given the nature of the show. The CW have cleverly made a character whose power isn’t strength, strong. Using the science of velocity they have made Barry super strong in a believable way without giving him any additional powers. It was simply that anything can give off a powerful force should it be moving quick enough. Luckily for Barry he is the fastest man alive and can isolate his power to one body part, meaning he can punch as hard as characters with super strength simply by making his arm move at a high velocity. What appears to be a hard punch doesn’t have a whole lot of muscle behind it, is just moving with the right amount of force to give off the same effect as being hit by someone who is unnaturally strong.
The sonic punch moment in the final fight was triumphant, The Flash’s theme chiming in when he began building up speed was masterfully done as was the actual punch itself, it looked awesome. The right dialogue from the characters in the build up to the final blow was well judged. Cisco celebrating added to the moment as well, he is the fan base in a character. Him shouting “Super sonic punch baby! Wooo!” after The Flash bursts through the school doors, sails through the air and lands a punch on Girder at the speed of light was the cherry on top. I think I will find myself re-watching that scene a lot.