Flash "The Man Who Saved Central City" Review
The second season of the Flash hit the ground running (pun not intended), as it tied up the monster cliffhanger of the first season, introduced a brand-new villain in the form of Atom Smasher (played by WWE veteran Adam "Edge" Copeland), and started us off with what will become the major conflict for this season. It's not a bad start--it actually accomplished far more than what one normally expects of a season opener.
The episode begins with Flash absolutely trouncing Captain Cold and Heat Wave, two of his fiercest rivals from the last season, only to reveal itself as an elaborate dream sequence. In the interrim of Flash saving the city from the singularity that threatened the entire planet at the end of season one, "Team Flash" seems to have disbanded. I think if I had one main problem with an episode that I mostly loved, it'd be that there was too neat of a bow placed on the end of season one. To help close the singularity, Firestorm split apart in the center of it--costing Ronnie his life a second time. To begin with, I've never been a fan of killing characters that were originally thought dead or seemingly killed on screen only to be revealed as alive and well later. The transition from "Oh thank goodness, we thought you died" to "I can't believe he actually died this time" has always felt like lazy writing. But worse, how on Earth did the events of last season not cause some kind of time paradox? Thawne's ancestor killed himself, which meant Thawne never existed, so he couldn't go back in the past, which should mean...ugh. Nevermind. This is why so many hero characters hate time travel.
Anyway, the rest of the episode is fairly solid, focused around Barry's new desire to do things alone after feeling at fault for the events of "Fast Enough", and the secret of Atom Smasher--a new rogue with superpowers...who also mysteriously seems to be dead. Though long-time comic book fans already know this is heading towards the introduction of Earth-Two, I'm absolutely in love with the way they're doing it. For newcomers how there can be two Albert Rothsteins is a mystery that will unfold in the next episode, but for fans of the Flash and DC in general, this reveal is a long-time coming.
And on that note, I'd just like to pause and say that I love how unashamedly comic book-y this show is. Last season actually introduced Z-List rogues like the Golden Glider and Rainbow Raider and made us take them seriously, while this season is delving into the multiverse and has dialogue like, "How'd you think of this?" "I dunno, I read it in a comic book." It's a far sight, and a welcome change from the days of Smallville and the "Red-Blue Blur". I'm also loving how the series is gradually transforming Central City into this town that loves the Flash. Bear in mind, Barry's the only hero who has an entire museum devoted to him.
If I had any other real complaint for this episode, it'd be the inexplicable way they handle Barry's dad. A recording of Dr. Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne has him completely confess for the murder of Nora Allen, allowing Barry's father to finally go free. It leads to some very touching, heartfelt moments that I'm all for...until the guy reveals that he's planning to leave Central City. For what? He gives some speech about Barry not being able to be "The Flash" if his dad's around but...newsflash. He's had a "dad" for all of season one already. Barry can't have TWO father figures because his original is black and to have a white one around isn't progressive enough? Wouldn't having two dads be progressive in itself? And in the first place, if Thawne hates Barry so much, why give Barry what's basically the ultimate gift in finally freeing his father? None of this makes any sense.
Still, that's actually a rather small blight on an otherwise great way to open the episode--and even if I find fault with the execution, the bottomline is that covers nearly every loose thread from season one, leaving the writers open to do whatever they want with season two, which is seemingly going to focus on increasing the number of speedsters in Central City. First up: Jay Garrick, the "Original" Flash. As a longtime fan of the Justice Society, I can't wait.