Longtime fan of comic books and their various adaptations. Aspiring writer who works in advertising for nonce.
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CW’s highly-acclaimed series The Flash ended its freshman season with a bang, but the premiere last Tuesday night felt a little more like a whimper. The singularity that promised to bring so much change in May led to two beloved character deaths, but returned the survivors to their status quo over the course of an episode. There were a few moments that were especially lacking in the appropriate fallout, but maybe looking at them in detail could reveal clues to the rest of the season. Shall we?
Large-scale aftermath of the singularity: The Flash retired after the events of the finale, outside of cleaning up trash and patching up broken down buildings, but how is it that he’s been able to lay low for six months? Given the wormhole that erupted in ‘Fast Enough’, many fans were expecting to see a lot more than one Flash-y stalker and one lost metahuman tracking Barry down on Zoom’s behalf. Have all the metahumans been giving Barry time to grieve, or have Joe and Cisco been handling them alone since the finale? Perhaps the ambiguity is a symptom of The Flash’s freak-of-the-week recipe, but the fact remains that Atom Smasher giving up Zoom’s name before expiring lowered the stakes rather than raising them. If Zoom is meant to be a threat greater than even Eobard’s Reverse Flash, the show should have him wreak much more havoc in the next few episodes. How many people is he bribing or controlling, and how many of the upcoming enemies will be directly tied to the wormhole?
It’s not just the villains that weren’t up to par, though. While Barry went through his usual cycle of guilt, doubt and validation, several characters who suffered as much of a loss as he did were left without a chance to process it onscreen. Which leads me to wonder…
Iris West’s pain and continued silence: Iris has been a supportive best friend, daughter and girlfriend for the show’s entire run so far. But when it comes to voicing her own feelings and fears, The Flash often takes a step back. Now that her boyfriend committed suicide right before her eyes, we are shown Iris swallowing her pain when she sees his photograph and falling silent when Barry almost mentions him by name. This silence is understood as a personality trait due to Candice Patton’s expert portrayal, but as the other characters never talk about what she’s going through, it’s hard to know if the writers kept her quiet on purpose or by accident. She’s not the only one silenced in ‘The Man Who Saved Central City’, though. Joe lost a partner on his watch, something he was explicitly afraid of in early season one, and yet we don’t see if that’s affected his work as a detective. Cisco considered Ronnie family and spent half a season fighting to bring him back, but in the premiere he was only momentarily concerned with Caitlin’s feelings. Even Martin Stein didn’t get much of a chance to grieve for his other half. Will future episodes show how our cast of characters are handling their respective losses, or do we assume that the case is closed now that Barry’s guilt has been absolved?
There’s one more character whose emotional arc didn’t make much sense last night: Henry Allen. What happened?
Henry gets out of jail and promptly bails: After a season-long exploration of how losing his mother and not freeing his father has held Barry back in both his personal and heroic life, Henry Allen is released from prison thanks to a two-minute video confession. Instead of taking the time to explore how having his father back in his life will affect Barry as a man and superhero, the show immediately ships him off. This was the one moment that really took me out of the story, because I started wondering why they couldn’t secure John Wesley Shipp for more episodes rather than believing that Henry truly felt Barry would grow more without him. He even pointed out that Barry still had a family in Joe, Iris and the rest of the team. After an episode that was all about Barry needing his friends to succeed, why are we asked to accept that he doesn’t need his father?
This sounds like I thought the premiere was bad, but no. I’m as excited as everyone else for Jay Garrick and Zoom. It just felt like the show sacrificed the sort of character details that made its first season so memorable in favor of a mystery that hasn’t been satisfyingly laid out. If we find out Zoom is actually an alternate-universe Henry Allen who orchestrated the sudden departure – or if we learn the wormhole made it so that Iris and Eddie never lived together, thus the lack of concern for her grief – all will be forgiven. But for now I’m left hoping that our beloved characters will not be forgotten in the quest to make a bigger and badder villain.
Tatiana Hullender is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @MyrcellasEar
The Flash’s season premiere contained great twists and turns, but individual character arcs were sacrificed to setup an as-yet unsatisying mystery.