Tuesday, November 25, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Loses His Powers as Blackout Attacks STAR Labs & the Clock King Attacks the Precinct in 'Power Outage'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 1.07 "Power Outage"

The Flash goes up against Farooq aka Blackout, a meta-human who can harness electricity. During their battle, Blackout siphons all of Flash's electricity, leaving him without his speed. The group must figure out a way to save themselves when Blackout visits Wells, who he blames for his accident. Meanwhile, Tockman takes several people hostage at the Central City police department, but Eddie has a trick up his sleeve.

Isn't it a bit too soon to go to the "hero-loses-his-superpowers" plot? The Flash is only seven episodes into its debut season. Barry is still learning the extent of his powers. And then, he loses them for the majority of this episode's running time. However, the show uses the short time frame since Barry got his powers to the narrative's advantage. Barry loves having his powers. He loves helping people and being something more than just the forensic analyst at the local police precinct. That's a massive change-up to the typical superhero story. Barry is not a brooding leading man tormented and conflicted by the powers and journey thrusted upon him. That's the appeal of the show. It's just a lot of fun. There still is a certain level of darkness to Barry - the mystery of his mother's murder does that accordingly. And yet, one of the best aspects of the show is watching Barry almost getting mugged and laughing about it. That experience would usually be traumatizing. But now, Barry finds it almost unbelievable. He wants to live in the moment for as long as possible before he then disrobes the mugger and plants a police officer nearby. It's just fun watching Barry enjoy his powers.

That's way it feels so important halfway into this episode when Barry is explaining why he needs his powers back to Caitlin. This is something that needs to happen because it's an important and defining moment for his character progression. It's not that subtle at the top of the hour that Barry is still late to everything even though he is the fastest person in the world. He's still just focusing on running around town and helping the various people in need in the moment. Dr. Wells is aware that Barry is capable of so much more than that but Barry isn't focused on the possibilities of the future. It takes having his powers zapped away by Farooq - the latest meta-human dubbed posthumously as Blackout who can siphon electricity - for him to realize just how important they are.

But his powers aren't just important to Barry. They are important for many other people as well. The city has been attacked by several meta-humans over the past few weeks. Barry's speed and newfound skills have been the city's only protection. He has made a difference in this city. When people are in danger, they are now expecting The Flash to show up and save the day. But The Flash can't do that when he is no longer capable of being The Flash. It's a little disappointing that it takes Barry being confident in himself and his abilities in order to move quickly again. And yet, it is rewarding to see him rescue Wells after criticizing the doctor for using last week's meta-human - Tony Girder - as a way to distract Farooq for a bit. Wells is still incredibly shifty. He let Tony see him stand up which basically he means he was sending the Man of Steel to his death. But he obviously cares deeply about the future and The Flash's importance to it. And the future isn't set in stone either. It can change and it's up to Wells to put Barry on the right path. Both of them just have a bit of a learning curve to get used to in order to determine how to best fulfill the superhero Wells wants The Flash to become.

And then, there's the hostage situation going on over at the police precinct. William Tockman is the third character from Arrow to crossover to this show (following Oliver in the premiere and Felicity in the fourth episode). This plot is made almost totally worthwhile by Tockman and Joe going back and forth with quotes and their famous authors. That was dynamic. But this plot basically boiled down to another iteration of Iris being put into peril. She has become obsessed with The Flash. She figures he'll come save the day. But he doesn't because Barry is preoccupied elsewhere. It's up to Iris to fight her way out of Tockman's grasp. That's a slight improvement but not a substantial one. This plot ultimately just felt like a story to give Joe, Iris and Eddie something to do while the rest of the cast was trapped at STAR Labs.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Power Outage" was written by Alison Schapker & Grainne Godfree and directed by Larry Shaw.
  • How can Barry so proudly and confidently tell Iris that she's "worth being on time for" as The Flash when he can't share his real feelings as himself?
  • The Mist is now the only meta-human being held at STAR Labs. Also, it was revealed that each inmate has their own holding cell within the reactor. That's very important information to have. It would seem reckless to have all of them together talking with each other.
  • The tag shows Wells taking a sample of Farooq's blood to determine how he was able to rid Barry of his powers. That doesn't seem all that important. Definitely one of the weaker final teases.