Tuesday, October 6, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Learns He Needs a Team In Order to Protect the City in 'The Man Who Saved Central City'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 2.01 "The Man Who Saved Central City"

Picking up months after the singularity, Barry is still struggling to forgive himself for Eddie's death. Concerned about putting his friends in danger, Barry has pushed everyone away and has chosen to protect the city on his own. When a meta-human named Atom Smasher attacks, Iris tells Barry that he needs to let his friends help him. Cisco helps Joe with his Meta Task Force.

The first season of The Flash ended on an emotionally devastating moment. Eddie killed himself in order to stop Harrison's evil plan. A singularity opened over Central City threatening to destroy everything everyone cares about in the process. The Flash raced to stop it but he and the team didn't know if he could. "The Man Who Saved Central City" opens on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. The city is grateful for all the work the Flash does to keep them safe. The Flash and Firestorm are facing off against Captain Cold and Heat Wave once again. They triumph and return to STAR Labs to celebrate with Caitlin, Cisco, Joe and Iris. And then, Eddie and Harrison show up to prove that not all is what it seems. This premiere deals with many complicated emotional and plot-based issues. Some of them are really affecting. Others less so. This hour does play as an introduction to whatever is coming next. And yet, that is still really entertaining.

Six months after the singularity almost destroyed the world, Central City celebrates the Flash who saved all of them that day. He is the hero they idolize. To Barry though, he doesn't deserve such recognition. Back on that fateful day, all he did was stabilize the singularity. It was Firestorm who was able to split the event horizons bringing these two worlds together in violent fashion. Barry was able to save Professor Stein but not Ronnie. He was the second member of the team to die that day. That realization is heartbreaking. He and Caitlin just got married and now he has been taken away. Sure, his dead body is never seen. So hope still exists that he'll return someday. But right now, the team is dealing with the complicated emotions of both his and Eddie's deaths. That day changed all of their lives. The city saw the Flash and the world as it truly is. But Barry saw it as the day where the risks of saving the world took two friends away from him.

To keep anyone else from dying, Barry distances himself from the team. He's determined to continue fighting against meta-humans by himself. He can't risk anyone else getting into harm's way because of him. He is now the hero carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders - a quality frequently on display over on Arrow. Barry has not been that type of character in the confines of a superhero series. The bonds he has with the fellow members of his team and his optimism about the good he can do with his powers has always made him stand out as a hero. It's no surprise that this hour is about Barry accepting the fact that he simply cannot do that alone. It's just perhaps a tad too formulaic that keeps it from being an enjoyable season opener.

The team is able to come back together when Barry faces off with a meta-human who he just can't stop alone. The Atom Smasher strikes during the big Flash Day celebration where the Mayor was giving the Flash the key to the city. It's a reward Barry doesn't feel he deserves. And yet, he goes in order to maintain the sense of hope throughout the city that a hero is still watching over them. The Atom Smasher isn't the best meta-human this show has ever done. His inclusion in the premiere's story only has two purposes - to bring the team back together and to issue a warning of the evil that's about to come. Barry goes up against the Atom Smasher several times. He is only able to emerge victorious when the team comes up with a plan to stop him. They eliminate the threat. It's something that still effects Barry deeply but it had to be done. And then, the Atom Smasher was able to tease that Zoom is coming to this universe. He is targeting Barry. So he's going to need the team's support in order to handle this new foe.

If all of that wasn't enough to include in this episode, Barry also receives one final message from the deceased Harrison Wells. It seems he has left STAR Labs to Barry in his will. But more importantly, he confesses to the murder of Barry's mom in a video message. Henry is soon released from prison. This has quickly shifted to being the happiest day of Barry's life. He is surrounded by friends and family who support him with everything that he does. Henry's big speech about needing to leave the city because Central City needs the Flash more than Henry Allen's son came slightly out of nowhere. It will mostly explain why John Wesley Shipp isn't in most episodes of the show now that Henry has been released. And yet, the strong emotions of the scene are able to carry the message through. Barry is surrounded by a team of love and support. He will continue to do great things as the Flash. Now, it's time for this season to actually move forward in a more exciting direction.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Man Who Saved Central City" was directed by Ralph Hemecker with story by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg and teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Gabrielle Stanton.
  • It's fantastic that the show acknowledges just how poor the security was at STAR Labs last season. And yet, that's what makes Teddy Sears' introduction as Jay Garrick so fantastic in the end. He's not where he's suppose to be and he's delivering an ominous threat about this world being in danger. 
  • Joe has also started a Meta-Human Task Force for the police department. But so far, it seems like it's just him and Cisco. Sure, that's a very effective team. They will probably need more help in the future though.
  • Dr. Stein made the smooth transition into the scientific mentor figure of the team. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts considering he's slated to star in the next spinoff of the franchise, Legends of Tomorrow.
  • It doesn't appear as if Eobard being erased from this timeline has effected much else in this world. That's probably a good thing too considering this show probably couldn't handle that kind of mess.
  • I've missed Cisco so damn much. It's great to see him again - even with him getting more glimpses of his own superpower.