THE FLASH Mid Season Finale: Running Down A Different Road
With the surge of superhero movies & shows, ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ seem to have become the formula for sure fire success. However, one superhero TV show has created a universe that runs along a different path and in a way, is able to depict a golden age of super heroes on the small screen.
‘The Flash’ completed its first Mid Season Finale this week with an episode entitled ‘The Man In The Yellow Suit’, referring to the main villain of its first, and most likely coming seasons. This article will contain Spoilers for the first half of ‘The Flash’s first Season, so reader beware.
*SO MANY SPOILERS*
From the makers of ‘Arrow’, for whom the aforementioned formula has worked wonders as a television series set in the tone of Nolan’s Batman Franchise, ‘The Flash’ veers away from that kind of darkness to create a universe full of wonder and awe, reminiscent of an era where comic book stories invoked the same reaction in its readers. One of the ways the show does this, is by choosing a character who isn’t defined by tragic trauma, but rather is enhanced by his outlook on life, even before being given any powers.
This season spends some time introducing and establishing the character of Barry Allen, played wonderfully by Grant Gustin, who infuses the character with as much cheery disposition as quiet frustration. Gustin is not playing the typical superhero origin archetype character of a nerd become hero. Barry’s powers don’t give him a physical empowerment, nor does he learn intense survival skills due to hellish experiences. He is as much the idealistic and unnoticeable science kid after his powers, that he was before, almost like the Spider-Man of the DC Universe. This allows the character to retain his hope, and be a light to other characters around him, and basically be the quintessential superhero that all superheroes have always supposed to be; the personification of our best ideals and principles of morality that we all wish we had the courage to be ourselves.
Another reason why ‘The Flash’ stands out among other superhero shows on the air, is through it’s obligatory love interest, Iris West, played by Candice Patton. Let’s face it, the nerdy alter ego of the hero always needs an unrequited love story to round out his character. What’s different here, is that Iris West is a pretty put together character, as far as clueless love interests go.
Iris is a female character on a superhero show that seems to have self-respect and, more importantly, doesn’t do stupid shit. Sure, writing about ‘The Flash’ and opening herself up to danger may have seemed immaturely fan girl-ish, but when presented with an out of control Flash that beat the crap out of her boyfriend, she got over her obsession quick, which is what can be expected from any loyal girlfriend. Unlike ‘Gotham’s Barbara Kean, played by Erin Richards, who forced her honest boyfriend cop to share his dangerous work life with her, only to be so traumatized by it that she ends up cheating on him with a woman cop whose work life is just as dangerous as his! Not to mention being sent away to be protected, only to do stupid shit like returning and being kidnapped by the bad guys to be used as leverage against the hero.
Iris is also a character that is pretty aware and mature, given that in the time that Barry Allen has become The Flash, she has suspected multiple times of him hiding something from her, as recently as the Mid Season Finale episode, where she attempted to ask Caitlyn Snow about it. This is quite a departure from other superhero shows where we got a Lana Lang played by Kristin Kreuk in ‘Smallville’, who, despite the most ridiculous excuses for Clark’s absence during heroic instances, hadn’t the slightest clue that anything was going on.
The plot points of ‘The Flash’, the ones at least which are full of comic book references, recognizable characters and storylines which make us comb through DC Comic Book history in an attempt to hypothesize where it’s going, can be criticized based on their varying degrees of effective-ness. However, the most difficult story elements to endure are unanimously the ones that are crammed in due to appealing to a certain demographic given the network on which the show airs. Most notably, the emotional relationship and love story angles that ‘Arrow’ has often been criticized for are much more toned down in ‘The Flash’.
Just take the Mid Season Finale episode for example, where Barry professes his love to Iris without any melodramatic delays, but rather in a simple, straightforward and logical manner. Other shows drag out this one sided love story for multiple Seasons, before the love interest even gets a clue of the hero’s interest in her. And even after the reveal of such an important sub plot, the episode doesn’t uncomfortably linger or have awkward follow ups, now are there dramatic shift in status quo like Iris giving her boyfriend Eddie back his key after being asked to move in with him earlier in the episode. But instead, we got a Barry who is (or seemed to be) okay with their relationship, at least for now, allowing the characters and the audience to move on with the rest of the cooler parts of the series.
With its bright outlook and a skill for showcasing the fun and lighter elements of being a superhero, ‘The Flash’ is able to do things in a manner that the gritty tone of ‘Arrow’ simply cannot. When ‘Arrow’ had to slowly build the reveal of super powered individuals through the use of a miracle serum, ‘The Flash’ can give us a full reveal of a man with his head and hands on fire, flying off into the night… and it’s spectacular.
‘The Flash’s tone, while grounded in science and still the real world, can allow for such fantastical things to take place, without being cheesy or impossible, but rather invoke a sense of wonderment and excitement that harkens to that same elation felt when reading comic books.
‘The Man In The Yellow Suit’s ending sees Harrison Wells look like he was hanging up the Reverse Flash costume, implying that he is the man in the yellow suit. But how is that possible when both of them were seen together in the same room, and one even beat up the other? There are a few theories to this.
Why Didn’t Reverse Flash Kill/Attack Eddie?
This is the same question that Eddie himself asks Joe near the end of the episode, after coming face to face with Reverse Flash, and walking away untouched, unlike everyone else in the same room. Although dismissed by Joe, it’s a pretty good question. Why didn’t Reverse Flash touch Eddie? Unless of course hurting Eddie would in some way affect his own existence. Maybe implying that Eddie Thawne IS Reverse Flash in the future and will become him sometime during the course of the series, meaning he would travel back in time to meet his younger self in this episode.
Eobard Thawne is the name of one version of Reverse Flash in the comics. Since day one, everyone’s assumed that Detective Eddie Thawne will have reason to become a bad guy through certain circumstances affecting his life. This was more credible when he headed up a taskforce to catch Flash after being assaulted by him. This seems more likely now, after Barry’s emotional revelation to Iris, especially if it ends with Eddie being left in the cold, giving him more reason to hate Barry, and in turn, Flash.
Harrison Wells & Reverse Flash In Cahoots?
The most logical theory is if both these guys are working together. This episode saw Reverse Flash stealing the Tachyon gizmo, but the ending saw Wells with the same device, attaching it to the Reverse Flash costume. Wells’ trap to capture Reverse Flash could’ve been designed more to allow Wells to study the future Reverse Flash’s powers and create the suit, to be given to Thawne later on, making him become the Reverse Flash in the first place, somewhere along the story.
Regardless, all will be revealed when ‘The Flash’ returns to The CW on January 20th, 2015. Let me know what you most like / dislike about ‘The Flash’ and share your theories are as well!