Marvel may have a death grip on the box office when it comes to their cinematic universe, but WB has let them know that DC has its sights set on the production house juggernaut and is coming to take some of the wind out of their sails. Well, at least, they plan on giving it the old college try! While the big screen showdown won’t actually heat up until Batman v. Superman hits theaters in 2016, DC is already making its mark on the small screen and while Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has improved by leaps and bounds upon its freshman season, DC unleashed a secret weapon this season: CW’s The Flash. Last night’s episode of the new series, Plastique, was another great example of why Marvel should be worried about DC’s future on television. Mild spoilers ahead.
How often do you think about why your friends came into your life? Was it random? By design? Or, maybe a little of both? Regardless of the reason, some friends, you just know, are going to be by your side for a while. Others, you’re not so sure.
In the usual voiceover introduction, Barry Allen gave viewers a bit to chew on while they were watching the latest episode. Barry’s friendship with the S.T.A.R. team took the forefront of the episode and really demonstrated the bond that they already share. Sure, the team had been working together for quite some time by the time Barry woke up from his coma but now, Barry is a fully integrated member of the team, for better or worse. In addition, Barry’s relationship with Iris was definitely tested and even though we all know where they end up, it was a bit heart breaking to see that Barry finally understands the sacrifice he must make in order to protect those he loves. The friendship theme ran throughout last night’s episode and brought up another pretty great question: what makes a villain? In Plastique, The Flash was up against a metahuman by the name of Bette Sans Souci who could turn anything she touches into a powerful bomb. The interesting thing about Bette is that she is the first “villain” that The Flash, sorry, The Streak (am I the only one that thinks of dirty undies every time I hear that name?) has had to fight that isn’t a true baddie. In fact, she is more a victim of circumstance and it may have even cool to see her join up with Barry in future episodes, if not for the bummer of an ending.
CW wasn’t content with bringing in just one baddie in this episode and viewers were also introduced to General Wade Eiling. This Eiling felt a lot like Marvel’s General Ross but, hey, I suppose army generals have a certain demeanor and attitude or, at least, the reputation of those gruff traits, so I suppose the resemblance to the future Red Hulk can be forgiven. General R..er…Eiling is an enemy of The Atom, so his inclusion may clear the path to another Flash/Arrow crossover, as Brandon Routh is confirmed that his Ray Palmer will indeed don The Atom’s costume on Arrow sooner than later. Then again, perhaps it’s just another testament to the fact that Arrow and The Flash live in the same universe.
As with almost every episode thus far, the story itself only had a few shortcomings and the actors were at the top of their game. The main issue with the episode is Barry’s relationship with Iris. Fans of The Flash’s comic book counterpart know that Iris will eventually wind up as Barry’s wife. CW being CW, however, isn’t content with just hinting at the future of the couple through the series – they are only happy when their viewers are being hit over the head with the relationship and it is getting a bit tiresome. We get it. Barry loves Iris, Iris isn’t interested, Barry gets sad. It’s a story that millions of people on the planet share in the real world and a taste of that disappointment every now and then really can create a solid connection between The Flash and its viewers. However, throwing it in the viewers’ faces with every single episode takes a bit away from that connection and, instead, winds up dragging down the episode with the same soap opera flavor that causes many people to avoid the CW network altogether. Yes, a bit of drama is absolutely crucial in order to develop the characters and their relationships. That being said, it’s a safe bet that I am not the only fan of the series that already thoroughly understands the relationship and, at this point, it’s just getting a bit tedious, even after the ending of last night’s episode.
Another trope the show is using to drive the plot forward that is wearing a bit thin is Dr. Harrison Wells’ villainous intent. Obviously, his true identity is one of the mysteries at the heart of the series and the creators behind the scenes aren’t about to give us the big reveal less than a half dozen episodes into the series. Still, do we really need proof of Wells’s evilness at this point? The point was already out there in the open at the end of the pilot episode and it seems that every episode (again) insists on bashing us over the head with that knowledge. Is it fun to speculate a bit on his true identity? Sure! Is he Professor Zoom aka Reverse Flash sent from the future? Perhaps he is a future version of Barry? Hell, at this point, Wells could even turn out to be some version of Cobalt Blue. The bit of history revealed in Plastique does touch on more noble intentions than we have seen before through a flashback to Gorilla Grodd that got me SUPER stoked, in which Wells seemed to have his patient’s best interest at hard. In the end, however, it’s just more of the same. Harrison Wells is a bad guy pretending to be a good guy. We get it.
Honestly, my issues with the episode, and the series as a whole, are only found once I nitpick through the treasure that DC has bestowed upon comic book fans. The Flash continues to satisfy on every level, even with the small flaws that can be found if you look hard enough. DC has given audiences plenty to choose from this year: Arrow returned to CW for its third season (which is already highly praised), Constantine debuted to great reviews on NBC, and Gotham has made it through its growing pains to present a pretty great crime drama over on FOX. Of all of these offerings, The Flash has moved to the front of the pack as not only the strongest series but the most fun series as well. I am definitely hoping that CW tries a bit harder to separate the soap opera from the awesomeness but chances are good that even with the soap opera, viewers will be watching this one for at least a couple more seasons.
Here’s a promo for next week’s episode, The Flash Is Born.
How do you feel about the series so far? Am I the only one who thinks the Iris/Barry relationship is getting a bit old? Any thoughts on who Wells may be?