Last week, the pilot episode of The Flash drew nearly 5 million viewers, marking it the most watched premiere for The CW in five years. This week, “Fastest Man Alive” proves that this show is just getting started.
In keeping with the lighter tone, the show opens with a humorous narration about pointless superhero monologues and the desire to get to the action. The show obliges and we see Barry running around the city playing hero, despite everyone discouraging him from heroics. The overall arc of the episode is to take Barry through his own doubts and eventually solidify his role as The Flash. Barry is determined to be a hero, but he keeps being told that it is too dangerous. Eventually he internalizes this and decides to give up the costume when he is viciously beaten by the villain of this week’s episode, Multiplex. After some genuinely touching moments with his adoptive father and the team at S.T.A.R. labs, Barry dons the costume once more to face Multiplex.
Again, I found one of the strengths of the show to be the lighter tone they’re taking with the series. Barry Allen is a likable character and little touches, like him always being late despite being the fastest man alive, keep him grounded. In the comics Barry is always portrayed as a humble character and Grant Gustin is doing a great job of channeling that trait. His interactions with both Detective West (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris West (Candice Patton) feel genuine. It might have been a tad cheesy, but I enjoyed seeing Barry confess his feelings for Iris at super speed before she could even blink. I think the moments like this that showcase Barry’s personality through his varying uses of his powers are a real strength for the show.
I was impressed with the quality of the depiction of Barry’s powers and the action of the show. Despite the limitations of a network television show, I think the effects are solid and effective. The fights against Multiplex were put together nicely and felt brutal, while never being too over the top. There’s a scene where Multiplex copies himself hundreds of times and sends an army of his clones after Barry that stands out in particular. It draws you in and makes you feel just as overwhelmed as the hero.
This episode was not without its flaws. There were a couple of moments in the show that felt incredibly cliched and overly dramatic. These moments involved Barry Allen as both a child and an adult yelling at Detective West “You’re not my father.” It comes across too much like a soap opera and puts a stain on an otherwise complex and interesting relationship. Also, as with the pilot episode, the villain of this episode falls flat. He’s given a thin reason for wanting revenge on his old employer, but there’s no further exploration of his motivations.I hope that the show doesn’t feel obligated to do a ‘villain of the week’ for each episode. There’s potential for some season-long villains, especially with the introduction of Simon Stagg and the growing mystery of Dr. Harrison Wells. Hopefully the show can capitalize on some of that potential.
The Flash delivered another solid episode this week. The characters are developing nicely and the show has a lot of fun. There are a few rough spots, but these can be fixed easily in future episodes. The show has had a strong start and I can’t wait to see what happens next.