The Flash returned this week with an episode that was more focused on the supporting cast than Barry Allen himself. Things moved a little slower as the show introduced Ronnie Raymond and built on his association with S.T.A.R. Labs. It was an interesting episode, but one that suffered from another boring villain and hitting repetitive notes.
The team at S.T.A.R. Labs is brought in to assist on an unusual homicide case involving poisonous gas. This not only allows for the show to address the deaths of the first two villains, it is the springboard for repurposing their collider as a prison for super villains. It’s slowly discovered that the gas in the victims lungs is sentient, prompting Cisco to name the villain of the week ‘The Mist.’ Barry can’t fight somebody made of gas in a traditional way, so it was cool to see him using his brains as well as his powers. Interspersed throughout the episodes are flash backs to the night of the collider disaster. These work to great effect in building up Caitlin’s character and introducing Ronnie Raymond as a hero worthy of his eventual transformation into the hero Firestorm.
Caitlin Snow takes the center stage in this week’s episode, allowing viewers to get to know her better along with Barry. It’s a good indication of the strength of the supporting cast that this works so well. Few shows would chance stepping away from their main character this early in the season, but it works well here. Caitlin, and to a lesser degree Cisco, are fleshed out through their tragedies. We learn about how the death of Ronnie, Caitlin’s fiance and lead engineer on the collider project, and how it has shaped these characters. The Flash could have overshadowed these secondary characters, but the writers are handling them so well that they hold their own.
Barry has some good scenes this week, especially involving this weeks villain. It’s nice to see that the writers are giving him limitations and emphasizing his scientific training and intelligence. It humanizes a character that could easily be portrayed as a god. It’s also nice to see Caitlin and Barry getting closer, with the possibility of a romantic future for the characters.
Again, the villain of this week’s episode is the biggest problem. The Mist has some cool powers that look good on the screen, but that’s about all he has going for him. He’s out for revenge against the people who imprisoned him and sentenced him to death. We’re not sure what his crimes were or why he doesn’t just use his second life to escape Central City. The show does such a good job of making viewers care about the protagonists, it’s a little surprising how poorly the villains are handled. Hopefully with the introduction of Captain Cold next week, the villains will start getting the attention they deserve.
Another issue I had with this episode is that I felt like it hit too many of the same notes as the previous episodes. Barry lashes out at Detective West unfairly once again. Barry reminds the viewers in his closing monologue that he will always be running to find his mother’s killer. Every episode ends with Barry introducing some optimism into this dark lesson he’s learned. It’s fine to do occasionally, but every episode gets to be too much. Finally, the three episodes have all hinted at a larger mystery behind Dr. Wells. The first two episodes the hint felt organic and far more intriguing while this week’s fell flat. I fear that the show will be focused on keeping these patterns up to the detriment of the episode.
‘Thing You Can’t Outrun’ builds up Caitlin and Cisco with a good back story and introduces the viewers to the tragic hero Ronnie Raymond. I’m excited to see how his storyline develops. Unfortunately, the villain of the episode fell flat once again. However, the interaction of the protagonists is enough to keep the show going strong into future episodes.