Fans have been impatiently waiting for The Flash to debut ever since Grant Gustin appeared as ‘Barry Allen’ on an episode of Arrow. After getting a glimpse of what was to come and how he would acquire his powers, the stage was set for what many hoped would be a faithful comic to television adaptation of another favorite DC Comics hero. And for the most part this episode of The Flash is exactly that. Twists and origin tweaks aside, this is a fun and exciting show that is a very welcome contrast to the dark and grittiness of Arrow or Gotham. It really does try to capture the essence of Flash and the world around him, and we see the beginnings of that right here.
As can be expected, there is plenty of world building here, and the story begins with a flashback showing the relationship between a young Barry and his parents before tragedy strikes. This scene is probably as dark as the episode gets, but it also shows a glimpse of a character many comic fans will recognize immediately. From here the show returns to present day, with Barry in his element as a Forensic Scientist for the police department. And though he’s mocked by some of his peers because he’s “just” a scientist, it’s evident that their job would be much harder without Barry’s intellect. The story finally does catch up to where we saw Barry struck by lightning in that episode of Arrow, but fleshes out the events that led up to his accident. From here we get a very plausible reason for the meta-humans showing up after Barry awakes from his coma as he tries to cope with his new abilities. Helping him adjust to all of this are S.T.A.R. Labs personnel Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh), Caitlin Snow (Daielle Panabaker), and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), testing and outfitting him accordingly, and helping the audience (and Barry) understand certain aspects of Flash’s powers. Though it’s his visit to an old friend that helps put things in perspective for him and reminds him to “wear a mask.”
Most of this story is about establishing Barry before his Flash persona, which is perfectly fine, because if you don’t care about the character then the alter ego will greatly suffer regardless of how cool he is. This pays off when Barry and Det. West are arguing over what Barry saw the night his mother died, and that his father (Wesley Shipp) has been in jail ever since for a crime Barry says he’s falsely accused of. This is a crucial plot point, but it also helps to give our hero some depth, and adds to his purpose as he fights for something bigger than himself and less predictable than the “villain of the week” formula the show might fall into. Plus it was great seeing the actor who first played Flash back in 1990 worked into the show.
It was evident that when the suit was revealed it caused quite the stir among fans. And though it doesn’t quite look like the traditional suit that we’ve come to expect over the years, it does still keep the overall vibe of the original. As for the special effects, they’re pretty believable while looking good at the same time. As the show progresses it should be fun to see how creative the writers get with Barry’s powers, hopefully taking cues from the decades of comic history and finding a way to transfer it on-screen for us to enjoy. There’s a scene where Barry chases down a car and gets in that was just as impressive as him battling a tornado created by another meta-human.
Just like in the promotional poster for the show there are plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout this episode. If you can spot them all then I tip my hat to you. Some are up front and in your face, while plenty are very subtle, and you might need a couple of viewings to get them all. However, the one at the end is the biggest one of them all, and will most assuredly start the gears turning in the heads of those who are quite familiar with Flash’s history in the DC Comics Universe. And if you pay close attention, you’ll see that it’s a surprise within a surprise.
The Flash is something quite different from the other DC shows currently on television, and that is its greatest strength. There’s no dark and brooding hero here even though he’s been through some serious trauma. The show doesn’t shy away from this, and wholly embraces who Flash will become as we see small bits of it here. So watch it once for the story, again to catch all of the nods to the comic, and maybe one more to have some fun.