The Flash: The Flash is Born review

The Flash meets DC Comics villain Girder in this week's episode. Here's our review.

This Flash review contains spoilers.

We’ll just dig right in this week. “The Flash is Born” is a fairly basic episode with a strong beginning and an even stronger finish. So, what the hell, I may as well start right at the beginning, right?

Iris doing Barry’s intro from the pilot was a nice touch. I wasn’t really too sure about the whole “blog” thing with Iris, but for the second week in a row, they’ve gone to great lengths to prove to us that she’s much more than a half-assed Lois Lane. Even though I wasn’t too thrilled with last week’s developments in the Barry/Iris relationship, they rectified all of that effectively this time around, although I can’t help but wonder what the hell the point of having them “break up” in the first place was.

While I’m enjoying Barry/Iris, what I really think is special is the way they’re handling Flash/Iris. It’s something I’m not sure we’ve ever really seen explored in live action before. The hero isn’t being mysterious for the sake of it, he’s genuinely doing it to protect the person he loves, and I do believe that, at least as it’s been laid out in these two episodes, Barry has no real desire to tell her the truth, as it would just put her in more danger. Meanwhile, the “civilian” doesn’t have romantic feelings for the hero, she’s just genuinely fascinated by him. It’s a subtle shift in these usual dynamics, and considering how “traditional” The Flash is in its superheroics, this is refreshing.

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Plus, I just love the Flash voice trick (and it’s way cooler than Green Arrow’s husky voice distorter thing), the way he keeps to the shadows, and keeps moving. It makes me wonder why he isn’t doing that when he’s encountering criminals and other metahumans. The Flash costume has never been (nor should it be) a particularly intimidating design, but its very space age, and in silhouette, with the voice and the speed theatrics, it appears kind of…alien. Even with the fighting tricks Barry learns this week, he STILL isn’t going to be much of a fighter. He should totally start doing this stuff when he’s out stopping crime. It’s really great, and something I never knew I even wanted out of the character!

Wow, that’s a lot of writing for just the first five minutes or so of the episode, isn’t it? Well, that’s the problem. Much of “The Flash is Born” is pretty lightweight. Girder is as basic and unmemorable a villain of the week as we’re likely to see, although he’s an impressive special effect. His intro with the car chase and the cops shooting at him and Barry failing to stop him are all pretty exciting, and the car stuff in particular is straight out of the Arrow school of “let’s break some stuff at high speed with our stunt drivers” school of fun superhero action.

But really, did anyone care one bit about this guy? Even by these standards, Girder (guest star Greg Finley) is beyond one note. He was a douchebag, then he got powers, and then became a douchebag with powers! And…so? I sometimes joke to my friends (yes, I do have a few, despite what my writings might lead you to believe) that the show could also be called “Attractive Smart People Doing Smart Things,” but this week’s “nerds vs. bullies” theme was pretty on-the-nose. And this is coming from the guy who edits a site called Den of Geek.

Kinda awesome that they let Iris finish Girder off, though, and the “I think I broke my hand” exchange with Barry gets some points.

However, I suppose Girder’s one-note douchebaggery does serve a little bit of a purpose. He figured out that if Iris is writing about Flash, then she might know who Flash really is. This is a guy with about a half a brain (seriously, just look at his haircut), and he put that together. So since we’re following the thread of Iris’ blog potentially putting her in danger from last week, the fact that a low-level tool could do this, well…what happens when it’s Captain Cold? That’s a big deal, and they had better follow through on it.

But that raises another problem. I love that Barry is getting more confident as he masters his powers. But is he getting cocky? He should be even more annoyed with Iris for the very reasons I outlined above. He knows Cold, who is no joke, and who beat Flash and the whole STAR Labs team fair and square, is out there. Seriously, Barry, what happens when Len Snart figures this stuff out?

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Furthermore, the bit with Barry confronting Girder without his mask in the cell at the end really, really rubbed me the wrong way. Girder just gets a life sentence in the bowels of Guantanamo Labs? This is okay? And Barry is comfortable enough with this to pull some lame-ass “I won’t be bullied by you anymore” nonsense? No way. We could have done without that scene. It makes everybody involved in this operation look bad in the service of the laziest of feel good moments.

Just a few quick notes before I dig into the deeper nerd stuff. Rick Cosnett’s Eddie Thawne is really starting to grow on me. This is the most substantial amount of time we’ve spent with him, and certainly the most time we’ve seen with him and Barry, and I enjoyed all of it. I especially dug when Barry kind of forgot he wasn’t in his Flash costume when they went to question folks in Keystone. Also, I legit laughed out loud at the whole “how many bugs does Barry swallow” joke. I’m easily amused.

As it wouldn’t be one of my Flash reviews if I didn’t single out Jesse L. Martin for praise, I must also bring up the Joe West/Harrison Wells scenes. Well played by both actors. Tom Cavanagh was an element of the show I wasn’t too sure of at first, but I’m in. He sold every bit of wounded pride this character has this week. This brings me to this week’s installment of…

Who the hell is Harrison Wells?

So, if Harrison can do mind control stuff as some of us have been speculating, why didn’t he just do it to Joe to get him off his case in the first place? I’m willing to bet that about 75% of what he said tonight was truth. But sins of omission are still sins. But what the hell are they?

The obvious one is that he’s the Professor Zoom/The Reverse-Flash/whoever. But that just seems to neat and tidy, doesn’t it? On the other hand, why else would the Reverse-Flash show up to harass Joe West when he did (and, HOLY MOLEY what a way to end this episode that was!) unless he was getting too close to the truth, right? 

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I did really like how Harrison subtly tested Joe’s mettle and his intentions toward Barry, though. That was a nice touch, and it seems to further call that ending into question. I’m honestly stumped. 

Flash Facts!

– Harrison makes a “man of steel” joke, but it clearly doesn’t mean anything. Last year on Arrow, Diggle cracked, “what next, aliens?” There may very well be a Superman in this universe, but he sure hasn’t made his presence known just yet.

– There’s a sign for Garrick’s Wharf (seemed to have been placed there by the Keystone Historical Society) in Keystone City! If we don’t see Jay Garrick on this show by season two, I’m just going to be inconsolable, and you’ll all have to buy me drinks at SDCC and NYCC. You should probably just start the next time you see me.

– Drawing a big blank on Tess Morgan. Doesn’t seem to be anybody, but I’ve been wrong before, so…

– Iris is aware of Firestorm. We’ll see him soon enough.

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– Is Rusty Iron a fictional DC brand like Big Belly Burger or Soder Cola? I’m drawing a blank. Now watch, I’ll find it in a Booster Gold issue somewhere.

– Also…it’s pretty significant that the Reverse-Flash targets Iris the way he does, and it’s not totally for the reason you might think!

Thanks for reading! If I missed anything, you know what to do…

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3 out of 5