The Flash: Things You Can’t Outrun Review

The Flash battles golden age villain The Mist, and we meet the man who will become Firestorm. Here's our review.

This review of The Flash contains spoilers.

First off this week, I’d like to mention how great the speed force effects look at night. The Flash is a pretty slick looking show to begin with, and the contrast between the red streak and yellow lightning bolts with the clean darkness of Central City is pretty striking. Arrow usually kicks things off with an impresive stunt sequence. Maybe The Flash will start making memorable effects shots part of their openings?

Oh, and these overhead shots of the city with Flash zipping through the streets as a red blur are terrific. Straight out of the comics. In some versions of the Flash legend, he eventually just takes up being Flash full time, and spends all his time zipping around the grid, making sure that nothing bad ever happens. That won’t happen here, but it’s something I think of when we get this image every week.

In general, “Things You Can’t Outrun” does a bunch of creative/fun (if obvious) things with Flash’s speed this week. Which is good, because Barry still can’t fight worth a damn. Seriously, Laurel is about to get trained by Ted “Wildcat” Grant over on Arrow, maybe he can give Barry a few pointers. But the first Flash feat of the week, where he sticks the clown in the getaway car in the back seat of a moving police cruiser, handcuffs and all, is awesome. A shame that Barry had to do it in street clothes. He needs to start keeping that costume in a ring. 

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They can figure out a way to do that on this show, right? Surely STAR Labs has the tech. But I digress…

While “Things You Can’t Outrun” is about as villain-of-the-week as they come, it manages to get so many other little things done, and does them all so well, that I’m not one to complain. Kyle Nimbus is a metahuman who was never a particularly nice guy. A hitman who got the death penalty (Central City is in a death penalty state…just like Starling City. Is it the same state? Fakesylvania? The 52nd State in the Union, perhaps?) and who was getting his gas chamber treatment when the particle accelerator went boom. Now he’s getting his revenge as the Mist, a perp who can turn himself into poison gas.

You can learn a little more (but only a little) about the Mist right here, by the way. Done plugging, back to the review…

Of course, Barry stops him. But along the way, the STAR Labs team (with Joe West) realize that unless Joe is planning on putting two slugs in every baddie with powers, they need to find a way to hold these guys, and it ain’t gonna be at Iron Heights. Of course, Harrison Wells comes up with the idea of imprisoning them in the bowels of the particle accelerator. Sounds legit. There is totally no way that he’s, y’know, going to use them to power some kind of infernal, dimension-ripping death machine by season’s end, right?

We meet Ronnie Raymond (guest star Robbie Amell) this week, too, albeit in flashback. He’s significantly different from his comic book counterpart. In the comics, Ronnie was a dopey jock. Here, he’s an engineer, adding to the “smart people doing smart things” aesthetic of the show. I fully expected him to be part of the crowd of protesters outside the particle accelerator (ala the comics), but not this time. He “dies” heroically. He’ll be back, of course. He has a nice moment with Cisco there, too. Cisco has an interesting future himself, but I think the writers may have some other good stuff in store for him.

For the second week in a row, I have to ask: have they tweaked the suit again? It keeps looking more lightweight, and the colors definitely pop more than they did in the pilot. I actually really dig it. Grant Gustin plays Barry a little older and wiser this week, too. He’s a little less “awkward 20-something” this time around. But only a little. Remember what an unlovable jerk Ollie Queen was in Arrow season one? Let’s map Barry’s progression from here. He’s going to turn into a proper badass in a season or two. 

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“Things You Can’t Outrun” is pretty tightly written. Plenty of superheroics, a villain introduced and disposed of, some movement in the Barry/Joe and Barry/Joe/Henry dynamics, the first step towards resolution with the Iris and Eddie relationship, and the shred of an origin story for another hero. It’s a lot, and it works. It’s great that the show has kept the lovey-dovey stuff to a minimum without sidelining it completely. We don’t even get Barry making eyes at Iris this week, which is good…we don’t need Barry being the patron saint of the friend zone. They’ll work it out eventually, so let it grow without throwing it in our face every week.

Now, maybe I’m impatient, but I’m waiting for The Flash to really knock it out of the park in a profound way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfect Flash show. Hell, it’s a perfect superhero show. It’s hitting every single beat that it should. It looks great. But I want to see it take some chances down the road. I mean, the whole villain of the week thing is fine, but is it really sustainable? Oh, who am I kidding? Of course it’s sustainable. We just saw The Mist in live-action for crying out loud. I can’t complain about this. But when the time comes, this show has the potential to do some serious, Doctor Who style time and reality warping stuff. I hope they don’t shy away from it.

Something tells me they won’t.

Who the hell is Harrison Wells?

– While my money is still pretty firmly in the Professor Zoom end of this discussion, his “I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day for centuries” line almost (ALMOST) makes me wonder if he could be Vandal Savage. Nah, it’s probably Zoom…he’s gotta be from the future.

– We got the same liquid/slowdown/rising effect that we saw in Barry’s lab and with the murder of his mother. Is this just a side effect of the accelerator when we see it with the champagne? Or is it a sign that there’s someone moving faster than the eye can follow to make sure that the accelerator malfunctions? 

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Flash Facts!

– The particle accelerator core door is totally Firestorm’s logo.

– Barry and Iris just came out of a movie theater playing Blue Devil 2: Hell to Pay. Would you like me to write about the wonderful ’80s Blue Devil comic? I will. Don’t test me. This is the SECOND Blue Devil reference in this universe, by the way. There was a poster for the first Blue Devil movie on the side of a bus in Arrow season two. Fun fact: Blue Devil first appeared in an issue of Firestorm. This totally needs to happen…

– The other movie on that marquee? The Rita Farr Story. Yes, ladies and gents, we just had ouselves a Doom Patrol reference in prime time. I’ll be in my bunk.

– Barry’s crack about “It’s not like I want a museum built in my name…” well, Barry…funny you should say that. For the record, the comic book Barry Allen wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who wanted that kind of attention, either, but he was gracious enough to go with it. I’m ready to see the Flash Museum on TV, aren’t you?

– When Barry vibrates his features at super speed to prevent his Dad from recognizing him? That’s straight out of original Flash Jay Garrick’s playbook. He didn’t wear a mask, so that was how he kept people from knowing who he was.

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– It took the jury “52 minutes” to bring back Henry Allen’s guilty verdict. Last week we had a 52 reference with a fire engine. It’s happened a bunch on Arrow, too. I’m telling you…the multimedia Multiverse is happening. I’m willing it into existence as I type this.             

– Caitlyn’s crack about Ronnie saying the two of them were like “fire and ice.” Yes. Yes they are.

– We’ve seen Big Belly Burger a million times on Arrow already. My question is this: have we ever seen anyone drinking Soder Cola? I also just learned that Soder Cola has its own Wikipedia page. Clearly, I have reached the restaurant at the end of the internet.

– “Iris, this is going to be complicated,” Oh, Joe. You have no idea.

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4 out of 5