This review contains spoilers.
1.6 The Flash Is Born
As has been discussed since it premiered, The Flash is an old-fashioned sort of show. It’s a throwback to the fun, quippy superheroes of past decades and employs a standard monster-of-the-week structure that lends itself well to 22-episode action-adventure series. But the trade-off for that charming, refreshing style is that the show isn’t actually doing anything particularly new right now, and that’s starting to hurt it.
The biggest problem is Iris, who has been woefully misjudged. She’s supposed to be a love interest for Barry, but he has more chemistry with pretty much everyone else on the show, but she’s also apparently too precious to know the truth about his powers. Wasn’t there some unspoken agreement made ten years ago that we’d no longer have to endure characters like this, who we’re told are smart and tough but are treated as neither by the main character?
And this was the week I was dreading most – the Iris-centric episode that left her just as clueless and wide-eyed as she had begun. We begin and end with her narration, which was almost word for word what Barry had told us in the series premiere, and the bit in the middle was filler of the dullest kind. There’s nothing wrong with a filler episode, of course, but the ongoing problem with this character just drags the whole hour down.
The Flash is in a unique position right now in that, even so early in its run, it has all the faith in the world behind it. People are enjoying the show and want it to succeed, and so it can try pretty much whatever it wants. That means it has plenty of time to iron out these problems, and that makes me reluctant to dump on these episodes too much.
Grant Gustin continues to be amazing as Barry, with everything forgiven as soon as he delivers a line a certain way or perfectly hits an emotional beat. The whole cast are brilliant, in fact, with Joe and Wells’ bonding session/face-off this week stealing the entire hour from whatever was going on in the A-plot.
There was even some time given to fleshing out Eddie this week – important given that he’s probably going to be a bigger character down the road – and the guest stars are consistently solid.
Which is why Iris needs to be made into a much better character, because it’s a complete waste. She’s the girlfriend to Eddie, daughter to Joe and best friend to Barry – she should be the most important person on the show, and there’s no good reason to relegate her to damsel in distress status.
I had hoped that this would be resolved by the end of The Flash Is Born, but in fact its worse now that Joe’s snooping has made her a target of the same yellow blur that killed Barry’s mother.
Speaking of, it was clear we were supposed to suspect Wells after the episode ended, given that Joe had just got onto his bad side just minutes earlier, but that’s too easy. Can we even assume that it’s someone we’ve already met, or was this just a massive red herring?
One good thing we got out of the episode was the name change from ‘The Streak’ to ‘The Flash’, a dramatic improvement that may single-handedly make Iris’s blog less annoying to hear about.
Next week is another filler instalment, also using Iris as a hostage (though this time with Joe), but we at least have the big Arrow crossover event to come before we break for the year.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Plastique, here.
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