Reviews: The Flash – S.2 Ep.1 (“The Man Who Saved Central City”)

Posted: October 7, 2015 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

WARNING: Spoilers ahead

So, last night’s episode of The Flash was…just okay. It definitely wasn’t terrible, far from it. It was still fun and enjoyable throughout. I just wasn’t as wowed as I thought I would be. To be fair, it is only the first episode of the season, but that still doesn’t help this disappointed feeling that gradually built up in me the entire time I watched the episode.

The Plot

We kick things off with Barry Allen in the middle of a battle between old enemies Heat Wave and Captain Cold. Barry manages to quickly disable the former before Firestorm arrives and helps defeat the latter. Both superheroes then return to S.T.A.R. Labs. While being congratulated by all of his friends in Team Flash, deceased characters like Eddie Thawne and Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells appear. Turns out though, this was just a daydream of Barry’s, who stands in a long deserted S.T.A.R. Labs while an alarm continually sounds, eventually forcing the Flash back into action.

Meeting with Joe, Barry reveals that, even though the city is preparing to celebrate Flash Day, complete with the mayor giving the hero the key to the city, Barry would rather not attend the event. Despite Joe’s insistence, Barry refuses and leaves, being photographed by a mysterious individual in the process. Meanwhile, Joe and Cisco continue working on gear to help take down super powered individuals as they lament how Barry has continued to shut himself away from the rest of his friends. Later, after a pep talk from Iris, Barry finally reveals why he doesn’t want to celebrate: during the events of the black hole in the Season 1 finale, Firestorm separated within the singularity to help shut it down, with Martin Stein (half of Firestorm) seemingly the only one to escape.

During the Flash Day celebrations, as the mayor is prepared to deliver the key to the city to the Flash, Barry arrives to the delight of the screaming public (and the stares of the mysterious stranger who took his picture, who also attended the event). Unfortunately, the event is attacked by the super strong and durable Atom Smasher. During the battle, Barry injures his leg and discovers that Atom Smasher is actually Al Rothstein, the dead body he was investigating earlier! But wait, Rothstein is still dead. Also, he was never near the particle accelerator when it exploded, so how did he get his powers? Turns out, this Rothstein is actually from a parallel universe!

While Cisco gets Caitlin to help investigate, a lawyer handling the final wishes of the now deceased Harrison Wells delivers a flash drive to Barry that contains a video message from Wells. Should Barry watch it, he’ll become the legal owner of S.T.A.R. Labs, its property, and its land, as specified in Wells’ will. Barry initially refuses to watch it, instead gaining the location of Atom Smasher from the now reunited Team Flash, who all gathered together again to help the Flash defend the city. Barry refuses their help, rushing off without any way of getting in touch with everyone. Unfortunately, Atom Smasher soundly beats the Flash, forcing him to run back to the lab.

After his defeat, Barry finally accepts the help of Team Flash and begins working to build up his relationships with his friends again. One emotional connection with Caitlin later, Barry finally watches the video from Wells. Wells, admitting that his time with Flash made him realize that the two were never truly enemies to begin with, confessed to the murder of Barry’s mother Nora. Team Flash begin working to use this as evidence to free Barry’s father from prison before helping Barry figure out a way to defeat Atom Smasher.

Luring the villain to him with a “Flash Signal” designed by Cisco, Barry and Atom Smasher race to a nuclear plant, where the villain is trapped and bombarded with massive amounts of radiation. Before he dies, Atom Smasher reveals that someone named “Zoom” would help take him home if he killed the Flash.

After the battle, Barry’s father John is released from prison and gets a big party thrown for him by everyone with Team Flash. However, John announces that he’s ready to leave the city, claiming that Barry wouldn’t be able to fully grow into the Flash if he were around. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco reveals that the Flash costume has been upgraded with the traditional white circle in the center of the suit. Alarms alert everyone to an intruder in the building, who reveals himself to be the mysterious stranger who appeared throughout the episode. Calling himself Jay Garrick, the stranger reveals that he too is from a parallel universe, and that on his world, he is the Flash.

Thoughts?

Just…wow. While there weren’t a lot of major stumbles in this episode, there certainly were a lot of minor ones. First though, let’s focus on the positives.

I really liked seeing Flash finally getting the white circle on the front of his suit. The costume itself was never a huge problem to begin with, but I always felt like it was simply incomplete without that one single detail. The acting throughout the episode was (mostly) praiseworthy, with Danielle Panabaker and Grant Gustin turning in some of the best performances. Cisco, as usual, was a little much for my taste (although I did enjoy the quip about getting the idea for a Flash Signal from a comic book), being far too jokey in every single scene he showed up in. However, it is the first episode, so we’ll see if his character can grow out of some of that behavior in the future.

Image taken from io9.com

The biggest problem with “The Man Who Saved Central City” though? It isn’t the acting, it isn’t the plot (which was also somewhat off, at best), and it isn’t how Barry’s dad just leaves him almost as soon as he gets out of prison (which is also really messed up, since Barry came to see him for years while the man was behind bars).

No, the biggest problem here was the special effects, especially on Atom Smasher. When I say this, keep in mind that I’m not some CGI snob who wants everything to look like it has an Avatar level budget; I’m just a guy who doesn’t want something to look outrageously fake. For the most part, Atom Smasher’s shapeshifting was awful to the point of taking me out of the experience of watching the show. It’s distracting, odd to look at, and seems like it was ripped straight out of the early 2000s. Firestorm flying into the black hole suffered a similar fate, with actor Robbie Amell obviously being CGI’d right into the flying scene. However, his is easier to excuse, since his scene doesn’t last for too long.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad episode. I still liked it, and I still can’t wait to see the power of both Zoom and Jay Garrick’s Flash. However, I’m slightly concerned now about both the show’s budget level being able to pull off decent looking effects, as well as the rather plodding pace this episode demonstrated. Hopefully, both of these things were one time only occurrences, because I really don’t want anything to mess up one of my favorite shows on TV.

EPISODE GRADE: 6.0/10

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