TV Review: The Flash – The Man Who Saved Central City (2×01)

The Flash Logo review analysis retrospective barry allen grant gustin greg berlanti andrew kreisberg cw

My name is Barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive. It’s been six months since the Singularity. I’m on my own now. Decided it’s better that way. Keeps the people I care about safe.

The Flash is back! I have been looking forward to this ever since the season finale, which was possibly one of the best episodes of TV I watched during that year. Certainly, it was the best piece of superhero related TV that I watched that year, easily trumping both Gotham and Agents of SHIELD, and subjectively more enjoyable than most of Daredevil in terms of my own personal tastes. I’ve had October 6th marked on my calendar since May. (And I’ve had the 13th October marked on my calendar since I realised that the 6th was only the US airdate.)

Essentially, then, expectations were high for this episode. Last year’s Fast Enough ended on one of those cliffhangers – you know the sort where it’s really aggravating, because you’re really into the plot, and it’s got you on the edge of your seat, and then it’s got you standing shouting at the TV screen, but you know you can’t begrudge the show that, because it’s been so brilliant, it’s really earned that cliffhanger? (No one knows what I mean? Really? Oh, well, that’s the type of cliffhanger that it was, anyway.)

Rather cleverly, I think, they chose to subvert expectations and not pick up immediately from after the cliffhanger – they shifted a little bit, moved the setting around, and we picked up 6 months later, with a well executed dream sequence. It’s not the sort of thing I’m typically very fond of, but I think it worked rather well here – the direction was quite well done, and subtly pointed to the fact that it was a dream sequence, before the appearance of Eddie and Wells really confirmed that. The slow pan around the room, and then zooming out, served to emphasis how alone Barry had made himself, and quite how empty the cortex is without the rest of the STAR Labs team joining Barry. Again, that’s down to the direction – it worked very well.

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Now, admittedly, what I am not so certain of is quite how well they used this concept. I’m in two minds about it all, really – on the one hand, I’m glad that the production team have their own view of the Flash as being a relatively bright and optimistic hero, and I doubt that dwelling on Barry isolating himself would really have worked here.

But, equally, since they brought it up, I want them to have explored it, you know? We have a missing six months, which genuinely sound to have been quite interesting – I want to know about the immediate aftermath of the singularity. How did Cisco begin to work with Joe? What’s been happening to Caitlin? How did Iris cope with the death of Eddie? How did Dr. Stein and Caitlin cope, in their own different ways, with the death of Ronnie? The consequences and repercussions of the finale all seem to have been paid lip service, but essentially skipped over for a reset of the status quo.

It bothers me a little, because I feel like we maybe lost out a little bit; would it have worked better as a three episode arc, at the start of the series? An episode focused on Barry, an episode largely focused on Cisco and Joe, with episode three being where they get the band back together? It’s hard to say. That might certainly have been more effective in telling the story of those repercussions, but that doesn’t seem to be the story they’re interested in telling – the production team wants to get onto the story of the Multiverse, with Zoom and Jay Garrick.

And, you know, it is hard to begrudge them that, because I am really very excited for that story…

the flash the man who saved central city review flash day mayor keystone grant gustin gabrielle stanton ralph hemecker

Another thing that I quite liked was the concept of Flash day. It’s an interesting idea that really seems to have legs (haha), and I hope they really run with it (hahaha). It’s setting up the fact that the Flash, unlike Arrow, is a much more of a public figure – the city knows about him, and they like him, too. It’s something that I think they can do quite a lot with, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

As ever, it was nice to see all the different characters returning – Barry, Caitlin, Cisco, Iris, Joe, and Dr Stein. Lots of fun moments from the all; Cisco remains as funny as ever, and it was great to see some scenes between Joe and Iris, which was one of the things I’d been hoping to see from this series. (The full list is linked to at the bottom of the page.)

Of course, one of the most important moments of the episode was the release of Henry Allen from prison, as a result of Harrison Wells’ confession video. That was a genuinely fantastic moment, which really added to the complex nature of the relationship between Barry and Wells. (There’s a link to an analysis of that at the bottom of the page.) I’m really looking forward to seeing Tom Cavanagh return at various points throughout this series.

Henry Allen’s release and return home was rather well handled, I felt; Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp conveyed the emotion of it well, and it was nice to see everyone together at the welcome home party, happy and laughing. I’m not so sure about their reason to remove Henry, admittedly – I realise that they couldn’t keep JWS as a season regular, but perhaps it’d have been easier if he’d simply said that he’d rather live away from Central City, but he wants Barry to visit him as often as possible? It felt that the reason they gave was a little weak and contrived.

Still, though. This was a fun episode, and whilst it wasn’t quite at the same heights as the best of last series, it was a strong opener, that managed to balance most of its responsibilities reasonably well. Very much looking forward to next week’s episode! 7/10

(I actually found a set of deleted scenes online, which you can see here, here, and here. I think the episode would have improved a fair bit if they’d been kept it, so it’s a shame they were lost!)

Related:

The Flash reviews

Supergirl reviews

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