Random Musings: Thoughts on The Flash, thus far

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The Flash title card
Some SPOILERS follow:

This fall, The Flash, a spin-off of Arrow, debuted on the CW network. Nine months after he was struck by lightning caused by a particle accelerator experiment gone awry (as shown in Arrow last season), police scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) awakens from a coma to discover that he’s gained the ability to move at super speed.

The accelerator had been a S.T.A.R. (Scientific and Technological Advanced Research) Labs experiment and Barry wakes up to find himself at S.T.A.R., having been transferred there for observation during his convalescence. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the head of S.T.A.R., bio-engineer Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and mechanical engineer Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) help Barry learn the full extent of his powers.

Barry Allen is struck by lightning.

Barry Allen is struck by lightning.

We also learn (though Barry doesn’t) that Dr. Wells hasn’t merely been assuaging his guilt over Barry having been injured because of Wells’ defective accelerator. He’s got plans for Barry and has killed to keep Barry’s abilities a secret.

Neither Caitlin nor Cisco are aware that there’s more to Wells than it seems.

The series finds Barry trying to step back into his life as a Central City police scientist while dealing with his new-found powers. What’s more, he continues his quest to find the real killer of his mother (Michelle Harrison) when he was a child. At the time, Barry reported seeing streaks of yellow and red lightning in his living room and finding himself blocks away seconds later. His father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 1990 Flash TV series), went to prison for her murder.

Barry was raised by police detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who learned early on about Barry’s new-found abilities. They’re in agreement about keeping Barry’s secret from Joe’s daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), with whom Barry has been in love since before he’d come to live with the West family.

(In the comics, Barry and Iris married. Also, Iris’ nephew, Wally,  gained super speed powers and became Kid Flash, one of the founding members of the Teen Titans).

The Flash and Joe West

The Flash and Joe West

Joe has also come to believe that Henry Allen is innocent, especially after having encountered the Reverse Flash. More on him, later.

Iris, for her part, is in a relationship with Joe’s partner, detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). She also writes a blog about the Flash, whom most people initially believed was a myth. Neither Joe nor Barry are happy about either development.

Barry has recently admitted his love for Iris, but given that she doesn’t have romantic feelings for him, it could be several seasons— if ever— before they get together.

For the most part, Barry and Eddie get along, but because the Flash beat up Eddie while not in control of himself (motivated by Barry’s jealousy, unknown to Eddie), Eddie sees the Flash as a menace, not a hero.

In the comics, the Flash has a rogues gallery of adversaries. Barry has already encountered some of them in the nine episodes that have aired since the show’s debut in October (the show returns from its mid-season break tonight). So far, he’s tangled with Clyde Mardon AKA the Weather Wizard (Chad Rook); Leonard Snart, AKA Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller, who’ll return tonight with fellow rogue Mick Rory AKA Heatwave (Dominic Purcell)); Roy G. Bivolo AKA Prism or, as he was called in the comics, the Rainbow Raider (Paul Anthony); and the Reverse Flash AKA Professor Zoom.

However, Barry has also crossed paths with Firestorm adversaries Multiplex (Michael Smith) and Plastique (Kelly Frye). What’s more, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), one of Firestorm’s identities, was a structural engineer at S.T.A.R., believed killed when the accelerator exploded. He was also Caitlin’s fiancé. We (and she) recently learned he’s still alive.

Firestorm

Firestorm

It’s ironic that Firestorm appears in The Flash, given that between the cancellation of Firestorm after six issues in 1978 (the victim of the “DC Implosion”) and the 1982 debut of The Fury of Firestorm (which ran for 100 issues), the character appeared in back-up stories in issues of The Flash.

In the comics, Firestorm was a composite hero, a merging of teenager Ronnie Raymond and professor Martin Stein. Ronnie’s personality was in charge, with Professor Stein lending his advice and providing Firestorm’s scientific knowledge, which Ronnie— far from a model student— wouldn’t have possessed.

Since his apparent death, earlier in the season, we’ve seen Ronnie Raymond in the mid season finale, “The Man in the Yellow Suit.” Other than his hair being longer (and flames coming from his head and hands), he looks the same. I thought maybe in The Flash Ronnie would be Firestorm by himself. Perhaps not. Victor Garber will be playing Professor Stein in at least one episode this spring. But will he turn out to be part of Firestorm or someone with no direct connection?

If he is a part of Firestorm, how will that be? Ronnie was alone when he was affected by the particle accelerator and no one at S.T.A.R. Labs has even mentioned Professor Stein, so it’s not like he might have been an employee who was there that, day, unknown to anyone.

I’ve always liked Firestorm. Maybe I’ll do an entry about him (that is, them) one day.

Other DC characters have appeared, including, of course Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and company from Arrow.

The Flash and the Arrow

The Flash and the Arrow

Now, let’s talk about the Reverse Flash. In the comics, he’s Eobard Thawne. Could the similarly named Detective Eddie Thawne be him? Not the one we saw in  “The Man in the Yellow Suit”, because Eddie was in the same room with him, but the killer of Nora Allen? Possibly, but I think Eddie having the same name is a red herring. In the comics, Eobard Thawne is from the 25th century; Eddie shows no indication that he’s from the future. By that I mean he doesn’t mess up on day-to-day details that don’t make it into history books and which would probably trip up a time traveler if they ever show up.

(By the way, for all future time travelers, I’m holding a party last Tuesday. Same place as the one in which the Duke of Wellington and Messalina showed off their disco moves in 1066.)

Anyway, Eddie is most likely a present-day denizen of Central City, just like everyone else (with one possible exception). If he’s the Reverse Flash who killed Nora Allen, he’ll gain super speed at some point in the future and travel back in time. But why would he take such horrific action? If Iris were to be killed at some future point, would Eddie be so driven by revenge that he’d go back in time and kill Barry’s mother? That seems very improbable. Eddie doesn’t come across as the kind who’d take such an elaborate form of revenge, if he were the vengeful type at all. If he were and he were to have a quarrel with Barry, he’d simply go after someone close to him in the here and now.

Joe, Dr. Wells and Eddie Thawne confront the Reverse Flash

Joe, Dr. Wells and Eddie Thawne confront the Reverse Flash

Could Dr. Wells be the Reverse Flash who’d killed Nora Allen years ago? We’ve known since the pilot episode that he doesn’t need his wheelchair; and we learned at the end of “The Man in the Yellow Suit” that he owns a “Revere Flash” suit.

Like Eddie, Dr. Wells, couldn’t the be the man who confronted the police at Mercury Labs, since that man beat Wells up. Unless, of course, that device we saw Wells attach to the chest of the suit allowed him to remotely control the suit (filled by some sort of mechanism). Though how he’d make it move at super speed would be a mystery.

One of the first Flash comics I ever read featured a scene where Barry Allen and the Flash appeared in the same room together. He did it by moving so fast back and forth across the room (and changing clothes in the process) that the after images he left appeared solid, allowing him to carry on a conversation with himself. Could either Eddie or Dr. Wells have done that? I doubt it. There’s a certain degree of “willing suspension of disbelief” in The Flash (people moving at super speed being the big one), but it’s hard to ignore the fact that someone moving so fast that he appears to be two people is going to generate a noticeable breeze.

So, what is Dr. Wells’ connection with the Reverse Flash? We know from the pilot when he studied a 2024 newspaper headline about the Flash disappearing in the Crisis (a reference to DC Comics’ 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths), that he either has knowledge of future events or comes from the future (as does Professor Zoom in the comics). We also know he’s lied to everyone about being a paraplegic and that he owns a Flash ring, so it’s possible he could secretly have super speed himself. Maybe he’s the man in yellow who challenged Barry in “The Man in the Yellow Suit”, but it’s highly improbable that he’s the same man who killed Barry’s mother 14 years ago.

Yes, Dr. Wells has killed, but always to protect Barry. He’s made it clear that he wants— maybe even needs— the Flash to be around in the future and will take drastic steps to see that Barry becomes the hero the world needs. Going back in time and killing Barry’s mother wouldn’t accomplish that. It also seems just as improbable as Eddie killing Nora Allen.

On the other hand, if someone were to go back and try to prevent her death from happening (Remember, Barry saw both red and yellow streaks in the Allen living room that night), Dr. Wells might well be motivated to take steps to ensure that history plays out “as it should have.” After all, in “The Man in the Yellow Suit”, Henry Allen acknowledged that Barry’s desire to prove him innocent is what led him to pursue science and join the police department. If Barry’s mother had lived, Barry might have followed a different career path and not been in his police lab when the accelerator exploded. So maybe Dr. Wells killed Nora Allen because history said Nora Allen was killed that night and that Barry’ quest for answers ultimately led to his becoming the Flash.

Whatever Dr. Wells’ motivations and whatever really happened that night, The Flash is an enjoyable series. Well worth checking out.

Copyright 2015 Patrick Keating.

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