The Flash: 2.01 The Man Who Saved Central City
The Flash exploded onto our screens last year, becoming one of the most fun shows on television. While its parent show Arrow continued to deliver great superhero television, this spin-off arguably became the better show, thanks to a great ensemble cast, dynamic villains, plenty of major twists and turns and an endearing, engaging performance from series lead Grant Gustin.
With expectations high after the explosive season one finale, The Man Who Saved Central City was a surprisingly low key affair. There was still the big shock or two and another fun villain, but this was The Flash going sombre and dark, with the hour beginning with Barry Allen alone after the tragic finale.
And it began so happy and upbeat too, with the Flash and Firestorm taking down Heat Wave and Captain Cold before returning to Star Labs to be congratulated by their friends and colleagues. And I almost thought it was real too until Eddie turned up and we realised it was all in Barry's head. After Eddie's death he has taken on the mantle of the city's hero by himself. Cisco has now gone to work for Joe at the police precinct to develop weapons capable of stopping Metahumans and making a pretty great duo too while Caitlin has left to work for another company.
Her exclusion from much of the episode soon became clear in the dramatic flashback to the black hole tearing up the city from the end of season one cliffhanger. It was certainly an impressive set piece, with the skyscraper twisting towards the singularity and provided a great action sequence. The twist that Ronnie Raymond died, joining with Martin Stein to become Firestorm and setting off a nuclear explosion within the singularity was a shocking moment and one I think many people didn't see coming. Still Martin survived, which I was very glad.
Victor Garber brought great enthusiasm and wisdom to the role; he was already a strong presence in the show last year but here working with the Team Flash (even if Barry wasn't part of it to start with) was a great move. With Harrison Wells gone he brings the brains and the direction to the show and I loved the moment he named the villain Atom Smasher (and Cisco's look of joy and admiration as he did it).
Talking of Atom Smasher, he was a good villain to start the season with; a thug who could absorb radiation, grow to double his size and catch the Flash mid punch and knock him down. He wasn't the most intelligent villain but what this episode needed was a bad guy that was more than a physical match for Barry and needed his team to help him. And that was what we got. Atom Smasher kind of reminded me of Bane, though without the intelligence and ruthlessness to go with it. The final battle in the nuclear power station provided a dramatic end to the character, though in truth the best bit about him was the mystery that surrounded him. Atom Smasher wasn't a Metahuman but something altogether different and working for what is surely the season's big bad to be, Zoom.
The main purpose of The Man Who Saved Central City was to requaint audiences with the show, resolve a number of loose plot threads and set up bigger events still to come. It wasn't the strongest episode, though it did succeed in its mission. Every main character got to have a moment in the limelight - even Iris seemed comfortable as part of Team Arrow and Martin's presence was a welcome addition. I hope he sticks around for a while yet.
The big thing of course was the resolution of Barry's father's false imprisonment for the murder of his mother. The video message from Wells confessing to the crime was a nice conclusion though I'm not sure I really bought into the whole 'I need to leave you so you can be the Flash' idea at the end. You've been in prison for 14 years, you finally get to be with your son and you just leave? No, I don't buy that one bit and it became a sore point in an otherwise great episode. I'm also not so sure the episode really got a grasp on the death of Wells plot from last season. He's not dead, he never existed because his ancestor Eddie killed himself - except he couldn't have committed that action unless Eddie existed and created the Flash - I think that's one big paradox we just have to accept and move on with.
And finally, the arrival of Jay Garrick, the alternate Flash. Fans of the comics would probably have yelled with delight at the mention of that that; for the rest of us it was certainly an intriguing debut. Considering what The Flash did with its debut season, I am excited for what is to come. It may have got a bit 'grim' at times (for the show at least), but it still remains one of the most fun, thrilling shows on TV.
Oh and the Flash signal? Can we have that every week please?