The TDF Top 10: The Flash
In our next TDF Top 10, we continue a look back at the greatest episodes of each Arrowverse series with The Flash...
Superhero TV shows have been around for decades, but arguably, it wasn’t until the birth of the Arrowverse in 2012 that the boom we see today really got moving. Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen first appeared in Arrow’s second season as a forensic scientist, immediately winning the hearts of both the people in the know and those discovering him for the first time. Ultimately he spawned his own show in 2014. Six seasons on it remains popular and well worth a watch, even if the later seasons are not as good as those first two masterpieces, .
Since his debut, Barry has been through a lot; facing villains that should’ve destroyed him, witnessing his mother’s death first hand, changing the course of time, travelling through the multiverse and making some character defining decisions. The first two seasons are debatably faultless and proved that superhero shows could have flashy special effects, emotional story and aren’t just for kids. Despite a few bumps in the road (I’m looking at you seasons three-five), The Flash has managed to keep things fresh and energetic thanks to its non-expendable cast. Cisco, Caitlin, Harry, Iris, Joe, Wally and Ralph, to name a few, all deserve to be where they are as this show wouldn’t be the same without them.
With over 130 episodes to choose from, a top 10 was never going to be easy, but nevertheless let me introduce what I believe to be some of the best this show has to offer.
10. Flash Vs Arrow (1.08)
Since its birth, the Arrowverse has had a yearly cross over event in which all the respective shows get together to fight a common enemy. This episode was not only the first in that tradition, but reminded us of Barry’s humble beginnings, developing his and Oliver’s relationship as student and teacher, which we would see blossom with each passing season.
The clash between the two was memorable, enjoyable to watch and still laughed about further down the line. The episode is unforgettable for many reasons but seeing the two suited up together for the first time was epic and deserves to sit at number ten.
9. Enter Flashtime (4.15)
Some of the best stuff to come out of this show is when the characters take centre stage, and this was exactly that, arguably producing the best episode of the entire fourth season. There was a lot to take it in; Barry learning a new ability, the titular Flashtime, the impending explosion of a nuclear bomb and three Speedsters, most notably John Wesley Shipp’s Jay Garrick who was, as always, outstanding.
The story and its execution was nothing short of amazing, the effects were fantastic; it developed the lore further, was emotional, well written and more than anything, managed to get me concerned about Barry’s outcome.
8. Pilot (1.01)
You knew it was coming, and the fact that it’s not higher on this list speaks volumes for what this show has delivered over the years.
The series premiere, to this day, remains one of the best episodes in the show’s history, simply because of how well it sets up characters and story. After Barry wakes from his nine month long coma and slowly discovers he has powers, we were introduced to the emotional backdrop, comedic humour and characters that we’re now so accustomed to. Gustin delivered a fantastic performance that helped the audience believe his struggles and fall in love with Barry Allen. More importantly, it was the first time we got a glimpse at the now iconic Reverse Flash.
7. The Runaway Dinosaur (2.21)
Admittedly, the title gives little away and even for The Flash, felt a little silly. But being directed by the legend that is Kevin Smith, expectations were high, and rightly so.
Some of the most emotionally driven episodes have centred on Barry’s past, mainly his mother’s death and father's wrongful imprisonment. But after facing those demons head on in season one, revisiting Nora’s death here could easily have felt repetitive. Instead, the story was inspiring, refreshing and managed to hit powerful emotional notes that brought back that knot in our throats. Once again, Gustin gives a strong performance, overcoming his biggest challenge in order to regain his powers. In terms of character development this episode is pivotal and a must watch.
6. The Race of His Life (2.23)
Zoom was one of the more enjoyable villains to watch develop and after a long season setting up his showdown with The Flash, the two Speedsters finally go at it in an episode that delivered on characters, special effects and heart wrenching emotion by the bucket load.
Jay Garrick, played by John Wesley Shipp, was revealed to be the man in the iron mask. This happening so close to the same actor playing Barry’s father, who was killed only an episode prior, really stun. But Barry’s decision to go back in time to save his mother, ultimately spawning the Flashpoint storyline was, like it or not, monumental for the series.
5. The Man in the Yellow Suit (1.09)
For the eight episodes prior, the build-up and anticipation for the Reverse Flash reveal was palpable and it was here that the character finally took centre stage. The rivalry between the two is something the show has revisited time and time again but their first official encounter goes down in history for playing to the characters strengths; Barry, fuelled by emotion and Eobard's hatred for Barry.
This episode was pivotal also for revealing that Ronnie, Caitlin’s fiancé, was not killed during the particle accelerator explosion, instead becoming a Meta. This kick-started the Firestorm arc that ultimately aided in the birth of Legends of Tomorrow.
4. The Trap (1.20)
It’s a shame that the entirety of season one can’t be on this list with how incredible it truly was. Nevertheless, The Trap - which involves the team devising a plan to capture the Reverse Flash, Iris finding out about the Flash’s identity, Eddie discovering more about his family history and Barry’s first meeting with Gideon - there was a lot to digest.
The Flash has always, and no doubt will always, put its beloved character in the face of danger, but these earlier episodes made you believe that they might genuinely not make it, elevating that edge of your seat tension. Cisco putting his life at risk here gave the episode that emotional core it needed.
3. Enter Zoom (2.06)
As far as the best all-round season is concerned, it would be difficult to argue between the first two; however, Enter Zoom is one that tips to scale in the second's favour.
This episode had a bit of everything, with humour early on and a great story, with the team’s first attempt at stopping Zoom and a final showdown that did not disappoint. It perfectly portrayed Zoom as Barry’s better in every way; he was faster, stronger and more knowledgeable with the Speedforce. The climax of the episode, with Barry unable to feel his legs after battling Zoom, put brilliantly into perspective what the team was faced with in this villain.
2. Out of Time (1.15)
Time travel, murder and a love triangle broken…what more could you want.
The fifteenth instalment into the first season introduced Mark Mardon as the Weather Wizard, and along with outstanding special effects and performances, he proved himself a worthy adversary for Barry and the team as he created a tidal wave that almost engulfed the city.
What sets this episode aside from so many others is its ability to generate shock and awe simultaneously. Cisco’s death at the hands of Reverse Flash was heart-breaking but Barry accidentally going back through time, erasing his and Iris’ confession of love, was equally as powerful and created character arcs we would see many times after.
Now, for my number one…drum roll please…
1. Fast Enough (1.23)
This was a no-brainer. The first season went from strength to strength before getting here, where the series just erupted in terms of entertainment value, causing dry mouths to develop as your jaw was plastered to the floor for the entire runtime.
If you’ve seen all episodes up to now, you’ll know that Nora’s death comes up a lot and generally it delivers strong emotional beats, though nothing can outshine Barry not only witnessing his mother’s death, but choosing not to change the past was nothing short of cruel and a truly touching scene.
Fast Enough was not only full to the brim with story but had a consistent pace that helps audiences maintain the intended sensations throughout that’s rarely seen. The set-up for the second season was equally as powerful and does what few other shows succeed in…making its audience want to return.
It’s never easy to make a list like this with so many good episodes to choose from, but if I missed it, what are some of your favourites?
You may also want to check out our TDF Top 10 of Arrow...
The Flash (2014–)
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