tek's rating: ½

The Flash, on The CW, Tuesdays at 8PM
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Caution: spoilers.

This is based on the DC comic book character. It's not the first: in 1990-91, there was a TV series called The Flash that lasted for one season on CBS. I was a fan. Then in 2014, this new take on the character debuted, on the CW. The new series is a spin-off from Arrow, in which Barry Allen (aka the Flash) had been introduced in season 2. (So the first season of The Flash is concurrent with season three of Arrow). It's kind of neat that Barry's dad is played by John Wesley Shipp, who had played Barry himself on the old "Flash" series. (Two other actors from the old show, Amanda Pays and Mark Hamill, make guest appearances.) It didn't take me long to realize that this show is in some ways better than the old show (better writing and SFX), but as of the end of season one, I can't really say I like the new show better than the old one. I rate them equally for now, though that may change in later seasons. (The old show has a lot of nostalgic appeal for me, but since it only had one season, the new show will have more chances to build on its own appeal.) Anyway, at the end of the "Arrow" two-parter in which Barry had visited Starling City and met Oliver Queen and his team, Barry returned to his home in Central City, where he was struck by lightning and went into a coma. He would later be moved to STAR Labs, where scientists monitored his condition. But we learn more about that when his own series begins.

Season One
At the start of "The Flash," Barry wakes up from his coma after nine months. He soon gets back to his old life as a forensic scientist/CSI who works for the Central City Police Department. But there is an ongoing mystery throughout the first season: when he was eleven years old, Barry's mother, Nora, was killed, and he witnessed it. But because what he saw was seemingly impossible, nobody believed his story, and his father, Henry, was falsely convicted of the crime. Barry has spent his whole life trying to prove his father's innocence. Meanwhile, he was raised by a cop named Joe West. Joe's own daughter, Iris, is good friends with Barry, whom she sees almost as her brother. However, she's oblivious to the fact that Barry is secretly in love with her. To further complicate things, she's dating a cop named Eddie Thawne, who is her father's partner. (She eventually learns the truth, and that leads to some awkwardness, but Iris, Barry, and Eddie all manage to remain friends.)

But the biggest complication to Barry's life comes as a result of what happened nine months ago. The lightning that struck him was part of a freakish storm that had been caused by an explosion when a particle accelerator at STAR Labs was brought online. Because of that, Barry's metabolism has become super-accelerated, so he can move at superhuman speeds, as well as having accelerated healing. He uses his new power to become a superhero, whom people start calling the Streak, but who we know will eventually be called the Flash. Joe soon learns that Barry is the Streak, and that leads him to realize he'd been wrong all along about Barry's father. So he wants to help prove his innocence. But meanwhile, he wants Barry not to reveal the truth about himself to Iris. And Iris becomes obsessed with the Streak, and begins writing a blog about sightings of the hero... which both Joe and Barry try to dissuade her from. But she doesn't understand why Barry is so against it, considering he's been trying to prove his whole life that impossible things can happen. So that eventually leads to a temporary rift between them.

Meanwhile, Barry receives help from his new friends at STAR Labs. Since the explosion nine months ago, the place has officially been shut down, but the facility's director, a genius named Harrison Wells, still works there with his assistants, bio-engineer Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and mechanical engineer Cisco Ramon. Caitlin is a bit of skeptic, who is also mourning the loss of her fiancÚ, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell, whom I know from The Tomorrow People), who was killed in the same explosion that gave Barry his powers. Wells, Caitlin, and Cisco are trying to learn all they can about Barry's abilities, as well as providing support when he goes out to fight crime. (Cisco created the red suit Barry wears, among other things.) But the main reason they all go along with Barry's desire to fight crime is because the storm generated by the explosion gave different powers to various other people. So now Barry and all of those affected by the storm are called meta-humans, and it's unknown how many of them there may be, nor is it known how many might become villains, and how many might be good people). But it's clear that the regular police can't handle them, as Barry can. (Cisco is a total fanboy, and has a lot of fun making up aliases for the meta-humans, whenever they emerge.) So they turn the particle accelerator into a sort of prison for meta-humans.

Well... there are some crossovers with "Arrow." And there are number of recurring characters (particularly villains). One is named Leonard Snart, whom Cisco calls "Captain Cold" (played by Wentworth Miller, whom I know from Prison Break). Snart often works with another criminal named Mick Rory, aka "Heat Wave" (Dominic Purcell, also from "Prison Break"). And they sometimes work with Snart's sister, Lisa, aka "Golden Glider" (Peyton List, also from "The Tomorrow People"). (The three of them aren't meta-humans, but rather use, respectively, a freeze gun, heat gun, and a gun that turns people or things into gold.) Another important villain is a super-intelligent, telepathic, super-strong gorilla named Grodd. There are other villains I may mention later, but for now the only other one I want to mention is the season's main antagonist, "the Reverse-Flash," an enemy of the Flash from the future, who had killed Barry's mother, fifteen years ago. I don't want to reveal the Reverse-Flash's secret identity, though you'll undoubtedly guess it fairly early on. And he will be defeated at the end of season one, though that comes at a terrible cost, the nature of which I suppose I'll have to spoil when season two starts. And I'll likely have to reveal some other plot points from season one, at that time. But there are a couple more things I should reveal now. We eventually learn that Ronnie is still alive, but he gained powers of his own from the explosion. He becomes known as "Firestorm," though early on he was called "the burning man." And his fate is intertwined with that of a nuclear physicist named Martin Stein (Victor Garber). The two of them will provide occasional assistance to Barry and his team. And by the end of the first season, Iris finally learns that Barry is the Flash.

Season Two
So... in season one we learned that Reverse-Flash was a distant descendant of Eddie's, named Eobard Thawne. And in the end, Eddie killed himself, to ensure Eobard would never be born in the future, thus erasing him from existence in the present. But then a wormhole appeared in the sky over Central City, and the Flash had to try to close it before it destroyed everything. The season premiere picks up six months later, but we soon learn via flashbacks how the wormhole was closed. The city considers Flash a hero, and "Flash Day" is created in his honor. But Barry doesn't feel like he deserves it, because he was only partly responsible for saving the city. The one who really closed the wormhole was Firestorm (who only exists when Ronnie and Dr. Stein merge into a single person). They did this at great peril to themselves, and Flash only managed to save Dr. Stein; Ronnie apparently died (again). After that, Caitlin took a job at Mercury Labs, which is run by Tina McGee (Amanda Pays, who played a different version of the same character in the 1990 series). But it's not long before she returns to STAR Labs. Meanwhile, Joe is now running an anti-metahuman task force for the police, with technical assistance from Cisco. Also this season, Barry receives ownership of STAR Labs from the late Harrison Wells. (This seems odd, since Wells was actually Eobard Thawne, and therefore had really been an enemy throughout season one, which Barry and his friends didn't learn for sure until near the end of the season.) He also receives a flash drive containing a video confession from Wells to killing Barry's mother fifteen years earlier, so Barry's dad is now released from prison. However, he decides to leave Central City, I guess so he wouldn't be a distraction to Barry's work as the Flash. Of course, none of this makes sense to me yet, because if Eobard never existed, then nothing he did should have happened in the first place. But... maybe that's why the wormhole happened, I dunno. (If it was explained, I've already forgotten.)

Anyway, at the end of the season premiere, a man named Jay Garrick arrives to warn Barry and the others of great danger to the world. (I know enough about comics to recognize his name as a previous incarnation of the Flash, though I don't know any details of his history, and it's probably not quite the same here as it was in the comics.) Jay comes from a parallel world which the heroes end up calling "Earth-2." Even with the wormhole closed, there are a bunch of breaches between Earth-1 and Earth-2, scattered all around Central City. And now a villain called Zoom, who is much faster than the Flash of Earth-1, is sending other villains from his world to ours, to test our Flash. (Meanwhile, Jay can't help too much as a superhero, because his own speed had previously been stolen by Zoom. But he can at least offer advice, as well as his help as a scientist.) Also, a new police detective named Patty Spivot becomes Joe's new partner, and joins his anti-metahuman task force (after he spent some time refusing to accept her). And eventually, Patty and Barry start dating (though she doesn't know he's the Flash). Oh, and last season Cisco discovered he's become a metahuman, with the ability to "vibe," which means he sometimes gets visions of things that are going to happen. It takes awhile before he reveals this to his friends, though. Also this season, it turns out that Dr. Stein could die if he doesn't periodically merge with someone the way he did with Ronnie, so the team finds a young man named Jefferson Jackson who is compatible with him, so they can become a new Firestorm. (They then leave Central City, but may show up again when needed.) And Earth-2's Harrison Wells comes to our Earth and begins helping Flash's team figure out how to defeat Zoom. (This is really Wells, not Eobard, who had killed Earth-1's Wells and taken on his identity, but apparently there was no Eobard Thawne in Earth-2.) Of course it's really hard for Flash's team to get used to working with someone who looks just like their worst enemy.

Also this season, Cisco begins dating a barista named Kendra Saunders, who eventually turns out to be the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian priestess named Chay-Ara. This comes as a great surprise to Kendra, but apparently Chay-Ara was the lover of an Egyptian prince named Khufu, and they were both killed by another priest named Hath-Set. The murderous priest became immortal because of a meteor shower, and is now known as Vandal Savage. Meanwhile, the lovers would each be reincarnated many times over the millennia, and always had to find each other. In the present, Khufu is Carter Hall, and he regained his past life memories sooner than Kendra did. But she finally does remember her past, during a crossover between The Flash and Arrow. And while she may not be prepared to embrace her former relationship with Khufu, she does finally go away with Hall, to train, I guess. Because he is a hero known as Hawkman, and she is Hawkgirl. (They're going to be in an upcoming spin-off series, "Legends of Tomorrow.") So... it looks like poor old Cisco is single again. (Savage was turned to dust at the end of the Arrow crossover, but the dust was secretly collected by Malcolm Merlyn, so... who knows what that's gonna lead to?)

In the mid-season finale, Joe learns that he has a son he'd never known about, Wally West. Earlier in the season, we learned that Iris's mother, Francine, whom Joe had always told her was dead, had actually left them. She'd been a drug addict, and Joe had finally given up trying to help her, and didn't want Iris to know the truth about her. But what Joe didn't know was that Francine had been pregnant when she left, about 18 years ago. Another thing we learned earlier in the season was that Earth-2's Wells wanted to stop Zoom because he had kidnapped Wells's daughter, Jesse Chambers. In the mid-season finale, we learn that Zoom has secretly been communicating with Wells, who finally agrees to help steal our Flash's speed, in order to get Jesse back. Oh... and for awhile now, it has seemed that a potential romantic relationship has been developing between Caitlin and Jay.

Unfortunately, I had to stop watching the show after the midseason break. But I did see Barry on a crossover with Supergirl.

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