On the D/L – The Flash
Season 1 Episode 6 – “The Flash is Born”
The Flash backslides into unremarkable villain territory but the strong character base is enough to keep the story from becoming too generic.
It is a shame that we had a two episode run of memorable villains and then have an episode like this with a villain that just feels so completely generic. The villain in question is Girder (Greg Finley) who isn’t the smartest of characters in the comics. Mostly he’s depicted as being pure muscle and is effective at that in his own way. The same is true here with his entire schtick being how tough he is. There is an attempt to contextualise some of that by making him a former bully of Barry back when he was at school and giving them a history that way.
The attempt is appreciated but it doesn’t quite work here. Girder’s characterisation is about as generic bully as it gets and the flashback establishing his history with Barry was really clumsy. It reminded me of the Raimi Spider-Man movies with their propensity to ensure that every villain had a personal connection to Peter Parker. Not necessarily a bad idea but it fails somewhat in the execution here. Given how the character ends up it seems clear that he’ll be back perhaps as part of a supervillain team up which might make a second appearance more worthwhile.
Thankfully Girder wasn’t the main focus here. Barry is given full attention and Girder acts as something of an obstacle for him to overcome. In this case he is faced with someone who can wipe the floor with him physically and has to learn how to use his speed to get around this. The episode shows us this in a few ways but the most effective of these is when Eddie teaches him some basic techniques. It’s an important scene as Barry learns a few things about fighting as well as the audience learning some interesting things about Eddie’s past and the way he sees the world. I like how Eddie is being set up as such a nice guy as it makes the love triangle between the characters far less tiresome than it could be otherwise.
Cisco and Caitlin have different ideas on how Barry can use his speed which culminates in a really awesome take down scene where Barry delivers a punch at over 800 miles an hour to floor Girder. Cisco’s reaction pretty much summed mine up here. The best thing about that scene is that it’s Iris who delivers the knockout blow. I was suddenly reminded of every hostage situation involving Lana in Smallville and how they never ended that way.
Iris in general is a really great character. She is driven and fearless as well as being intelligent. She is starting to realise that something larger is going on and The Flash is only a small part of it. The way she interacts with Barry when he’s in costume is a lot of fun and I like that they’re playing up the secret identity thing as it’s so rare to see these days. This show does it pretty cleverly with Barry’s vibrating face and vocal chords as well as his careful choice of where to stand. I wonder how long it will be before a slip of the tongue suggests some kind of familiarity. There is definitely a Lois Lane/Superman vibe from these scenes but it has enough of a twist to keep it fresh.
Joe’s scenes with Harrison Wells were really interesting. The enigma of Harrison Wells is starting to pay off in interesting ways. His evasiveness seems to have an obvious answer until something comes out of left field that isn’t really expected. Joe still clearly has his suspicions being an intelligent and experienced cop and I liked that seeing Barry rescue someone got him thinking about the scene described to him. There are many places this story can go and I think that it’s fascinating as we see it.
The title of the episode relates to Barry finally having a public name. I liked the twist of him actually naming himself by suggesting it to Iris. We know from earlier episodes that it’s a name he’s been thinking about so the payoff here was really nicely done. It’ll be good to drop the silly “streak” name in favour of his real hero name.
One thing I found really confusing about this episode was Barry revealing his identity to Girder when is locked up in prison. Where do I begin with how out of character this is? It makes no sense for an intelligent man like Barry to do something like that and it felt very awkward. I hope the consequences of this are explored because that was a really stupid thing to do.
Another solid episode slightly let down by an unremarkable villain and some confusing out of character moments.
Barry’s development continues to remain strong with a focus this week on his ability -or lack thereof- to defend himself. Seeing him start to learn how to fight and how he combines that with his speed is nicely done and it’s great to see his character grow over the course of the season.
Iris has lots of great stuff this episode, coming across as strong and intelligent as well as subverting the damsel in distress trope at the end. Her interactions with Barry when he’s in costume are a lot of fun and she’s generally just a great character.
Eddie gets plenty of fleshing out this week and actually comes across as a really genuine guy in how he conducts himself. Judging by his name there will be a reversal at some point but they’re doing right by him for now.
Dr Wells and his agenda continues to be subtly developed in the background with enough red herrings given to the audience to build curiosity for this character and his ultimate plan.
There was an attempt to make the villain more complex by giving him a personal connection to Barry but it was clumsily done and just felt really awkward to watch. He fills all the generic bully character tropes and is just uninteresting as villains go.