The Flash ‘Pilot’ Episode ReviewOctober 9, 2014
Unlike the darker and brooding Arrow, The Flash seems determined to take a different route in its bid to capitalize on the public’s ongoing fascination with the world of comics. Indeed, if the first episode is any indication, the show runners are putting a lot of faith and pressure on star Grant Gustin to take them to that promised land known as high and consistent viewership.
The pilot introduces us the crime scene investigator Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a young man who is haunted by the image of his mother being murdered while he was only young. To make matters worse, his father is charged with the murder, and convicted, leaving him to be raised by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who also has a daughter Iris (Candice Patton).
Barry’s life is changed forever when he is struck by lightning and goes into a nine month coma, thanks to an experiment going horribly wrong that was under the watchful eye of Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When he awakens, he finds himself surrounded by Dr. Wells, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), all very eager to unlock the secrets of how Barry survived and how he has been changed. They all soon discover that Barry Allen is now quite possibly, the fastest man alive.
Many things jumped out at me after watching this, the first being Grant Gustin. His happy-go-lucky smiling face fits the Barry Allen character who also now wants to be a hero while searching for who really killed his mother (you’ll understand when you see it) is the strength of the show. Gustin seems very comfortable in his role and it shows, making his character believable even if some of his lame and rehashed dialogue is not.
How the writers and producers plan to nurture or torment the Barry Allen character might ultimately decide the show’s fate. The S.T.A.R Labs support team if you will (a sort of poor man’s S.H.I.E.L.D.) really needs to pick up the pace and fast. The clichéd characters of Snow and Ramon are passable at best, while I’ll reserve judgment on the good Dr. Wells, especially after the way the episode ended.
A nice surprise was the chemistry between Barry Allen and his still in jail father (played by John Wesley-Shipp, TV’s original Flash from the early 90’s). It seemed more real than gimmick, which hopefully bodes well for more appearances by Shipp in the future. Jesse L. Martin also does a better than average job as the detective father figure however the character Isis, his daughter, needs a lot of work.
The discussion of metahumans and the role they will play in the show opens up more than a few doors for some bad guys to come strolling in. Let’s hope they have something a lot better planned than the villain in the pilot because he just didn’t cut it. Obviously the creators aren’t going to trot out their biggest super villains in the first episode but this guy was just… boring.
One of the biggest concerns I have for the show is The Flash himself. Not his alter ego Barry Allen, but the new superhero on the block. His ability to run very fast could become a gigantic bore by episode three if they don’t do something to mix it up a bit. I am betting on a long drawn out story arc (like Arrow did with Deathstroke) to help them over this hurdle.
While I wasn’t blown away by any special effects or villains, I will give the creators credit for going out of their way to show how Barry Allen has already begun to change, leaving his victim routine behind to become more proactive in not only changing his life but those who are in desperate need of help. In the end the fate of the city, and probably the show, will lay more in the hands of Barry Allen the good human being then that of the fastest man alive.
Although as both Oliver Queen and Barry Allen said themselves in this episode, never underestimate the power of something being ‘cool’.