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The Flash: Pilot

Kalem Lalonde's picture
After a 2-part appearance in Arrow last year, Flash begins his new series on the CW. Arrow started off sloppy and vastly improved over time. Season 1 first half was mediocre and the second half was great. Then came season 2 and I think we can all agree that it was pretty exceptional. So, does the flash live up to Arrow’s second season or does it starts off on the wrong footing? In short, Flash has found its tone and foundation much before Arrow did. If this episode and Arrow’s history are indicative of what’s to come, then you shouldn’t skip this show, it’s going to be something special.

The show starts off with Barry’s origin as a child. As his Mom is murdered by a mystifying yellow and red lighting-storm in their house. Barry is left parentless when the police accuse his father and later convict him. This tragic story’s potential was encumbered by some very poor and cheesy dialogue.  The hints for the comic nerds in this scene were cool despite being quite evident. They did a good job with the overall origin, however I believe its impact could have been enhanced by some stronger writing. Fortunately, though this is not the case for the entire episode. This is a CW show so it’s almost a certainty that the dialogue won’t be fantastic. The Flash, however has pretty decent dialogue considering the circumstances. One scene near the end of the episode struck me as a poignant and powerful scene thanks to the well-written dialogue and great acting. I could see Geoff Johns’ fingerprints all over said scene and I can’t help but wish he wrote the entire episode.

We then pick up right after Barry’s visit to Starling City and the show picks off. Right from the outset, you can tell that Grant Gustin is going to be a great Flash. Awkward, nerdy, smart and likeable, Barry makes for a compelling lead. However, he isn’t the only strong character this show has to offer. Arrow has taken 2 seasons to build up Oliver’s supporting cast but Flash doesn’t waste a second and gets right to it. We’re introduced to Caitlin Snow Harrison Wells and Cisco Ramon as Barry’s support squad. They’ve all have personal attachments to the accident that gave Barry his powers so it’s interesting to see them deal with different aspects of the accident such as Barry. Harrison Wells in particular stands out among this crew for his intriguing secrets and clandestine operations. He may end up being the overarching villain this season and by first impression, I would be satisfied by that.

There’s also the West family who come heavily come into play during the pilot. Jesse L. Martin plays detective Joe West who fills the role of a father figure for Barry. Their chemistry is good but is trending on clichéd barriers. Barry grew up with Joe doubting his claims that his father didn’t murder his mother. This common situation didn’t captivate me because I’ve seen many times before. However, it adds distance between the characters as their relationship seems a little aloof despite the fact that they’ve spent so much time together. It’s a decent dynamic but it is improved upon by being drastically altered by the end of the episode.

Next up is Iris who plays the role of Barry’s best friend and not so subtle love interest. The prospect of Barry and Felicity getting together may be doomed since they appear on different shows but I’m still more invested in that than Barry and Iris. Iris is a decent character but seeing her date Thawne makes me worry that this show will get caught up in a conventional relationship storyline. Iris is an okay and required addition to the cast and I don’t have any problems with her yet, however her presence on screen doesn’t get me excited.

The one aspect of this pilot that truly felt off to me was the villain. This wasn’t much of a surprise since Arrow still suffers from a weak villain of the week formula. He’s introduced at the start of the episode and is gone by the end of it. His character wasn’t even given a modicum of depth and nothing he said grabbed my attention. Despite his lacking personality, his physical powers were cool to watch. The post-production crew did a great job with the special effects and the villain’s powers standout. Not to mention Barry’s lighting-speed running looked pretty good as well.

The way Barry and the one-note villain got their powers opens up potential for a very vast amount of super humans. This could end up boosting the show up or dragging it down. It could either introduce a lot of one-note villains with cool powers or utilize the effect to introduce less villains with higher significance. I hope the latter is explored, however given Arrow’s track record it doesn’t seem likely.

I was never very worried about the Flash as I was with Gotham. We have a solid creative team, great source material, a great cast and Geoff Johns (I know he’s part of the creative team, but I had to mention him separately). This pilot is a veritable winner for its fun tone, great sense of character and surprising emotional depth near the end. If you like superheroes, you owe it to yourself to watch this show. Even if you just like TV you should check this out, it has all kinds of potential and seems to be tapping into it already.