TV Review: The Flash - Season 2 Episode 1 "The Man Who Saved Central City"
EPISODE 1: "The Man Who Saved Central City"
SYNOPSIS: Picking up months after the Singularity attacked Central City, Barry is still struggling to forgive himself for Eddie’s death. Concerned about putting his friends in danger, Barry has pushed everyone away and has chosen to protect the city on his own. When a meta-human named Atom Smasher attacks the city, Iris tells Barry that he needs to let his friends help him protect the citizens of Central City. Meanwhile, Cisco helps Joe with his Meta Task Force.
REVIEW: (Beware of spoilers!):
At the conclusion of the first stellar season of The Flash, we saw the deaths of two major characters and the cliffhanger of a massive black hole singularity. As season two begins, we have jumped ahead six months with the events of that fateful day glimpsed via flashback. Yes, Barry saved Central City and became the savior of the metropolis, but it also cost the life of Ronnie Raymond who flew into the event horizon to help Barry close the singularity. If it weren't for the fact that we all know Ronnie will appear in The CW's upcoming Legends of Tomorrow there may have been some tension built up here but that doesn't prevent this episode from showing Barry pushing his friends and family away to fight crime on his own.
As Central City holds a day in honor of The Flash with the Mayor presenting Barry with the key to the city, we find Team Flash scattered. Cisco works with Joe West at the CCPD, Kaitlyn took a job at Mercury Labs, and Dr. Stein is doing his thing. In the last six months, Barry has wallowed as the guilt of Ronnie and Eddie Thawne's deaths have weighed on him despite no one blaming him for their deaths. Barry refuses to let anyone get close to him lest they get hurt. When the investigation of the death of Albert Rothstein leads to the discovery that he is actually a meta-human Dr. Stein dubs Atom Smasher, Barry realizes that he cannot fight crime alone.
As much as the first season of The Flash blew away the comic book television series conventions, this season premiere is all over the place. While we are introduced to Atom Smasher as the villain of the week who seems to have been told to kill Barry Allen (we eventually learn this was requested by none other than Zoom), the episode takes two big breaks from investigating the meta-human hunt to address the emotional state of Barry and his friends. Yes, the reassembly of Team Flash is vital for the season to continue, but it comes across as a bit forced. But, once the team reconnects with the plan to overload Rothstein with radiation, things get good. There is even a great scene where Barry uses a spotlight with his logo on it like a Bat-Signal with Cisco claiming he read the idea in a comic book somewhere. Classic.
The villain here seems to only exist to introduce the spectre of Zoom and ends up being the least interesting element of the hour. Barry's quest through last season was to find his mother's killer and free his father. While Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne was revealed to have been Nora Allen's killer, it was never proven in a court of law. But, via a living will video recording, Wells confesses to the murder and Henry Allen is freed from prison. The reunion is short-lived as the elder Allen tells his son that he cannot be The Flash with him there and leaves town for a destination unknown.
The final moments introduce us to another big element teased for season two: Jay Garrick. Throughout this episode, we are teased with Garrick showing up and photographing Barry without knowing who he is. In the final scene, just after touting the new security at STAR Labs that would prevent people from just strolling in, Garrick reveals himself with an ominous warning to Barry and his friends. It is not until the teaser for next week's episode that less informed Flash fans learn that Garrick is an alternate timeline Flash but I am sure that will be explained in depth at some point.
As far as Flash hours go, this is not as strong as most. The action is good and the emotional heartstrings are pulled to great effect. But, the reunion between Barry and his father felt rushed and seemed to just be a way to explain why we wouldn't be seeing Dr. Allen prison visits this season on the show. I was getting worried that the six month time jump would mean we would start getting Arrow-style flashbacks each week but thankfully that won't be necessary. From the looks of it, The Flash is picking up right where it left off and I hope that means two dozen great episodes on the horizon.
NEXT ON THE FLASH: "Flash of Two Worlds" airs on October 13th: Jay Garrick, a mysterious man from Earth-2, appears at S.T.A.R. Labs with a dire warning about an evil speedster named Zoom, who is set on destroying The Flash. Barry and the team must decide if they can trust this stranger even as they face yet another powerful meta-human. Meanwhile, Joe must deal with a determined officer named Patty Spivot who wants to join his meta-human task force.