Editor's Note: Today Blair returns with some interesting thoughts on the Flash and the midseason finale: The Man In The Yellow Suit. - Jim
There's so much that can go wrong with a comic book inspired TV show that it's refreshing when a series is good out of the gate.
The Flash is a very good series. Someday, it may even be a great one.
I give a lot of the credit to Geoff Johns, the long time comic book writer who has ascended to the post of DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer. That means he actually has a say in how these DC characters come to life in live action.
It was Johns who added the tragic element to Barry Allan's back story with the murder of his mother, Nora Allen at the hands of a time traveling Reverse-Flash.
At the time, I was not happy with that change. The Flash is not Spider-Man! It gets really annoying when Spider-Man's tropes are given to other heroes who previously had their own identity.
But the inherent problem of Barry Allen is that he is the most boring man alive. At least that's how he comes off in the comics, even in The New 52 reboot. But on The Flash TV show, Grant Gustin's Barry Allen actually feels like a living, breathing person. And this time, the Spider-Man vibe really plays well. Even the Flash theme reminds me of Danny Elfman's Spider-Man music.
Although this is Flashback Universe's midseason report for The Flash, the primary focus is going to be on episode nine: The Man In The Yellow Suit. From this point on, there are spoilers ahead from the midseason finale. I am assuming that everyone is current with The Flash if you keep on reading.
From the end of the episode, we are meant to infer that Cavanagh's Dr. Harrison Wells is the Reverse-Flash. It's not a perfect fit, as Wells' actions have shown his desire to protect Barry, even if he only wants to ensure his own future. It also requires Reverse-Flash to be in two places at once. Or possibly two different people.
Wells killed Simon Stagg to protect Barry and he encouraged Plastique to kill General Elling before he could threaten Barry and others like him. On the other hand, only Wells knew that Detective Joe West had reopened the Nor Allen case. Shortly thereafter, Reverse-Flash paid Joe a visit and stole all of his evidence at super-speed before threatening the life of Joe's daughter, Iris.
The creative team of this series have done a terrific job of conveying how frightening that Reverse-Flash can be to people who don't have superpowers. Even Barry is completely outclassed and overpowered by Reverse-Flash. Any good hero needs a villain who can truly challenge them. And we've got that here.
In the midseason finale, both Gustin and Martin delivered their best performances to date. Martin is just an amazing actor. The words given to Joe West aren't always well written, but Martin sells it with such convincing emotions and gravitas that it resonates. Gustin has also been very good as Barry. This episode gave Barry a chance to pour out his heart to both of his dads and to Iris (Candice Patton) and all three scenes worked.
I am less sure about Patton's abilities as an actress. But the show hasn't done any favors for her by making Iris into Laurel 2.0 (for all of you Arrow fans). Making Iris into The Flash's cheerleader feels like tired material barely halfway through the season. And I'm already bored with Barry pinning for her heart.
Another problem with the show is that two key members of Team Flash are severely underdeveloped. Barry, Joe and Wells get all of the really juicy material while Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) are barely characters at all. They exist only to give Barry exposition, scientific explanations (well, comic book science) and give him someone to play off of. The show has halfheartedly given Caitlin a tragic backstory in the form of her lost fiance, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell). Comic fans know him better as Firestorm.
Despite claiming to have no idea who Caitlin is or even his own name, Robbie stalks her in this episode until she finally sees him. However, the first two Firestorm scenes have such sloppy editing that it feels like important moments were skipped over. That is not the way to make us care about Ronnie or Caitlin.
I haven't really dealt with Rick Cosnett's Eddie Thawne because he annoys me. But the midseason finale may have given him something interesting to play. Eddie realizes that the Reverse-Flash could have killed him... but didn't. If the show follows the comic here, it could mean that Eddie is Wells' ancestor... or Eddie may become a Reverse-Flash as well.
The midseason finale had some shortcomings, but this was a satisfying way to closeout the opening episodes. I am excited to see where The Flash goes from here.