The CW’s The Flash covered a lot of ground with its Season 2 premiere. But did an odd, sad wrinkle cast a pall on an otherwise whiz-bang hour?
Following an opening fake-out — in which Barry envisions himself besting Captain Cold and Heat Wave and then receiving heavy-handed kudos from all those near and dear, dead Eddie and Harrison included — we discover that Barry has been going it alone during the six months since snuffing the singularity, using any free time to anonymously repair and reno destroyed properties.
Fueling his sad sack act is the tragic truth, revealed in flashback, that whilst untangling the singularity on that fateful day, Barry needed an assist from Firestorm. But by pitching in, Ronnie lost his life, while Stein survived. As such, Barry fancies himself no hero, and certainly not one worthy of a “Flash Day” celebration. Caitlin has taken a new job at Mercury Labs and Cisco is serving as “scientific adviser” to Joe’s anti-metahuman task force, while Barry does little more than keep the lights on and floors swept at S.T.A.R. Labs.
In the course of begrudgingly putting in appearance at “Flash Day,” Barry is bested by a metahuman dubbed Atom-Smasher (due to his penchant to absorb radiation and, well, “smash things,” as Stein eloquently puts it). While Cisco reaches out to a distant (frosty?) Caitlin for input on this new foe, Iris and Joe agree that it is up to them to force the issue of a Team Flash reunion. Barry however wants no part of it, and sets out to face Atom-Smasher again, by himself, only barely escaping a brutal beat-down. Afterward, a flashback to Joe breaking down “angry” Young Barry’s defenses are juxtaposed with Joe at banged-up Barry’s bedside, where he urges him to reconsider his solo act.
Barry proceeds to reach out to Caitlin, acknowledging again his role in Ronnie’s death. Caitlin, though, accepts her own portion of the blame, seeing as she nixed Ronnie’s suggestion that they move away from Central City and all the drama. Caitlin then gives Barry the nudge he needs to watch a “goodbye” video left for him by Harrison Wells (who also bequeathed S.T.A.R. Labs to his protege), and within the recording he finds a full confession from his mother’s murderer!
Buoyed by the good news, Barry allies anew with the team, and Caitlin suggests that they OD their new adversary with radiation, and that tactic indeed fells the none-too-gentle giant. When The Flash quizzes Atom-Smasher about his beef as well as him sharing the face of a dead person, the galoot explains that if he succeeded in killing the speedster, “He promised he’d take me home.” And who is “he”? Zoom.
From there on, the premiere is nearly all rainbows and unicorns, including a wonderfully happy montage where Barry greets his exonerated father at the Iron Heights gates and then escorts him to the West home for a celebration, complete with a toast by Dr. Stein to moving “forward.”
But when Barry pulls his dad aside to discuss their future together, Henry gently rebuffs the sentiment, asking, “Can you be all that you are becoming, with me here?” and asserting that what Central City needs now is for Barry to be The Flash, not “Henry Allen’s kid.” “You’re the only family I have,” a gut-punched Barry counters, but Henry sees things differently, nodding to the room full of people who have been at Barry’s side for years.
Henry assures his son that when he needs him, he will be there. But right here and now, Henry is poised to make tracks for the train station, to resume his life elsewhere.
This is where I, twice, exclaimed at my DVD player screen: What the [heck]?!
Barry has arrived at a certain peace with Dad’s abrupt exit when he meets up with the reconstituted Team Flash at S.T.A.R. Labs, which now boasts super-duper-ultra-enhanced security, meaning no Tom, Dick or Harrison can waltz right in.
And then a stranger walks right in. His name is Jay Garrick, he announces, and he’s here to warn, “Your world is in danger.”
What did you think of The Flash‘s return? And am I making too much of Henry’s lame exit? Could there possibly be something else at play?