The Flash

Barry begins to doubt himself in “Fastest Man Alive”

When Barry Allen was gifted with his super powers in the pilot, it gave him the means to live up to a purpose that he’s been unable to see through since childhood. It began with his father and his imprisonment, a wrong that’s Barry never been able to fight. First, because he was too young, and once he was older, because he had no proof. Now he has the means to find that proof and also his mother’s killer.  But his new abilities don’t make him invincible, and every super hero has their weaknesses. Barry’s include running so fast that he speeds past the burning building he’s heading toward and his increased metabolic rate meaning that he passes out after using his abilities, which is wildly inconvenient.

It also renews Barry’s sense of helplessness. His attempt at stopping the armed robbery at Simon Stagg’s party  is foiled by his collapse. It’s quite the undercutting event, considering quite an undercut, considering how much confidence Barry gained in his abilities when he discovered them in the pilot. His abilities don’t make him invincible after all, and his failure to pursue the robbers is very reminiscent of his failed chase in the pilot down to Iris being present.

Barry’s very fueled by his own self-worth, his confidence shot up in the pilot only to start dipping this time around, especially when Joe turns his protectiveness from Iris to Barry when he learns what Barry’s been up to. Flashing back to Barry’s early days in the West household is surprising and endearing, and these glimpses at Barry’s difficulty accepting his new place, his father’s absence and Joe’s presence solidify Joe and Barry’s relationship as one The Flash is invested in. Though Barry drops those hurtful words (twice) about Joe not being his father and therefore having no say in how Barry lives his life, it’s clear from the episode’s beginning to its end that that’s just not true. Despite Joe’s disapproval, he’s very much on Barry’s side. He doesn’t want him hurt, but he gets on board when he realizes that Barry’s going to need words of encouragement from him when it comes down to doing his hero thing. And he even promises to help Barry find out what happened to his mother and clear his father’s name.

The Flash‘s other West doesn’t get the screentime her father does, but Iris is everywhere. She’s still wonderful, and by this episode’s end she’s following in the footsteps of her comic book counterpart and pursuing journalism, starting with the intriguing red streak. Iris is a plus for the show, but she’s being weighed down by the love triangle. Since Iris isn’t the main character, developing hers and Eddie’s relationship isn’t high on the show’s list of priorities (they don’t even get the boring solo scenes Arrow gave us of Laurel and Tommy) so it’s hard to care about her and Eddie’s dating when they show up and make their kissy faces only when Barry’s there and sure to feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that Candice Patton and Rick Cosnett are hardly generating any chemistry together, despite how nice their faces look next to each other. And it only becomes more obvious when Barry and Iris are onscreen that Patton and Grant Gustin are a much better onscreen pairing.

Barry has a few families growing on the show. The Wests are there obviously, including his father in prison, but there’s also the STAR labs trio, some of which are more trustworthy than others. By some I mean Cisco and Caitlin who vastly outstrip Wells in showing how much they care about Barry’s well being. Caitlin’s consistent in her worry about him pushing himself too hard, and Cisco’s just willing to help including coming up with a power bar that’s going to stave off Barry’s fainting spells. Though Wells puts on a good show, it’s hard to tell how much of it is real. His chat with Joe about not doubting Barry comes off sinister since we still don’t know what his intentions are, and the episode’s final moments where Wells murders Simon Stagg, don’t clarify much.All we know for sure is that Wells can walk, and that he has a very strong interest in Barry, particularly his future. He says he wants to keep Barry safe which includes killing Stagg, who mentions the possibility of harnessing The Flash’s power for himself, but with Wells moving into an increasingly more paternal role (advising and encouraging Barry and talking to Joe on his behalf) there’s a question of whether or not he wants to protect Barry or just wants Barry’s power for himself.

Stray Observations

  • Barry: “There’s fire everywhere!” Yes Barry. It’s a fire.
  • Iris: “I’ll just make something up.”
  • I do wonder what new and improved excuses Barry’s going to come up with to throw a suspicious Iris off his trail. As Joe noted, she’s going to catch on if he keeps offering lame ones like “fainting”.
  • The whole tone of the show varies significantly from the darker ArrowThe Flash is quicker with humor and its lighter feel crosses over into many of its storylines and performances including Gustin’s since Barry is far from the weighted down Oliver Queen whose angst only gets more pronounced as the seasons go by.

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