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The Flash: “Power Outage”

Was the particle accelerator the best or the worst thing to happen to Central City? The best because it created the Flash, who’s become the city’s new favorite thing? Or the worst because it created countless other metahumans not nearly as benevolent as Barry Allen? It’s more likely a draw, Barry evening the scales against his fellow metahumans and stepping in where normal people can’t. That’s the plan when yet another metahuman turns up Farooq (Michael Raventer) is an electrical vampire, forced to drain various electrical sources for survival, and he turns his power on Wells to get vengeance for his friends’ deaths the night of the accelerator’s activation.

Farooq doesn’t make much sense as a character. His motivations are clear, but how he got there? Not really. Until now he’s been feeding for survival but  he kills a man working at the station (why is unknown), and he decides that now, ten months post-accelerator is when he wants to make Wells pay. It’s not as if he knows that this is the moment when Wells is at his most vulnerable, with his friendly speedster made powerless, so why does he choose now? It’s a small gripe in the scope of the episode, but it’s still a gripe. Regardless Farooq is one of the cooler metahumans we’ve found and the most sympathetic one (second only to Plastique), made even more sympathetic because he’s targeting The Flash‘s shadiest character.

Said shadiest character is extra shady in “Power Outage”, desperate to restore Barry’s powers after he loses them in a run-in with Farooq. A powerless Barry isn’t conducive to maintaining Wells’ desired future, the one in which Barry mysteriously vanishes. Wells’ motivations become more and more nebulous with each passing episode, the only certainty being that he needs Barry alive and well, at least for the time being. Him taking Farooq’s blood in the episode’s final moments, to replicate his ability to take Barry’s powers, doesn’t bode well. But Wells is so invested in keeping this future in play he’s willing to sacrifice whoever, even perhaps himself.

Wells is far from selfless, but he twice offers himself up in exchange for Barry when Farooq storms the lab. The first time he buys time by releasing Tony to take him on, a decision that leaves Tony dead. The second time, as Farooq is about to blow Barry, Caitlin and Cisco away, Wells actually does offer up his own life to keep them safe. Whatever this future is, he does want to Barry alive to make it happen, even if he’s not there to see it himself. Or knowing Wells, he probably has other tricks up his sleeve.

Employing Tony against Farooq is just one of these, and it’s an interesting turn of events. The collection of metahumans beneath the lab is surely going to become a mine for issues down the road, but seeing it be tapped so early is surprising. Wells offers Tony his freedom in exchange for killing Farooq, and Tony’s game. Their faceoff is actually kind of cool, Tony’s steel exterior going up against Farooq’s electricity, and it makes me long for Barry to find his way onto a superhero team sooner rather than later so we can see all kinds of people kicking all kinds of other people’s butts.

It also exposes the team to a less savory side of Wells. Though we know him to be shady, it’s news to everyone else. Especially Barry who’s horrified at Wells having used Tony as a sacrifice. Despite his history with Tony, Barry’s not pleased with him being killed because Wells decided he was expendable. It’s the fundamental difference between the two. Though Wells can list every person killed by the particle accelerator, he doesn’t seem to actually care about them. The show’s implied that all these people were sacrifices to facilitate Barry getting his powers. Barry on the other hand can’t stand to see even his childhood nemesis killed even when he’s protecting them.

Barry’s such a nice and refreshing hero. The Flash has been around forever, but he might as well be brand new in our pool of angsting heroes clawing their way out of their sorrowful pasts and wearily (but determinedly) fighting the good fight. We’re not going to have any of Barry dreaming of settling down and chilling out anytime soon. He loves the superhero thing, having found purpose in being people’s savior and a shining beacon of hope in Central City. So losing those powers leaves him adrift.

It’s been a season of Barry realizing his powers and how far they can take him, so him losing them is a natural step. he hasn’t had them long but losing them makes it clear just how much of Barry’s identity is already wrapped up in them. And wrapped up in his ability to keep people safe. Even powerless, he tries to talk to Farooq and make him see reason, which doesn’t go well. And with the Clock King taking people hostage at the police station, including Joe, Iris and Eddie, Barry’s helplessness is made even stronger.

Since Barry isn’t going to be able to save the police, it’s up to them to do it themselves. It’s an interesting beat for the show, after harping on Barry’s importance to Central City itself. It’s not an unusual concept in the superhero genre. Every city populated by a superhero really needs said hero, to the extent that it’s difficult to see how they get by without them. That’s the whole point of this season’s disappointing Gotham, to see how a city gets so low that the only way out is through Batman. The regular people simply aren’t enough.

It’s something of a relief that this isn’t the case in Central City. The police may not have the easiest time taking on a metahuman, but they are trained law enforcement officers so they have some skills conducive to keeping themselves, and others, alive. When the Clock King (Samuel Knepper) takes them hostage, the hope is that the Flash will turn up to help them out, a hope that makes it apparent just how vital the Flash has become to Central City so far. But they were getting by without him for awhile, right? And the Clock King isn’t a metahuman either so they have a chance of taking him out. Eddie makes a good attempt but is foiled by the Clock King’s bulletproof vest so the task is handed over to Iris (!!!) who brings down the Clock King, and by the time Barry turns up all the excitement is over.

Barry gets his fair share of excitement at STAR labs. While subjecting himself to extreme volts of electricity to get his powers back works, it faces a mental block that keeps him from using them. It’s only bypassed when Wells is about to be burned to a crisp, and Barry rushes to save him. I’d say he’ll probably regret that down the line whenever Wells reveals himself, but it’s Barry so he’ll probably never regret helping a person because he’s just that sweet.

Barry visits Eddie in the hospital, high on his pain meds and totally blown away by Barry bringing him flowers. He doesn’t even catch onto Barry’s super speeding around the hospital room.  Then the Flash pays Iris a visit to apologize for not being there, telling her that she’s “worth being on time for”, a bit of flirtation which leaves

Stray Observations

  • Iris and Barry are super cute all the time. Barry paying her a visit and apologizing for not being there was so, so cute. Her dazed reaction after he told her that she was “worth being on time for” was precious. I can’t wait for them to make out.
  • Barry: “I got mad skills.”
    Joe: “Please don’t ever say that again.”
  • Cisco: “He runs slow even for a normal person.”

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