Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Flash Season 1, Episode 6: The Flash Is Born

This week on The Flash we get an obscure (to me anyway) supervillain, Iris keeps blogging, the STAR Labs Gang gets more character development and the real identity of Dr. Wells becomes even murkier.

By the way, I just want to say that despite my often snarky attitude in these reviews, this is fast becoming my new favorite show.


The Plot:
Barry encounters a new metahuman called Girder, who somehow beats the crap out of him, despite not having super speed. Girder turns out to be Barry's childhood bully, who regularly administered beatings to him in school. This time it's personal!

After several more beatdowns, the STAR Labs Gang figures out a way for Barry to defeat Girder-- by the incredibly sophisticated act of running real fast and punching him at supersonic speed. He finally defeats Girder, and they lock him up in the super jail inside STAR Labs, which can't possibly be legal.

Meanwhile Iris continues to blog about the Flash, while he continues to try and talk her out of it.

And Det. West, investigating the murder of Barry's mom, thinks that the highly suspicious and creepy Dr. Wells might have something to do with it. Wells denies any involvement, but then ten minutes later West is visited by the Reverse Flash, who tells him to knock it off. Hmm...


• This episode is titled The Flash Is Born. I could have sworn everyone has been calling him that since the pilot.

I guess it's just the STAR Labs Gang that's been calling him that, and Iris-- and the general public-- has been referring to him as the laughable "The Streak."

• This is some hard core nitpicking, but what the heck. In the weekly prologue, Barry says that everyone thinks he's a normal forensic scientist. He says this while holding a test tube in his hand and vibrating it at super speed. I don't think normal forensic scientists can do that.

• I thought I knew all the Flash villains, so when Girder appeared I assumed he was either from another comic (Firestorm, no doubt) or created just for the show. Turns out he's from the Flash comic after all. He's a newer character who came along after I stopped buying comics.

In the comic Girder is made of living iron, but here it's steel. Did they change his substance so they could make a "Man Of Steel" joke?

Unfortunately Girder comes off as a low-rent Colossus here. He's got a cool power, but Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. already did the metal man schtick a couple of months ago with Absorbing Man.

• At the beginning of the episode Girder is fleeing the police in a stolen yellow Hummer. A few things here.

First of all, Eddie Thawne and several other cops set up a roadblock to stop Girder. As his Hummer approaches, they all begin firing at it-- while several police cars are following closely behind. Is that a good idea? All Girder has to do is swerve and they'll be shooting at their own men here.

Secondly, as Eddie fires wildly at the approaching Girder, he gets off a lucky shot that hits him in the face. Girder's face instantly turns to steel and deflects the bullet. Somehow Eddie is able to see this and realize that Girder is a metahuman. Yep, he sees a man's face momentarily turn to steel as he's approaching at 90 mph, in the dark. Eddie must have good eyes indeed.

Lastly, why in the name of Henry Ford did Girder steal a Hummer? They stopped making them over four years ago, in May of 2010! Does Girder just have a thing for discontinued behemoths that get poor gas mileage, or did he grab the first thing he could steal?

• Girder used to work at the Keystone Ironworks in Keystone City, which is apparently fairly close to Central City. In the comics, Keystone City is where Jay Garrick, the original Flash lived. Which of course raises the question-- will we be seeing the Jay Garrick Flash on the show? I hope so, as that would be awesome.

• This has nothing to do with the episode, but the bas-relief mural in the Central City Police Department is actually a big Easter egg. The figures featured in it are all based on members of the Justice League! Pretty cool!

According to the designer of the mural, the figures are all Greco-Roman gods masquerading as superheroes. Zeus is Superman, Hades is Batman, Hera is Wonder Woman, Mercury is the Flash (natch), Apollo is Green Arrow, Poseidon is Aquaman and Vulcan is Green Lantern.

• For several weeks now Barry's been trying to get Iris to understand that her blog is putting her in danger. This week Girder proves his point. Girder doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, but even he can figure out that if Iris is writing about the Flash, then she must know him, and he comes a'runnin' for her.

If a dim bulb like him can manage to put the pieces together, a more intelligent supervillain out to have no trouble doing the same. Iris should realize that and stop blogging immediately, instead of hitting send without proofreading and smugly staring at her hit count.

• When Iris is talking to the Flash, she mentions other metahumans popping up all over the country, including a burning man who's literally on fire. I'm assuming that's yet another reference to Firestorm.

• Eddie Thawne tells Barry that he was jealous of him at first, but is now glad that he's such good friends with Iris.

I liked these bonding scenes between Barry and Eddie quite a bit. As most of us know, Eddie Thawne is the alter ego of the Reverse Flash in the comics. Whether that's the case here remains to be seen. I'm betting the writers are doing everything they can to make Eddie seem like a nice guy, so that when he does finally become a supervillain it'll be all the more shocking.

• The STAR Labs Gang calculates that Barry will need to run 830 mph in order to defeat girder. Cisco says that's faster than the speed of sound. Eh, that's sort of true. Mach speed is not a constant, and can vary wildly depending on atmospheric pressure and temperature. It's all very complicated.

At normal sea level Mach 1, otherwise known as the speed of sound, is 761 mph. So Barry will most likely be running faster than the speed of sound.

• Cisco also tells Barry that in order to get up to 830 mph, he'll need a 5.3 mile running start. During his final battle with Girder, Barry takes off running in the opposite direction and stops exactly 5.3 miles away. Does he have an odometer built into his suit?

• OK, I get that Barry lacks the strength to harm Girder's steel hide, but how does he keep getting his ass handed to him every time they grapple? Barry can literally move faster than the human eye can see. Unless Girder has super speed as well, I don't understand how he's able to grab him so easily and toss him around.

• Barry's supersonic punch was pretty cool. Like a panel from the comic come to life.

That said, I'm a bit fuzzy as to how Girder's powers work. Is his body made of some kind of organic steel that he can make look normal? Or is he made of flesh and blood and can somehow cover himself with steel? I'm guessing it's the latter, especially if Iris was able to take him out with one punch to the jaw (after Barry softened him up, of course).

• After Girder is defeated, he's locked up in the Super Jail inside STAR Labs.

This cannot possibly be legal. Sure, Girder's a criminal, but he still has the right to due process. The STAR gang can't just lock him up without a trial in their own private little version of Gitmo. Or did they just not take the time to show us the part where he got a jury trial?

Does Det. West know about this? Surely not, because I can't imagine he'd be OK with private citizens building a prison and incarcerating criminals indefinitely.

I know this is a comic book world, but this is a pretty serious issue they're blurring over here. Jailing suspects without a trial would never happen in the real worl.... oh, wait.

• As Girder is ranting and pounding on the hopefully unbreakable glass of his cell, Barry just can't help himself and reveals his identity to him. I get that Barry wanted to finally best his nemesis, but that seemed like a pretty bad idea. I'm sure that won't ever come back to bite him in the ass come Sweeps week.

• Det. West is determined to find out who really killed Barry's mom, Nora Allen. He questions Dr. Wells, who arrived in Central City only a month before the murder. Dr. Wells he came to Central City shortly after his wife Tess Morgan was killed in a car accident.

Like so many other major and minor characters on this show, I figured Tess Morgan was from the comics. As near as I can tell she's not.

• Shortly after Det. West questions Dr. Wells, he's in his home looking over the Nora Allen case files. Suddenly the room is filled with red lightning and a blurry yellow figure appears before his eyes. When the lightning dies down, the files are gone and there's a photo of Iris stuck to the wall with a knife, the words "STOP OR ELSE" scrawled on it.

Obviously this was the work of the Reverse Flash. But who is he? As I mentioned above, in the comics he's Eddie Thawne. But here he appears just moments after Det. West's meeting with Dr. Wells. That would seem to point to Wells being the Reverse Flash rather than Eddie. Unless Wells somehow controls Eddie? Or maybe they're working together.

The writers are just messing with us here. They know we're expecting Eddie to be the Reverse Flash, so they're obviously muddying the waters so we have no idea who the hell's the real villain.

If Wells does turn out to really be the Reverse Flash, it wasn't very smart of him to put on his little show for Det. West just minutes after their tense little meeting. There aren't a lot of other people West could suspect.

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