The Flash: “The Flash is Born” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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Look, I’m all for the camp value The Flash has to offer, it’s certainly more welcome here than on Arrow, but this episode was just too much.

With the last two episodes, The Flash finally started to give us some watchable villains, but this episode proved that the antagonist issue is still very much a thing with one of the weakest foes yet (though I guess you can’t get worse than the Mist). To draw more parallels between Barry Allen and Peter Parker, Barry had a bully in school that used to pick on him while also crushing on Iris. His name is Tony Woodward, and he is DC’s C-list rogue answer to the X-Men’s Colossus (read: his skin turns metal). In the comics he’s called Girder, which is what Cisco calls the metal dummy he has Barry fight after he gets pummeled by his old pre-teen nemesis.

The school bully is an overdone cliche. Tony sported the look of a bad ’80s high school movie bully, with his muscle shirt, tattoo, and slicked back hair. It was cartoonish. It’s ok for The Flash to be pulpy, but this was a cringe-inducing way to do it. I’m reminded of the startling detail in The Amazing Spider-man where a grieving Peter Parker has to accept genuine condolences from his high school nemesis Flash Thompson. That’s how you avoid a cliche.

Instead, Tony shows up at Iris’ bar and uses forceful lines that no one would ever possibly think would work to try and get her to go out with him. Once he kidnaps her, he reveals that he wants Iris to write about him the same way she writes about the Streak. This was a heavy-handed way to make Barry right all along about the dangers of writing a blog about your town’s superhero, which she keeps doing anyway by episode’s end.

Cisco has a way for Barry to hurt Tony though, and it’s something we’ve been building to for a few episodes. It’s time for the Flash to break the sound barrier. It’s a gratifying moment when he runs through the street and you hear the sonic boom. Barry is improving himself in a measurable way, which is quite compelling. Too bad the terrible CGI from The Matrix Reloaded made a comeback here and gave us the cartoony slo-mo punch nobody wanted. In a moment that literally made no sense, Tony stands there and just allows Iris to knock him out. Sadly, this villain goes away in the S.T.A.R. Labs makeshift prison, destined to return when there’s an inevitable breakout. Barry and Iris make up, as we all knew they would, and they together coin the name “the Flash”.

A much more successful subplot of the episode had Detective West questioning Dr. Wells about the murder of Barry’s mother. Their interactions felt real, as Wells got angry with West for seemingly accusing him of knowing more than he’s letting on, which of course he does. They make up over a bottle of scotch just before the episode’s very exciting kicker. As West sits at home looking through newspaper clippings, a yellow streak swirls around in his living room, leaving a threatening message and a knife through an image of Iris. It is undoubtedly Reverse Flash, our hero’s comic book arch-nemesis. Could his time on the series be closer than we think?

Still, The Flash is Born was a cumbersome episode riddled with cliches. Girder did not make a strong transition to live-action here, and his return feels like more of a threat to the audience than to Barry. But the future still looks bright on The Flash, with one of the hero’s greatest rogues seemingly on his way. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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