The Flash: “The Man Who Saved Central City” Season 2 Premiere Review

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If the season two premiere is any indication of what’s to come, it’s time to get excited. The Flash returns with a more consistent tone, less expository dialogue, and better action.

If there was anything wrong with season one of the CW’s superhero series, it was that it didn’t try too hard to improve on its sibling series’ shortcomings. From the beginning, Arrow has been a show that, while spinning a good yarn, tried way too hard. “The Man Who Saved Central City” may be the most confident episode of both series. With its mix of dynamic storytelling, humor, and emotion, The Flash starts season two off on the right foot.

Picking up six months after the singularity threatened to vacuum up all of Central City, Barry has dispersed the team at S.T.A.R. Labs to take up superheroics on his own. Instead of immediately feeding us the conclusion to last season’s cliffhanger, the audience is asked to be patient. We catch up with Cisco and Joe working to bring a Metahuman Task Force to the CCPD, Caitlyn at her new job at Mercury Labs, and a guilt-ridden Barry cleaning up what he thinks is his mess in his spare time. The show instantly reminds us why we liked all these characters to begin with. Only then do we get to see that the singularity killed Ronnie, who was able to destroy it and save the city.

Meanwhile, Central City is throwing a Flash Day to celebrate its hero. Barry never comes across as too whiney when he tells his friends he doesn’t want to go, nor does Iris come across as annoyingly preachy. The characters and the writing have been polished, making the more soapy scenes land better than they ever did last season.

But of course, there’s got to be a metahuman to ruin the fun. Unfortunately, Atom Smasher suffered a lot of the same problems many of last season’s one-off villains did. His motivations were unclear and the whole thing was pretty one note. He has a cool power though, growing in size when exposed to radiation. It was also refreshing to have Barry throw a punch instead of just zipping around everyone. Their fights worked a little better than many of the others from season one.

To defeat him, however, Barry has to remember the strength his friends give him while he’s out there.After defeating Atom Smasher thanks to everyone’s hard work, the villain mentions a name that Barry will grow to fear: Zoom. Atom Smasher seems to have been from another timeline. The producers indicated this season would delve into the multiverse, and they weren’t kidding, throwing it in hot and heavy in episode one. Top it off with the appearance of Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the comics, at the end of the episode, and The Flash clearly isn’t wasting any time.

This episode being entirely about the family coming back together, we also got necessary twist at the end, with Wells confessing to Nora Allen’s murder on camera, setting Barry’s father free. It was an emotional reunion, even if Henry’s choice to leave Central City means that the show just doesn’t know what to do with him now. But the payoff itself worked, and who wants to see the writers flounder trying to give him something to do anyway?

That being the only awkward moment of the whole episode, “The Man Who Saved Central City” brought us a more refined version of the show we already loved from last year. There’s a groove here that I hope and pray gets maintained. That would make this a superhero saga for the ages. Grade: A-


Some Other Thought Bubbles:

  • How fun was the opening scene? It wasn’t even annoying that it turned out to be a dream. There’s no way the season could have started that happy and light-hearted anyway.
  • There seems to be an anger instilled in Caitlyn. After the sneak peak of her as Killer Frost in the Speed Force, that road seems like one we’ll be going down in due time.
  • Cisco thinks he saw the Flash Signal in a comic book. Sure, and with Ra’s al Ghul fighting the Arrow, we’re just not meant to think Batman exists somewhere in this universe. There’s a part of me somewhere that kind of hopes Batman v. Superman fails so we can get a complete DC universe eventually.
  • Dr. Stein is already a fun addition to Team Flash.
  • Am I a bad geek if I didn’t even notice the costume change?

By Matt Dougherty

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