The Flash reached its mid-season finale tonight with The Man in the Yellow Suit. Just nine episodes in, it’s already exhibiting a sense of confidence and momentum that is entirely justified.
Picking up speed
As befitting a series about the adventures of the fastest man alive, The Flash hit the ground running and has not shown any signs of relaxing its pace. In my look back over the first three episodes, I noted that the show’s ensemble had clicked into place quickly and the writers had established a lighter tone distinct from its cousin Arrow.
The balance of the front nine has continued this strong start. Each of the supporting characters has received their share of the spotlight and had elements of their backstory fleshed out. And Flash has held its own identity strongly, despite the subsequent visit from Arrow‘s Felicity Smoak in Going Rogue and the full-on two-part crossover (Flash vs Arrow and The Brave and the Bold), which riffed off the contrasting tones of the two shows and their lead characters. Both episodes in the crossover worked well, with everyone getting something meaty to do and the two leads playing off each other beautifully.
The Flash’s journey of discovery as he develops his ability and skills – running on water? No problem! – has also unfolded in a pleasingly organic way. So when Oliver Queen arrives in Central City to teach a cocky Barry Allen a thing or two about being wise as well as fast, it feels right. And when Barry finds himself outrun and outgunned by Reverse-Flash in the mid-season finale, it’s a reminder that he still has a long way to go before he realises his full potential.
And an apology from me. I questioned Grant Gustin‘s limited acting range previously, but he’s grown nicely into the role as the writers have expanded Barry’s character to explore some of his anger, angst and unrequited love for Iris. He’s doing a fine job of layering in Barry’s more human side behind the superhuman facade.
Setting up the rest of the season
It’s a sign of the series’ growing confidence and stature that The Man in the Yellow Suit is less of a mid-season finale and more of a second-half prologue, as it provides far fewer answers than it raises questions.
It confirms what fans of the comics had long since guessed, that the man responsible for the death of Barry’s mother and subsequent imprisonment of his father is an ‘opposite’ version of the Flash. And the episode’s coda deliberately suggests that Reverse-Flash may well be a future version of Dr Harrison Wells – although there’s also a more subtle suggestion that he has some kind of connection with Eddie Thawne. But that’s about all we know about Reverse-Flash for now, other than the fact that he is both faster and stronger than Barry, who he knows more about than Barry does of him. Instead, after two initial encounters that leave Barry battered and bruised, we’re left to ponder their next meeting.
We also get a proper introduction to the Human Torch-like meta-human that Caitlin Snow‘s fiancé Ronnie Raymond has become. Firestorm shows up to interrupt the Flash’s battle with Reverse-Flash, but it remains unclear whether he is friend or foe, or how much of Ronnie’s memories and humanity he retains.
In addition to another appearance by original TV Flash John Wesley Shipp as Barry’s father Henry Allen, almost under the radar Yellow Suit reintroduces another alumnus from the earlier show in the form of Amanda Pays as Dr Tina McGee from STAR Labs rival Mercury Labs. In the 1990 series, Pays played a character of the same name who served as Barry’s sidekick and love interest. I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of her.
With the mystery surrounding the secretive and ruthless Dr Wells growing with every episode, Cisco noting that there must have been a second speedster present when Barry’s mother was murdered and a number of ongoing storylines now nicely teed up – the next story sees the return of Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold – there’s a pleasing blend of recurring villains and meta-humans of the week that bodes well going forward.
The show certainly isn’t hanging about, and with plenty of threads left dangling for viewers familiar with the comic books’ history to salivate over, there’s every hope that the momentum will continue through the rest of this season and beyond. The Flash is everything an all-American hero should be, with a lightness of tone that makes it a great introduction to the super-hero genre for the next generation of young comic-book fans. Bravo.