It’s been a nice long season, with just one episode more than several of the other superhero shows this year that had a mere 22 episodes. More than any other show, this felt like a show about comic book superheroes. It wasn’t overly dark, gritty, and realistic. Character names weren’t changed to be less silly. The television series from 25 years ago wasn’t erased from memory, it was raised on a pedestal. It felt like more of a Marvel television show than the Marvel television shows, but it still managed to have real relationships between real characters going through real problems that just also happened to involve superpowers. It has one of the most diverse casts alongside Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it showed that it can play well with others, namely Arrow. Simply put, it was one of the best hours on television this season, the highest rated show on the CW ever, and one of my favorites.
Something that has been missing with a lot of the superhero shows of the past several years was the sense of fun. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has it here and there, but the Flash really runs with it, pun intended. Very early on, they introduce the nerd character Cisco who will likely become some form of the obscure and ridiculous superhero Vibe. He is the perfect excuse to get some of the comic book conventions out of the way as he has all the movie and pop culture knowledge with the removal of comic book lore of course. Quick side note – it’s always strange to think that in almost all of these classic Marvel and DC universes, there is an absence of traditional comic books. I understand that it’s the nature of the beast, but it’s still an odd concept to wrap my head around that the world is exactly the same as our world, except that there either aren’t any comic books, or all of the superheroes are generic ones. Sometimes they will toss in that there are comics of the actual hero, but that’s only when they are established, never in an origin. But back to my point, Cisco is the perfect way to highlight the comic book nature of these villains and their codenames. He does it because he’s a nerd and it’s fun, simple as that.
Throughout the show, one of the best elements of the character relationships were the father/son relationships. And when you start to break it down, there are actually several different variations and they all are very complex and nuanced. I’ll start off with the best one, and that’s between Barry and his adopted father and police detective Joe. Joe is the absolute heart of this show, comparing it to another show that we’re starting to cover on this site Buffy, Joe is the Xander character minus the comic relief. He doesn’t have any metahuman abilities, he’s just a regular cop trying to sort all this out. And on top of that, he cares deeply about Barry Allen as his true son regardless of whether or not they are blood. Which brings me to Barry’s actual blood related father played by the previous Flash John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen. He doesn’t show up very often, but he nails every scene he’s in, you would never believe that this guy is actually in jail because he never complains about being there, he has fully accepted his fate and just cherishes any amount of time that he gets to spend with his son. There’s also a bit of a father/son relationship between Barry and Dr. Wells, though it’s also played up more with the mentor side of things. In a way, Wells fathered the Flash as a metahuman. He engineered the accident and trained Barry to use his abilities to his fullest potential. And finally, to a lesser extent there’s the father/son relationship between Wells and Cisco. even though much of that is implied rather than fully spelled out through the show.
Something that most superhero shows struggle with during their first seasons is the villain of the week syndrome, whether it was Smallville with their meteor freaks, Buffy with their weekly demons, or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with their weekly missions. And while the Flash did have that to a certain extent, there were more than enough variations such as recurring villains like Snart, the crossovers with Arrow, and the whole Reverse Flash plot that carried through most of the second half of the season that kept things interesting. There were a few weak villains, but even during those episodes there was enough extra plot via the tidbits towards the Reverse Flash, or even just simple character dynamics were always fun to see.
My favorite villain was easily the Trickster. Before starting this site I decided that I wanted to re-watch the original Flash series from 1990. I had seen it when I was younger and didn’t really remember anything about it aside from one brief scene from one of the last couple episodes. I’m honestly glad that I did because the showrunners have so much love and respect for that series they toss in homages as much as possible. Besides having Shipp play Henry Allen, the first episode has the explosion with the lightning that is staged and shot almost exactly the same way as it was in the earlier series. They also had three other actors from the show play in small roles, essentially reprising their characters in the future, though in a semi-parallel universe where there wasn’t a Flash just yet. Mark Hamill gets to reprise his role as the Trickster and he falls right back into the role. It’s not too surprising as the Trickster was a large part of his inspiration for his longtime role as the voice of the Joker.
It’s tough to pick out a single episode as my favorite as there have been a lot of great episodes, and a lot of episodes that weren’t overall great but had some of my favorite moments in them like Rogue Time. In the end, I think I have to give credit to the season finale Fast Enough. The entire season has been building up to what was expected to be the Flashpoint moment, but the show was brave enough to not go there in exactly the way the audience was expecting. Instead, it was full of heart to heart moments between Barry and pretty much everyone he cared about who all gave him conflicting advice on what to do. It also had one of the most shocking and surprising moments when Eddie sacrificed himself to defeat Eobard Thawne. The only downside of the episode at all was that the giant sky vortex cliffhanger was a little bit too much, but it’s still my favorite episode, and I hope I get the chance to see the extended version or the deleted scenes as I heard that a lot was cut out.
Season 2 Predictions
It’s hard to say exactly what season 2 will be just yet. There’s already been rumors flying around about the multiverse and Tom Cavanagh returning in some capacity. I imagine that the real Dr. Wells will somehow return, but I expect he will be a very different character than Eobard Thawne pretending to be Dr. Wells. There is also the rumors of various speedsters coming in. I liked a couple theories that Shipp might get the chance to don his red velvet suit once again as the Flash from a parallel universe, or that Cavanagh may return as a parallel version of Jay Garrick who could help mentor Barry in the ways of the speed force. I think there will definitely be the set up to Legends of Tomorrow sprinkled throughout season 2 of the Flash as Hawkgirl already made a split-second appearance, and I’m sure Rip Hunter will show up at some point in time, whether it’s just for a single episode, or here and there until LoT gets its proper mid-season premier. What do you think will make its way into season 2? And what did you think of the Flash’s first season? For me, it’s a tough call between this and iZombie as my favorite show of the season.