Last season’s cliffhanger left us with The Flash racing skyward right in to the eye of an inter-dimensional tornado as it sucked up everyone and everything up in its wake. Eagerly awaiting the return of TV’s favourite scarlet speedster for months now, I was ready to jump right back in and continue where we left off. I perched myself on the edge of my couch and pressed play all set to resume from that adrenaline filled moment. What I got though was Barry facing off against Captain Cold and Heatwave again? Huh? Where’s the episode guide? Is this a repeat? Oh no wait, it’s just a dream?! Now the action will kick off! But no, rather than jumping back to that abruptly ended final scene the show pulls the six months later card and we’re instead given a slow burn return to our characters lives with tiny titbits alluding to what happened on; what the newspapers have coined “the day The Flash saved Central City”.
As the episode unfolds we find that the Star Labs team have gone their separate ways. Cisco is aiding Joe and the Central City police equipping their new Meta Task Force with tools to take down superhuman threats on their own. Caitlin has moved on to work at Mercury Labs and Barry has gone solo feeling guilty over what happened that day. Finally about halfway in to the episode we get an abridged version that was so badly paced and lacked tension of any kind that it almost felt like an afterthought. The least they could have done was put that scene at the start. What it does show though, is that in order to close the portal Ronnie Raymond in his Firestorm form sacrificed his life. Which explains why we haven’t been seeing him in promo material for spin off Legends of Tomorrow.
But with a slow start rather than this the momentum earned from the finale already brought my the episode and my interest to a crawl and things kinda just plodded along after that. Feeling guilt ridden Barry has been keeping low key, focusing on his police work during the day and spending his nights secretly repairing the damaged city. Even though he feels it was a defeat the city are more than grateful offering the Flash the key to the city on the upcoming Flash Day ceremony. Though dubious to attend, Barry reluctantly makes an appearance when suddenly Bane abruptly turns up to ruin the proceedings. As he grows in size bulking up as though venom enters his blood stream he easily takes down The Flash and even equipped with his new meta-human arsenal Joe too. Wait, what’s that? It’s who? Atom-Smasher? But he’s just like… Never mind, WWE wrestler The Edge plays Al Rothstien who has the ability to absorb radiation around him and grow in size in strength which with clever cut arounds worked quite well and at times looked pretty cool when he towered over Barry.
This crisis forces the band to get back together to find his weakness and stop him from killing the Flash. Getting the band back together? But what’s that you say? They were never apart in the first place? Precisly. At season one’s end everyone was united to stop Eobard Thawne yet this episode goes out of its way to have every member broken apart, set up conflict between each character potentially for a whole season’s drama and then inexplicably resolves it all again within the same running time. They have a toast by the episodes end and everyone is united again making everything that just happened completely arbitrary.
The father son scenes between Barry and Joe tug on the heartstrings yet again and in an unexpected turn of events Wells left a last will and testament to Barry in one final show of affection to his greatest adversary yet closest conflicting friend. On a video Wells confesses to the murder of Nora Allen, thus freeing his real father from prison. It was a sweet last gesture that was surprisingly touching and a beautiful reward to Barry for besting him. With Poppa Flash properly reunited with his son after 14 years behind bars, together at last, it’s finally time to cherish their time together but something is off.
What I thought was going to be a “you freed me, but even after all that I have a terminal illness and our time together will be short but bitter-sweet” sorry instead turns in to now that I’m free I’m leaving you, seeya. Henry Allen tells Barry he’s moving away from Central City and leaving his son all alone again today, right now. The scene was played well between both actors and built up to be an emotional moment but his motivation made no sense. A simple line of “I’d just put you in harms way” or “I’ve been stuck in a tiny cell for years I need to get out in to the vastness of the world again” would have clarified his motivation but “his I need you to tell me you understand” riddle just didn’t cut it for me. But when Barry says “you’re the only family I’ve got left” hit Father replies “not any more” and he could not be more right.
Barry initially refused to accept the key to the city for himself because he felt that he was not the man who saved the city but Ronnie whose sacrifice closed the portal and Eddie who gave his like to stop Reverse Flash. But by the end of the episode we realise its every member of team Flash that earned that key. Though the Flash might be out there on the front line and not everyone can have superpowers, each individual member is doing their part which aids Barry and with out them together saving the day just wouldn’t happen. Just as things wrap up Cisco boasts about the new state of the art security system for Star Labs, now no one can just walk in when suddenly a mysterious figure steps in to the room. But this isn’t just any one and I doubt very much that he just “walked” in. The man introduces himself in a sentence only a true hero can get away with saying “my name is Jay Garrick and your world is in danger” and cue credits.
Dammit, even starting slow it still leaves me wanting more. I hope this episode was just the writers tying up loose ends and planting seeds for things to come but for a Season opener it was more like an average filler episode. However with so many exciting promos for the season ahead still colour me Red and colour me intrigued to see where this season is going moving “forward”.
SIDE NOTE: The Flash signal makes an appearance. When questioned where Cisco got the idea he says “I must have saw it in a comic book somewhere” if he had just said “I got the idea for it when I was in Gotham” it would have made it one million times cooler, missed opportunity. But I can still dream.
Review by Dylan Boaden.