FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 2x01- "The Man Who Saved Central City"

The Flash (2x01) - "The Man Who Saved Central City"

Written by: Andrew Kreisberg and Gabrielle G Stanton

Directed by: Ralph Hemecker

After a recap of season one, season two picks up six months later with the Flash taking on Heat Wave and Captain Cold.  Barry knocks out Mick but takes a blast from Cold’s gun and is cornered behind a car before Firestorm arrives to make a timely save.

Barry returns to STAR Labs to a hero’s welcome, receiving praise from and quipping with each member of Team Flash in turn before things take a turn for the odd when Eddie is revealed to still be alive.  Followed by Dr. Wells. He tells Barry that there is nothing more he can teach Barry and that he is ready to handle things alone.

Barry turns out to be alone in a much more barren looking STAR Labs hub, reveal the previous scene as a daydream.  He receives an alert on a computer and races out of the building disturbing a pile of bills marked “Past Due” and “Final Notice.”

As he runs to the danger, a new version of the precap voiceover reveals some of what’s actually happened in the last six months.  Despite Central City looking intact Barry says he failed to save the city, and is now handling things on his own to protect those he cares about.

After the title card, we find Barry out of the suit at a crime scene investigating the death of Al Rothstein.  He reports to Joe that Rothstein was strangled by someone extremely strong.  Joe worries that it might be Grodd but Barry eases his mind before he finishes up and leaves brusquely when Joe brings up a “Flash Day” celebration.  As he leaves we see a man taking photos of him from an alley.

At the Police Station, Captain Singh asks Joe about the murder and during Joe’s report we learn first that during the last six months Joe has been placed in charge of an anti-metahuman task force and Cisco is his scientific advisor.  Iris soon arrives and asks if Joe or Cisco have talked to Barry about the rally.  Barry is stonewalling all of them on the subject.

That night at Jitters Iris finds Barry using his powers to rebuild the coffee shop by himself.  She points out that many of the businesses damaged by the black hole have been repaired in the middle of the night this way.  Barry demurs but when Iris asks him to come to tell the story he says he doesn’t want any attention, when she brings up the rally he points out he wasn’t the one to save the city.

She leaves and Barry thinks back to that day.  Barry is able to contain the singularity but Dr. Stein says they still need to close it, his plan is for he and Ronnie to merge then separate inside the singularity, using the energy release to close it.  After saying goodbye to Caitlin they merge and fly into the singularity and separate.  The plane works and Barry is able to save Stein but Ronnie is nowhere to be seen.

The next day, Central City has gathered together for the rally.  During the mayor’s speech and figure in black moves through the crowd.  Barry arrives to receive the Key to the City and is promptly attacked by the figure throwing a food truck at him and the mayor.  Barry gets the mayor to safety and confronts the figure, a muscled man in a black helmet.

When Barry rushes him, the man is agile enough to catch Barry with a backhand that sends him flying.  The police open fire on the man to no effect and Cisco has a brief vision of the man talking to someone else who is arcing with blue electricity.  Joe shocks Cisco out of his vision and asks for Cisco’s latest invention for the task force.  A weapon called the boot.  Joe uses The Boot and it fires some sort of cuff around the ankle that lets loose with an incapacitating electric charge.

Unfortunately, this has the wrong effect on the man as he begins to grow in size and strength.  Barry then grabs some propane tanks, his plan is to throw them at the man and have Joe shoot them.  The explosion staggers the man but shrapnel is lodged in Barry leg, meanwhile the attacker’s helmet comes off revealing Al Rothstein.  Rothstein then makes his escape.

Joe and Cisco are back at the Station and learn that Rothstein’s body was still in the morgue.  Cisco tells Joe something else, Rothstein was in Hawaii the night of the Accelerator explosion, leaving the pair very little to go on.  Iris arrives and tells them that during the fight all the X-Ray and CT scan machines at a nearby hospital failed at once.   Cisco leaves to try and figure that out which allows Iris and Joe to discuss Barry.

Cisco goes to Mercury Labs to get Caitlin’s help on the X-Ray/Rothstein mystery and while she’s hesitant at first she agrees after she makes it clear that she’s not coming back.

At Barry’s CSI Lab, an attorney for Dr. Wells’ estate arrives and explains that STAR Labs is about to go into receivership.  He then presents Barry with a thumb drive and an option.  If he watches the message on the drive, the attorney will begin making the appropriate arrangements to prevent the receivership.  The attorney tells Barry he’ll know when he’s watched the message and leaves. 

Barry sets the drives aside but before he can do much more than brood he receives an intruder alert at STAR Labs.  He races over there to find most of the team (Caitlin is still absent) working on stopping “Rothstein.”  As Barry protests their involvement, Cisco theorizes that “Rothstein’s” power comes from absorbing radiation. (Allowing Stein to dub him “Atom-Smasher” to Cisco’s delight.)  With this theory, Cisco is able to track Atom-Smasher to a facility in town and Barry suits up to head over there.  Leaving his com-unit behind.

Barry finds Atom-Smasher soaking up radiation, when Barry asks him why he killed Rothstein the man says he wouldn’t believe him even if he told Barry.  The two fight and Barry is quickly over-powered but before Atom-Smasher can kill him Cisco hacks the alarm giving Barry a chance to escape.  Barry manages to make it back to STAR Labs but collapses.

While Barry’s unconscious, Joe remembers a night not long after Barry started living in the West home when Joe helped him through his anger.  In the present, Barry wakes up and Joe tells him he and the others will no longer let Barry push them away if he is only out to get himself killed.  When Barry says that’s better than him getting them killed Joe explains that Eddie and Ronnie made their choice to help him and that was their right.

Barry goes over to Mercury Labs to talk with Caitlin.  He tells her he was surprised that Caitlin was at the rally when they both know he failed to save Ronnie.  Caitlin tells him she doesn’t blame him, she blames herself and that was why she couldn’t come back to STAR Labs knowing that her decision to stay when Ronnie wanted to leave got him killed.  When Barry offers her a handkerchief he drops the thumb drive on the floor. 

Caitlin offers to watch the message with him, and pair sit down at her computer.  Wells’ message is rather taunting, telling Barry that no matter what he does he’ll never truly be happy because it will never be enough and he has a way to prove it.  He then confesses to Nora Allen’s murder in detail.

Later at STAR Labs, Joe is talking with the DA and he tells Barry that Wells’ confession had many of the right details and she thinks it should be enough to get Henry out of Iron Heights.  While Joe’s dealing with that Barry asks how they can stop Atom-Smasher.  Caitlin has an idea to get him to gorge himself on more radiation than he can absorb.

Atom-Smasher is in a hotel room or apartment somewhere when he sees a “signal” in the night sky.  He follows it to Barry’s location, and Barry leads him to a nearby nuclear plant.  Barry baits him into the reactor core before trapping Atom-Smasher inside as Cisco opens it.  The plan works and as Atom-Smasher lay dying Barry asks him why.  Atom-Smasher says that he was promised a chance to go home if he killed Barry.  When Barry asks who, Atom-Smasher says “Zoom” with his dying breath.

Later, Barry meets Henry outside of Iron Heights to take him home.  Joe and the others are waiting to celebrate his homecoming.  During the celebration, Dr. Stein offers up a speech and toast that they move “Forward.”  Barry pulls Henry aside and as he excitedly tries to help his father get his life moving again Henry tells him he plans to leave Central City for a while.

Barry protests as he’s all the family Barry has left.  Henry tells him that he does have a family and he doesn’t think Barry can take care of his family while he’s concentrating on his father.  The next morning at STAR Labs, Barry and Joe talk about Henry leaving before they meet up with the rest of the team.  Cisco shows off Barry’s new suit that he based on Gideon’s 2024 Newspaper, Caitlin and Cisco have also upgraded security.

Apparently not enough though as the man taking Barry’s picture arrives and he reveals himself to be Jay Garrick with a dire warning.

So, we’re back.  I for one am glad to see that they decided not to pick up where they left off last season.  I always prefer shows acknowledge that time has passed since we watched last. But that’s a personal taste issue.

As for the episode itself, it had its ups and downs as the cast and crew shake the rust off and get into swing of things.  As has become the norm, any scene with Grant Gustin and Jesse L Martin interacting pulls you in and carries much of the weight. 

It was also nice to see Harrison Wells one more time and his insight into Barry’s nature was spot on.  Barry’s biggest strength is also his biggest weakness; he is never satisfied and he always feels like he can do more.  The teases of the Zoom and Jay Garrick storyline were interesting and Adam “Edge” Copeland was very good for a one off villain.

I’m also glad that they didn’t stay long on Barry bought of brooding.  We get more than enough of that from Oliver Queen, no real need for Barry Allen to do it too.  I was almost disappointed they wrapped up the Henry Allen plot so quickly.  I have to assume that even with a confession it would take some time to clear a person of a murder conviction and it could have given the writers some interesting things to play with.

One other thing:  Dear Producers, Never do this:

Again.  Ever. 

All in all, decent episode with some good hooks for the coming weeks.

Three Things We Learned This Week:

1)      Cisco has not told anyone about his power.

2)      Barry now owns STAR Labs.

3)      Cisco is providing technical support to the CCPD.

Three Questions:

1)      Was Atom-Smasher from the same place a Jay Garrick?
2)      How much was Stein affected by Ronnie’s presumed death?
3)      Who is Zoom and what is his plan?

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