A whole bunch of Warner Bros. TV shows have been bricked in order to help promote the upcoming LEGO Batman Movie.
On February 6, Warner Bros. revealed a series of Lego-inspired billboards advertising some of the studio’s biggest shows — Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, The Big Bang Theory, Mom, 2 Broke Girls, Gotham, and The Middle all got the Lego treatment. Warner Bros. said in a press release that over 10,000 Lego bricks were used to create the whimsical posters.
And because banners alone are not enough, there’s video fun to be had as well. A short animated video came out as well, featuring Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) interacting with some of The CW’s own superheroes. Batman, it turns out, isn’t so impressed by the Flash, the Green Arrow, Supergirl, or Atom (each voiced by their TV actors Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, and Brandon Routh, respectively).
More Batman and more Lego will be seen between February 6 and 8, when Batman will be crashing through the Berlanti Productions logo at the end of episodes of Supergirl, The Flash, and Arrow.
All of this is leading up to the theatrical release of The Lego Batman Movie on Friday, February 10.
The Flash season 3 is about to premiere, so what better time to hear from the show’s stars about what fans can expect from the new episodes? I had a chance to talk to most of the cast (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grab Candice Patton — sorry WestAllen fans!) at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con back in July.
Watch the videos below to see what Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale, and two of the show’s executive producers had to say about The Flash in season 3.
First up, here’s Grant Gustin being all charming and mostly vague about what’s coming for Barry Allen. Flashpoint — the alternate timeline Barry created at the end of season 2 and the title of the premiere episode — figures prominently in his answers.
Next is Carlos Valdes, who has plenty to say about Cisco Ramon. This could be a big year for Cisco, especially since his Flashpoint doppelganger is more than a little different from the nerd we know and love.
Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin Snow gets her changes as well in the Flashpoint universe (Spoiler alert: She utters a great line in the premiere, “Have I been kidnapped?”). The actress hinted at what might be coming in her interview.
Things will definitely be different for Joe West in season 3. What does Jesse L. Martin have to say about that? See for yourself!
The last of the actors we’ve got here (stay tuned for Tom Cavanagh and new cast member Tom Felton next week) is Kid Flash himself, Keiynan Lonsdale. Now a regular, the actor has plenty to say about what antics Wally West might get up to in the new season.
Finally, two of The Flash‘s executive producers give away more than a few Flash season 3 spoilers in their interview.
The Flash season 3 premieres Tuesday, October 4 at 8pm on The CW.
The Flash season 3 trailer makes it clear that the superhero show isn’t playing around when it comes to its Flashpoint-themed premiere.
Thanks to Barry running back in time to save his mother — and later his father — from certain doom at the hands of speedsters, everything in The Flash’s life has changed. Iris and Joe are near-strangers to Barry. Cisco now owns what used to be STAR Labs and is kind of a jerk. Eobard Thawne is alive (and imprisoned?) and angry.
And there is more than one clue in the video — which premiered during the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con — indicating that Barry’s “perfect” world is unraveling around him. It probably doesn’t much help that Wally West is a speedster himself these days.
The Flash season 3 premieres Tuesday, October 4 on The CW.
The last couple of minutes of The Flash season 2 finale turned everything on its head and raised a number of questions about what the third season will bring. Or even where all of the characters will be when it begins.
Even Grant Gustin has admitted he doesn’t have the answers, but there are some things we can assume – or at least hope to see!
Of course, the whole point of the Flashpoint Paradox is that Barry finally gets what he thinks he’s always wanted, but it doesn’t turn out quite as he hoped. In fact, it impacts every character within the integrated universe and has such negative repercussions that Flash realizes he has to put the world back to the way it was for the greater good.
Certainly, I think we can expect that overarching plot next season – at least for the duration of Flashpoint. (I anticipate the universe will return to the one we’ve known in the epic crossover event in the winter.) But what does that mean for Barry?
As in the source story, I anticipate he will not have his abilities – though destined to become the Flash, Harribard confessed he had moved the timeline up to suit his purpose. Since Barry’s mother wasn’t murdered by the Reverse Flash and his father didn’t go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit, the Wests never would have taken him in. He may still be a CSI, but if he and Iris remain friends, their relationship will still be vastly different than it has been.
Of course, he likely won’t be friends with the crew at STAR Labs either, assuming that Cisco, Caitlin, and Harrison still work there. With no Harribard coming back to take the real Wells’ place, the original Harrison may be alive, giving Tom Cavanagh a chance to play the character we only saw for a few minutes in the first season.
It is entirely possible none of these people will know Barry – even Iris could be a virtual stranger to him if they grew apart after their school days. This would certainly give Barry the sense of isolation and despair he has in the new world in Flashpoint.
Although Iris is married with children in the original Flashpoint material, I doubt they will go this direction in season 3. Iris’s relationship with Eddie would make the story somewhat redundant and caused quite a bit of hate towards the character (and actress) that I would hope they would avoid bringing on a second time.
That said, Iris doesn’t have to be married to someone else to make Barry miserable; she just needs to not be in love with him. He had been closer than ever to being in a relationship with the woman he’s always loved, only to have Flashpoint take that away from him. The memories of their kiss and confessed feelings will stay with him, haunting him in this new reality.
Since Iris is a reporter and the CW doesn’t have the authority to use characters from the Superman mythos, Iris will take on the role that Lois Lane had in the story and act as intrepid reporter. The nature of her investigation would obviously have to differ, but it would be an amazing way to integrate her into the story.
Cisco has spent the last season developing abilities he may not have any longer. It is likely Barry will want to track him down to get his help trying to return the world to the way it should be. How his storyline may play out otherwise is a giant question mark.
However, if Flashpoint is to go on for several months, the show will need to have some bright moments through the darkness. Not only is Cisco likely to bring some undoubtedly needed levity to the show, but they could also give him happiness in romance, which he doesn’t have in this world. Giving him love – or even a family – would make the return to our world bittersweet. While we should all want the world to return to the one we know, the act of doing so will have more meaningful emotional impact if there are some things we will regret leaving behind.
Plus, Cisco needs a little love.
It’s clear at this point that the show likes the idea of occasionally playing with Killer Frost, but they don’t seem to want to commit to that storyline on our Earth. Of course, since it’s the primary story people are interested to see, drawing it out helps keep up the interest.
However, Flashpoint would give them yet another ability to have their cake and eat it, too. Caitlin could be Killer Frost in this new world – possibly even with Ronnie as Deathstorm at her side – without committing to a story that would impact her in our world.
If they do go down this path, one hopes they would refrain from killing Ronnie off again. Whether he’s a hero or a villain, it would be nice to have at least one reality where he doesn’t die.
Harrison could be one of the more interesting characters in Flashpoint. Not only is there the potential for the original Harrison Wells to make an appearance, but Harry from season 2 was on Earth 2 when Flashpoint happened. It would make sense for the reality shift to have impacted only our Earth and not any parallel universes.
This means that Harry and Jesse could retain all of their memories from season 2. More than that, Jesse may have the speed she may have been given but didn’t have a chance to discover over these last few episodes.
With Barry being out of commission as the Flash, Harry and Jesse could return from Earth 2 in order to help set things right, as well as to allow Jesse to stand by his side as a hero.
Kevin Smith, the director of this episode of The Flash, described this episode as a hero reborn. I think that’s an apt description. After a year of being far less chipper than he was in the first season, Barry is forced to come to terms with a few things and takes one more step on the path to being the hero he’s destined to be.
It Takes a Dream to Accept Reality
A good portion of this episode takes place within the Speed Force itself, which is where Barry was lost after disintegrating last episode. He wakes up in the home he shared with his parents and is confused to find both crime scene tape and Joe there. Joe explains that he’s not really the man Barry knows, but they thought it would be easier for Barry if he was in a place and with people he knew. He tries to explain about the speed force, which is a little hard for Barry to process. Realizing he’s talking to the Speed Force itself is a bit too much for Barry to process, and he’s not really ready to listen. He wants to get home to see his friends, but Joe tells him that he won’t get back until he catches the streak he sees running by.
He chases after it and ends up by the lake where he and Iris shared their first kiss. At first he’s happy to see her, until he realizes that she is no more real than Joe was. He’s angry that the Speed Force is keeping him trapped when he needs to get back to his friends and his city, but Speed-Force Iris explains that he was given a rare gift when he became the Flash and he gave it away.
Meanwhile, Cisco has realized Barry is lost in the Speed Force and tries to reach him. At first, Barry is tempted to try to return with him. However, when Speed-Force Iris tells him that leaving now would mean he never gets his powers back and he has to choose what he wants, Barry decides to stay. He chases the blur once again, this time to a graveyard with Henry.
This is where the Speed Force’s true purpose in talking to Barry this way becomes clear. Henry forces Barry to confront his mother’s grave. Speed-Force Henry explains that the loss of Nora is what made him the Flash but he hasn’t really accepted that yet. He asks if Barry is at peace with letting her go when he took his trip to the past, and Barry counters by asking how anyone can be at peace with deciding to let their mother die in a decision that their own life is more valuable?
Although Speed-Force Henry tries to explain that his mother wouldn’t have wanted him to die for her and that the lives of the people Flash has saved have value too, Barry still isn’t ready to hear it. He chases after the streak once again and this time, it leads him home to where Nora awaits him.
This was truly the most heart-wrenching part of the episode. Nora reads him a board book – the titular Runaway Dinosaur – about a mother who will always love her child, and he admits that he has never accepted the choice he made and probably never will. Their entire scene both made me tear up and gave Barry the message that he needed to hear. No matter how fast he is, he will never be able to do everything. Bad things will follow, no matter how hard he tries to outrun them. She tells him she’s proud of him, both as the speed force and as his mother, and he finally comes to terms with the decisions of the past and is ready to move forward. He reaches out, grabs the blur, and finds out that it’s himself in his Flash costume.
Back in the world, Cisco decides to try one more time to get through to Barry and they realize someone else can reach out to him if they’re touching Cisco. Iris asks to do it, and when she sees Barry in the Speed Force, she reaches out to him and asks him to come home to her. With one last look at his mother, Barry smiles, reaches out, and takes Iris’s hand so that she can bring him home.
Meanwhile, Back at Star Labs
While Barry was having a personal revelation in the Speed Force, the team at Star Labs was dealing with problems of their own. Jesse and Wally were knocked out by the particle accelerator explosion, and though Wally wakes up pretty quickly, Jesse lingers in a coma similar to Barry’s. We find out nobody apparently told poor Henry about what happened to Barry during his time in a coma, since he seems to be pretty surprised by the revelation. Joe suspects they may have gotten powers like Barry did, but when he tries to find out if Wally is suffering any side effects in the most awkward pseudo-puberty talk ever, it seems that perhaps Wally is still without powers.
The particle accelerator explosion reanimated Girder from the Morgue, much to everyone’s chagrin. Well, almost everyone’s. Henry takes it more or less in stride, which really makes one wonder what kinds of things he saw during his stint in prison. Girder escapes and when Iris realizes that Girder is after her (as he was back when he was alive), she lures him back to Star Labs so Cisco and Harry can try to kill him again using the power of electromagnets. It fails at first, and so they all have to take refuge.
Iris volunteers to lead Girder away, but luckily, they bring back Barry in time to prevent her from having to take the chance. Barry grabs Iris and lures Girder away so that the team can try to turn the power to the magnets back on, but it turns on there’s no need. In the end, he runs around fast enough to charge the magnets and take Girder down on his own.
Once things have calmed down, Barry goes to Jesse and shocks her with the Speed Force, waking her up. It seems they’re about to have a second speedster on their hands. Barry also admits to Henry that he’s finally accepted that everything that has happened to them – good and bad – happened for a reason and made them who they are. He has finally accepted that he wouldn’t change the past, and Henry announces he’s decided to stay in Central City to be with his son. I sense bad things ahead now.
There is some final unresolved business to attend to, however. For the first time, Barry goes to visit his mother’s grave, and he takes Iris along. When he tells Iris about The Runaway Dinosaur, she admits she’s never been a fan of the book since it’s about a mother who was always there for her child, and that was never the case for Barry and Iris. They never had someone who was just right for them.
In a move so smooth he had to pick up some tips from the Speed Force, Barry counters that they did. He confesses that he’s been seeing things differently, and that he’d been too focused on what he’d lost when he had so much. Finally, he tells her that, while he may not know what there is between the two of them and where they go from here, “You’re everything to me and you always have been. And the sound of your voice will always bring me home.”
I was screaming at the screen for them to kiss right then because how do you NOT kiss when someone says something like that to you? Sadly, these two dorks still continue to thwart me because they give a really heartwarming hug instead. I know they’re building to an epic kiss (possibly in the finale) but it’s killing me that they’re drawing it out!
In the last teaser before the episode end, Zoom sweeps Caitlin off her feet by telling her she can either stay with him or leave and be with her friends. If she chooses the latter, of course, he’ll show her the same mercy he plans to show them. Apparently, Zoom’s twisted definition of romance has its limits. He leaves to go address the metahumans he’s collected and brought back from Earth 2 to conquer Earth 1’s CCPD, and in his absence, it’s suggested Caitlin decides to stay since she doesn’t move.
All in all, it was a fantastic episode and I’m really looking forward to what happens next! Also, those two adorable dorks, Iris and Barry, really need to kiss already.
With The Flash season 2 drawing to a close, I wanted to spend my remaining articles talking about the season we’ve had – what has worked and what hasn’t. Last week, I discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the emotional arcs for each of the characters. This week, I want to talk make a list of my five favorite moments of the season so far. I’ll be honest up front and admit I may cheat a little. In no particular order, they are:
Welcome to Central City, Wally West!
Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated moments going into this season was the arrival of Wally West. He’s a huge fan-favorite in the comics, and people were excited to see what the show would do with this beloved character. Unfortunately, his lead-in story about Francine West being a drug addict who abandoned her family was a let down at best with some rather unfortunate undertones. This led to fans having more trepidation over Wally’s treatment than hope that he would be handled well, dimming some of the enthusiasm that had carried into the season.
While the show hasn’t done much with Wally since his introduction, I did love his first appearance, brief though it was. We were immersed in the warmth of family and friends as they celebrated Christmas, and then there came a knock on the door. Wally West – a stranger to Joe and Iris – stood on the doorstep, both hope and uncertainty on his face. It was a simple moment, but I spent the entire winter hiatus wondering where they would go from there.
In subsequent episodes, I have generally enjoyed Wally but they have not yet lived up to that promise of the summer or even in that episode. I can only hope they will do better by him in the future.
Zoom, Drag That Ass
I’ve written before that Zoom’s story as a whole has been a letdown. It was not improved by the revelation that Hunter is in love with – or at least obsessed with – Caitlin. Not only have I never really bought into their relationship even before the reveal of Zoom’s secret identity, but this arc makes her a damsel in distress yet again.
It is a shame that the payoff didn’t live up to the potential, because I cannot deny that Zoom was everything he should be in our first real introduction to the character. We had gotten a glimpse of him before, but we were shown the depths of his evil when he came to our Earth, broke Barry’s back, and did a Drag of Shame all over Central City.
It took a psychological toll on Barry that was understandable if hard to watch, for those who wanted a return to the lightness of season 1. It also stayed with the audience. We had been promised a villain so evil, he would put Reverse Flash to shame, and in this episode, the show absolutely delivered. Zoom was every bit as terrifying as we were promised.
Unfortunately, the subsequent reveal of his identity, the huge holes in his plot line, and his stale love story with Caitlin has deflated a good deal of that promise. But it cannot be denied that in his introduction, Zoom was everything a villain should be.
Cisco, The Precious Cinnamon Roll
Cisco is the character who’s without a doubt benefited the most in moving from page to screen. At best, his history in the comics is a bit of a joke, so hated that even comic writers have tried to forget he existed before the series launched. While he was introduced to provide comic relief as a character, he quickly became a fan favorite and an absolutely vital part of the series.
This season had a few key moments for Cisco. In moments like his almost childish glee over seeing the world of Earth 2, he continues to provide a lightness that this season has sorely lacked overall. However, it cannot be understated how much he shines in the moments where he is coming to terms with his powers – both the good and the bad.
Of course, we have seen Barry learn about his powers and adjust to them, as well, but Barry did not carry the burden of questioning the motive of their origins or the knowledge of an evil doppelganger from an alternate world. If Barry’s origin was about hope, Cisco’s has primarily been about fear. Yet Cisco hasn’t let this fear hold him back, thanks in large part to his relationship with the team. He has run through the gamut of emotions, from amazement to fear, and in moments like his recent confession to Barry about his fears of turning to the Dark Side, has injected both humor and pathos into his character. In such moments, while I enjoyed watching Carlos Valdez explore an evil side in Earth 2, I hope we never see that side of the Cisco we know and love.
Iris West: Kicking Ass and Taking Names
I haven’t exactly held back on my opinion that Flash needs to do more with the character of Iris West. Not only do they need to allow her a point of view, but they need to focus more on her role as a reporter and as an invaluable asset to the team.
In the moments that they have done so this season, Iris has really shined, and the show has been better for it. Watching her take charge in Earth 2 was one of the best parts, worthy of every bit of the critical acclaim she received. When we saw her go undercover to help her brother Wally at the drag races, we saw how much fun the show could be if they explored that dimension of her character more often – perhaps with the added dynamic of having to interact with Flash in her role as a reporter while having to hide the nature of her true relationship with him.
And in last week’s episode, we really got to see how she would interact with the team and how she could be a key asset in fieldwork. It is important in the future that the show celebrate the skills she brings to the team as a reporter, but last week was a good start. It was an absolute joy to watch her irritate Wells with her persistent questions, and she and Cisco have such a fun dynamic and easy-going chemistry. Jessie is still a bit immature at times, so allowing Iris to act as her role model could lead to a good deal of character growth on her part. And, of course, the importance Barry puts on his relationship – both in terms of friendship and romance – with Iris means that she can get through to him when nobody else can. Perhaps in season three, she can even help him find the lightness of spirit that he has sadly been denied for the majority of this season.
An Act of Pure, Selfless Love
Barry’s love for Iris was a key part of the story and the character throughout the first season. In the first half of this season, Westallen wasn’t put on the back burner; it was put in deep freeze. Anyone coming into the show for the first time would have had no way of knowing the depth of love Barry had for Iris, or how much that love had shaped him and helped him become both the man and the superhero that he is today. However, in one moment, they not only brought Westallen back to the forefront but they showed how much Barry has matured as a character in the past year.
Barry knew that Iris has had a hard time moving on from Eddie’s death. During his trip to the past, he asked Eddie record a message to Iris in an effort to give her closure, to offer her a measure of peace. Then, when he gave it to her, he did so under the pretense that he had stumbled across forgotten footage, not mentioning his trip to the past.
At other times, this white lie may have been an insult to her character – as many white lies throughout the first season were. However, in the context of the episode in question, it was a selfless act of pure love. In keeping his trip to the past to himself, Barry allowed the moment to be about Eddie and Iris, not himself. It wasn’t a ploy to get her to see him the way he sees her or to seek her gratitude. It was about to simple act of providing his best friend and the woman he loves the peace to move forward and find happiness in whatever form it may appear. Even if it’s not with him.
Barry has stolen my heart on many occasions over the course of the show, but perhaps never so much as in this moment. And in this moment, we are allowed to see just how far he has come as a character. I cannot be happier that it seems Barry and Iris are finally on the same page, and I look forward to seeing them take the next step together.
I suppose there are a few themes of this episode of The Flash, but I can’t help but think that one is “Family don’t tell each other anything.” There seems to be an awful lot of catching various family members up on things they probably should have known about before. Oh, and of course there’s the continuing thread of love (Westallen) versus obsession (Zaitlin). Team and family are pretty divided on a decision Barry has to make.
And, oh yeah, there’s murder. So much murder.
Getting Up to Speed
We start this episode with a little subterfuge. To keep the city from finding out about the Flash’s fate, Barry, Iris, and Cisco have concocted a plan. A hologram of Flash races through the city after a getaway car. After the team can’t quite decide whether he should try to throw lightning (leading to some hilarious arm movements from Grant Gustin) and Cisco rocks an old Atari joystick, the bad guys are captured and Flash poses in the cockiest stance ever for a non-corporeal being.
They get all of three seconds to celebrate their clever solution to a big problem when Harry comes in to rain on their parade. He points out that this ruse won’t hold up forever, and he insists that anther particle accelerator explosion is the only way to rectify the problem. He’s actually a little uncomfortably ride-or-die with this plan; if I didn’t know better, I’d think we were dealing with Harribard again.
Barry still isn’t convinced. He drives to go see his dad, who’s apparently off fishing and still without a phone because he is in no way up to speed on any major event going on in his son’s life. He isn’t aware that Barry lost his speed, and he has no idea who Jay Garrick supposed to be. He does drop a pretty significant tidbit: Garrick is Henry’s mother’s maiden name. Call me crazy, but I suspect that will be important in the future.
Henry returns to the lab with Barry, and the various father figures hash it out. Harry really wants Barry to risk his life to get his speed back. Henry is adamantly opposed to his son taking such a risk. He has a point when he mentions that even with his speed, Zoom broke his back earlier in the year, so he’s going from one risk to another. Joe is somewhat on the fence. However, before they can come to a consensus, Barry walks in and reminds them all that it’s really his choice to make and he’ll be the one to make it, thank you very much.
It’s a refreshing change from last season, when he had a decision to make and went to everyone for their advice before he made it. Of course, before the end of the episode, he still manages to get everyone’s advice in this episode. But it’s nice to at least see him standing up and acknowledging that, at the end of the day, he’s the one who has to make that call.
While Barry deals with his own interpersonal familial drama, Cisco seeks out his own after unintentionally flashing on Earth 2 Dante, his brother. He meets up with his Earth 1 counterpart to check in, and we find out that he’s no more pleasant to Cisco than he was before his little brother saved his life. Some gratitude. Not only is Cisco cuter than his brother, he’s an all-around better person, too.
Cisco reconciles himself to the idea that he and Dante will never have the relationship he wants, and he goes to leave but big brother follows. More sibling bickering is gearing up when they’re attacked by a man in a mask, holding a glowing Scythe of Doom. It’s Earth 2 Dante, going by the name Rupture, out for revenge against the man he believes killed his brother. Dante is understandably freaked out. Cisco has some explaining to do.
Although he tries to keep the truth to himself for a time, Dante finds a letter Cisco wrote before heading to Earth 2 and learns the truth. Cisco confesses about his powers, and the two men hug as they decide they would like a better relationship in the future.
A Not-So-Fine Line Between Love and Obsession
Three romantic relationships are really at the heart of the show this episode. Caitlin is being dragged everywhere by Zoom, who keeps her handcuffed and brings her along presumably to impress her with his homicidal inclinations. She’s still pretty firm on the point that she’ll never love him, but he isn’t too fussed because he senses darkness in her. His obsession – it’s hard to call it love – does cause him to not kill quite as many people as he otherwise might have done, but he’s still pretty free with the murder.
Meanwhile, in a scenario that has launched many a One True Pairing in fanfics, Jesse and Wally are locked in the time vault to keep them safe. Wally isn’t having any of it; he wants to help in any way he can. They finally decide to team up to get out and they work pretty well together. I admit they’re cute, but I still am sorry we aren’t getting any Wally/Linda since that is such a great relationship in the comics. Perhaps in the future, this will change.
Of course, the main relationship is between Barry and Iris. Iris is afraid of what will happen to Barry if he takes the chance to get his powers back, but she lets him know she supports him whatever he chooses. However, she also confesses that she’s been thinking about the two of them lately and that she’s always been the person he could come home to. Barry calls her on not saying this sooner, and she admits that she wasn’t available when he confessed but, regardless of what he chooses and whether he becomes the Flash again, it’s Barry Allen she wants to know if she has a future with. If he wants that too. He doesn’t respond so she walks away.
It’s an interesting parallel to season one, when Barry confessed and Iris needed time to process. I think the fact that they didn’t resolve this issue will be an important plot point in next week’s episode.
Betrayal and Sacrifice
At first, Barry isn’t keen on Harry’s plan. He wants his speed back, but he also wants to make sure the collateral damage of the first explosion isn’t recreated as well. He tries to solve the problem without his powers, and they do manage to take Rupture down when he goes to Jitters to kill police officers who thought Zoom had spared their lives.
Unfortunately, while they manage to stop Rupture, Zoom catches on to the situation when it’s reported on the news. He isn’t too happy with Caitlin, once he figures out that she clued the team in on his plan. She points out that he betrayed her first, since he’d promised to let the officers live. She also finally pieces it together that he changes his voice to scare people, which one would think would be obvious from the beginning.
He races off and kills all the officers and reporters Rupture failed to kill, then takes out his former partner as revenge for failure. He grabs the camera and reveals Flash’s secret to the city, telling them that there’s nobody left to protect them. Before running off again, he tells the team that they’re only alive because of his affection for Caitlin, but that won’t protect them in the future.
This is the final straw for Barry. Harry points out that Zoom will recruit every metahuman he can find, many of whom have probably stayed in hiding as long as Flash was on the case. Now that they know that he’s no longer protecting the city, Harry predicts they’ll come out of the woodwork. Barry decides that the murders are his fault for giving up his speed and leaving the city unprotected. Although he still has concerns, he decides to go ahead with the plan.
Harry is convinced he can contain the explosion, and the show relishes a little Harry Potter geekdom as Cisco takes to the rooftop with Weather Wizard’s wand to call down the lightning. Barry is strapped in to the accelerator, and Iris reassures him that her feelings for him won’t change, no matter what happens. Henry tries one last time to tell him he doesn’t have to do this if he doesn’t want to, but Barry admits that Flash is the best part of him and he needs his speed to be that person.
Everyone is ready for Barry to take the risk, so Harry injects chemicals into him similar to the ones he was exposed to during the first explosion, making Iris’s façade crack and she shows the fear she feels at the risk Barry is about to happen. Wally and Jesse break out of their room just in time to be caught up in the explosion, which will undoubtedly lead to both developing their powers in the near future.
At first, it seems like their plan may be successful, but then Barry disintegrates before their eyes. Iris’s sobs at the thought Barry is dead are positively heartbreaking, and Zoom shows what kind of villain he is when he comes back just to rub a little salt in their wounds. At least he doesn’t kill anyone before racing off again, leaving them to their grief at the thought Barry is dead.
For the record, next week’s episode – directed by Kevin Smith – looks absolutely amazing. I’m pretty sure this next week will be absolute torture as we wait!
As we move towards the end of The Flash season 2, I’m taking some time in my weekly articles to give a brief overview of certain aspects of the season and the show as a whole. This week, I want to take a look at the four main characters and the primary emotional arcs for each that have carried through both seasons to get an idea of what worked and what didn’t.
The first season of The Flash wasn’t perfect, but it was critically acclaimed for good reason. At the heart of the season’s success was the emotional stories they told, primarily with Barry, with beats that carried through the season. Of course, Barry had two major emotional arcs in the first season, and most if not all of his subplots fed into them: his determination to get justice for his father and his love for Iris.
With the former arc resolved in the premiere of season 2 and the latter on indefinite hold at the start of the season while Iris ostensibly grieved Eddie (largely off-screen), they needed to set up similarly compelling emotional arcs for Barry this season to keep the audience engaged and invested to the same level they had been the previous year.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the arcs they’ve given Barry this year have been as compelling. Barry’s arcs this year have revolved primarily around a desire to be faster in order to defeat Zoom. Like the majority of Zoom’s story, this was a little repetitive – he also searched for ways to grow faster in the first season. However, his desire in the first season stemmed from his need to take down the man who killed his mother so he could get his father out of prison. This season, he wants to stop Zoom – who is admittedly evil and should be stopped – but that story has lacked the same level of emotional resonance. Zoom needs to be stopped as any villain would need to be. As a hero, it’s admirable that Barry wants to stop him from being a threat on any world, but practically speaking, Barry could have wiped his hands of the entire issue the moment the breaches were closed without leaving an emotional arc unfinished – for either himself or the audience.
On a more personal matter, his arc has purportedly been to deal with the question of whether he can ever truly be happy. His entire relationship with Patty was reportedly to set up an emotional arc for him, in which he would try to fool himself into thinking he could find happiness with someone who is totally outside of the “Flash world” until realizing that doing so denies a part of himself. The audience was presumably supposed to watch him realize the inherent problem in that level of self-deception and grow from it. And now, it’s clear we were supposed to see that story come full-circle as the story returns to Westallen in the back half of the season, to show a more mature Barry realize he has never let go of the feelings he still carries for the woman he’s always loved and return to that relationship with a new level of self-awareness.
While I think that is an interesting idea, I think the show failed to really show Barry’s happiness, let alone investment, in his relationship with Patty. More importantly, it failed to really highlight the underlying motivation Grant Gustin discussed in interviews, that Barry was attracted to her as an “escape” from his life as a superhero and was deluding himself into thinking he could be happy by so denying that fundamental part of himself.
As a rehash of Barry’s story with Reverse Flash but without most of the emotional investment, the first of these arcs could not possibly succeed. Without investing in the story they were supposedly telling enough to actually crystallize their intentions, develop the story, and highlight the impact on Barry and his subsequent self-growth, the latter suffered from a failure of execution. Neither of Barry’s emotional arcs was successful this season, and so they could not be as compelling or as satisfying as his arcs last year.
But what about the rest of the characters? That’s been a bit of a mixed bag. For her part, Iris has suffered from shameful neglect to varying degrees in both seasons. Last year, her main emotional arc revolved around varying aspects of self-discovery in her personal and professional lives. Professionally, she learned what she wanted to do with her life when she became aware of the Flash and grew determined to reveal his heroic nature to the people of Central City. On a more personal level, her arc dealt with her relationship with Eddie and her confusion and conflicting feelings for Barry – her awareness of Barry’s love for her, her admiration for her best friend, and then the added emotional complications that ensued upon her discovery of his secret identity.
As an Iris fan, I cannot say that either arc was as successful as I would have liked. Although I think they got the job done in showing her progress from Point A to Point B professionally, I felt the lack of her point of view and more significant attention to her role as a reporter – not just telling us why she chose that path but going more in depth to show her grow in that role and the impact her stories had on the people of Central City. That said, while I would have liked them to delve a little deeper into this arc, the show did not entirely neglect it.
The same could be said of her more personal emotional arc. Her internal conflict over her love for Eddie and her awareness – or willful self-deception – in her feelings for Barry similarly suffered form a lack of Iris’s point of view. This story was not entirely ignored, but I’ve discussed in an early article of the season how it suffered greatly from giving Iris a voice to express her own developing (or denied) feelings.
This year, her emotional arcs have been murkier. Ostensibly, her main emotional arcs have revolved around her relationship with her family and her struggle with grief over Eddie’s death and, now, her emerging realization that she wants to be with Barry. Again, neither story has been totally ignored, but I would argue that, to the extent neither has been as successful as it should, the failures have been in the same ways and for the same reasons as last season. In neither have we been adequately given Iris’s point of view.
Iris’s emotional arc with her mother, Francine, was used to introduce Wally to the story and to give the audience a reason to care about the mini-arc. Once Iris brought Joe in on Wally’s existence, she was largely moved out of the story – certainly of expressing her own feelings and perspective on the matter – and the focus primarily shifted to Joe’s feelings on having a son. While Joe’s perspective was certainly important, it was an omission to sideline Iris almost completely in her own arc, until it was time to kill off Francine because the character had served its purpose. Then Iris was allowed to give the audience a glimpse into her point of view (though we didn’t necessarily see her getting there) before Francine was killed off-screen and Iris was only allowed one or two lines after to convey the impact this had on her.
Similarly, Iris was sidelined in her emotional romantic arc for the majority of the season. Throughout 2A, when Barry was dating Patty and the show could have given a glimpse of some internal conflict on Iris’s part or, barring that, her grief over Eddie’s death, she was not allowed to convey either to any significant degree. Her previous romantic arc with Barry was completely ignored to the point when it would be have been hard if not impossible for a new viewer to know an emotional arc between these two characters had existed, let alone how important it had been to both characters in the first season. I have previously written on the flaws in their treatment of this story – this emotional arc, which had been pivotal in the first season, went from “slow burn” to “no burn.”
At the same time, she wasn’t allowed to really grieve for Eddie either – save for one mournful look for a few seconds and, eventually, a line that gave a glimpse into her point of view. It wasn’t until the recent episode in which Barry gave her closure on that relationship that her character was allowed to fully express to the audience where she was emotionally on that loss. And, of course, it was only after that was done that she could begin to convey the extent of her internal conflict over Barry.
None of Iris’s emotional arcs have been complete failures, but absolute all of them would have been improved with more care in allowing her to express her point of view. Only time will tell if this is a lesson they have learned going into next season.
I would argue that Cisco is the character that has seen a vast improvement in the treatment of his emotional arcs from last year to this. Perhaps due to his rather ignominious reputation in the comics, he was treated as primarily comic relief for a large part of the first season. It wasn’t until Cisco’s murder at Wells’s hands (and Carlos blew the audience away with his acting) that the show stepped up their focus on and began to fully develop his character. To the extent he had emotional arcs, they focused on his father-son relationship with Harrison Wells and the subsequent betrayal at his hands.
Although the latter eventually grew into a significant arc that impacted the character even into this season, the former remained little more than an emotional subplot, relegated to only the occasional episode with little to no closure. Although we saw his guilt and his grief, there was no eventual resolution for him upon Ronnie’s return. Perhaps to an extent this was intentional, as this has remained an undercurrent in a few episodes this season – most notably the episodes on Earth 2, where it was Cisco’s relationship with Caitlin and Ronnie that really allowed the team to get through to Killer Frost. There has been some speculation that Ronnie may return, as well. If this is the case, I hope that the show acknowledges the degree to which this arc has been important to Cisco’s character, even as a subplot.
This season, although Cisco was allowed a very brief romance, his main emotional arc has had to do with his powers – both his excitement over them and his fear about what they may lead to in the future. Of course, the treatment of this arc has had its own share of flaws – most notably in his realization of his powers and subsequent internal turmoil over revealing them to the team. While I think this arc had some potential for interesting character development, it turned into much ado about nothing. After several episodes of this preying on his mind, the actual reveal was anti-climactic as all of his fears ended up having no basis in reality. The team not only had no such concerns but they greeted the news with excitement and enthusiasm.
However, while this initial treatment may have undermined his emotional arc a bit, the show has rallied and fleshed out this arc in developing his character through fears over the potential for his powers to lead him to the dark side. This fear has not only been demonstrated for himself but for his friends as well, once he returned from Earth 2 with knowledge of Caitlin’s potential future. I don’t know what the last few episodes hold, but I can only hope that this arc will have a satisfying payoff and we will see how much the character has grown through it by season’s end.
If Cisco’s arc has been handled the best, Caitlin’s has been the most poorly handled of any character, particularly when looking at the show as a whole. In the first season, Caitlin’s emotional arc had to do primarily with her loss of and reunion with the love of her life, Ronnie. This arc started out quite strongly and, unlike Iris, Caitlin was given sufficient perspective for the audience to understand her pain.
However, this arc faced stumbling blocks once the show decided to ship bait Snowbarry but didn’t bother to develop Caitlin’s character in doing so. Instead of making these episodes a part of her character arc and allowing her to learn something about herself and perhaps even grow from them, they had no impact on the character at all and, as such, undermined her emotional arc with Ronnie and made her seem fickle. In fact, Caitlin was allowed to learn and grow from and grow very few of the events that should have emotionally impacted her last season.
This was not improved this season, when Caitlin was allowed to mourn Ronnie in the first episode but then was unceremoniously thrown in Jay’s path in an attempt to make the audience care about his character. While this could have perhaps been improved if they tied this into last season’s arc and developed it as a poorly-handled but understandable reaction to losing Ronnie again, Caitlin was only allowed to remember Ronnie and grieve for him in episodes without Jay. It wasn’t used to develop her character as much as to give Jay a purpose and to try to give his story an emotional connection with the audience.
It is possible that now, at the end of the season, they will use this arc to develop Caitlin. It is possible this will be the catalyst to turn her into Killer Frost or have significant growth for her character. However, at only five episodes to the end of the season, Caitlin’s emotional arc is only even arguably becoming primarily about her character. This is definitely something that they need to improve upon next year, as the very least a character should have is key importance in their own main emotional arcs.
After teasing the audience with questions in the second half of the season, The Flash started giving us answers tonight – about Jay/Zoom and about the nature of Iris’s feelings for Barry. Even better, Barry is able to be proactive, smart, and willing to put his life on the line to save a world that isn’t even his own. He comes up with a plan that actually seems like it might work… and then, of course, everything goes spectacularly wrong.
The Best Laid Plans
Barry’s been determined to get faster all season, and he finally gets some payoff. The tachyon device does in fact make him four times faster than usual – as fast as Zoom. He’s ready to open a breach to take on the evil speedster, but not everyone is so eager. Harry is concerned that opening a breach will put Jesse in danger, and Caitlin agrees it may be a bad idea. Cisco is okay with the idea in theory, but when it becomes clear that he’s going to have to get further in touch with his powers – further in touch with the powers Reverb demonstrated – he’s more cautious. He’s worried using his powers to their full extent will turn him to the Dark Side, like Anakin Skywalker. Oh, Cisco, you should know you’re nowhere near as emo as him.
Barry is determined, however. As a true hero, he’s not just interested in saving his world; he wants to save all the worlds. He convinces Cisco that his friends will stop him from going to the Dark Side, and Cisco finally feels confident enough to give it a real shot. After a talk with Joe – in which Joe expresses concern that Barry won’t succeed in facing off against Zoom without help – Harry also agrees to do his part and creates a new set of glasses for Cisco to use to help with his Vibe powers.
While Cisco struggles with his demons, Caitlin spills what she knows about Jay’s doppleganger, which is basically that he’s named Hunter Zolomon and that’s the extent of it. Wells becomes alarmed at this revelation, since Hunter is a known serial killer on his world, his face known by everyone – though not well enough for anyone to have made the connection between Hunter and Jay earlier. In their defense, Hunter rocks a pretty wicked beard.
Decisions to Make
While plans are being made by some, others have come to crossroads in their lives and have decisions to make. Wally’s having a hard time making ends meet, though he’s too proud to ask for money. Barry finally wakes Joe up to the reality that Wally really wants to move in, though he doesn’t want to outwardly ask. Kicking himself for not catching on sooner, Joe extends the offer and Wally happily accepts. Where is Iris living?
Harry’s torn between helping Barry and not wanting to put Jesse in danger, though he does eventually accept that the Flash needs his help. However, Jesse’s still his primary concern. He finally leaves the lab to ask Joe for help tracking down Jesse. Unfortunately, he bumps into Wally, who recognizes that he looks an awful lot like You Know Who. Poor Harry. He is OVER being confused for Harribard. That’s what you get when a murderer comes back in time and steals your face, I guess!
Meanwhile, Iris is struggling with a romantic quandary and goes to Caitlin for advice. She was supposed to go on a date the night before (much to Barry’s chagrin), but she’d cancelled at the last minute. Caitlin calls her on the fact she’s struggling with feelings for Barry and encourages her to act on her feelings. It turns out she believes in destiny – at least when it comes to Barry and Iris.
Plans Go Awry
When it comes time to face off against Zoom, Caitlin is unnerved at the idea of facing Jay again. However, Barry realizes he can use his knowledge of Zoom’s identity against him. He creates cardboard cutouts of Jay’s parents and uses them to unnerve the bad guy long enough to take him down. Not for long, however. With a vague threat that “You can’t escape the darkness,” Jay’s eyes go black, his voice changes, and he gets enough speed to break out of his tether and escape.
He’s not going far, though. He kidnaps Wally and suggests a trade: Barry’s speed for Wally’s life. Joe doesn’t want him to do it – though he doesn’t want Wally to die, either – but Barry tells him it’s not his call to make. Barry’s really stepping up and making his own decisions this season, and so he agrees to the trade.
Feeling chatty this episode, Jay/Hunter/Zoom confesses that he told Caitlin about Hunter in order to get her to stop trying to fix him. He’s dying, he needs a cure, and he doesn’t think the team is up for the task. Barry seems frankly astonished that a known serial killer with over 20 kills under his belt would be willing to kill additional people to get what he wants.
While waiting to take Barry’s speed, he gets even more chatty. He admits this had been his plan all along. The Jay they knew was a past version of himself – and somehow this didn’t catch the attention of Time Wraiths. His other version wasn’t thrilled to be a sacrificial lamb to get the team so upset they would find a way to get Barry faster, but he eventually agreed.
Appalled, Caitlin calls Jay a monster, which reminds him of his mother calling his father the same thing. He steals Barry’s speed and runs off with Caitlin because it seems he really did love her after all.
If last week’s episode was about hope, this episode of The Flash is about accepting the past and moving forward. It’s a shame that an episode that is this strong (and wraps up the emotional storyline left behind after Eddie’s death in a very satisfying way) is followed by another hiatus.
Back In Time
Barry is desperate to get faster but he seems to have hit a wall. He’s read everything available (incidentally, the reflection of his book in his eyes in the opening shot was really pretty), but he can’t seem to break the speed equation.
First Iris gives him a pep talk, telling him it’s not his fault for trusting Jay and Joe admits he also blames himself. Then, in a touching scene, she confesses she’s conflicted after going on a date with Scott because she still thinks about Eddie every day. Although Barry tells her Eddie would want her to find love again, their long-overdue heart-to-heart is interrupted by Wally, who shows up to dinner just in time to unintentionally gives Barry an idea.
He has to go back in time to talk to Harribard, to see if he can get the solution from his Murder Mentor. (As another side note, the exchange between Wally and Joe where Wally says, “That dude gets weirder every time I see him” and Joe agrees with the biggest long-suffering sigh ever was ludicrously funny.)
Harry thinks this is a terrible idea, but Barry isn’t listening. He’s determined to get faster, and this is the only solution that comes to mind. Still, Harry has a point. Reverse Flash studied him for 15 years, so he’s unlikely to be fooled. Barry is notorious for having a pretty bad poker face.
Even with the risks, Barry decides to go ahead. Of course, regardless of Harry’s dire warnings and his promises, he begins to mess with the timeline almost immediately. Although he does knock himself out and capture Pied Piper, he reveals the secret to his ear implants to stop the explosion that would have happened. Naturally, Harribard is no fool and catches on to Barry’s suspicious behavior right away. It doesn’t hurt that Dementors are after Barry and Harribard knows what they are: time wraiths, who go after speedsters who mess with the time stream.
After a sucker punch to the back of the head to knock him out, Harribard takes Barry to his secret room so they can face off. He’s tempted to kill Barry, but Barry talks him out of it – first by selective sharing in a way that leads Harribard to believe he does get home and then by lying that he left a letter for this Barry with the truth, should he die.
It turns out Harribard isn’t needed to stop the wraiths. Although Cisco’s apparently more sadistic than one would think, torturing Hartley with “Never Gonna Give You Up,” old grudges are quickly forgotten when a wraith invades the lab and Cisco and Caitlin have to take refuge in Hartley’s cell.
Hartley helps drive the wraith off, in almost perfect time for past Barry to wake up and return to the lab. Cisco, Caitlin, and the two Barrys face off, as they try to figure out if he’s a doppelganger. He eventually tells them the truth, and after wrapping up a couple loose ends (getting a tachyon device from Harribard to help him go faster and telling Cisco that Hartley knows of Ronnie’s location so the timeline in that regard stays on track), Barry races back to the present.
Unfortunately for him, the wraith follows, and Cisco and Caitlin have failed to find a way to stop him. Luckily, Hartley is there. The changes to the past have made him a good guy in the present, and so while he’s not a member of the team, he’s apparently willing to collaborate with them on occasion.
Time to Put the Past in the Past
As I said before, this episode is about coming to terms with the past so that the characters can move forward. To a degree, Barry has a chance to come to terms with Harribard in their scene in his secret room. He’s had a year to grow in his powers, a year to grow more confident in his abilities and role as a hero. He’s also had a year to come to terms with his relationship with Wells, both the good and the bad. Although their positions are quite different – Barry is handcuffed to Harribard’s wheelchair – they are able to come to the discussion as near-equals. Barry is able to anticipate Harribard’s actions and threats, and now he’s the one who knows how to play on his old mentor’s hopes and fears to get what he wants, or near enough to it.
But Barry isn’t the only one who comes to terms with the past in this episode. Perhaps more importantly, Iris’ storyline and feelings for Eddie are finally addressed head-on so she can move on. Currently, her feelings for Eddie are holding her back. Barry even warns her that she could miss out on wonderful things if she closes herself off to the world entirely.
In what is probably the most pure act of true love on the series to date, while he’s in the past, Barry does what he can to help her move on. Under pretext of putting together a birthday montage for her, he asks Eddie to record a message for her. He tells him to speak from the heart and tell her what he would want her to know, if this turned out to be his last chance to speak to her.
Eddie records a beautiful message about why he loves her – for her inner beauty and her strength. She is the best thing that ever happened to him, and every day with her is a gift. He tells her she deserves to be happy for the rest of her life, and nobody wants that for her more than him.
In the present, Barry finds Iris looking at a photo album of Eddie. He gives her the video and gives her the privacy she needs to say goodbye to Eddie so she can put her grief in the past and finally open herself up to the future and all the joy it may bring.