04/11/2015

The Flash Season One Eps 3 to 5



3. Things You Can’t Outrun
In which those painful moments in our lives just won’t recede however much time passes. It’s not a new observation so you have to give writers Alison Schapker and Grainne Godfree credit for managing to make it seem fresh. Especially pleasing is the way the theme runs easily through both Barry and Caitlin’s stories broadening out the episode. The pace slows a little to let some longer scenes breath and they are tenderly rendered but with just enough wit to stop them becoming too syrupy. 
The Flash also deals with no smoking violations
Interesting villain too namely Kyle Nimbus who can turn himself into poisonous green gas that gives Barry a real run for his money in a climactic final confrontation. Even in his human form Nimbus is a menacing presence courtesy of Anthony Carrigan’s off kilter stares.
To further flesh the story out we are treated to several flashbacks to the night of the accelerator accident in which Caitlin’s boyfriend appears to perish during the process of saving the city. Danielle Panabaker’ is excellent in these scenes which allow us more insight into her character. You have to smile at the ease with which some of the dilemmas are solved here with a large dollop of pretend science, my own preferred type of science because so long as you have a germ of fact you can then morph into something more dramatic. The accelerator also bears an uncanny resemblance to the X Men’s hideout.

Ongoing plotlines tick over too so Iris’ interest in what is now being dubbed The Streak expands and there’s another end of episode Wells related shock as it seems he did something to cause Barry to gain his powers. Which reminds us why we didn’t ask two episodes ago how come that strange lightning did shoot through his window! 
4. Going Rogue
Resisting sticking to a formula this episode mixes things up a bit sowing the first seeds of disharmony amongst the STAR labs back up team and having Barry unable to save someone despite his powers. Rather than being another meta human the villain is a thug type who happens to get his hands on a sort of ice gun that presents a serious threat to our speedy hero. The results are an impressive mix of action and less frivolous confrontations between characters offset by the arrival of Felicity from the other show Arrow. So we veer from the trivia of a quiz to a kinetic sequence involving a crashing train with all the verve of a film; indeed each episode is like a mini movie. They’ve even come up with a slightly varied way of showing Barry at super speed which is even better at conveying the velocity he is experiencing. The speed scenes are brilliant though; one in the episode of Barry swooping through an overturning carriage is exceptional for a tv series.
Key scenes include Wells’ intense admonishment of Cisco who actually created the gun, though the latter fact is more interesting showing that behind the bonhomie there is caution and it gives the actors room to expand. It’s also quite an achievement that the relationship scenes slip easily into proceedings without ever feeling forced. Iris’s ongoing relationship with her father’s police partner Eddie and her attempts to get Barry and Felicity together are necessary lighter moments yet they also show the way the actors have brought these characters to convincing life so early in the series.
Antagonist  Leonard Snart aka The Mist is seemingly singled out to be a recurring threat as he escapes at the end in what is the only slightly awkward sequence in the piece in which he literally walks away though not without a cheeky remark. It just about works.
5. Plastique
The tension between friendship and truth lies at the heart of this episode in which STAR labs’ attempts to help meta human Bette San Souchi (where do they get these crazy names?!)who can turn materials explosive with a single touch backfire when she realises she cannot be cured. Meanwhile Iris’ interest in the `Red Streak` becomes more pronounced when she sees him at the scene of Bette’s initial appearance. Now sure of the existence of this being she is more determined than ever to let the world know which brings her into conflict with her father and with Barry. In what is the most thoughtful episode so far, the scenario is taken on several less predictable routes especially when Iris reveals to Barry that she is pursuing her interest in this seeming superhero for his benefit. Obviously this has strong echoes of the old Clark Kent/ Superman scenario though Barry has ways of obscuring his appearance even underneath the mask when she would surely recognise him. He can keep his face moving at super speed and affect a deeper voice, surely a little nod to the movie Batman’s more ridiculous deep voice?
Bette herself is a more complex meta human than the adversaries we’ve so far met and essentially is turned back to bad deeds by Wells who is on super sneaky form this week. We’re also introduced to a former working associate of his, a General Eiling and it seems they were up to all sorts of experimentation several years ago. The result is an absorbing episode with some blistering but brief effects sequences.
The situation brings what will probably be a temporary halt to Barry and Iris’ friendship in a scene that is pitched perfectly as if the characters know there is still an option to renew it later. Cisco’s infatuation with ### though is rather gauchly played, partly deliberately you suspect but then peters out too abruptly so he seems more upset over the demise of one of his Flash suits than her eventual demise. It is another strong episode though for Grant Gustin and Jesse L Martin whose rapport fuses a very human side to whatever scenario they are involved in. Unlike so many superhero dramas of the small and the big screen it is this quality that singles out The Flash for special attention.



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