After a classy pilot that bolted out of the gate, The Flash eases up with a second episode that’s worryingly generic until it starts having fun with its villain half way through.
“The Fastest Man Alive” is still as slickly made and as good natured fun as its predecessor, but for a long while it lacks the wit and invention. All the early scenes with The Flash rescuing people from fires at the expense of his real-life job are now a staple of any screen superhero early faltering steps into the crimefighting business. Then we learn that Iris is a journalist in the making, and yes, that’s true to the comics, but this episode does little to waylay fears that she’s just going to be proto-Lois Lane. Meanwhile, the whole shtick with Joe needing to believe in Barry so Barry can believe in himself is resolved almost before it’s even raised as an issue.
Even the main plot feels a bit low rent, with genre regular William Sadler (Iron Man 3, Roswell, Fringe) as a morally dubious millionaire scientist being under threat from a ex-employee, now meta-human, who he shafted. These are all standard elements from Big Book Of Making Superhero Cheaply For TV, and for all the personable acting, great FX and funny lines, there’s a nagging whiff of complacency. And reheated Smallville.
Danton Black is indeed Multiplex in the DC Universe, but he’s the arch enemy of Firestorm, not the Flash. His powers were the result of the same nuclear explosion that created Firestorm; Multiplex’s powers represented Fission while Firestorm’s represented fusion. He debuted in Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #1 in 1978
Luckily, the episode has a trick up its sleeve, which it doesn’t reveal too soon. The meta-villain’s powers may not make much sense, but they look great on screen. And after a relatively low key first couple of appearances (oh look, he can make a couple of copies of himself) suddenly the show grasps the concept and runs with it. The first fight between the Flash and Black is impressive enough (see Best Moment below) but by the big climax the writers and FX team are giving us visuals that put the multiple Agent Smiths scenes in The Matrix to shame. Genuinely. Okay, there may not be as many Blacks as there were Smiths, but the action feels cleverer and more inventive.
The episode also has fun with Barry’s need to consume copious amounts of calories, and a final scene in which, once again, Professor Wells shows his true colours.
“The Fastest Man Alive” remains an entertaining and solid episode, but it’s not as refreshing individual and quirky as the pilot. But it’s early days and the show’s clearly still finding its blurry feet.
The episode has a of fun with Danton Black’s powers (even in they make no sense) but the moment when the Flash literally punches a couple of clones out of Prime Black’s body is straight out of a comic book, and utterly wonderful.
I Think I'm A Clone Now
Okay, nitpicking scientific accuracy is ever a pointless endeavour with telefantasy, but Danton Black’s powers defy logic. For the sake of argument, let’s accept that he can generate “clones” that come complete with clothes. But the idea that Caitlin can “grow” the clothes as well as clone Black himself from some of his cells is stretching credulity to snapping point. Since when do someone’s cells contain information about the clothes their wearing? And what happens to the duplicates? We never see them vanish or be reabsorbed.
No, Honestly, We're Not Kidding
The image of Barry running on the treadmill at STAR labs cannot fail to evoke memories in long-time DC fans of the Cosmic Treadmill from the comics. Although Barry couldn’t run fast enough to travel through time, he could break through the fourth dimension with the aid of the Cosmic Treadmill. We’re not making this up.
The gun in the logo of the shop called Hex cannot fail to make you think of Jonah Hex, DC’s former Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter character. The nearby show where Barry “acquires” his emergency clothing is called Harron Clothing Store, named after the show’s production designer Tyler Harron.
The F-Plan Diet
Isn’t Iris just a little suspicious that Barry can eat that much and stay so skinny. Wouldn’t she be worriedly suggesting the number of bulimia helpline? The concept that Barry has to ingest copious calories to maintain his mighty metabolism is straight out of the comic books.
The Flash airs on Sky 1 in the UK and the CW in the US on Tuesday nights.