Despite the amazing spectacle that would be Daredevil, for me, The Flash was THE show of 2014. I was with it until the finale, an episode that pissed me off and confused me more than Looper, despite how much I loved it.
Speculation and fan knowledge forgave the fact that they stole my antagonist name of “Eddie Thawne” and I quickly settled on the fact that Eddie was a stand-in for Malcolm, one of the best/most forgotten Flash villains ever, Cobalt Blue. I’m still holding to this theory, especially after last night – this review/rant comes the day after The Reverse-Flash Returns - but I had so many issues with this episode, and what I’m realizing is the season as a whole, it’s hard not to compare. Being as time travel is a confusing enough subject (that I’ve written more than extensively about http://uruniverse.weebly.com/…/the-official-terminator-time… ) I guess I should start at the “beginning”… or somewhere where everything makes sense. Oh yea, and as much as this is going to tie back into defunct “old universe” obscure comics, I caution one last time, SPOILERS!!!
While comic fans can debate who is the best or most dastardly villain, I can make a pretty compelling argument for the comic canon old universe Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne. Thawne possesses all the tragic Shakespearian characteristics of a true classic villain while also being the biggest bastard imaginable… just because. On the show, this was handled with mature gloves and care, from the mindset of a seasoned enemy. He systematically “destroyed” Barry’s life while also growing a fondness and begrudging respect for him. Cavanaugh (hey, I said spoilers) had some intense and Emmy worthy scenes speaking to then comatose Barry, welling up with tears about how he loved to hate him.
In the recent comics (I’ll spare you the extended history lesson), it was a TAD different. Reverse Flash figures out how to systematically undue and change Barry’s life, taking away his various happy moments, culminating with deliberately killing his mother. He erases Barry’s childhood best friend, kills his dog, pushes Barry down the stairs and then sets his diabolical gaze on Nora Allen. In this instance, there is (as of yet anyway) no older future Barry saving his young self. Thawne himself, throws Barry three towns away, so that he feels powerless to try and help his mom, again, just to be a dick. In the show, Thawne killed Nora by accident/in a fit of rage while fighting with an as of yet unseen future Barry. It wasn’t necessarily a planned attack. This single instance was the spark that created the New 52 (hence another clear reason for Thawne being the WORST/best villain of all time).
This is an event that even in the comics, New 52 Barry has yet to properly address/attempt to change. In the show, Barry had his first chance, but obviously not his last, which leaves me hopeful that season 2 will end in Flashpoint… but we’ll get there.
PART II: TIME TRAVEL, HOW DOES IT WORK? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?
If we accept that the hypothetical idea of time travel is possible (which with this show, we’d have to), Rust Cohle breaks it down for us perfectly,
“Someone once told me, 'Time is a flat circle.' Everything we've ever done or will do, we're gonna do over and over and over again.”
There were two possible explanations for the events of last night’s episode, one of which makes perfect sense and the other is complete and utter bullshit, depending on how it's handled (as this is what they are currently doing in the comics). The first is the idea of a “fixed event” in the timeline. This is an event so important that it has to happen in all possible timelines for said timeline to exist. Think of a line segment from which a tangent line can shoot off. Why it doesn’t work? It’s not Nora’s murder - it’s Eddie Thawne. Kinda hard to do without the visual aid in the episode, so I’ve made my own, see below:
Eddie is a contradiction however, as Reverse Flash starting the accelerator early was the entire reason he was in Central City earlier than he was in any previous timeline. This creates a rubberband paradox where the two events either cycle back and forth endlessly, or one devours the other (exactly what was going to happen to Cisco last night). The only possible believable explanation is that Eddie is not dead. If Eddie is dead, we should have had a “trunks” moment (that’s a DBZ reference) in this scenario, chaos theory compensates and the paradox by letting this tangent scenario timeline continue as is, resulting in another “new” historical timeline.
All the events of the CW show happened, but Eddie dies, negating the existence of the Reverse Flash. All “fixed events” happen “historically” and we just move forward from this point (ie Eddie is dead, Barry’s mom is dead, these are fixed events that cannot be changed, but the Reverse Flash of that timeline will never come to be). This is what the show would have us believe and it’s still pretty much bullshit. We would then pull a DBZ and revert to timeline prime/alpha, where the day is in fact saved, despite the alternate future which also still exists in some multiverse where it has offset the paradox. In DBZ, they defeated Cell and the Androids, but these things still existed in the Trunks’ historical timeline, making his entire trip useless for the fate of “his” world.
So, what did we see last night? Last night we saw a very loose adaptation of the early 90s Flash arc The Return of Barry Allen. For the sake of confusion, I won’t explain the background here. Just know that Wally is the Flash, “Barry” is gone, and the Reverse Flash is LONG gone. In this story, the Reverse Flash ends up in our present for the first time chronologically. He meets “The Flash” and makes an enemy of him. He returns to his own timeline vowing revenge. I’m not sure why they took it in this direction, other than bringing back a fan favorite and hardly using him (ie Deathstroke in Arrow season 3).
Unlike the familial power struggle exhibited in much better episodes like Man in the Yellow Suit, Barry claims not to be afraid of Reverse Flash and even ends up helping him to save Cisco. It completely undid every action Eobard took against Barry, and made the character look like a complete pussy. It was only made worse by every single character telling Eobard valuable information that he will then use again them in the future/our past. This really didn’t work for me, as THAT Eobard was always supposed to be the timeline prime/alpha one, and not one from this New 52/CW timeline.
I’m hoping this is all heading for a Flashpoint level event, and not a team-up where everyone becomes friends with the Reverse Flash.
The main reason Flash season 2 isn’t working, is because it isn’t about ANYTHING. They’ve set up plenty of threads (spending WAY too much time setting up Legends of Tomorrow in the first half of the season imo) and when these threads don’t take off, they’ve fallen back on “what worked in season one” every single time. We’ve seen the Trickster and Grodd return, and it only took 4 episodes before Dr. Harrison Wells was back in the fold. The big bad of the season, “Zoom” is nonexistent except for the great scene where he crippled Barry (which should have lead to a great story from the comics where Barry learns both new powers and actual lessons) only for Barry to walk it off by the next episode. Then there’s Jay Garrick who hasn’t done a single thing since arriving in the end of the premiere, and…. Wally West. (sigh). Look, I’m not really a fan of the original Wally (outside of Titans, HUGE old school Titans fan). I’m definitely not a fan of the New 52 Wally, but this one is just SO MUCH worse.
They’ve positioned 9 possible speedsters in way too short a time, and only having Barry, Zoom, and the Reverse Flash run so far. Side characters do little to nothing, and the hype/focus seems to be on “what’s happening on Legends/what’s happening on Arrow.” Legends took two of the best characters from us, and they’re unlikely to return any “time” soon. Last night ended with a name drop of comics Zoom, and he’s now our best candidate for the man behind the mask. Outside of the readers, casuals won’t get the connection and the long walk for a short drink of water setup scene really came from out of nowhere. The Barry and Patty relationship which had SO much promise (way more than the New 52 version ever did) fizzled and was nothing more than a placeholder for the inevitable pairing of Barry and Iris.
At this point, they need to address the whole Crisis thing briefly mentioned in season one. We need a “sympathetic” episode from the Reverse Flash’s POV (this was handled in the comics making him a complete dick villain, but in such a way we loved to hate him). Go to the future, go to Earth 2! I hope Patty comes back as Hot Pursuit after a brief stint in Midway City. It looks like the Arrow graveyard scene in which Barry alludes to facing off with Zoom will be our spring/season finales. I hope the Zoom story picks up steam and carries SOME consequence.
Especially after the “you’re the smartest person I know, and you can’t even see that Zoom just made up his mind ten minutes ago” talk with Joe last night, I sadly don’t think that he’s long for this world. Ending with a cadre of speedsters is not the right move. Ending with Flashpoint after Barry finally stops feeling sorry for himself and goes off to save his mother IS the right move. Then and only then, (pending success of SEVERAL ongoing comics, TV shows, and the Snyder-verse) can they begin truly laying the seeds for the rumored/speculated/Crisis movie (circa 2025). Otherwise, once you lose Joe and Tom Cavanagh, the show doesn’t have much going for it.
I gave Flash Season 1 an 8.5/10 and by this point in the season it was a 9/10. Flash season 2 is sitting at a 6.5/10 and as of right now, I’m just hoping for a flat 7.