If you think back to the first season of “Arrow,” it wasn’t always the great show that we imagine it to be. It devised a formula where you spent the first eight or nine episodes really getting to know the world that Oliver Queen lived in, and allowing the Big Bad to build slowly over time. During that time, we had a crew of largely-dull villains, and some characters like Thea who were just starting to find themselves.
Right now, this is also what is happening with “The Flash.” The second episode, entitled “Fastest Man Alive,” had some good moments. Seeing the relationship between Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) flourish is entertaining, and Martin may be the best actor on the entire show. Meanwhile, some of the fight sequences remain impressive, and Barry actually managed to defeat this time around one of the most challenging villains to date. One particularly interesting thing about these battles is that Barry, despite his powers, continuously feels like an underdog. He’s squaring off against characters who are so powerful, and can manipulate weather or even duplicate themselves.
Still, there are many weak points, and the biggest one for now is us still trying to get a full sense as to Barry’s life, his home, and his identity beyond his job and his family. We don’t feel like we know him as well as we did Oliver Queen two episodes into “Arrow,” and his supporting cast is a mixed bag. Harrison Wells is a great creation for the show, and is actually better right now than either Cisco Roman or Caitlin Snow. We’re still having a hard time buying into the latter.
What we feel like Barry really needs right now is a dedicated friend who is not a love interest, that way he can really have an outlet for his feelings. Oliver found one in Diggle, and on “Chuck” (a show we see some parallels with), Chuck Bartowski had Morgan Grimes. Maybe Cisco can be that, but he’s not there yet.
We still very much like Grant Gustin, and feel this show is going to get to a great place. It’s just going through some early stumbling blocks, and it’s certainly worth sticking with. Still, it needs to cut out its hokey moments (Barry’s speech to the STAR Labs team was too much), and focus more on having fun. Grade: B-.
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