ED NOTE: we were a bit behind, but here is our review from "Plastique" and "The Flash is Born" (episode 5 and 6).
written by Conrad Wrobel (@conradwrobel)
It has been a minute since we caught up with the scarlet speedster, so let's have a good old-fashioned Flashback... heh. The last two episodes included several great leaps in our hero's abilities, not to mention the revelation of his official moniker. Although everyone in the audience should be caught up to pace by now, I should mention before we sprint too far ahead that there is a few *SPOILERS* around the next bend; so you might want to hit a pit stop if you are not current or currently watching Episode 7: Power Outage. #SayWatt?!
The fifth installment of The Flash starts with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) leveling up... the side of a motherf***ing skysraper! Speaking of up, Iris' temperature went that direction when she came face-to-face with the stationary and very non-blurry speedster. I guess running in blue jeans may not heat his pants up, but certainly has the effect on hers. HIYOOO! Where's Captain Cold, we need some absolute zero ice for these innuendo-burns! #Sizzle
A large portion of these two episodes are focused on Iris West (Candice Patton) meeting, greeting, and blogging about her new crimson-crush, and the expected resulting complications. However, as close as she gets to her hero-heartthrob, he is able to keep his secret identity exactly that by masking his voice with vibrations, and covering his face utilizing lens-flares from obscure background lighting (Who directed this, J.J. Abrams?). Seriously, at one point they were face-to-face and she still did not seem to recognize her own adopted-brother! But to be fair, this is the same girl who, episodes earlier, did not notice him go to warp speed and rant his secrets to her while she dumped a pack of sugar into her coffee... She may be named after a part of the eye, but she is ironically not very observant. #TheirEyesWereOpenButStillTheyWereBlind
Otherwise, this episode was a breath of fresh air, as the team finally encountered a metahuman that did not immediately result in a fire-fight. Although, it did immediately result in EXPLOSIONS! After all, Bette Sans Souci (Kelly Frye) A.K.A. Plastique and Barry immediately had fireworks between them; and by that I mean a thing; and by that I mean a mutual-attraction. This is clearly evident because their first encounter blew his pants off! HIYOOO! I guess the streak just became the Streaker! #SomebodyWentToCollege
So much of what makes the DC universe interesting is the diverse ways people respond to superpowers (either to their own and/or to others'). However, it is not very interesting when every metahuman wants to rob banks the moment they discover they can turn gold bricks into Herbal Essences shampoo. Lately, one of the best articles I have read points out how so many superheroes have turned from benevolent problem solvers and crafty out-thinkers to might-makes-right punchaholics (check it out here: http://www.theverge.com/tldr/2014/11/20/7253383/superheroes-exist-to-punch). I really enjoy that the Flash does not have superhuman strength and durability because it forces him down the road less traveled-- one of brains over brawns, a subject directly relevant in the sequential episode: "The Flash is Born." #BornToRun
Episode 6 starts once again in the line of a metahuman villain "hell-bent on destroying the city" with Tony Woodward (Greg Finley) A.K.A. Girder steel-ing the scene. As soon as he shows up, Barry and Tony go 12 rounds, but only Barry gets his bell rung. This poses an excellent challenge to the team, as they face the seemingly immovable object with their would-be unstoppable force. The only problem being Barry's STOPable bone-structure. #BreakALeg
However, Tony is much more than just another unbeknownst bystander caught in the blastwave of metahuman origin-stories, he is a blast from the past: Barry's original high school bully. Because of this shared history, Iris' new ambition of blogging the crimson comet's crusade against criminals garners more than just her father's unwanted attention, but Tony's as well. He targets her to get to the Flash, just as Barry and Joe feared might be a result of her new hobby. Who says "any press is good press?" #SaveMeHollywood
This leads us to our first case of Lois Lane Syndrome, where our hero's love interest becomes the damsel in distress. Yet, Barry is able to defeat our iron-giant Tony in a direct expansion on how he overcame the Plastique-problem of the previous episode-- BY RUNNING REALLY FAST!!! Go figure... However, in the previous dilemma, Barry was forced to up his speed to approximately 650 miles-per-hour in order to actually run on water! Within the same episode he was pushed to not just defy gravity by running up a building to save a man from falling, but to one-up Jesus as well! Somehow, he found it within himself to accomplish DOUBLE his previous record without breaking a sweat! #DoesBarrySweat?
This time, in order to grapple Girder, he had to strike him at a velocity of 837 mph-- Mach 1.1! For your information, the speed of sound is 767 mph and yes, I found that information via Wikipedia. I also learned that a sonic boom can indeed break glass, depending on the velocity and amount of air being moved in regards to proximity to the glass. However, not all sonic booms do this ("booms" being incorrect terminology, as the "boom" is actually a continuous effect following the object in motion), as a bullwhip creates a small boom when it cracks. Regardless of the science or lack thereof, the "heroes" of this story left out a really important detail: in achieving this landmark velocity, the Flash became responsible for an awful lot more property damage than Girder ever accumulated. #SupersonicLawsuitBaby!
But I digress... Meanwhile, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) has reopened the murder case on Barry's mother, Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison). His sleuthing has led him to question Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) on his coincidental arrival into Central City approximately the same time as her death. Although he is able to pluck our heartstrings with an acceptable anecdote and alibi, there is something missing. However, if he was indeed safely off Joe's suspect list, why would the episode end with another appearance of the mysterious Dr. Zoom, this time destroying Joe's collected case-notes and leaving a threat to Iris' life with the note, "Stop or Else"?!
Which leads me to My Takeaway from the episode, which is... the rug from under your feet! As in, I have a new conspiracy theory for you, Alice, so follow me down this rabbit hole--
Although Dr. Wheels (whoops, slip of the tongue) embodies the nagging suspicion that he is actually the foreshadowed arch-nemesis Dr. Zoom, the show does not entirely appear to have rewritten the comic-book character. By that I mean, Zoom is originally written as a character named Eobard Thawne. Within The CW's series, this name is not a far cry from that of Joe's partner and Iris' main squeeze, Detective Eddie Thawne. Things are heating up fast, but in which direction? Do Wells and Thawne have a common bond and secret conspiracy against the maroon marauder? Or better yet, is there a completely different conflict at hand?
Call me crazy (I've been called worse), but I think Eddie is a nickname for Eobard (if I were named that, I'd use a nickname, too), and he is the one and only Prof. Zumba, purposely aimed at ruining Barry's life for whatever psychotic reason he needs this week... With this in mind, take into consideration that Wells has revealed:
(A) He can walk.
(B) He can read has a newspaper from 2024 noting The Flash vanishing in a crisis.
(C) He has no record in Central City before "14 years ago" (they never do list the specific date Barry's mother died).
Since the notion of time travel has been brought up from the pilot episode, I theorize that Harrison Wells could very well be Barry Allen from the future, returned to guide himself towards a different future. Within both DC and The Flash Comics, time travel is actually rather commonplace in so it is not off-base to speculate in this direction.
We know that he tells Joe that his wife, Tess Morgan, died in a car accident and thus he could never bear to return to their laboratory where they were research partners... but we all know Wells speaks out both sides of his mouth. Assuming he is The Flash, and received his powers in the same style accident/experiment as that which affected Barry, it very well could have resulted in her death and/or the destruction of his facilities. Either he wants to redirect his new self's future towards one where Tess lives or to one where he never meets her, instead marrying the original love of his life, Iris. #IveJustGoneCrossEyed
Even with this theory in mind, we do not know if he traveled time to combat the workings of Zoom, to give himself powers earlier in life, or to change the course of his own love life. We have so much yet to discover!!! I do know that he probably would NOT have traveled time to save his own mother, as much as it pained him, for the same reasons Bruce Wayne would not save his own parents if given the chance-- because that change of history would prevent the creation of a necessary hero to society. #SadButTrue
Ay, but therein still lies a rub... Why did Zoom murder Nora? Also, why would Zoom intervene with Joe's investigation of her death instead of just killing him outright? Worst of all, he instead threatens Joe with Iris' life! However, if he is indeed Eddie Thawne, it is easy to see why he would do so-- either he intends to kill her anyways to hurt the Flash, or he has no intention to hurt her at all because he actually loves her, but uses this bluff as leverage. Win-win situation for Zoom. Lose-lose for Barry, Iris, and Joe.
Regardless of this particular instance, we still do not yet know Zoom's overall goals or ambitions; simply that he has it out for The Flash. We also do not know Wells' objectives, only that he is willing to kill for them. What we DO know is that Barry's powers are being advanced fast in the series, almost as fast as he can run! This can only lead us to speculate the high-stakes nature of the tasks he must undertake and overcome throughout the rest of the season! There are 17 episodes to go, I can only imagine what will happen next. All I know is episode 9 should hold some answers about his counterpart, The Man in the Yellow Suit! #NerdGasm