After an impressive start last week, The Flash is back for more. Fastest Man Alive sees Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) coming to terms with his powers and realising the good that they can do. Unfortunately for Barry, his world becomes full of headaches and there's a new villain on the scene. Still, our hero brings an underlying sense of fun and enjoyment to all that he does, be it from his point of view or from the viewer’s point of view. But don’t be fooled, The Flash isn’t all smiles and shiny lights, there’s darker things going on away from the largely positive vibe that the show emits.
So whilst Barry struggles with headaches and blackouts, a villain emerges by the name of Danton Black (Michael Christopher Smith). With the power to replicate his own form, his aim is to take down scientist Simon Stagg (William Sadler); a man who has made a name for himself in the realm of cellular regeneration. Away from these threats, Barry is also being torn from all angles on just what his purpose is. Whilst he and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) think it’s all good to be using Barry’s powers to help out theoe in need, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) believes that the official word is that Barry should be merely using his new skills to help contain the threat of other meta-humans. As for Harrison Wells (the brilliant Tom Cavanagh), he merely urges caution. And if this all wasn’t enough, Barry Allen also has to juggle his day job as a forensic expert and also wrestle with his feelings for Iris (Candice Patton). But then again, nobody said being a superhero would be easy.
Fastest Man Alive picks up the baton of the show’s first episode and runs with it, bringing many beautifully-constructed moments to the screen, not least the dynamic between Barry and Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). As Joe plays the role of a father-figure to Barry, we get to see parallels between their time in the past and in the present day, with some genuinely emotional scenes delivered by the pair. It’s a dynamic that’s been played out on screen many times before, that of protective father/mentor to the rebellious youth, yet The Flash has this relationship nailed on and brings a freshness to it. Similarly, just as Joe came to realise Barry’s powers in the first episode, here he also becomes to realise that all of this must also mean that Barry’s father (John Wesley Shipp) wasn’t responsible for the death of Barry’s mother.
This second episode of The Flash strikes a number of beats, delivering action, emotion and a whole host of character development. There are also several scenes that bring a smile to long-time Flash fans, such as Barry on a treadmill and Barry fighting what seems like 100 versions of Danton Black, who is christened Multiplex by Cisco Ramon by the time the episode comes to an end. And on that front, it appears that Cisco is taking on the role that Michelangelo played in the recent animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in that he’ll be on naming duties for the villains that crop up. Given the enthusiastic charisma of Cisco, that could add a further element of fun to future episodes of The Flash. But with Cisco, Caitlin and Wells, Barry is already starting to put together what seems like a ‘Team Flash’ similar to how Arrow’s Oliver Queen constructed his ‘Team Arrow’ of Felicity, Diggle, Roy and Canary (RIP Sara Lance), and it's a group of actors that all seem to bounce off each other well.
With further tests on Barry, a further look at Barry’s analytical CSI-style forensic work, the tease of further DC faces (here’s looking at you, Firestorm), and a true sense of fun, enthusiasm and mystery, Fastest Man Alive delivers a very special episode for a show that is so young in tenure. Already, The Flash really has you pulling for it, much like its titular hero has you championing his cause. And for the second week running now, the show delivers a shocking climax that throws up further questions as to what really is ahead for Barry Allen and his world. Whatever it is, we can’t wait to see it.
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