After a surprisingly decent pilot episode, can the CW’s new version of ‘The Flash’ maintain its momentum? Honestly, the second episode may be a little better than the pilot, in that it doesn’t struggle so much to cram a ton of backstory into a single hour.
Episode ‘Fastest Man Alive’ starts with Barry testing his new powers by racing through the city, rescuing people from fires and stopping muggings with the help of S.T.A.R. Labs techie nerd Cisco on the comms directing him toward things to do. He finds all this a great deal of fun, but the other techie nerd, Caitlin, gets very angry at him for playing hero and putting himself in danger.
Barry suffers occasional dizzy spells after using his powers, and even passes out at one point. With some testing back at the lab, Caitlin and Cisco determine that his glucose levels drop precipitously every time he jumps into super-speed. He’s hypoglycemic and will need an extremely high-carb diet to keep his energy up.
The main plot of the episode kicks in when new meta-human Danton Black, a disgruntled former employee of Stagg Industries (a S.T.A.R. Labs competitor) tries to assassinate that company’s CEO Simon Stagg (William Sadler). Since being doused with the black matter whatchamacallit, Black now has the power to instantly clone copies of himself. (How all the clones split off of him fully clothed is not answered, but we’ll chalk that up to suspension of disbelief.) Cisco tries to come up with a cool nickname for the new villain, but his first attempt (“Captain Clone”) is ridiculed. He later dubs the guy “Multiplex.”
Barry arrogantly races into an encounter with Black too soon, gets swarmed by clones and has his ass handed to him. This is a lesson in humility, and Barry decides that he isn’t cut out to be a hero after all. An inspirational pep talk from Det. West will put him back on the case. Then Caitlin figures out that Black’s clones are basically empty shells that he controls telepathically. If Barry can take out the “prime,” he can stop them all.
This climaxes with a pretty cool scene where Barry zips through a huge army of clones in “Bullet Time” style slo-mo on his way to the leader. (The scene plays like a superior version of the “Burly Man” fight in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’.) Eventually, Black falls out a window and, despite Barry’s effort to save him, allows himself to fall to his death.
In an epilogue, Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) visits Simon Stagg, reveals that he can walk, and kills the man. He says something about doing it in order to protect the Flash. Since he has some sort of contact with the future, he presumably knows that Stagg will be a threat later on. Could Wells have actually been behind Multiplex’s assassination plot in the first place? Is Wells evil, or just morally conflicted?
Although I can see the show’s freak-of-the-week structure growing tired after a while, I liked this episode quite a bit and have committed to watching more. I really enjoy its humor and optimistic vibe. If you’d asked me about the series a few months before its premiere, I doubt I would have expected that.