I suppose it was inevitable that ‘The Flash’ would encounter a pretty lame villain who can only be defeated in an uninteresting way. I just wish it had happened a little later in the show’s run.
The meta-human du jour in episode ‘Things You Can’t Outrun’ is a former death row inmate who was conveniently dosed with the dark matter just exactly as he was in the process of being executed in a gas chamber. As a result, he now has the power to turn his entire body into green poison gas, and uses this to get revenge on everyone who put him in prison – starting with the judge. Cisco dubs him “The Mist.” How clever.
This character is so poorly developed that we never learn anything at all about him other than that he’s a really bad guy who likes to kill people. If he was even given a name other than The Mist, I didn’t catch it. His power is basically limited to slipping between cracks and choking people on his poisonous fumes.
When Barry tries to stop The Mist, he quickly learns that… well, you can’t punch smoke, no matter how fast you move. Duh.
Eventually, Dr. Wells figures out that the way to defeat the baddie is for Barry to run around a lot, tricking the Mist into chasing him and getting tired, whereupon he’ll reconstitute into his human form and then Barry can punch him. Voila! It works. Socko! He’s out. That’s that.
Because you can’t exactly confine a guy who changes into smoke in a traditional prison, Dr. Wells builds a new prison for meta-humans in the former particle accelerator core. He seals The Mist up in a (presumably) airtight chamber and locks him away deep in the bowels of the facility.
Questions: Does the guy still need to breathe? How will Wells feed him? Or does Wells just plan to let him suffocate or starve to death?
This is not a very compelling plot this week.
Fortunately, the episode also has a flashback storyline that shows what happened when the particle accelerator melted down. Techie nerd Caitlin’s studly fiancé Ronnie sacrifices himself Spock-style to vent the core and prevent the entire city from being destroyed. Naturally, he’s disintegrated in the process, and Caitlin is very sad about that. How many episodes do you think it will be before he returns as a meta-human? Will he have blue skin and like to walk around naked with his dong flapping about? (Dr. Manhattan is technically a DC character now, right?)
What saves this episode from utter dismissability is a final revelation that Dr. Wells actually caused the meltdown on purpose, knowing that it would create The Flash. This brings up many questions. Just how much does this guy know from the future? Was he also aware of all the meta-human villains that he’d create? Is his new prison really just an excuse to collect meta-humans for his own nefarious purposes? Is he evil, and if so, how evil?
I’ve never read a ‘Flash’ comic. Is Wells even a character there? If so, please, no spoilers. An interesting bit of speculation I’ve read is that Wells may be a super-villain from the future who was stranded in the past by something future Flash did, and now needs Flash to get back. I like the possibilities here.
Ultimately, this isn’t a great episode, but I’m willing to give the show a pass. This is a time of growing pains.
Next week is the big ‘Arrow’ crossover. Will I need to watch that show too to follow the story? Frankly, I’m not too excited about that, but I’ll reserve judgment until it airs. [Whoops. I guess that’s coming later.]