It's impossible not to like The Flash.
As Barry Allen, Grant Gustin is irresistible. He's sweet, kind, strong and caring. After a very traumatic childhood (which we all know about from watching Arrow), through a freak accident he's given an extraordinary gift and he is not the kind of guy who would consider wasting it.
In The Flash Season 1 Episode 1 Harrison Wells tells Barry that he believes unequivocally that Barry's one of a kind. Barry is one of a kind, even if he's not the only metahuman roaming the streets of Central City. He'll be the first (if not the only...time will tell) who will use his powers for good.
It's easy to understand why Barry takes to the crew at STAR Labs (please forgive me, I'm not going to use periods for the acronyms), considering he grew up with Joe West and his daughter, Iris. They never believed what he said about the night his mom, Nora, was murdered. That's a really difficult thing to live with, and love with -- the knowledge you aren't crazy while everyone around you believes you are.
In Harrison Wells, Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon, Barry finds people who believe that the particle accelerator did something to him and they're willing to support him as he discovers what it is. When Barry visits his wrongly accused dad, Henry (played by 1990 Flash John Wesley Shipp!), in prison, it becomes clear how he was raised and what's important to him.
Barry: You didn't kill mom. You know I know that, right?
Henry: You believing me is all I need.
Can you imagine having that man as your father and being raised by Joe West, who never even entertained the thought that what Barry saw held some merit?
The Wests are, at first blush, not painted in a good light. Outside the lack of faith in Barry's tale of the traumatic night his parents were taken from him, Iris seems a bit, how do I put this, simple. Before Barry's accident, when it was clear he had feelings for Iris, she was oblivious. When he talks to her and mentions CERN in a sentence, she requests that he speak English.
I'm no brainiac, but what he uttered was hardly difficult to understand even without scientific knowledge. Later, when her laptop was stolen (and Barry valiantly ran after the thief), we learned she wasn't even keen enough to back up her dissertation from somewhere other than a portable laptop.
Simply put, the Wests need some work done on their characters to help us understand how Barry has coped all of these years without cracking and why he has romantic feelings for Iris. Luckily, Joe (likely not a religious man since he requires visual proof to believe) does have a come to Jesus moment before the hour is up.
West: What you can do. It's because of the lightning bolt?
Barry: More or less.
West: I'm sorry Barry. I'm sorry I didn't believe you and I called you crazy for chasing the impossible, but you really did see something that night your mom died. And you're dad is innocent.
As West was kneeling down in front of Barry, his eyes were moist. His acknowledgement of Barry gives Barry the opportunity to grow even closer to his father figure since they're both in on his secret.
Iris is still up for debate, but since she's dating Eddie Thwayne and hiding it from her father, I err on the side of annoyance. Joe's request of Barry to keep his secret from Iris for her protection not only delays any relationship potential (or should, anyway), it gives Barry adequate time to fall for someone else (I can dream).
So we have Barry, a young man who has searched all his life for the impossible, who finally is impossible himself. He never doubted jos beliefs, despite the lack of evidence to support his theories. Cheering Barry on is the most natural thing in the world.
Wells didn't like Barry's questions regarding other metahumans (whether Wells is a metahuman remains to be seen) and his initial reaction to the probing was really harsh.
You're not a hero. You're just a young man who was struck by lightning.Harrison
But after Barry got the slick new suit from Cisco and checked in with Oliver Queen (the full discussion of which can be found in The Flash quotes), Barry was in high pursuit of the fellow metahuman who had been wreaking havoc on Central City. Once Wells saw what the kid could do, he appeared to change his tune.
You can do this, Barry. You were right. I am responsible for all of this. So many peopleHarrison
were hurt and when I looked at you all I saw was another potential victim of my hubris, but you, Barry, you can stop it. You can do this. Now RUN BARRY, RUN!
Yes, by the time he screamed those last three words, I was a bit misty. If Wells can suddenly believe in The Flash and his ability to do good, that must mean something, right? But then at the end, we learn Wells can walk after all and apparently has a time machine at his disposal. He seemed just a bit too pleased at the prospect of The Flash going missing in 2024.
Did you pause to catch all of the headlines on the Central City paper for April 25, 2024? The major headline was Flash Missing: vanishes in crisis. Other headlines included Wayne Tech/Queen Inc Merger Complete and Red Skies Vanish. Batman and Arrow in the same world? Apparently that's an Easter Egg that could happen, if only because it also notes that red skies vanish.
A red skies crossover is when a character crosses over in a comic for no other reason than to try to get you interested in the other comic. However, since this says they vanish, right after the merger news, we can feel free to read into it anything we want. Groovy, right?
Many people wondered why Clyde Mardon wasn't included in our Who's Who of the Flash Universe, and now you know. He didn't make it past the pilot. What little we learned about him, however was important. He felt alone and feeling that way can either make you kind like Barry or force you to the edge.
Mardon seemed filled with relief when he discovered someone else like him (or not, as Barry pointed out). I'm hoping that will be the way for many of the comic characters we meet up with in the Flashverse -- they're layered and not black and white. Yes, they may choose evil or good, but nuances make characters far more interesting. This production team knows nuances and meeting more metahumans is an exciting prospect.
Heck, everything about this new world is exciting. While Arrow is about a man who is rediscovering his humanity and becoming a hero, The Flash is about a very human young man choosing heroic ways after a freak accident. Oliver was right, The Flash will be inspirational. How many people will he touch and change? Who can wait to find out? Next episode please.
Here's your first look at The Flash Season 1 Episode 2, "The Fastest Man Alive."
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.