That's how you begin the second season of a successful genre show.
At the start of The Flash Season 2 Episode 1, Barry Allen was broken, shouldering the weight of protecting the city and those he loves without the fear he would put any of them into danger again the only way he know how – alone.
He was doing what he does best, running toward danger to stop the forces of evil and away from the guilt he felt for the loss of two men and the destruction of the city he loved, all on his watch.
The premiere gave us glimpses of the fateful day Barry became "The Man Who Saved Central City" as old storylines were beautifully brought to a close and new ones opened, all while Barry's friends made it clear he was not in this alone, he never had been and he never would be again.
While viewers wait anxiously for the return of Arrow, The Flash premiered, delivering a powerful and emotional installment full of surprises.
Following its acclaimed first season by sticking to what it does best, the hour was infused with thrills, new pairings, comical in-jokes and genuinely heartwarming character interactions. Nobody writes paternal relationships like The Flash.
The focus was on reclaiming what was lost, not just rebuilding Central City (which Barry was he was doing at night in his spare time while nobody was watching), but the trust Barry had in himself as The Flash and in his friends as his team, his support.
It's surprising those who love Barry most allowed him to drift in the wind for six months, but they all had to deal with their own grief before they were able to recognize the detachment of their friend. It was the mayor's insistence on Flash Day and their hope he would attend that made them realize just how far away from them their friend had become.
Thanks to Cisco's new job as the scientific advisor on Joe's metahuman task force at the Central City Police Department, he's closer with Joe and Iris, and the three soon found a way to reach Barry, best friend Iris taking the lead.
The pairing of Joe and Cisco might be one of the most anticipated for the remainder of The Flash Season 2. Joe already reads Cisco like an open book, and the more Joe acts in a fatherly capacity, the better.
Cisco: You expecting trouble?
Joe: Cops always expect trouble. In this city, I expect super evil flying monsters.
Cisco: That's a solid expectation. [Joe laughs]
Not to mention, Cisco makes Joe laugh and Joe's laughter remains one of the most magical and healing sounds in the universe. Hopefully, the two of them kicking back waiting together for Flash Day to begin is a sign of things to come.
Barry wasn't going to accept help willingly, however, and it took a bonk on the head and some more of Joe's fatherly advice about sharing the guilt for what happened with the singularity for him to pick up the pieces, and notably to bridge the gap between him and Caitlin. Twice Barry told the women in his life that they know more than anyone he's not the man who saved Central City.
Caitlin wasn't holding Barry responsible for Ronnie's death, but herself, because of the decisions she made to remain in Central City at a time Ronnie wanted to move on. Being at STAR Labs simply reminded her that she chose Barry and Harrison Wells over a future with Ronnie, so running was her answer, too. She and Barry had that in common. It felt right that they face the message from Wells together.
Barry sat on letters from Wells' attorney for months, afraid to read them, when they ultimately held the key to news he had been waiting to hear for 14 years. If you don't admit to at least getting a tear in your eye as Wells made that confession, I might have to call your bluff. But Wells knew even then that giving Barry what he wanted would not bring Barry happiness.
Certainly that recorded message was not the last we will see of Tom Cavanaugh during the season. Right?
Henry Allen has been released from prison. But even out of prison, we're not getting the fairytale ending for Barry and his dad because Henry is leaving town. That doesn't surprise me, though, as Barry spent the entirety of last season with two father figures, and in his vision, he imagined Wells telling him it was time to stand on his own. At some point Barry has to grow beyond leaning on his dad, as much as I love when he does it.
Henry: Do you think...can you be all that you are becoming with me here?
Barry: You're the only family I have left.
Henry: Well, that's not really true. Don't you have another family in this room? They need your help, too, Barry. When you need me, I will be here. But right now Central City doesn't need you to be Henry Allen's son, it needs you to be The Flash. My Kid, the superhero. I have to go. I need you to tell me that it's OK.
Hopefully, we'll see John Wesley-Shipp as often now as we did when he was in Iron Heights. After all, he's only as far away as the speed his son, the superhero, can run.
Although the premiere introduced us in the briefest sense to Jay Garrick and the notion of Zoom, it seemed like more of a sendoff of the previous season and a launching pad for The Flash Season 2 Episode 2, when we'll get a real feel for what the new season is all about.
Jay Garrick will share who he is, where he comes from and even get involved in the case of the week (which also introduces Patty Spivot), so we're about to become a lot more invested in the idea of multiple Flashes and multiple worlds!
- I laughed, I welled up, I flat out bawled during this hour. Anybody else go through a whole host of emotions?!
- Addressing the security issues at STAR Labs was wonderfully done, and even better that Jay Garrick blew right by after the Lab was secured. Some things never change!
- Cisco got a badge! Well, a CCPD ID badge, anyway.
- The Flash Signal, as well as the conversation surrounding it, was brilliant.
- Do you think they'll ever sell those Flash antennae or use them as giveaways? Because so cool.
- The music used throughout is perfect. It can tip the scales toward tears or laughter in a jiffy.
- Will Joe be the one to help Cisco when he finally admits to his "vibes"? Because that would be wonderful.
- I felt kinda bad for Atom-Smasher (although loved how he was named), because this was one of the those eppies when the meta of the week served no purpose whatsoever. Sorry Adam Copeland. See on on Haven on Thursday!
It's been a while. What did you think of the premiere and the events leading up to it? Were you surprised at the additional loss of life? At Henry's release? I'm sure you have a lot to say, so have at it!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.