Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Flash, Season 2

My two-season, DVD-assisted binge of the CW's The Flash continues with this 23-episode season, originally aired in 2015-16. It starts with a provokingly slow reveal of what happened after the Season 1 cliffhanger ending, in which Team Flash inadvertently created a black hole above Central City, threatening the existence of the whole planet, while defeating Barry Allen/The Flash's nemesis Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash, the time-traveling speedster who murdered Barry's mom when he was 11 and has been impersonating S.T.A.R. Labs genius Harrison Wells for the past 15 years. Now, we learn, this escapade has cost team member Caitlin Snow her husband, and Dr. Martin Stein the other half of two-man-in-one-superhero Firestorm, with Ronnie Raymond biting it for the second time. Things start to look up when Wells/Thawne leaves a video confessing to Nora Allen's murder, clearing Barry's dad Henry of the same, and leaving S.T.A.R. Labs to Barry in perpetuity.

By this time, most of the meta-human troubles arising from the technobabble accident that gave Barry his powers has quieted down. But now a new batch of meta-villains is arising, coming to "Earth-1" from the neighboring parallel dimension, "Earth-2" through one of several spacetime rifts opened by the aforementioned black hole escapade. Among these villains is another speedster, known to his enemies as Zoom (because he doesn't have any friends), who for some reason keeps trying to get other Earth-2 meta-humans to murder Barry for him. Meantime, Earth-2's "The Flash" is revealed to be a guy named Jay Garrick who likes to run around in a crimson (as opposed to scarlet) costume, accessorized with a winged steel bowl-helmet. This guy seems to have lost his speediness somehow, and thanks to him, Caitlin loses her heart again. Meantime, Joe West (Barry's foster father) and his daughter Iris take delivery of a previously unknown son/brother named Wally, who (alert comics nerds will already know) is eventually destined to become a speedster nicknamed Kid Flash. Also, we also meet an Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells, dubbed "Harry" to help Team Flash distinguish him from his defunct Earth-1 doppelgänger (a word that starts to get used a lot during this season). Harry is also a genius, and basically a good guy, though (ironically) less nice to be around than his evil counterpart who, admittedly, was a ringer to start with. His motive for joining Team Flash (rescuing his daughter from Zoom) puts Harry in a frame of mind to do some evil of his own. So, with complications in his life as a crime-fighter multiplying, his relationship with his real dad and with Iris thwarted at every turn, a new monster or super-villain to fight almost every week, bad luck besetting him and a new nemesis testing his powers beyond their limit, Barry's natural cheerfulness and kindness get put through a wringer.

Three scenes that made it for me: (1) Of course, one of them would have to be an in-joke. I forget the context, but there was a scene in this season when, in the presence of Joe (played by Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin) someone makes a crack about Law & Order. (2) Recurring "rogue" Leonard Snart becomes a deeper, more complex character, developing in an increasingly sympathetic direction, when he calls on the Flash to help him save his sister from their really rotten father, played by Michael Ironside. (3) Ultimate cliffhanger (so far in the series): While trying to give Barry his powers back (don't ask), the team sees him apparently vaporized. To quote a sainted Star Trek-watching partner, "It must be the last one they ever made." Not!

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