Often, in superhero fare, fans have to wait for a sequel or a second season to feature two big bad villains in the same showing. The Flash decided to change that up tonight by bringing two antagonists front and center, and allowing them to cause havoc on two separate fronts. The interesting thing with “Power Outage” was that the writers didn’t let the title hero save the day in both places (even though his speed could have let him do so), choosing instead to let the not-so-helpless non-metahumans take care of their own problems. Perhaps the more interesting thing is that the biggest villain isn’t waiting in the wings, he’s hiding in plain sight and biding his time. And the most interesting thing is how The CW managed to take a series about a guy who runs really fast and quickly turn it into one of the most entertaining hours on television right now.
Hit the jump for The Flash recap.
Flashing back to the night the particle accelerator blew up, a group of teens is partying at a power station up on a nearby hill. One of them – Farooq (Michael Reventar) – yells for the others to get to safety in the car, but he takes the brunt of the accelerator blast.
Back in the present, Dr. Wells records his notes via a sentient computer, Gideon. He’s talking about Barry starting to rely on his powers for both the heroic and the mundane, like getting coffee for everyone in line, or pantsing a would-be mugger and depositing a cop next to him. (It’s plain to see that the creative team is having a blast with the premise of The Flash.) When Barry arrives at the lab, Wells reminds him that his powers aren’t just about him, and that he needs to increase his speed for their research (for some reason). Before Barry can accommodate the good doctor, a homicide call takes the forensics specialist away.
Barry uncovers two bodies burned to a crisp by high-voltage electricity (and also finds out that Joe West is acting a tad strangely, probably owing to the detective’s run in with the Yellow Streak). He takes their body scans back to the lab to identify them, which results in the discovery that someone is currently using one of the dead men’s ID cards to access a power station. The Flash rushes off to see what’s going on, and he finds Farooq draining the substation of its electrical power. Since Barry’s lightning-charged powers provide a tastier treat, Farooq drains him instead, leaving Barry without his superspeed.
Wells and the lab team are working on fixing his power drain, so Barry warns Joe about Farooq in the meantime. Barry also drops strong hints to Iris that The Flash may be out of commission.
Back at the lab, Wells is searching his timeline’s archives for hits on Barry Allen and The Flash, but Gideon’s coming up empty. Simultaneously, Barry shares his passion for his superspeed (and his grief over losing it) with Caitlin in a wonderful moment for Gustin who’s really starting to embrace his character. Unfortunately, that moment is interrupted by Farooq showing up at the lab to talk to Wells, and to drain the power from the entire city. In what I expected to be an Easter egg but turned out to be a major plot point, William Tockman aka the Clock King (Robert Knepper), manages to take a bunch of hostages at the police station, including Joe and Iris. If Barry ever needed his powers, it’s now.
The team decides to hit Barry with a supercharged volt in an attempt to kickstart his abilities. It’s either that or they all get burned to death by Farooq. Before Wells can enact his plan, Barry decides he wants to try negotiating with Farooq. He’d better hurry up, because Tockman is doing his own negotiations with the police and it’s not going well for the hostages. Barry’s talk with Farooq reveals that he accidentally killed his best friends when they tried to resuscitate him and he woke up, electrocuting him. Farooq blames Wells, so the doctor attempts to buy some time. He leaves his wheelchair behind and pays a visit to Woodward/Girder in order to make a deal. Wells wants to free Girder in order to kill Farooq. A bit of a crazy plan if you ask me, but hey, whatever works.
Girder’s metal skin is more than enough to stand up to Farooq. This buys Barry and Caitlin enough time to get to the treadmill and zap him with a huge jolt, but not before Caitlin fears losing him like she lost her fiance. Barry manages to survive the electricity, but it doesn’t regenerate his powers. Girder doesn’t fare so well and warns Barry to run away as Farooq stalks through the lab like Cole McGrath juiced up on negative karma.
Wells reveals that it was he who freed Girder and Barry takes him to task for it since Girder has suffered for it. Barry accuses him of using them as pawns in a grand game of chess. During a commercial break, most of these hard feelings are forgotten as Barry’s powers appear to have returned. Wells says that Barry’s problem is only mental. Let’s hope he gets over it soon, because their plan to run away in an electric vehicle is … ill-conceived. Wells confronts Farooq in order to distract him, rattling off a list of names of the people who died during the explosion of the particle accelerator, and the fact that they mattered, and that the world is now without their singular talents. When Farooq attacks Wells, Barry somehow outruns his lightning strike, saves the doctor, (manages to put on his supersuit), and duels Farooq, besting him in a battle of lightning. Honestly, a pretty cool action scene that wasn’t the usual fisticuffs.
Back at the police station, Eddie Thawne tries to take out Tockman, but doesn’t count on his bulletproof vest; Tockman takes Thawne down with a couple gunshots of his own. Joe stays on Tockman’s good side by matching the Clock King’s quotes to the man who said them. Tockman does a weird trick of applying a tourniquet to Thawne’s arm and then writing the time of its application on the detective’s forehead, in his own blood. Creepy.
Joe barters for Iris to say goodbye to Eddie, who whispers something to her before Tockman drags her away. Of course, Iris grabbed Eddie’s spare pistol, which she uses to take the Clock King down. Barry arrives too late to help, but Tockman is in custody and the Wests are safe and sound.
In our final go-round, Cisco attempts to give Farooq a nickname (ie his comic counterpart’s name, Blackout), but Barry shuts him down. Caitlin explains Barry’s victory for anyone who missed the fact that The Flash more or less overpowered Blackout during their electrical battle. Wells and Barry appear to have reached an understanding (again). Barry visits Thawne in the hospital, and he and Joe have a little fun at Eddie’s drug-addled state, which is pretty hilarious.
So it looks like Wells got his wish for Barry to take his powers up a notch. Wells now revises his thesis, which sees his emotional attachments to people as a strength, “the key to getting him up to speed.” Oh and in just in case you thought Wells was on the up-and-up for once, the final scene of him stealing Farooq’s blood in an attempt to figure out how he stole The Flash’s powers should put a stop to that.
- Barry: “Sorry guys. Got a little … held up. … Had to be there.”
- Cisco: “He runs slow even for a normal person.”
- It seems that Barry really did love that mug.
- William Tockman: “That’s a quality timepiece, young man.” Barry: “Thank you.” Tockman: “They took mine. All of them.” Barry: “Guess you shouldn’t have done whatever it is you did.”
- Oh hey, Clock King! Fancy meeting you here! Didn’t Arrow put you away already?
- Dr. Wells spends an awful lot of time yelling, “Go!” at his subordinates, doesn’t he?
- Girder: “Been dying to punch somebody.”
- Barry to Wells: “What’s your move, doctor? Which one of us gets sacrificed next?” Barry doesn’t know how right he is.
- Cisco: “You have the yips!”
- Farooq to Wells: “You died that night, too. You just didn’t know it until today.”
- Caitlin: “It’s almost like he choked on you.” Um…
- The Flash to Iris: “You’re worth being on time for.” So much for putting distance between them.
- Wells: “Good news. The future remains intact.”
- Anyone see what happened to Girder? Are we supposed to believe he’s dead?