The CW’s new superhero action/drama series The Flash has been the hit of the season so far, and it’s only halfway done. There have been so many villains, Easter eggs, and plot moments pulled straight from the comics that you easily could have missed a few. So whether you’re new to the show and want to get caught up, or just want a refresher before it returns Tuesday night, we’ve put together a list of ten items of importance.
Hit the jump for everything you need to know about The Flash.
Who is The Flash?
Mild-mannered Central City forensic tech Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was introduced to The CW viewers by way of the Arrow season two episode, “The Scientist.” He used his scientific expertise to help out Oliver & Co. before heading back to Central City at the worst possible time. While going over his notes pertaining to his mother’s murder (a cold case from his childhood that forever changed his life), a raging thunderstorm assaults the city. At the same time, S.T.A.R. Labs fires up their particle accelerator for its inaugural run; things don’t go as planned. A massive explosion radiates across the city and Barry is caught in its wake. He watches the crime lab around him being demolished in slow motion just before he’s struck by a bolt of lightning, sending him into a coma.
Nine months later, Barry wakes up to find that
he’s on a new show he’s developed incredible super speed in addition to a rapid healing ability. While his powers are still in their infancy, Barry quickly learns he must balance his new responsibilities as superhero, crime-fighter, and science experiment against his more down-to-Earth day job while keeping his new identity a secret (for the most part). And though he gets his super-suit in relative short order thanks to the folks at S.T.A.R. Labs, he doesn’t get his famous moniker until a few episodes later.
What exactly is S.T.A.R. Labs?
Other than being at the heart of The Flash’s creation (and that of all of the other new superpowered folk dubbed “metahumans”), S.T.A.R. Labs was one of Central City’s leading scientific research facilities. Though the initial goal of studying sub-atomic particle collisions is now a bust, what with the collider having been destroyed, the team can now focus all their efforts on figuring out just what makes Barry tick. In addition to helping Barry figure out his powers, they also do their best to keep him alive in his fights against other metahumans by deducing their weaknesses. Once it becomes apparent that there are quite a few dangerous metahumans out there, S.T.A.R. Labs becomes a sort of holding pen for those that Barry defeats.
Who are Barry’s allies?
First up are the S.T.A.R. Labs scientists Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), who share names with other DC Comics characters (though it remains unclear whether or not there are plans for them to take on their comicbook counterparts’ powers). Caitlin is an expert in the field of bioengineering and helps to discern Barry’s abilities, and those of the other metahumans, on a molecular level. She also happened to be engaged to the facility’s structural engineer, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), who was presumably killed during the accelerator’s explosion when he sacrificed himself to save the others. Cisco is a brilliant mechanical engineer who brings a youthful energy and humor to the team, along with expertise in weapons and other devices, like Barry’s heat-proof crime-fighting uniform that was originally designed for firefighters.
Outside of S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry’s allies include members of the Central City Police Force Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) and Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). The former is a tenuous ally at best, since Thawne works alongside Barry, but sees The Flash as a menace to the city. West, on the other hand, is essentially Barry’s second father, having adopted him after Barry’s mother was murdered and his real father was sent to prison for the crime. West is one of the few who knows Barry’s secret identity and tries to help keep him safe while encouraging him to fight crime at the same time. Also helping Barry out in his endeavors is the Starling City crimefighting team, led by the hooded vigilante, Arrow.
Wait, I thought this was The Flash. Why are the Arrow characters showing up?
Not only do The Flash and Arrow exist together on The CW and in the DC Comics, the characters and events occupy the same fictional world. This lets members of each team cross over into each other’s stories, best exemplified so far in the cross-over episodes “Flash vs Arrow” and “The Brave and the Bold.” This storytelling tactic doubles the size of the world and exponentially increases potential plots. It also introduces the possibility of a mini, television-based assembly of the Justice League, well before the superhero team makes its way to the big screen. Plus, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) gets some extra screentime, which never hurts.
It seems like there are some romantic entanglements going on.
Ah, so remember that The Flash airs on The CW, and while the superheroic action elements are excellent, there’s a heavy emphasis on character relationships, especially romantic ones. With Barry at the center of multiple love triangles, The Flash has plenty of opportunity to explore these. First up is Iris West (Candice Patton), the daughter of Joe West and best friend/adopted sister to Barry himself. Barry struggles with his affection for Iris, even admitting his feelings for her at one point. The trouble is that Iris only seems to see Barry as a friend, further complicated by her ongoing relationship with Eddie Thawne, and her relatively new obsession with The Flash himself. Barry has a tough time separating his costumed personality from his true identity when it comes to Iris, which is a recipe for relationship disaster, ie good CW drama.
Barry has also dabbled in a bit of intercity romance, having flirted quite a bit with Team Arrow’s Felicity. You’d think the two would have hit it off: both of them have brains, Felicity has a mask fetish, and Barry has a thing for damsels in distress. But they gave it a shot and it ended in an awkward but amicable friendship. I’m still pulling for Barry and Caitlin, but the reappearance of Ronnie Raymond might complicate that a bit further.