Before we kick this recap off, let me just make sure you’re all caught up on Season One of The Flash by suggesting you check out our video recap, and the latest trailer, poster, and behind-the-scenes video for Season Two. If you want to take a deeper dive, be sure to take a look at our interviews with stars Candice Patton and Danielle Panabaker, and producer Gabrielle Stanton. Better yet, just click here for all of our coverage of The Flash. And now, onto Season Two!
We’re going to be trying a slightly different format for recaps this season. Since The Flash does an excellent job at balancing the very human relationships and emotions against the action-oriented exploits of masked character’s superhero side, I’ll be attempting to do the same with these recaps each week. The first half will focus on Barry Allen, the man; the second half will focus on his superhero alter ego, The Flash. That way if you’re more interested in the drama than the action, or vice versa, then you know just where to go. If, on the other hand, you want a comprehensive rundown of the entire episode, then this format should keep things a little more orderly.
As for Barry Allen, we first meet him without his mask in the season two premiere after he and Firestorm take down the briefly appearing team-up of Heat Wave and Captain Cold. A celebration ensues at S.T.A.R. Labs, which seems all well and good … until Eddie Thawne shows up … and then Harrison Wells rolls in, congratulates Barry, and tells him that he’s ready to do things on his own now. What’s going on?? While I initially thought, “Dream sequence!” I’m now assuming that this is an alternate timeline in which Eddie is still alive, Wells is both ambulatory and amicable, and Ronnie Raymond is still fighting the good fight. (These characters should be your clues that we’re watching the alternate timeline in future episodes, which is nice since it keeps Tom Cavanagh, Rick Cosnett, and Robbie Amell employed and on our screens.)
As we soon learn, Barry – the main timeline Barry, that is – is plagued by the death of both Eddie and Ronnie, the latter of which comes as a surprise to viewers. We all remember Eddie’s sacrifice in defeating Eobard Thawne, but Ronnie’s death is a new revelation. It seems that while Flash’s speed was just enough to stabilize the singularity, Firestorm had to separate into his two entities within it in order to dissipate the cosmic storm. The Flash was able to save Dr. Martin Stein, but Ronnie was not so lucky. This leads to heaps of guilt for Barry, not only damaging his relationship with Caitlin Snow – who’s now working for Mercury Labs and enjoying its increased security – but also making him feel unworthy for the city’s praise. Yes, it seems that the premiere’s title “The Man Who Saved Central City” is not referencing Barry Allen at all, but rather Ronnie Raymond.
Barry struggles with this realization and nearly skips out on receiving the key to the city at the upcoming Flash Day celebration. Due to the insistence of Joe and Iris, he eventually shows up in costume, and it’s a good thing he does; more on that in the heroic section of things. It seems that the influence of the Wests goes quite far when it comes to talking Barry out of his doldrums, an effect that was reinforced by a brief flashback to when Joe gave more fatherly advice to a young Barry soon after the death of his mother. (If you’re worried that there weren’t enough Father/Son feels, just wait.)
While Barry is ruminating about whether to continue fighting metahumans alone to prevent his friends getting hurt or to trust in his S.T.A.R. Labs fteammates, he gets a visit from Greg Turk, a lawyer from Wethersby and Stone (a reference which I’ll explain in Miscellanea). Turns out that Wells left Barry the S.T.A.R. Labs property, contingent upon Barry watching a video message from the late doctor. Thankfully, Barry comes to his senses and visits Caitlin at Mercury Labs in order to apologize for Ronnie’s death, but Caitlin’s actually beating herself up for not leaving the city with Ronnie when he asked. (SnowBarry fans, easy! Easy!) But what’s that Wells video about, you ask? Well, after a brief message to Barry that’s essentially saying, “No hard feelings,” he confesses to the murder of Nora Wells.
Boom! Here come the Father/Son feels. With the taped confession in hand, Henry Allen is soon freed from jail after a 14-year stint. Barry and Henry are surprisingly dry-eyed upon the elder Allen’s release, but that’s about to change. Despite a lovely “Welcome Home!” party and Barry’s plans for his father to get a new apartment and reclaim his medical license, Henry Allen has designs on leaving Central City. (Wait, what?!) Yeah in a pretty lame excuse that’s probably got more to do with John Wesley Shipp’s screentime and contracts, Henry skips town to allow Barry to become his complete self. I call foul, but it’s certainly a way to stretch out the Daddy issues for future episodes. Hey, at least the old S.T.A.R. Labs team is now back together!
Now for The Flash. Like I mentioned earlier, our story more or less picks up six months after the events of the singularity. The Flash is spending his nights rebuilding businesses destroyed by the catastrophe. And though Barry is back on the job as a forensics assistant at the Central City Police Department – along with Cisco now acting as scientific advisor to the department’s Metahuman Task Force – he routinely crosses paths with supervillains. (Oh, and some random creepy guy who’s snapping his picture covertly … wonder what that’s about.) Case in point, tonight’s Villain of the Week: Al Rothstein, aka Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland), who makes his The Flash debut as a corpse; yup. The man was strangled to death by something very big and very strong (but totally not Gorilla Grodd, though that was a nice nod).
It’s not long before Atom-Smasher shows up at the Flash Day celebration, throwing a food truck at the podium just as the Scarlet Speedster is about to receive the key to the city from the mayor. After rescuing the city’s elected official, Flash attempts to take down the villain but he is quickly knocked flat. Cisco gets a chance to show off his scientific prowess here by deploying his invention, The Boot, an electro-shock ankle-bracelet launcher that seemingly incapacitates the Atom-Smasher for a moment, before allowing him to grow bigger and stronger. The Flash then hucks a few propane tanks towards the villain while Joe takes aim wit his sidearm, Jaws style. The resulting explosion is enough to distract the Atom-Smasher and give a glimpse of his previously masked mug, revealing … Al Rothstein? Weird!
Later, the team figures out that Rothstein was in the morgue all night, and was in Hawaii during the particle accelerator explosion, meaning he’s neither the Atom-Smasher, nor a metahuman, so what’s going on? Identity theft aside, the team tracks him down thanks to his radiation-absorbing powers, and The Flash
zooms zips off to fight him single-handedly; bad idea. The Flash is soundly defeated again, despite employing some pretty nifty cyclone fists. Before The Flash retreats to the lab, Atom-Smasher drops a mysterious hint about someone who sent the super-powered villain after the speedster as a sort of metahuman hitman.
Wrapping things up for the night, the team suggests that The Flash should lure Atom-Smasher (via the Flash Signal, brilliant) to a nuclear reactor in order to flood him with more radiation than he can handle. That’s exactly what happens, allowing The Flash to outsmart the big man rather than out-hit him. While he’s presumably dying from acute radiation poisoning, Atom-Smasher reveals that he was sent to this world by someone named Zoom, who promised to return him to his own world if he killed The Flash. That explains the doppelganger and also establishes this season’s Big Bad. So we can expect more metahumans in Central City from both timelines in the episodes to come. Sounds like Barry’s going to need more than a new lightning bolt symbol on his costume to get him through it in one piece. Oh, how about Jay Garrick, aka the creepy photographer, aka The Flash from another timeline, who introduces himself to the S.T.A.R. Labs at the episode’s close!
All in all, a very good way to start season two after the strong run of season one. I wasn’t particularly pleased with the rushed and nonsensical way they handled Henry Allen’s release and immediate departure, but that’s a small price to pay for an otherwise cohesive, entertaining, and emotionally satisfying episode. We’re off to a good start!
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
– Atom-Smasher is portrayed as a villain here, though he’s more of a hero in recent comics and TV adaptations. His size-changing ability was drastically reduced in The Flash – the guy can easily get to about 60 feet tall – but was still pretty good.
– The Wethersby & Stone reference was actually a nod to Executive Producers Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim’s legal comedy series, Eli Stone. It’s also appeared on episodes of Arrow.
Alternate Wells: “Mr. Allen, I believe there’s nothing left that I can teach you. I believe you’re ready to do all of this on your own.”
Cisco: “Fear the beard!”
Joe: “I always expect trouble. In this city, I expect super-evil flying monsters.”
Iris: “If you keep getting, ‘No,’ for an answer, stop asking questions.” Joe: “I said that. You quoting me to me?”
Cisco: “Security here is way better than it was at S.T.A.R. Labs.” Is it though??
Stein: “That’s where you’ll find your Atom-Smasher! … Because he … absorbs atomic power, and … well, he smashes!” Cisco: “Thank you.” ::hug:: “Welcome to the team.”
Atom-Smasher: “He said you were some kind of hero! You aren’t even worthy.”
Joe: “I know that you’ve been trying to rebuild Central City at night. That’s just bricks and paint. Maybe you should rebuild something that really matters.”
Caitlin: “You carry a handkerchief now? What are you, 80?”
Wells/Eobard: “If you’re watching this, that means something terrible has happened. If I’m dead, then the last 15 years have been a waste. Bummer.”
Caitlin: “That light was perfect bait. What made you think of that?” Cisco: “I dunno, saw it in a comic book somewhere.” #FlashSignal
Joe: “Run, Barry! Run!”
Barry: “Let’s get out of here.” Henry: “I’ll race you.” Barry: “You’ll lose.”
Now enjoy “Renegades” by X Ambassadors, who provide the music to Henry’s “Welcome Home” party.
Barry: “It feels like every time I win, I still lose.”
What kind of cool stuff can Barry & Co get into with the key to the city?
Garrick: “My name is Jay Garrick. Your world is in danger.”
Let’s look forward to The Flash (and The Flash) versus Sand Demon next week!