[Review] The Flash (2014) – 1×02: “Fastest Man Alive”

This week’s episode has Kevin beside himself with delight. Kick back and get yourself something filling, ’cause we’re taking a look at CW’s The Flash.


Last week’s post was more recappy and less analytical than I was originally intending. But that’s sort of the problem with first episodes – regardless of the usage of origin stories, there’s just way too much world-building and exposition that needs to happen before we get to the real dynamics.

But with the setup out of the way, it’s time to get down to business – which is something that Barry Allen fully agrees with, based on the opening narration of this week’s episode.

BARRY: “This is the part where I’m supposed to do the whole intro thingy. Barry Allen, Fastest Man Alive, but you know all that already. All right, let’s get to the good stuff.”

Far be it from me to argue with the protagonist.

The episode may be old, but spoiler warnings are still in full effect after the cut.


Kamala knows where it’s at.

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them approach it from their own unique perspective. There are the serious crimefighters, watching over their cities out of a sense of responsibility. Military-trained super-soldiers, who see the entire job as just a logical progression of their normal duties. Honorable warriors, who fight for just causes and the protection of innocents.

And then, of course, there are those who find a simple joy in it. People who enjoy saving the day, not because they feel they have to, but because they genuinely want to. These are the heroes who kick back and have fun, who joke around with their enemies, who honestly want to help people, even if it seems like a bad idea to do so.

That’s the Flash we know and love. That’s who Barry Allen is.

We know this because the episode opens up on Barry and Cisco having the time of their lives, searching out a fire alarm and heading to the scene. Barry runs in headlong – after first overshooting the place because he’s still getting a handle on his speed and reflexes – and Cisco advises back from the command center at S.T.A.R. Labs.

That is, until Caitlin walks in and Cisco shuts all the displays off like he’s watching porn.

“Let’s face it,” says Cisco, “this is not the worst thing you’ve walked in on me doing.”

The debate is an old one, and it’s interesting to see it play out the way it does here. Barry wants to help people because now he has the power to do so. Caitlin wants him to stay safe. Science Dad wants him to, interestingly enough, slow down1, and think about his actions as they affect more than just himself.

Cop Dad also gets in on the Doubt Train, too – he’d already been covering for Barry’s comings and goings even before the superpowers, and the sudden change to his entire worldview isn’t helping anything. He reminds Barry to keep his day job – and to continue hiding things from LEGAL ADULT IRIS WEST, because apparently while they live in the information age, they still illuminate the Central City Police Department by gaslight.

COUNTDOWN TO CATHARSIS: 19

Barry and Iris attend a fancy dress party, talking about science and journalism and basically everything fun in life, but a group of similarly-dressed masked thugs show up to rob the place. Barry intervenes, but his health problems start adding up and he passes out.

LIE BETTER, BARRY

Faster than a speeding–? That sounds fake, but okay.

Friends, sometimes the simplest handwaves are the best2. Barry’s increased metabolism being paired up with his super-speed just makes sense, and having both Cisco the engineer and Caitlin the MD there to increase his caloric intake kind of glosses over the other kinds of impossibilities and inconsistencies of the situation3. These are unimportant details that we will ignore because they are cool. It’s perfectly in keeping with the Silver Age feel of the show, which they basically just run with every chance they get4.

And really, the Silver Age aspects are sometimes what make this show so fun. Ignore the gritty realism, ignore the melodrama (although as a CW headliner, they can’t really ignore the melodrama), ignore the doom and gloom and just go for it. Give us just enough to rationalize the colorful and outlandish into a haphazard internal consistency and just bring.

It.

On.

Multiplex using stem cells to make new bodies? Sure, I can dig that. Psychically controlling the new bodies within range? Makes total sense. The original being the main body and feeling the strain of the powers all at once, just like Barry did earlier? Hell yeah, let’s do this.

Fun is the name of the game here. It’s such a stark contrast to Arrow that it’s almost an entirely different entity altogether, instead of a spin-off and/or expanded universe thing.

And then, of course, we have some new Creepy Doctor Wells moments.

Things to note this episode:

  • Science Dad’s vocal mannerisms are very unique, and it took me a couple episodes the first time around to figure out why. The Discworld novel Night Watch has a character, Captain Swing, who talks like his internal clockwork is out of step, alternating between too fast and too slow, with awkward pauses or run-on sentences in strange places. Harrison Wells also talks like this, as if his very speech patterns are unstuck in time.
  • We’re assuming that Cisco has a specific taco place in mind. Does the DC universe have a unique chain of Mexican takeout, in the same fashion as its Big Belly Burger franchises?
    • These are the important questions, people.
  • Upon watching this episode again, I realized that no, Multiplex isn’t making new guns with his clone powers, the very first crime scene is a gun shop, which he basically emptied out.
    • Just ignore the clothes part, though. ~Silver Age~
  • Barry falling off the treadmill at high speed will never stop being funny.
  • I’ll bring this up later, but there’s so much of an “older sister” vibe that Caitlin gives off, that I’m so glad they stick with this instead of going a different direction.

Kevin O’Shea is a writer and aspiring superhero dispatch agent. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or anywhere you can buy 850 tacos at once.


  1. This is patently absurd for many reasons, spoilery or otherwise.
  2. For example, Kryptonite Poisoning. Thank you, Sterling.
  3. Ten thousand calories every day, whether Barry uses the Speed Force or not? What about increased waste generation and removal? The changes in biochemical and neurological responses and the vitamin deficiencies he’d have to deal with? Nope, don’t care, just eat more and you’re good.
  4. There are a few things they do on this show that stretch even my suspension of disbelief, but we’ll freeze those laser beams when we get to them.

5 thoughts on “[Review] The Flash (2014) – 1×02: “Fastest Man Alive”

  1. As much as I wanted some Berry/Caitlin in the beginning I can totally see and appreciate the sibling dynamic at play.

    • The shiptease they play with for like half a second in a later episode was just way too awkward for me. They work so much better as friends, in my opinion.

      Then again, I may be biased. I always champion strong mixed-gender friendships in media.

  2. I never really noticed that with Wells’ speech patterns before. I’m going to listen for it now when I rewatch (going to be doing that with a friend soon). And yes, the crazy bending of science and wacky adventures are part of the show’s fun. It doesn’t hurt that some characters – particularly Cisco – seem aware they’re in a comic book show.

    “Barry falling off the treadmill at high speed will never stop being funny.” – Yesssssss. ^_^

    “but we’ll freeze those laser beams when we get to them.” – *sigh* Yes. >_<

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