Unlike “Arrow,” the series it spun out of, “The Flash” wastes no time in setting up its superpowered title hero who is zipping around the streets of Central City in the opening minutes of the pilot. Barry Allen introduces us not only to himself and his abilities at the start, but also his troubled life. As you can no doubt guess, Barry has had a troubled life where he got beat up a lot as a kid but also witnessed his mother die in the midst of a “lightning storm” as a young kid, but more on that later.
Back in the present day, we see Barry all grown up and now he’s a forensic investigator for the Central City Police Department, and in classic Barry Allen fashion he’s always late. Barry arrives at the scene of a bank robbery where we’re introduced to Captain Singh, Detective Fred Chyre, and Detective Joe West. The scene plays very fast with its dialogue which includes a nod to “The Mardon Brothers,” one of whom will be very important shortly, but also a number of funny quips and jokes. We also get to see Barry play detective for a few moments, something I hope to see more of when we have to watch Barry in his day job.
Following the robbery investigation, we move to the Central City Police Department where we’re introduced to Iris West and re-introduced to the “Particle Accelerator,” which fans will remember from last season on “Arrow.” Barry literally solves the bank robbery due to cow crap and is rewarded by being allowed to leave earlier to watch the Particle Accelerator ceremony at STAR Labs, where he tries really hard to make a move on Iris but she’s either totally oblivious to it or is a master of changing the subject.
We meet Harrison Wells in this next scene, one of the few characters in the series not from the comic books, and he says a lot of really broad things like“The future begins” and “Change our understanding of physics, advancements in power.” He even makes another “fast” joke, common thus far in the pilot, which leads to a punk snatching Iris’ bag. Barry chases him, but just like 14 years ago he gets beaten up. Luckily “Detective Pretty Boy,” revealed to be Eddie Thawne, manages to stop the thief and bring him in.
Barry is bummer he can’t be there to watch the particle accelerator be turned on, so instead he mopes in his office at CCPD, but this is where we see his “Murder Wall,” a collection of newspaper clippings related to his mother’s murder and his father’s imprisonment. Then “the impossible” happens, or for “Arrow” watchers we see a rendition of a scene we saw last year, the particle accelerator goes haywire and Barry is struck by lightning. He’s rushed to the hospital, but it’s not looking good, and all the while there’s a shootout between Detectives West and Chyre and the Mardon brothers all thanks to Barry’s cow crap investigation.
Soon we’re introduced to Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, a future hero and villain in their own right, who are monitoring an unconscious Barry at STAR Labs. Once Barry wakes up he realizes he’s been out for nine months, which appears to be his main takeaway from all of the things that Cisco and Caitlin are trying to explain to him. We’re reintroduced to Harrison Wells in the scene, now wheelchair bound, who explains the follies that came along with particle accelerator and gives an actual concise and functional explanation of Barry’s superpowers. Also, Easter Egg alert, we get a tease of Gorilla Grodd in this scene.
After leaving STAR Labs, and keeping the sweatshirt, Barry goes to see Iris who seemed pretty sure that he was dead, but this is when Barry starts to notice things are off in the world. He goes to the CCPD to see Detective West and his old work colleagues, but he also really begins to notice his powers jetting off down a couple of alleys and ending up in a laundry truck. Meanwhile, Clyde Mardon is back in town and he’s robbing banks, using the weather….like some kind of weather wizard (wink, wink).
The folks at STAR labs want to run some tests on Barry so they head off to (Easter Egg alert) and abandoned Ferris Air location where they hope to see just how fast Barry can run. They stick him in a bright red outfit, with a helmet that one could argue looks like Jay Garrick’s helmet. Barry runs and runs and runs and then he has a flashback, with our first tease of Professor Zoom, and takes a tumble. Following Barry’s booboo, the group returns to STAR Labs where they give us the revelation that Barry can heal quickly. He also goes out of his way to explain the death of his mother once again. Over at the CCPD, the investigation continues into these bank robberies which just so happen to have “freak weather occurrences.”
Another huge revelation comes in the next scene in that Barry learns Iris and Eddie (now her father’s partner) are dating, which is far more messed up than everyone in Central City having super powers. Barry tries to talk to Iris about it, and his powers, but the cops are after Clyde Mardon in a high speed chase and they happen to be in the way. Barry leaps into action, by literally jumping into the car with Mardon and causing a pile-up and witnessing Mardon’s powers first hand. When Detective West arrives on the scene Barry tries to tell him his theory on Mardon controlling the weather, but Joe’s having none of it. He also gets super nasty about Barry’s Dad killing his Mom.
With a new theory in hand, Barry goes back to STAR Labs where he confronts Wells and co. about the other superpowered folks milling about, which they’re quick to call “meta-humans.” Wells throws out lots of big sciencey words like “Dimensional barrier,” “antimatter,” “dark energy,” and “x-elements,” and it’s a good thing Barry knows what all that means because I don’t. Barry goes on to tell Wells he’s responsible for all of this, like dude hasn’t heard that for the past nine months from everyone in Central City, which sees Wells take Barry down a notch by telling him: “You’re not a hero”
After another flashback where we see young Barry watch his Father get dragged away by cops and stare at his mom’s corpse in the living room, Barry goes to meet with his buddy in Starling City, Oliver Queen. The pair share a moment, being the two big superheroes in this world, where Oliver convinces Barry that he can be a hero no matter what that creepy dude in the other scene tells him. Oliver also appears to have become Spider-Man in the off season. Cool.
Barry goes back to STAR Labs, where he presents two boxes of unsolved crimes from the past nine months, many of which seem to be tied to people with superpowers. He convinces Caitlin and Cisco to be his partners which is where we get the reveal of The Flash suit. Back at the cow crap farm from earlier, Thawne and Martin are going after Mardon and as expected Barry shows up just in the nick of time. Barry starts to have doubts about his power when he sees Mardon conjure up a tornado, which is growing in size by the moment, but Wells finally comes to and explains to him that he was wrong and that Barry is capable of helping people with his newfound abilities. He stops the Weather Wizard, who was about to have a nice moment with his newfound super powered friend, until he is shot and killed.
In the aftermath of the tornado, Detective West and Barry talk with Joe confiding in Barry that he’s sorry he didn’t believe him and his crazy theories, in particular about his mother’s death. He also commands Barry to not tell Iris about his powers, which seems like an event destined to happen anyway. Barry goes to see his father in Iron Heights Penitentiary which has the most dramatic weight of any scene in the whole episode with Barry saying he hasn’t given up on finding his mother’s killer. We loop back to the opening scene of the episode with Barry running through the streets and saving a cyclist who was about to get hit by a taxi.
But wait! That’s not all! In the final scene, we see Harrison Wells enter a secret room of STAR Labs, which in and of itself isn’t that suspicious, until he stands up from his wheelchair. Wells approaches a device and activates it which shows off a newspaper headline from ten years in the future reading “The Flash Missing, Vanishes in Crisis” in addition to other headlines reading “Red Skies Vanish” and “Wayne Tech/Queen Consolidated merge.” Things are about to get crazy.
Recap: The Flash Pilot - SuperHeroHype