“The Flash” is back! Picking up six months after the season one finale, The Flash and his team are faced with the threat of a new metahuman, one that seems impossible to beat. Barry’s team is also forced to deal with the fallout of the singularity, which claimed the lives of two people close to the team.
Tonight’s second season premiere — “The Man Who Saved Central City” — kicks off with a recap of the major plot developments from season one: Harrison Wells’ true identity as Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash, Eddie Thawne’s suicide, Ronnie Raymond’s reunion with Caitlin Snow, and the terrorizing wormhole that Eobard opened over Central City. Then the episode fast forwards to six months later: Central City is at peace. There are no signs of the wormhole in the skies above. Barry and Firestorm fight and successfully take down Captain Cold and Heat Wave, in what Cisco refers to as a “superhero double play!” Detective West, Iris West, Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, Doctor Stein, Ronnie Raymond, even Eddie Thawne and Dr. Wells look happy and healthy back at S.T.A.R. Labs.
Everything seems perfect — until Barry opens his eyes. Instead of being surrounded by his friends, Barry is standing in the middle of an empty S.T.A.R. Labs. He begins to recite the familiar monologue, “My name is Barry Allen…,” but instead of declaring his identity as The Flash with boldness and enthusiasm, his tone is much more dire. The Flash now works alone, choosing to leave his friends and family behind to keep them safe. This is not the Barry we last saw in the finale. This is Barry Allen, broken.
With Wells dead and Barry avoiding everyone, this leaves the rest of Team Flash working on projects elsewhere. Cisco has teamed up with Detective West and Captain Singh to develop tech for the Anti-Metahuman Task Force at the Central City Police Department. His current project, “The Boot,” is reminiscent of the cold gun he developed to take down Barry, in episode four of season one. Caitlin has resigned from S.T.A.R. Labs and is now working at Mercury Labs (first seen in season one). Iris still works at the local paper, and despite her fiance’s death, she seems to be doing OK. In fact, Iris emerges as one of the strongest characters in this episode — the one person who is willing to push past Barry’s avoidance and reach out to him. Cisco, her father and everyone else seems to be OK with giving Barry his space, but Iris makes it clear that the longer Barry is alone, the worse he is going to be.
The reason for Barry’s distance is finally revealed when he flashes back to the day he closed the singularity. Not only did Barry lose Eddie that day, the fiance of his best friend Iris, but he also lost Ronnie Raymond. Despite finding Ronnie last season and reuniting him with Caitlin, Ronnie still could not survive his fate in this universe. When running around the wormhole, Barry is able to contain it, but he can’t close it on his own. Dr. Stein knows that the power of the Firestorm Matrix can close the wormhole, so he and Ronnie merged and fly into its center. The blast throws Barry and Dr. Stein out of the wormhole, but Ronnie is nowhere to be found. This is why Barry has been distant; why guilt and regret is eating him upside.
Due to the success of closing the wormhole — thus the episode title, “The Man Who Saved Central City” — The Flash is honored at a “Flash Day” celebration. The Mayor of Central City awards The Flash with the key to the city. Despite hesitance, Barry attends the ceremony and accepts his award. “Flash Day” is ruined when a superpowered metahuman crashes the party. Joe, Cisco and Barry are all unable to take him down, forcing Barry to work alongside the whole team back at S.T.A.R. Labs. Realizing this new villain is absorbing radiation to power himself, Dr. Stein pulls a Cisco, naming this metahuman the “Atom Smasher.” Barry and the team are able to bring him down by trapping him in the particle accelerator core and blasting him with radiation. The mystery of the metahuman is left unsolved, as his name and identity match that of man who died earlier in the episode. The only words the Atom Smasher says upon his death is that Zoom told him if he killed The Flash, he could go home. This is definitely the introduction to Earth 2 — people from that universe have now crossed into this one.
The team is reunited by the end of the episode, partly in thanks to Iris and Joe’s ability to reach Barry, and partly because of Harrison Wells’ unexpected murder confession in his will. Henry Allen is freed, Caitlin and Barry agree to return to S.T.A.R. Labs, and everyone agrees to move forward with their lives.
This was a fantastic series premiere. Despite changing some of its main cast, “The Flash” hasn’t changed its tone. It still remains a lighthearted, tech and powers-based show about a young man and his friends, doing what they can to save a city. In classic “Flash” style, this episode was filled with great humor — mostly delivered via Cisco and Dr. Stein — moments that pulled the heartstrings and a storyline that continued to feel more like a movie than a television show. “The Flash” remains the most emotionally poignant superhero show on television, taking its time to deal with loss, grief, and the hope of starting over.
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