Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


Nine months after being struck by lightning, forensic scientist Barry Allen wakes from a coma and quickly discovers that the accident has given him the power of super-speed.  The scientists at STAR Labs want to analyze Barry and find some way to use him to benefit mankind but Barry thinks he has a higher purpose than being a guinea pig. When reports reach the police of a bank robber who seems to be able to control the weather, Barry concludes that he wasn't the only one empowered by the accident and that he may be the only one who can stop the criminal before he does some major damage to Central City.


The Flash: Rebirth (Barry's childhood as depicted in the flashbacks), Showcase #4 (the comic which first told Barry Allen's origin story) Sherlock (the visual cues and words overlaid on the crime scene as Barry examines evidence) and the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies (the opening/closing narration by Barry and Barry's overjoyed reactions while testing his powers.)


The scene with Barry Allen and Oliver Queen is incredibly goofy. And Oliver Queen must have super-speed himself to put his mask on so quickly at the end of his conversation.


Grant Gustin wows in his first run on the center stage as The Flash.  Every note is played perfectly and the charisma he displayed in his first appearances playing Barry Allen on Arrow seems to have increased.  With most of the supporting cast being given only basic development (well, this IS the pilot) it falls to Gustin to bear the burden of carrying most of the episode and he succeeds admirably.

The best scene in the episode?  Barry's meeting with his father in prison, with Henry Allen played by John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 1990 The Flash TV series.  Both actors nail the emotional resonance of the scene.


The special effects for the final battle in which Barry must neutralize a tornado using his super-speed are phenomenal and set a new standard for what can be accomplished on a television series budget.

The music is perfect, particularly the speed-building orchestral Flash theme.

Flash Facts

Barry Allen, in the original comics, was a blonde.  In terms of personality, however, Barry is pretty much as he is depicted on the show: a good-hearted geek who works as a crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. As the show opens, he is 25 years old.

Iris West, in the original comics, eventually became Barry Allen's wife. Her history in the comics is rather complicated compared to what we know of her in the show. In the comics, she's a reporter who could give Lois Lane a run for her money.  The two were not originally childhood friends nor were they raised together. And yes, Iris wasn't originally black.  Iris was also sent back in time from the 30th Century by parents who were trying to save her from some cataclysm... like Superman.

Detective Eddie Thawne is likely related in some manner to Eobard Thawne - a scientist from the 25th century who was also an obsessive Flash fanboy.  He would later get speed powers and go on to become The Flash's greatest enemy - Professor Zoom, The Reverse Flash.

In the comics, Caitlin Snow is the real name of the super-villain Killer Frost.  A STAR Labs scientist doing research on perpetual motion engines, a lab accident transformed her into a "heat vampire" who had to drain the warmth from human bodies to survive and - indirectly - generated extreme cold around her.

In the comics, Cisco Ramon is the real name of the superhero Vibe, who gained the power to emit powerful blasts of sonic energy after being exposed to a piece of alien technology.

The Science And Technology Advanced Research Laboratory - aka STAR Labs - in the comics was originally founded by a man named Garrison Slate.  In the reality of The Flash TV Show, the founder is a scientist named Harrison Wells.  This name may be a tribute to science-fiction writer H.G. Wells, who wrote on a number of subjects that would not be out of place among STAR Labs' studies, including alien technology, invisible men and time travel.

Detective Joe West is an original creation with no relation to any of Iris's fathers in the comics. Iris' birth father was a man from the 30th century named Eric Russell, who had his daughter sent back in time.  Iris's adopted father was a man named Ira West, who was a physicist - not a cop.

David Singh was the name of the director of the crime lab for the Central City Police Department and Barry's boss in the original Flash comics.  Here, he is a police captain, who has no direct oversight over the lab but still seems to favor quantity of cases solved over quality work, like his comic book counterpart.

Detective Fred Chyre - Joe West's partner, who dies in the shoot-out with the Mardon brothers - is named for a reoccurring character from Geoff Johns' run on The Flash.  The comics version of Fred Chyre was an beat cop rather than a detective.

The weather-manipulating Clyde Mardon is something of an original creation, though heavily based upon a number of characters from The Flash comics.  In the original Flash comics, Clyde Mardon was a scientist trying to develop a way to control the weather. His prototype Weather Wand was stolen by his career criminal brother, Mark Mardon, who killed Clyde with a lightning bolt and began to commit crimes under the name The Weather Wizard.  Later, Mark Mardon developed the ability to manipulate the weather without the need for his wand.  In the New 52 Flash comics, Clyde Mardon was named Claudio Mardon and a crime boss who was killed by his brother, Marco Mardon, who acquired weather control powers from a device called a Genome Recoder.

Barry's parents - Nora and Henry Allen - both appeared for the first time in Flask #126 in 1962.

As in the comics, Henry Allen is a medical doctor.

Barry's father's nickname for him is Slugger.

The death of Nora Allen, as depicted here, is taken from the comic The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns (who co-wrote this episode).  The yellow lightning that killed Nora is indeed a man with super-speed, as Barry later speculates. In the comics, it was Professor Zoom, who went back in time to alter Barry Allen's past for the worse.

Barry Allen's inability to be on time is a running gag straight from the comics.

Barry is good enough at his job (or at least enough of a car buff) to identify a get-away car based on the tire track without any reference material.

The purse snatcher to grabs Iris' bag is played by Curtis Braconnier - a.k.a. Colton Haynes' stunt double on Arrow.

Eddie Thawne is a recent transfer from Keystone City.  In the DCU, Keystone City is the sister city of Central City and the home town of the original Flash, Jay Garrick and the third Flash, Wally West. The two cities have been likened to Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

The timeline for Barry's accident is changed slightly from its depiction in the Arrow episode 209 - Three Ghosts.  There, Barry missed the cut-off of the line to get inside STAR Labs.  Here, Barry does attend the first part of the ceremony, but leaves to chase after the purse-snatcher who steals Iris' bag before going back to his lab.

Barry is a Lady Gaga fan.

Barry spends nine months in a coma. This is symbolic of his rebirth as The Flash and may be a literal pun on the title of the story The Flash: Rebirth which inspired much of this episode.

Harrison Wells claims to have been left unable to walk by the accident with the STAR Labs particle accelerator.  17 people were killed by the accident with many more injured.  One of the dead was Caitlin Snow's fiance.

The broken cage with the GRODD sign at STAR Labs is a reference to Gorilla Grodd - a well-established Flash villain who is a talking gorilla with psychic powers.

Iris Allen works in a coffee shop.

The laundry van Barry uses to make a soft landing when he first discovers his ability to run super fast belongs to a business called Gambi Cleaners.  This is a reference to Paul Gambi - a character from the original Flash comics who was a tailor who acted as a costume designer for many of The Flash's supervillains.

The air field where STAR Labs conducts the speed test of Barry's limits belongs to Ferris Air. Comics fans will recognize this as the employer of test-pilot Hal Jordan aka The Green Lantern. Ferris Air also appeared in the first season of Arrow, with Oliver Queen thwarting an attack that was meant to destroy a Ferris Air jet.

Caitlin Snow does not smile much.

Dr. Wells' pose in his wheelchair while wearing sunglasses as he and his team are blown back by Barry's running may be a visual reference to the Blown Away Man used in advertising for Maxwell Cassette Tapes.

Barry clocks out at just over 300 MPH during his speed test.

Barry breaks his arm upon impacting with a water barrel.  We're told he heals the break completely in three hours.  Given that a broken arm takes three to ten weeks to heal, this gives Barry the ability to potentially heal from injuries 560 times faster than a normal human.

Barry's father is being held in Iron Heights Penitentiary.  Iron Heights is also the name of the prison in Arrow and it was the name of the high-security prison for super-villains in the original Flash Comics.

Iris began dating Eddie Thawne while Barry was in a coma.  They are both trying to keep this secret from her father.

Barry's clothes spark while running toward Starling City.  This was a frequent problem in The Flash comics and required Barry creating a friction-proof costume.

Starling City is 600 miles from Central City.

Barry notes there was a sharp increase in unexplained deaths and missing people during the nine months he was in a coma - potentially the work of other metahumans.

Cisco says that Barry will have to run over 700 MPH to neutralize a tornado.  This is just under the speed of sound at sea level. (761.2071 MPH)

Running around a tornado in the opposite direction to reverse it is a frequent stunt in The Flash comics.

By episode's end, Joe West is aware of Barry's secret identity. He agreed to keep it but asks Barry not to tell Iris about it in order to keep her safe.

It is Cisco who designs The Flash's emblem so that Barry's costume doesn't look boring.

The end scene reveals that Harrison Wells is capable of walking and does not need glasses.

Wells accesses a future newspaper - the April 25, 2024 edition of the Central City Citizen - through a device that vaguely resembles a Motherbox - a piece of high technology from the DC Universe, utilized by The New Gods, capable of all manner of amazing things.

The newspaper's front page has a picture of Barry in costume and reads FLASH MISSING - VANISHES IN CRISIS.  This is likely a reference to Crisis On Infinite Earths - the comic story in which Barry Allen sacrificed himself to save the universe.  This seems to be born out by secondary headline - RED SKIES VANISH - as the skies turning red was a part of the strange things that happened during the event.

The newspaper also has a secondary headline - WAYNE TECH / QUEEN INC MERGER COMPLETE.  This is a reference to the companies of Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) and Oliver Queen (a.k.a. The Arrow).  Curiously, Oliver's company in Arrow is currently known as Queen Consolidated.


Barry describes Harrison Wells as the world's greatest expert on quantum theory.

Barry's analysis of the poop found at the crime scene determines that it is cow manure laced with an antibiotic that is rare enough that he narrows the location it came from to four local farms.

Barry develops abs while in a coma.  Caitlin Snow explains this by saying that Barry's muscles - which should be atrophied - are instead in an chronic and unexplained state of cellular regeneration.

FEMA classified STAR Labs as a Class 4 hazardous location following the accident.

Dr. Wells describes the accident with the STAR Labs particle accelerator as an anomaly.

While hospitalized, Barry's heart was beating so fast an EKG couldn't register it, creating the appearance that he was flat-lining while in the hospital.  The hospital experienced odd power outages at the same time Barry was having these episodes, which were misdiagnosed as cardiac arrest.

Cisco designs a radio head-set for Barry with a camera, modified from a design used to block battlefield background noise or - in Barry's case - potential sonic booms.

The anomaly released "unknown energies", including anti-matter, dark-energy and x-elements, after a dimensional barrier ruptured.

Metahumans is the term coined by STAR Labs for people with super powers.  This is also the term used to describe people with genetic super powers in the DC Universe.

The costume Cisco designs for Barry is modified from a design he was using to create a new fire-fighter suit.  It is made of a reinforced tri-polymer that is heat and abrasive resistance.  The aerodynamic design should help Barry maintain control and it contains sensors the STAR Labs tam can use to monitor him from a distance.

Caitlin Snow is able to track Clyde Mardon by using STAR Labs satellites to track meteorological abnormalities.  She found a sudden drop in barometric pressure at a farm outside the city.

Cisco tracks Mardon generating winds up to 200 MPH.  He notes this could eventually lead to an F5 Tornado.  F5 Tornadoes are any tornado that generates winds over 200 MPH.

Mardon's ability to control the weather seems to offer some immunity to the effects of his own powers.  Otherwise, it's hard to explain how he could survive being in the middle of a tornado.

Dialogue Triumphs

Barry Allen: To understand what I'm about to tell you, you need to do something first. You need to believe the impossible.  Can you do that?  Good.  You see that red blur?  That's me.  That too.  There I am again.  My name is Barry Allen.  I'm the fastest man alive.

Nora Allen: It's better to have a good heart than fast legs.

Joe West: Why in the hell would God need to rob banks?!

Harrison Wells: You can do this, Barry. You were right. I am responsible for all of this. So many people have been hurt because of me and when I looked at you, all I saw was another potential victim of my hubris. And yes I created this madness, but you, Barry - you can stop it.  You CAN do this! Now, run, Barry, RUN!

The whole scene between Barry Allen and his father as they visit in prison.

Dialogue Disasters

Oliver Queen: Watching over your city like a guardian angel.  Making a difference. Saving people... in a flash!


Barry runs to Starling City to discuss what has happened to him with Oliver Queen (aka The Arrow)

The Bottom Line

Perfect. Just perfect.  The special effects are amazing, the script establishes Barry Allen as a likeable protagonist and sets up the core idea of the show smoothly.  The only real problem is that the large supporting cast is barely given enough defining characteristics to develop further in the future, but that's a frequent problem with pilots.  I predict this show will become a fast favorite.

No comments:

Post a Comment