Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 2 - Fastest Man Alive

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


With Cisco acting as his eyes and ears at STAR Labs, Barry has begun saving people around Central City as The Flash. But pulling people out of burning buildings is taking a toll on Barry's body and he's begun suffering dizzy spells after using his powers. This, coupled with Barry's heroism getting in the way of his day job and his life, leads Joe West to lay down the law and tell Barry to stop playing the hero. But how long can Barry take it slow when a new metahuman menace emerges - one with a vendetta against scientist/philanthropist Simon Stagg and the power to become a literal one man army?


Sherlock (Barry's "clue-vision" when examining a crime scene), Firestorm (1978) (Mutiplex and his origins), the Metamorpho comics by Bob Haney (Simon Stagg and Java), the Mike Baron run on The Flash (the idea that Barry has to eat more than a normal person to fuel his super-speed) and the Batman: The Animated Series episode Heart of Ice (scientist turned supervillain seeks revenge on the industrialist boss who killed his wife).


The final battle with Multiplex is very dark and hard to see clearly.

Apparently there's been very little coordination between the writers of the show and the writers of the tie-in The Flash: Season Zero comic, which is meant to be set between this episode and the first one.  Caitlin says that Mutliplex is the very first metahuman they've discovered besides Barry, yet the comic has depicted a number of metahumans already.

How is Barry supposed to carry the high-calorie energy bars with him into the field when his suit doesn't have any pockets?  We know that Cisco has to hold his phone for him while he's out as The Flash.


Much of this episode is a battle of wills between Barry's surrogate fathers, Joe West and Harrison Wells. West is the harsher figure but is motivated by honest feelings of love for his adopted son and a desire to protect him from what he sees as a dangerous job. We know Wells is motivated purely by a desire to see Barry become the hero he is destined to be but he plays the part of the concerned, nurturing mentor to contrast West. Both Jesse L. Martin and Tom Cavanagh play this dichotomy perfectly, with Joe eventually coming to see the logic of Harrison's argument and the cold truth that despite his inexperience, Barry is still the only chance that the forces of Law and Order have against someone like Danton Black.

Candice Patton gets a chance to develop Iris West beyond the standard CW Romantic Interest role in this episode and proves more than capable of doing so. Though Iris seems less than enthusiastic about journalism at first, she proves to have a natural gift for the investigative aspects of the job. It is also refreshing to see that she's not being portrayed as a complete idiot and that she calls both Barry and her father out on their unusual behavior and the fact that they're clearly hiding something from her.


Again, we see movie-quality special effects in the opening sequence in which Barry saves people from a burning building.

Flash Facts

Danton Black AKA Multiplex was the first super-villain fought by Firestorm, in Firestorm #1.  A scientist and former employee of Dr. Martin Stein (one of the two men who would join together to become Firestorm), Black was fired by Stein for attempted theft, though Stein declined to press criminal charges.  Black would later be caught in the same accident that created Firestorm and develop the power to create and control clones of himself - a process brought about through a combination of mass duplication and nuclear fission.

Black as presented here is true to his comics counterpart, save that his former employer is Simon Stagg and Black has a more fully realized motivation for his villainy besides base greed.  In this case, he was perusing his research to clone a heart for his sick wife but Stagg's theft ruined his chance of creating one in time to save her.

Simon Stagg was the chief nemesis of the the superhero Metamorpho. A scientist and philanthropist who had a largely falsified reputation for generosity, Stagg was a greedy and unscrupulous man whose efforts to kill off his daughter's boyfriend, adventurer Rex Mason, accidentally transformed Mason into the shape-shifting superhero Metamorpho.

Simon Stagg was referred to twice on Arrow - once as a major donor to Laurel Lance's legal clinic (A106) and his chemical factory in Starling City was the target of one of Firefly's attacks (A110).

Simon Stagg's head of security is named Mr. Java. In the comics, Java was the name Stagg gave to an unfrozen caveman whom he discovered and recruited as a personal servant. Java was as treacherous as we see in this episode, and routinely plotted against both Simon Stagg and Metamorpho in order to pursue his own romantic feelings for Stagg's daughter.

The coffee shop that Iris works at - Jitters - is also the name of a coffee shop chain in the DC Universe, similar to Starbucks.

We find out that Caitlin's fiance was named Ronnie.  This has already been confirmed to be Ronnie Raymond by the producers.  In the comics, Ronnie Raymond was the college student who merged with Dr. Martin Stein to become the atomic superhero Firestorm.

The treadmill that Cisco rigs up for Barry may be a reference to The Cosmic Treadmill - a device from the Silver Age Flash comics that Barry Allen was able to use to travel in time.

The revelation that Barry needs to eat more than a normal person because of his hyperactive metabolism was first proposed by witer Mike Baron during his run on The Flash, in which an effort was made to depict superspeed in a more realistic manner.  He depicted The Flash needing to load up on carbs in order to use his powers and even then he required an enormous amount of downtime afterwards - sometimes sleeping for 16 hours at a stretch!

Cisco's first name for Danton Black is Captain Clone.  He then promises to come up with something better.  This may be a joke about how two of The Flash's biggest enemies in the comics already use the word "Captain": as part of their code-name - i.e. Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang,

The fire truck Barry beats to the scene of the fire uses the call-sign Ladder 52 - a number of much significance in the DC Universe.

Multiplex wears a Size 10 show. This is the same shoe size as Captain Singh.

According to this episode, Barry has officially run faster than the speed of sound.

Barry can vibrate his hand fast enough to act as a centrifuge.  He does this at one point in the lab when the lab's centrifuge breaks.

Iris is taking a journalism class to meet the sociology requirement for her degree.  In the comics, Iris was a newspaper reporter.

Cisco creates high-calorie protein bars for Barry to use in the field to keep his energy up.

Multiplex seemingly falls to his death.

Barry's favorite pizza is pepperoni, olives and jalapenos.

Joe agrees to help Barry with proving his father's innocence.

Simon Stagg calls Barry "Mercury on Earth".  There has been a long association between The Flash and the Roman god Mercury.  The original Flash, Jay Garrick, wore a winged helmet and winged boots in imitation of classical depictions of Mercury.  In the New 52 Earth 2 comic, Jay Garrick was given the power of super-speed by a dying Mercury.  And of course there is another super-speed hero, Max Mercury, who was good friends with all the Flashes in the comics.

At the episode's end, Harrison Wells kills Simon Stagg.


Simon Stagg is cited as a pioneer in cellular cloning, cellular regeneration and organ replacement.

Caitlin says that cardiopulmonary failure (i.e. cardiac arrest) and transient ischemic attacks (i.e. mini-strokes) are real possibilities given Barry's powers.

Barry's heart-rate, blood pressure, nerve conduction and brain functions are all normal when he uses his speed but his glucose levels drop.

Barry's headaches and fainting spells are revealed to be caused by a total metabolic failure triggered by acute hypoglycemia.  His body requires 40 IV bags to return to normal after his test on the treadmill at STAR Labs.

Cisco determines Barry would need to eat 850 tacos to get the required nutrients he needs every day. Using a Taco Bell Crunchy Taco (150 calories) as the standard, this means Barry would need to consume 127,500 calories - exactly 50 times the maximum suggested calories in one day for an adult male (2550 calories).

If the fastest human can run a mile in 4 minutes (22 feet per second) and Barry can run a mile in 3 seconds (1760 feet per second), then Barry is exactly 80 times faster than the fastest normal human alive. Given that, Barry should probably get the cheese and quac tacos, even if a 3-second mile isn't his average high speed.

The cells of Multiplex's clones are all stem-cells, which Barry Allen comments explains why they look like they were taken from a baby.

Caitlin is able to grow a Multiplex clone using a blood sample from Barry's suit.  She triggers the in vitro cultivation process.  She exposed the cells to a protein gel and they began replicating into a full clone. The clones are empty shells without Black's focusing upon them.  Caitlin theorizes that like Barry, Multiplex has limits and that Barry will be able to pinpoint the real Multiplex by looking for the one who is weakened as he expands.

Dialogue Triumphs

Barry: This is the part where I'm supposed to do the whole intro thingy? Barry Allen? Fastest Man Alive? But you know that already. All right - let's get to the good stuff! You see that smoke? That's a fire on Western and 3rd in downtown Central City. And that blur? That's me on the way to it. I'm going 352 MPH. And it's a slow day!

Barry: (still in costume) My day-job beckons.
(Barry runs out of the room at super-speed)
Harrison: When do you think he'll realize he didn't take his clothes?

Joe: You haven't said anything to Iris about all this, have you?
Barry: No!  I made you a promise.  I keep my promises.
Joe: Keep on lying like that, you're liable to get struck by lighting again.

(As they figure out Danton Black is cloning himself)
Cisco: Meet Captain Clone!
(Everyone just looks at him)
Cisco: ... don't worry.  I'll come up with something cooler.

Harrison: Hey, Joe.  I was never looking to become the senior member of a secret crime fighting unit. But you and I both know we are the only ones equipped to protect Central City.
Joe: Maybe I'm more interested in protecting Barry. But of course he's all set to fly into the fire right along with you.
Harrison: No, he's not. Not anymore. He quit. (pause) He didn't tell you?
Joe: I haven't seen him.
Harrison: Well, I'm sure it's only temporary. We all know Barry, when he sets his mind to something... no one's going to talk him out of it, but the next time he suits up - WOOSH -  runs head-long into danger, he will fail.  Why? He doesn't think he's capable. Doubt... is his real enemy, Joe. Not whatever is lurking out there. And as long as you continue to doubt him, he'll keep doubting himself.  (pause) And for the record, I care about him too.

Joe: Police can't fight this. What Black's become, like Mardon? Beyond me. Maybe way beyond them, too. The only person it's not beyond is you. You've got to do this. I get it. So for once in your life, do what I tell you to do. Go stop him!

Barry: I may be the one in the suit doing all the running, but when I'm out there helping people, making a difference... you're all out there with me.

Barry: Joe, what I said about you not being my father...
Joe: Barry, I know. I know I'm not your father.
Barry: You're right. You're not. You're just the man who kept me fed and in clothes, who sat on my bed at night until I fell asleep because I was afraid of the dark. You helped me with my homework. You taught me how to drive and shave, You dropped me off at college. Sounds a lot like a dad to me.

Dialogue Disasters

The exchange between Joe and Barry at STAR Labs plays way too much like an unedited cut of the Peter Parker/Ben Parker car fight from the original Spider-Man movie.

(Java setting up the oldest joke in the book after punching Multiplex)
Java: What the hell are you going to do to me without your army?
(Multiplex changes into multiple people who go surround Java)
Multiplex: I am an army!


Barry makes reference to his fight with Clyde Mardon (101).

Untelevised Adventures

Barry's rescuing people from a fire at the start of the episode is not the first time he and Cisco have acted on their own to help people.

The Boomerang Factor

Barry allows himself to be surrounded by Multiplex far too easily.

The Bottom Line

An improvement on the first episode, in that we get some much needed development of the supporting cast, particularly Iris and Joe West. Any worries of Joe West being played as the cliched disapproving father are nipped firmly in the bud as are the fears of Iris West playing the typical unaware superhero's girlfriend. The special effects are, once again, pushing the boundaries of what can be done on a weekly TV show and the villain of the week is suitably menacing.  The only real downside is Simon Stagg being killed off so quickly.  Corrupt businessmen/scientists are hardly rare in the DCU but Stagg is one of the best villains out there for this sort of thing and it's shocking to see him go so soon.

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