A new metahuman criminal has taken Central City by storm - a man of living metal who Barry finds hard to fight. Partly because his super-strong skin makes him resistant to even a flurry of blows from The Fastest Man Alive. And partly because he's Tony Woodward - the bully who made Barry's life miserable in middle school!
As Cisco and Caitlin put their minds to work on figuring out how to dent Woodward's metal frame and Woodward goes after The Flash's biggest fangirl, Iris West, Barry receives help from an unlikely source - Eddie Thawne. And Joe West continues the investigation into Nora Allen's murder, interviewing a most unlikely suspect - Harrison Wells!
The Flash comics of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Scriver.
For the first time, Eddie Thawne is given a chance to interact with the cast in a way that doesn't involve his relationship with Iris. And Rick Cosnett does a fine job of fleshing Eddie out and turning him into a likable character. The scene where he bonds with a reluctant Barry while teaching him how to box is a charming one and it's nice to see Eddie being given some definition.
By that same token, it's nice to see Harrison Wells building a friendship of sorts with Joe West after weeks of cryptic remarks and secretiveness. And Tom Cavanagh brilliantly plays up the cool scientist reluctantly opening up. We all know Wells is up to something and it's intriguing that we still don't know how honest he's being with Joe... or how far he may have gone to hide his past.
The scene in which The Flash starts running to take down Girder is a perfect blend of music and special effects, working in harmony.
For the first time someone besides Barry does the opening and closing narrations. This time, it's Iris.
Girder was created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Scriver during their run on The Flash comic. Girder was originally Anthony "Tony" Woodward - a steel worker who was thrown into a vat of molten steel after he s assaulted a beloved female co-worker and the rest of the workers rioted. The vat contained melted materials from a STAR Labs experiment and that somehow turned Anthony into a man of living metal.
The origin of the show's version of Girder differs from this only in that his death was an accident and that his struggle with co-workers was based around his attacking the manager who gave him a pink slip.
Unlike the show's version of Girder, the comic book version could not transform back to a normal human form. Also, the original Girder was taller than a normal human.
Girder was given a visual redesign in the New 52 Flash comics, which looks quite close to the TV show version of Girder. It is unclear what this new Girder's backstory is or how he got his powers, though he is still presumed to be named Tony Woodward.
Girder's criminal career in the comics was relatively short lived as he began rusting and rotting into nothing. The kegs in the back of Girder's get-away car - from the Rusty Iron Brewing Company - are a reference to this.
The Rusty Iron Brewing Company is located in Keystone City - the sister city of Central City and home of the third Flash, Wally West, in the comics.
A sign when Barry and Eddie visit the Rusty Iron Brewing Company urges people to visit historic Garrick's Wharf. This is named in honor of Jay Garrick a.k.a. The first superhero to call himself The Flash.
Dr. Wells describes Girder as "a man of steel". The Man of Steel is probably the most popular nickname for Superman.
It's worth noting that Barry in the comics is a notoriously bad liar and not that fast-on-his-feet when it comes to improvising - something we see in his scene where he tries (and fails) to explain Girder's bullet-proof nature to Eddie Thawne.
Iris' co-worker at the coffee shop is named Stacy. This may be a reference to Stacy Conwell - a supporting character from the Flash comics in the 1970s.
Iris describes Girder's power as transforming "like an Iron Fist". Iron Fist is a Marvel Comics hero - a martial artist who focuses his energy into the super-strong punch from which he takes his name. This is similar to what Barry does later to defeat Girder.
Iris makes mention of investigating another metahuman at the episode's end - a man who is on fire except he doesn't burn up. This "Burning Man"may be a foreshadowing of Firestorm, whose head - in the comics - does vent flame.
The Man In Yellow leaves a knife in a picture of Iris in Joe's house. This could be a reference to how - in the comics - The Reverse-Flash killed Iris West.
The gravel Barry pulled from Woodward's car contained 76.8% hematite which was consistent with the mine at Keystone Iron Works.
Barry has to hit Girder at Mach 1.1 (837 MPH) in order to do any damage. This requires a running distance of at least 5.3 miles. This is faster than the speed of sound and Barry does generate a sonic boom before he punches Girder.
Iris: To understand what I'm about to tell you, you need to do something first. Can you do that? Good. Because all of us, we've forgotten what miracles look like. Maybe because they haven't made much of an appearance lately. Our lives have become ordinary. But there's someone out there who is truly extraordinary. I don't know were you came from. I don't know your name. But I have seen you do the impossible to protect the city I love. So for those of us who believe in you and what you're doing, I just want to say thank you.
(Harrison enters the room in the middle of an argument betwen Cisco and Caitlin)
Harrison: What exactly are we debating?
Cisco: How many bugs Barry swallows in a day of running.
Harrison: (dryly) I look forward to seeing you accept your Nobel.
Cisco: Supersonic Punch, baby!
Tony: Who the hell do you think you are?
Barry: You know who I am.
Barry: The thing that happened to you, Tony, happened to me too. But it didn't just give us abilities. It made us more of who we are. You got strong, I got fast. Fast enough to beat you. You used your gift to hurt people. Not anymore.
Iris: Today I was saved by the impossible A mystery man. The Fastest Man Alive. Then a friend gave me an idea for a new name. And something tells me it's going to catch on.
Iris' opening and closing narration speeches are callbacks to Barry's opening and closing speeches in The Pilot.
Joe West taught both Iris and Barry how to fight as children.
Girder is imprisoned in The Pipeline at episode's end.
Harrison Wells opened STAR Labs one month after Nora Allen's murder. He was married to a woman named Tess Morgan, who was also his research partner in Maryland. He moved to Central City to start over after she died in a car accident.
It is Barry who suggests the name The Flash to Iris.
Joe West is harassed by a super-fast figure in yellow... just like the one that klled Nora Allen. It leaves a knife in a picture of Iris on his wall.
The Fridge Factor
Though she spends most of the episode as the damsel in distress, it is Iris who delivers the knock-out punch to Girder while he's stunned and in his normal form after The Flash's super-sonic punch.
The Boomerang Factor
While it is personally satisfying for Barry to reveal to his childhood bully that he is the one who brought him down, it's also phenomenally stupid for him to go revealing his secret identity to Girder.
The Bottom Line
A decent episode though not as great as some of what we've seen so far. Personal connections to Barry and Iris aside, Girder isn't the most interesting villain and the boy/girl/bully dynamic isn't wholly original. The best bits of the episode involve fleshing out the two most undeveloped characters in the cast - Eddie and Harrison. Those scenes, coupled with the teaser at the end, raise new questions about the on-going arc of the show that are far more interesting than Barry facing his childhood bully and proving the power of science. That said, the scene when Barry delivers his first supersonic punch is a great one and sure to warm the heart of every comic fan who was ever bullied.