'The Flash' Episode 1.7 "Power Outage" (7 out of 10) Starring Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Rick Cosnett, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Kavanaugh, and Jesse L. Martin. Guest starring Greg Finley, Robert Knepper, Michael Reventar. Tuesdays on The CW.
"The Flash" has been doing a great job of getting things right where other superhero television shows and even movies have gone awry. This week's episode was a good example of how the series can take multiple villains and juggle them deftly, giving each their due, giving each a palpable threat, and still feeling like a solid episode with forward momentum. There are also some geeky references that had me with some serious anticipation wood -- more on that later. The references, that is. I'll keep my wood out of it.
Ostensibly the major threat in the episode is Blackout, AKA Farooq. He was caught in the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion that unleashed metagenetic hell on Central City, and ended up with lightning powers. Kind of Electro-ey from Spider-Man, or Livewire from DC Comics. So yeah, electric powers. He also needs to feed on electricity, siphoning off power from substations where he needs to, but the lil bit of electricity in humans when he's desperate for a fix. He feeds on the Flash, sees what a rush that is, and sucks all of the speed force right out of Barry. So Barry's powerless. As Cisco aptly puts it, "you're even slow for a normal guy." Michael Reventar plays Farooq well, and the 90 seconds or so of backstory we have on him ups the pathos, making him more sympathetic than I expected. Blackout's a minor character in the comics (only having one appearance as far as I know), so don't expect him to be around for long. Dr. Wells' eventual solution to the Blackout crisis is a sort of two birds, one stone situation that Wells ends up profiting from. I'm really starting to think he's a bad dude. Like, badder than we expected.
The other villain for the episode is Clock King, played by Robert Knepper. He first appeared in an episode in season two of "Arrow," where he was weaker than I wanted him to be. A little eccentric, worked up over the death of his sister, but otherwise pretty weak. Clock King is one of Green Arrow's archenemies from the comic books, so I was disappointed in how he turned out. In this episode, he breaks out of custody at the Central City police headquarters and takes hostages. While this is definitely the B-story, his quirky but deadly portrayal of Clock King makes him more menacing than he was on "Arrow." He's becoming a villain I'd like to see more of. The character seems more influenced by the "Batman: The Animated Series" take on the villain instead of the (kind of ridiculous) Silver Age version, realistic enough to fit into the DC Televerse. I can see him returning to Starling City and causing problems for the Emerald Archer. Keep him coming back.
A tease for four more heroes?
As the episode switches between storylines, there are a few fanboy references thrown in that had me scrambling to Google to check out some names. Dr. Wells reels off a list of people who died in the particle accelerator explosion. We know Ronnie Raymond (Caitlyn's fiance) died there, and we assume he's going to show up as the hero Firestorm at some point. The list that Harrison Wells runs off includes four established DC Comics characters:
- Bea Da Costa - Fire
- Ralph Dibny - Elongated Man
- Al Rothstein - Atom Smasher
- Grant Emerson - Damage
All four are superheroes; I'm really only interested in Fire and Elongated Man, but they could write compelling stories for the latter two as well. Now, this could just be the writers/producers being exceptionally mean, throwing out some names that aren't as big as "Clark Kent," but still make the die-hard fans ears perk up. Fire and Elongated Man are both the kinds of heroes that you'd expect to see in "The Flash," and would be fit for recurring characters...but C-List enough that the series could kill them off without a backlash. Okay, fanboys can backlash against anything and everything. Because we're horrible. We already knew about some additional heroes popping up at some point--is this a hint of what will coming in the second half of season one? A tease for four more heroes? I hope so.
The other nerd moment was Morena Baccarin voicing "Gideon," evidently the AI in Dr. Wells' future techno room space thingy. Although we've seen that secret room at S.T.A.R. Labs from the very first episode, this is the first time Dr. Wells addressed the AI as Gideon. Will this become a new character on the series? Is there some kind of significance to the name or character? Dunno. The headlines on the future newspaper/website are about the Flash disappearing, a crisis with red skies ending. DC Comics' most famous crossover event was thirty years ago, "Crisis on Infinite Earths," which had red skies and a collapsing multiverse -- and the death of Barry Allen. Will "The Flash" head in that direction? An interesting concept, but I feel like it's too big for a television series. That said, with showrunners that can make episodes like this one this much fun to watch--I'll follow them anywhere.
Next week's episode is the big crossover event between CW's two superhero series -- and it looks like more fun than the big screen's Batman v Superman can possibly be. I'm digging both of these shows, so the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of them together? I may need to buy new pants.