When we last left Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), he was speeding towards a massive singularity that hovered above Central City and threatened to destroy everyone below. Naturally Barry, as his superhuman alter-ego The Flash, saved the city and the majority of his loved ones, but sadly some were lost in the process. Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) lost his life stopping Reverse-Flash and Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), one half of the hero Firestorm, disappeared and was presumed dead once again. Because of this, Barry disbanded the team that helped him in his superhero crusade and decided to go it alone.
Months later, we find Barry working by himself, fighting crime by day (he takes down Captain Cold & Heat Wave again in the opening scene) and helping to secretly rebuild the city by night. Everyone else in Barry’s life continues on, despite being a little irritated that he has pushed them away. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) has taken a job at Mercury Labs. Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is now the science expert for the Central City Police Department’s new Anti-Metahuman Task Force, which is spearheaded by Barry’s adopted father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). Both Joe and his daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), still see Barry regularly, but he is distant from everyone else. He believes that if he stays away, they will be safer.
Barry might not be wrong about that, but he is wrong about not needing their help, especially once a metahuman named Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) comes to town with one mission: kill The Flash. After unsuccessfully taking him on twice on his own, Barry is forced to overcome his aversion to help and reform his team…whether he wants to or not. Luckily, Caitlyn, Joe, Iris, Cisco, and Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) are far more willing to re-enter the fray than Barry is to allow them to do so. With his support system back in place, The Flash manages to take down Atom-Smasher, but not without a few new revelations along the way.
The first of which is that Atom-Smasher was sent to kill Barry by someone named Zoom. We, of course, know that Zoom is a big nemesis of The Flash’s from the comics and his coming has been teased in a lot of the promo material for this season. Zoom will undoubtedly be a formidable foe and one that we will build towards as the season goes one. The second is that it is slightly hinted that (the presumably now-dead*) Atom-Smasher hailed from another world, so that’s where our exploration of Earth-2 and alternate universes comes into play. I’m betting that poor ole Ronnie isn’t dead and is simply stuck on Earth-2 due to the singularity, which is very likely to blame for the arrival of Zoom, Atom-Smasher, and who knows who else.
Third, we have Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), who introduces himself at the closing moments of the season premiere. Garrick is the original Flash in the comics, but is set up here as a Flash hailing from another universe, although that particular detail has not been given on the show just yet. Judging from the info dished out in next week’s episode preview, we will be learning about all of that insanity very soon. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Garrick is integrated into the lives of Barry and his team.
Lastly, we come to the most important revelation and it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that this whopper comes from the deceased Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Even in death, Reverse-Flash is still massively changing Barry’s life! While we learn early on that Wells had willed STAR Labs and everything else in his possession to Barry, the big moment comes when Allen finally sits down to view the video message that was left to him as part of Wells’ will. In it, after a brief “Well crap, I guess I’m dead!” message, Wells officially confesses to the murder of Nora Allen on camera, finally giving Barry the proof he needs to free his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp) from prison.
It’s a wonderful turn of events and yet another layer added to the complicated relationship between Barry and Harrison. He may be dead (though I suspect that’s not permanent), but boy do I miss him. Between the writing and Cavanagh’s performance, “The Flash” gave us what is perhaps one of superhero cinema and television’s greatest villains. That’s no small feat, given that the numerous comic book shows and films still have a hard time crafting great villains these days, let alone ones as complicated and well-rounded as Cavanagh’s Reverse-Flash. Hat tip to Matt Letscher in the role as well, by the way, even in his short moments across the first season.
The best superhero show on television has finally returned and I couldn’t be happier. While the premiere was slower and more somber than I expected it might be, I feel nothing but excitement for what is to come. Where other shows have faltered quite a bit during their run, this one never really did, even when it had the occasional filler episode, and I trust the creative team here immensely. Whatever ride they have in store for us, I am more than ready for it.
* – I hope he’s not permanently dead. Atom-Smasher is a fun character with interesting powers who has the potential to seize his source material heroic roots. Here’s hoping he returns in some fashion on down the road.