After seeing the finale of this first season of The Flash, I have to say that it just may be one of the most crowd pleasing comic-to-television shows to come in years. And I know I’m saying this at a time when only a month and a half ago I was talking about the brilliance of Daredevil.
What made me come to this decision? I think there are a couple of reasons from my own perspective and I’ll try to answer them as best I can without dropping too many spoilers.
The first reason is the excellent cast.
Putting the star aside for a moment, Barry Allen’s “fathers” are just great to see in action. From Henry Allen’s (played by original TV Flash John Wesley Shipp) willingness to accept his situation to protect his son to Detective Joe West’s (Jesse L. Martin) grounding advice and finally S.T.A.R. Labs’ enigmatic founder Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) interest in Barry pushing himself ever harder, each provide means for the main character to develop. Especially Henry Allen and Joe West, where many of the more emotional moments from the series come from.
Then there’s Joe’s daughter Iris (Candice Patton), childhood friend and unrequited love of Barry. Even with the eventual revelation of her future, there’s still plenty of twists and turns with her relationships thanks to her on-off boyfriend Eddie (Rick Cosnett). S.T.A.R. Labs scientists Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco (Carlos Valdez) seem at first to be comedy relief but quickly develop into being a key part of the whole team and interesting characters in their own right. Even Barry’s rival for Iris, Eddie, gets his chance to make a difference too and at a totally unexpected moment that makes a whole lot of sense in the end.
Finally with Grant Gustin playing Barry Allen aka The Flash, we’ve got a hero who’s instantly likeable and a genuinely good hearted person. And also a bit of a nerd too. If there’s ever a person you want to cheer in avenging his mother, getting the girl and saving the day this is the guy. There were plenty of emotional moments during the season and Gustin was totally up to challenge. It’s a shame to think that the eventual movie version of The Flash will not use the same actor because this guy here is going to be hard to beat.
The second reason was with the story arc which while presenting some clear threads from the outset (the murder of Barry’s mother, the reason for the accident that gave him his powers and the true motivations of Wells) it was still able to produce the odd surprises throughout and then really smash it out of the park in the finale.
What was encouraging to see was how willing the team behind the show were in tying up those threads so soon. The season finale takes them all and brings this story arc to a satisfactory close within a rollercoaster ride of happiness, sadness and surprise with some great moments by all the stars. And it ends at such a high point (and cliff-hanger) that it gives a new season a fairly clean slate to work with but one still built on an entirely solid foundation.
You usually expect a first season to lay a template for the future that takes years to resolve but this one is almost like a series within a series with its own beginning and end that could be part of a greater whole. Just like what comics themselves do.
The last reason is the tone – despite the darkness the characters face at times, everyone carries a positive outlook and jovial nature that does camp things up from time to time but feels right considering the outlandish situations that characters find themselves in. And it’s cool to see they’re not even afraid to reference Star Wars and Marvel in the process. I think it works.
I’ll make this admission; I originally started watching this show only because my young son thinks The Flash is a pretty awesome superhero and we’d watch it together. Now at the end of it I’m the one glued to his seat watching every episode.
And yes I think The Flash is a pretty awesome superhero too.