In the last episode I speculated that one way to stop Iris’ interest in ‘The Streak’ would be for The Flash to reveal his presence to the public. Based on the title of this week’s episode, that may very well be the answer that will be pursued. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Flash Is Born,” and the television debut of the Rogue known as Girder!
A founding member of the second Flash’s Rogues Gallery in the comics, and now considered generally one of the Rogues, Girder is a fairly unique character in the Flash comics. He was introduced as an inmate of Iron Heights, a super-powered criminal who had no known past with the Flash. He was just always there when we, the readers, were first told about the metahuman prison. And when Iron heights first appeared in the comics, it should be noted, it was not a nice place. Prisoners were mistreated, abused, and in some cases, their powers were put to use to power the prison itself.
Girder, created by the show’s executive producer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver, is a creature made of living iron. Tony Woodward, a very bad man pre-metahuman abilities, was a worker at a steel plant and who fell into a vat of molton iron including scrap from a failed S.T.A.R. Labs experiment, and eventually became Girder. Imbued with super-strength and impervious to harm, except a bizarre tendency to rust, he became the criminal Girder.
Our opening has a refreshing twist to it. Barry isn’t doing the voiceover about miracles, it’s Iris, and it’s from her blog, “The Streak Lives.” Seconds after she hits send on her last entry, the Flash kidnaps her to a rooftop and once again tries to convince her to stop writing it. This second attempt is just as useless as the first.
Iris just won’t stop. Candice Patton tries with limited success to channel Margot Kidder from the first interview scene of Superman The Movie. Barry won’t have it. He only relents once to tell Iris to call him anything but The Streak. I would have thought the name thing was cemented by Arrow in the pilot, but I guess not. The conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Girder.
In the television series, Girder, as played by Greg Finley (formerly of “Star-Crossed” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), has a bit more meat to him, besides different looks and origins. The effects of his power come across more like the T-1000, with patches of metallic appearing on his skin when in use. When they first meet in the episode, Girder easily beats Barry down, multiple fractures in his hand alone in trying to punch the criminal. He was not prepared to encounter another metahuman, and paid for it.
While Barry heals at S.T.A.R. Labs, he seems to think that he knows his attacker somehow. Girder looks familiar. Tony Woodward in the DC TV Universe has a past with Barry Allen. He’s a bully that used to regularly beat the crap out of him as a kid. Girder even has a tagline, “Looks like you were born to take a beating!” As it turns out, he’s another particle accelerator victim, who fell in a vat of molten scrap.
Learning to Fight
Cisco and Caitlin try to help Barry by teaching him to fight a Girder-like opponent – a fighting robot dummy to be precise, one that looks a bit more like the comics Girder than T2 Finley notably. Barry is not a good fighter, and the dummy dislocated his shoulder. This brings on a flashback of Joe trying to teach young Barry to fight. When young Iris cleans his clock, Joe tells him sometimes it’s better to run from a bully.
As if that weren’t humiliating enough, he’s called away by Eddie, to sort through clues at the Girder crime scene. Eddie wants to play nice, be buddies, confesses that he was at first threatened by Barry and Iris’ closeness. If Eddie’s not Reverse-Flash, this is getting old. The good part is that the trail leads them to Garrick’s Wharf in Keystone City, a double nod to the Golden Age Flash.
The Man in Yellow
Meanwhile, speaking of other Flashes, Joe visits Harrison Wells. Proof of how dangerous Wells is lies in the fact that I as a viewer fear for other characters when they are alone with this guy. Joe is seeking help to find the murderer of Barry’s mother, the man in yellow, someone Joe now believes is a metahuman with powers like Barry’s. Oh boy, if Joe only knew.
We comics readers know that in the comics, Nora Allen was murdered by the time-traveling Reverse-Flash. Looking at the evidence, Wells concedes it could be possible, but that it was also fourteen years before the particle accelerator accident – how could there be metahumans before then? Without referencing Mirakuru or other oddities of the Arrowverse, it’s a reasonable conflict.
Just like everyone has been telling her, Iris’ blog comes back to bite her on the butt. She hets her blog backfire when Tony Woodward comes to Jitters to visit his old school friend, Iris, especially to ask her about her blog and its subject matter. Does he suspect that The Streak is Barry? Maybe, but he certainly has Iris’ number, crushing her phone and indirectly issuing a challenge that gets Barry his second beating at Girder’s hands.
Of course our baddie goes back to see Iris, and no extra police detail is going to stop him. Luckily, Barry has been fight training with his new buddy Eddie, and Cisco theorizes a mach one punch will take Girder out. Barry and Girder have a showdown at the old school, and bad guy gets taken out by Cisco’s supersonic punch. I think Cisco was more happy it worked than anyone. His enthusiasm makes this show most weeks, bravo Carlos Valdes.
Bad Idea Theater
I’m not sure which is the worse idea. There’s Barry revealing his face to Girder once he’s imprisoned in the particle accelerator basement. If he was worried about Iris before, he really should be now. If Girder ever gets out, and come on, we all know this prison will be compromised sooner or later, it’s going to be dangerous for all of Barry’s family. And speaking of the makeshift prison, the folks at the Back in a Flash Podcast brought up a terrific point recently – how are the prisoners taken care of? How are they fed? Cared for? If it’s Cisco and Caitlin, their lives are in jeopardy as well.
We also get the answer to what the episode title means as Barry and Iris make up, and have a chat. He suggests the name Flash for The Streak in between wanting to tell her who he really is. Come on, Barry, telling Iris you’re the Flash is so much better an idea than telling Girder. They are both trouble, but one is so so much less.
Speaking of making up and stupid ideas, Joe makes peace with Wells, after discovering that he is not a suspect in Nora Allen’s murder (or is he?). Joe had made some implications about Wells’ whereabouts at the time of the murder, as he had only arrived in Central City a month before it happened. Wells rattled off a name, Tess Morgan, and told Joe to look it up. Apparently Wells’ wife, who died, and he was in mourning. Notably, like ‘Harrison Wells,’ there is no ‘Tess Morgan’ in the comics that I know of.
Later as Joe is reviewing evidence in the case at his home, he witnesses a phenomenon he had only heard about secondhand from Barry. His living room is filled with lightning and a man in yellow spins through, sweeping up all the evidence, and leaving only one thing on his case board – a picture of Iris, a knife through her, and the words Stop or else. A message has been sent very clearly…
We are hurtling rather quickly toward the upcoming team-up/clash between Arrow and The Flash, and Iris mentioned a metahuman composed of living non-consuming fire (Heat Wave?). Until then however, next week brings “Power Outage!”