I don’t think I’ve have been this excited about a season premiere of a television show since the series premiere of “The Flash” last year. You see, the Flash isn’t just my favorite superhero, but Jay Garrick is my favorite Flash. To see him brought to life on the small screen is just pure nerdgasm. Meet me after the super speed jump for my thoughts on “The Man Who Saved Central City.”
Now the problem is that Jay Garrick is in this episode precious little, but someone else from Earth-Two is in it, although in slightly different form. In the comics, Atom Smasher has been around in one form or another since the 1980s. As I mentioned in my article on the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the inhabitants of Earth-Two were older than those of our regular Earth, so stay with me, Atom Smasher is the godson of the Atom of Earth-Two, who was part of a second generation superhero team called Infinity Inc., composed of sons and daughters of that world’s Justice Society.
At the time Albert Rothstein was called Nuklon, and over the years has had a variety of powers, the most used and dangerous being the ability to grow to giant-size. His latest name comes from the possible future of Kingdom Come, the highly acclaimed end of the world epic by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. And if you think you’ve heard his civilian name before on “The Flash,” you have. He was listed by Dr. Wells as a victim of the particle accelerator explosion way back in “Power Outage,” along with a handful of other superhero real names. And yeah, for the record, in the comics, Atom Smasher is a good guy.
We open the way the best of any Flash story could. Our hero is fighting the team of Captain Cold and Heat Wave, and winning, not really needing the last minute helping hand of Firestorm. He returns to S.T.A.R. Labs, where everyone congratulates him, and then it gets weird. Iris is there, in a lab coat, and so is Eddie, and Harrison Wells who gets up out of his wheelchair to tell Barry that he’s ready to do this on his own.
Weird. A dream? A memory? Then Barry is alone at S.T.A.R. It’s six moths later from the singularity incident. The Flash is acting alone, as it’s the only way to keep those he loves safe. Somehow I suspect he’s the only one who feels that way. Still he appears to be on his way to a Flash Day celebration, for ‘the man who saved Central City,’ even if forced by Joe, or Iris. Hell, the whole city wants him there.
As a stranger (Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick) stalks Barry taking pictures, the murder of nuclear plant worker Al Rothstein is investigated. Our TV Atom Smasher, as well as the seemingly dead body, is played by the wrestler called Edge, also known as Adam Copeland. He appears to be strangled, and Joe is relieved when Barry tells him it wasn’t Grodd. Am I the only one who wondered how Barry knew that? Grodd is still on the loose, right?
We also find that Cisco is now working with the police as the scientific advisor to their Anti-Metahuman Task Force. Apparently they’re not completely dependent on the Flash. Caitlin is working with Mercury Labs with Tina Magee. And Iris is still missing Eddie. Six months is both a long time ago, and not long at all.
When last we saw our hero, he was racing directly into a black hole that was about to swallow Central City. While our hero is racing around the city, rebuilding businesses under the cover of night (like a real hero would, pay attention, Superman from Man of Steel), a flashback tells us what happened with the singularity. It was Firestorm, not the Flash who saved Central City, and Barry was only able to save Prof. Stein, not Ronnie Raymond… okay, now it makes sense.
It’s guilt that is powering this isolation complex Barry is pushing everyone away. This goes on for much of the episode, and it’s aggravating when we know, we know for a fact after twenty-three episodes last season, that Team Flash is the way to go, that our hero works better with a back-up team. Still, wasn’t it cool watching the Flash climbing up the debris to get to the singularity? Not all super speed stunts look good live action however, as evidenced by his windmill arms attacks later on.
Hooray, It’s Flash Day
One of the things that always annoyed me about current day television and film incarnations of superheroes is the idea that they either don’t exist or they are shadowy vigilantes wanted by the police. Some characters this does work for, but when we’re talking the Flash, nope, it doesn’t. Part of the character’s mythos includes the public’s love for him. The Flash Museum alone is proof of that. Of course I have logic problems with the idea of a place that houses the weaponry of the Rogues Gallery in it behind glass, I still love the idea of the Flash Museum.
Still, no museum yet, but we do have a Flash Day, and later, groaningly, a Flash-Signal. As I mentioned above, some ideas work, and others just do not. Please, no more Flash-Signal. When the Flash, at Iris’ urging shows up to accept the key to the city, our Atom Smasher shows up ready to fight, with no apparent motivation other than to rumble. The fight sequence is brief but the special effects impressed. He is however unmasked as Al Rothstein momentarily, adding to the mystery.
The Last Will and Testament of Harrison Wells
The weirdness is that records indicate Rothstein is still in the morgue, and that he was in Hawaii when the particle accelerator exploded. So what was Wells babbling about in episode seven? And speaking of Wells, apparently he left STAR Labs to Barry. Or at least a video flashdrive for Barry to watch. And I love the law firm who delivers it, see below.
I found Barry’s stubbornness ridiculous and annoying, but to see him mend bridges, especially with Caitlin makes it worthwhile. For just a few minutes, in a science fiction superhero action show, we got to see the range of actors Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker. Well worth it. What follows is, via flashdrive, what Barry has always wanted – Wells’ confession to the murder of Nora Allen.
Lord of the Rings
Like the third installment of the lord of the Rings films, this episode had multiple endings after the final fight and defeat of Atom Smasher. But first, did they kill him? That was a little unclear. First there was the release of Henry Allen from prison, followed by his need to get away. I call BS on Henry’s reasons for leaving. Does John Wesley Shipp have another gig, or do the producers just not like him?
Then there were Atom Smasher’s last words (?) when asked why he attacked the Flash. He said that if he killed our hero, he would take him home. Who’s he? “Zoom.” Yeah, it’s a name to chill readers of the Flash comics. Not only was Professor Zoom the Reverse-Flash’s nickname for decades, but it was the name taken on by the Reverse-Flash that next went by that name. This one was originally Hunter Zolomon, a Rogue profiler who went a bit mad, and constantly trying to make the Flash ‘better’ by fighting him. He’s a real creepy piece of work I am sure we will have lots more time to discuss in the future.
And then there’s Jay Garrick, who finally shows up and talks in the last few moments of the episode. We know he’s from Earth-Two, and we know he is his world’s Flash – it just hasn’t been said so yet on the TV series. Based on that however, here’s my Atom Smasher theory. This is not the Al Rothstein of our world, but of Jay Garrick’s world, where Zoom promised to send him after he killed the Flash. Who wants to bet?
The letters in the opening scene are from Weathersby & Stone, the law firm from “Eli Stone,” where actor Victor Garber, who stars here as Professor Martin Stein, was a partner. Vito D’Ambrosio reprises his role as Mayor Tony Bellows. Fans of the 1990s “Flash” series might remember him as Officer Tony Bellows.
Cisco saying “Sweet Sarek” in exclamation may be the both the coolest and geekiest thing I have heard in a long time. For the uninitiated, Sarek is Spock’s father from “Star Trek.” The only good part of the Flash-Signal was that Cisco thinks he saw it in a comic book. Also did you see the Picture News van during Flash Day? All this and a new comics-close costume too! Until next time, kadima.
Next: Flash of Two Worlds!