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The Flash #1.7 “Power Outage” Recap & Review

An incredibly fast-paced installment uses a common superhero trope to amp up the stakes and tension to great effect.

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FLA107c_123bSummary: An incredibly fast-paced installment uses a common superhero trope to amp up the stakes and tension to great effect.

Recap

The Flash goes up against Farooq/Blackout a metahuman who can harness electricity. During their battle, Farooq zaps The Flash and siphons all his electricity, leaving Barry without his speed. Dr. Wells sees that the headline on his future newspaper has changed, now with no mention of The Flash or Barry Allen. Caitlin and Cisco work to reverse the effects on Barry, but their efforts are disrupted when Farooq comes banging on S.T.A.R. Labs doors in search of Wells, who he blames for his accident. Without Barry’s powers to protect them, the group must figure out a way to save themselves from the metahuman. They realize that Barry’s cells are still built to harness the power, he just needs a huge jolt to the system to jumpstart them. During the crisis, Wells unleashes Girder from the prison on Blackout, and Girder is killed. Across town, William Tockman/Clock King manages a coup inside the Central City police department and takes several people hostage, including Joe and Iris. Eddie is shot, but is able to signal Iris to the gun in his ankle holster, which allowes her to take down Tockman herself. At STAR Labs, Caitlin and Cisco harness a ton of electricity with the treadmill, and use it to electrocute Barry again. His powers aren’t back at first, until they realize it’s psychological. When Wells is in danger of being killed by Farooq, Barry’s powers return–even better, in fact, because he’s able to kick it up a notch. When Farooq tries to steal his powers again, it’s too much for him, and he “chokes” on them, killing him. Afterwards, Wells sees that the newspaper is back to normal, and takes a sample of the dead Farooq’s blood to determine how he was able to steal Flash’s powers.

Review

A major accomplishment of the Arrow/The Flash universe thus far is that they’ve been able to delve into common or even tired concepts, play them straight, yet keep them from actually seeming tired. Something like a hero losing his/her powers is rarely more than a plot device, but enough background and additional pieces can play in that make the story feel fresh, or if not, at least important and entertaining.

FLA107c_346bA comparative example to the situation in “Power Outage” that comes to mind is Peter Parker’s loss of powers in Spider-Man 2, which amounted topsychological issues like Barry’s final hurdle in this episode. The thing about Spider-Man 2 is that Peter losing his own powers because he’s psyching himself out sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of the movie, a plot point that, honestly, a lot of people just didn’t totally grasp on first viewing. I’m speaking as someone who considers Spider-Man my favorite superhero movie of all time, too; the subplot does make sense in a poetic kind of way, and fits in thematically when you think about it afterwards, but seems a little offbeat within the context of the movie. The Flash, alternatively, has an extended amount of time to build on the concept, setting up as the entire premise of a story rather than just a minor beat of a larger one. The electric vampire that initates the concept, Farooq/Blackout, is the most sympathetic metahuman yet, and it’s sad that he didn’t survive the affair because Michael Reventar is very engaging in the tragic role. But either way, this isn’t just one villain taking away The Flash’s powers temporarily; as a serialized show, there are numerous previously set-up elements to build a bunch of bigger roadblocks, and create a huge crisis for Barry to face while this premise is unfolding.

The other difference between Barry and Peter is the effect losing powers has on them. Peter — and frankly, nearly every other superhero ever — has a weight lifted when the power is taken away, and can immediately settle back into life afterwards. The lesson these heroes often learn is that the higher calling of heroics is more important than their everyday life and happiness, and they have the responsibility to return to the fold. By contrast, Barry…doesn’t have much weight on his shoulders. The guy has baggage, sure, but none of it has to do with his persona as The Flash. The worst part of it is keeping the secret from Iris, and even that is something he mostly understands and is only imposed on him from Joe. As made clear in the pilot and every episode after, Barry loves being a superhero. It’s the best thing about his life, the thing that gives it meaning, and he’s driven to do it. Losing his powers leaves Barry devastated, both humorously and tragically, and he’s just as driven to get them back.

That makes it a bit harder to believe when his last hurdle is that it’s all in his head. Cisco explains the capability for him to psychologically suppress his powers much overtly than Spider-Man 2 did, but it’s still a tough sell. In Barry’s case, Cisco compares him to athletes who mess up a swing or throw and then can’t seem to get back into the groove of it. They don’t lose their talent, but they get so psyched out from embarrassment and frustration that they just can’t do it. That doesn’t really make sense for Barry though; it’s not like he was embarrassed in front of an entire audience, and two life or death crises are hardly the same as a baseball game. Maybe that’s being too hard on the analogy, but it seems like a manufactured way to amp up drama for the last bit, considering the crux of Barry’s character is his drive and desire to be The Flash.

FLA107c_196bThat said, it still yields a valuable lesson–but for Dr. Wells, not Barry. Wells finally grasps the obvious conclusion: that Barry’s need for companionship is exactly what gives Barry his power, and his jumpstarted heroism this week has kicked them up a notch. This is the most Wells-heavy episode we’ve gotten, the only thing we could call Wells-centric right now, and it works much better than the end tags have up until this point. There still isn’t much light shed here, but it’s more clues for the rest of the cast that Wells isn’t quite the man they think he is. Wells is able to rationalize his way out of anything right now, but like his outburst in “Going Rogue” or his actions in “Plastique,”  these are things that may come back to bite him when his charade comes crashing down. In this case, he practically sends last week’s villain Tony/Girder to his death, and the show manages to garner some sympathy even from that flat of a villain. Throwing Tony into the mix shows how much world-building this show has done in a very short amount of time, which in turns allows for even more potentially complex machinations from Wells.

Tom Cavanaugh nails the role and it’s constant fluctuations, particularly because he’s able to meld the facade and the sinister into one singular state. Wells physically shifts when he gets out of his wheelchair and takes off his glasses, of course, but he doesn’t turn into a moustache-twirling villain when no one’s around. He still retains his inquisitiveness and determination in his “secret” scenes, but he’s also always a little bit off and cold around everyone else, too. Even when he says his awkward future-perfect style anvils, he comes off as more eccentric and having shades of evil, and that means the lines between his secret and facade are very thin. In fact, the wheelchair itself could very well be the only facade at all, and the only secret is his intentions.

A big takeaway from everything with Wells is the revelation that the future is not immutable, and in fact is in flux all the time. That’s probably what we all expected, but it’s confirmed now, and explains why Wells would take so many moments to look at that one newspaper headline. He’s not just a weirdo who likes looking at a newspaper at dramatic moments, he’s actually checking to make sure it hasn’t changed. That makes things more interesting on his front, especially given we don’t know if the existence of the impending Crisis would be a good or bad thing for the characters. Whatever it is (sure, it’s a reference to the comics, but we don’t know what form it may be, if it ever occurs) Wells is adamant about making sure it happens.

FLA107a_200bThe other plotline is the hostage situation, featuring Arrow‘s Clock King. The subplot doesn’t really go anywhere other than increasing the tension, of course, but we’ve already seen that The Flash isn’t a show that needs to tie everything together thematically. Robert Knepper is as good as he was in his Arrow appearance, if a bit more unhinged thanks to the death of his sister (if the “one vegetarian takeout meal” along the list of his demands is any evidence.) The clockwork glasses are a nice touch, as is the uncomfortably creepy way he writes the time on Eddie’s head in his own blood. Tockman provides a way for the rest of the cast to have something to do, in a way that provides significantly more immediacy to Barry regaining his powers. The entire hostage situation is well-handled–even if it is a little hard to buy that a single gunman could hold an entire police station hostage just because the lights flickered. That said, it allows for Iris to essentially save the day on her own (even if with a little help from Eddie) when that whole police station couldn’t, which is awesome.

“Power Outage” is a wild ride, a major step up in The Flash‘s storytelling. Losing powers is an easy way to amp up drama and stakes, but it’s also rife with opportunities for character work. This episode does both, and does them quite well. It’s also one that, technically, has the treadmill save the day, which is more than Arrow‘s salmon ladder has done. So points to The Flash.

Odds & Ends

  • So, here’s a whole big list of the names Harrison Wells dropped. There’s a lot of comic book references in those few seconds.
  • The cop at the beginning’s reaction to being sped into a back alley where an unarmed man in his underwear stands is to put his hands on his hips like he caught the guy red-handed. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s hilarious.
  • Love the running gag of Joe tossing over breakable things to test Barry’s speed. It’s a total dick move (“Aww, Barry loved that mug!”), but it’s adorable.
  • Cisco says, “You guys wanna see my signature move?” before Barry speeds right in and cuts him off. What exactly is he referring to?
  • When did Tockman get the opportunity to put on a bulletproof vest without anyone knowing?
  • Big pet peeve: unnecessary flashbacks to things that happened a few minutes ago. I could handle a quick flashback to Eddie whispering when Iris pulled out the gun–“ankle holster” would have been a hard dot to connect without the flash–but why did it replay so much of that scene? All we needed to see was the “ankle holster” whisper, we didn’t need to see more than that.
  • Jesse L. Martin’s reaction when Joe thinks Iris has been shot is brutal.
  • So, Wells takes Farooq’s blood to see how he was able to steal The Flash’s powers. My best guess is that it isn’t because he wants to take away his power again (which would be silly,) but that he wants to literally steal them and find a way to give them to himself or another person. That other person, of course, could be the time travelling Zoom. Or it could be way more complicated than that. Who knows?
  • Aww, Eddie on pain meds is adorable.
  • “I got mad skills.”
    “Please don’t ever say that again.”
  • “If there was an Olympics for bad luck, you didn’t just medal, pal, you Michael Phelps-ed.”
  • “This software can do just about anything…now that Felicity reprogrammed it.”
  • “He runs slow even for a normal person.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Charlie

    December 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Best review and recap on the web. Hit on all the major points and flaws of the show (exactly what I had thought). The police station act was similar to Gotham; as trigger happy as cops are made out to be – Clock King would have been dead. Goes to show a white man can pull off a cop hostage situation. The endings of every Flash episode seems to bother me every time. Like Girder in the last episode being confronted by an unmasked Barry Allen (show quickly fixed that – how convenient). This episodes ending left me unhinged as to why would they keep a dead body in a body bag locked up? I don’t believe Farooq is as dead as the shows portrays. So what happened to Girder; did they put him in a body bag as well and lock him up?

  2. Jason

    December 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I just noticed this today, but at about 1:45 into the episode where the 3 guys are watching the particle accelerator from really far away, and Farooq sees it blow up and tells his friends to get in the car… If you watch really closely, you can see the explosion hit the plane (top right of scene) that created the Weather Wizard for episode 1!! VERY cool!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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