Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Flash Season 2 Review (SPOILERS)

It's season finale week and I'm doing my absolute best to get these reviews out as soon as I can! Last year I waited to release some of them and by that time there was a lot less people that cared, so we're doing fast mode this time. If you didn't catch my reviews of Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, I just linked both of those to you right there for you to catch up on. It's funny, as I think about all the shows I was faithful with this season, most of them are CW shows. Out of the reviews I've written or am planning on writing, Supergirl and Bates Motel are the only shows that aren't on the CW and out of those two, Supergirl is headed to the CW next season, where it rightfully belongs. I promise there are plenty of shows on other stations that I would love to catch up on, it's just that time is a thing I don't have in abundance and TV shows take up a ton of time. As of now I've been completely sucked into this DC TV universe and with there being four shows in this universe, there's just not much time for anything else. The only other shows that I've kept up on outside of this universe are the shows that were already staples for me before this universe became such a huge thing. And to think some people see me as a Marvel fanboy. Ha! Anyways, it's Flash time, so lets dive into the second season of The Flash! Spoilers ahead, of course.

The Flash initially started as a spin-off of Arrow. Barry Allen had a quick introduction in season 2 of Arrow to kick him off his own show that began at the same time as season 3 of Arrow. It didn't take long at all for The Flash to surpass Arrow in terms of my personal enjoyment. Part of that was season 3 of Arrow was crap, but the other part was that season 1 of The Flash was epic! I became immediately invested in this show and I felt a deep connection to all of the character. I loved the backstory of Barry with his parents and I think that led to an amazing story arc in season 1 with Barry doing whatever he could to save his father from prison and trying to save his mother from dying once he learned he could time travel. This also led to a great villain with Eobard Thawne who had taken over the body of Harrison Wells and acted as Barry's mentor for most of the season. We threw all the Flash lore right out there at the very beginning, starting the series off with Barry's big arch-nemesis and introducing time travel before too long, which added several timelines in that first season already. Each episode built off the last and with almost no dull moments it built up to an epic finale where Eddie Thawne, Iris' boyfriend and Eobard Thawne's ancestor, decides to sacrifice himself in order to erase Eobard Thawne from existence. That started all kinds of whacked-out things, which led Barry to run up this singularity that formed and... BOOM.

End of season. You don't get much better than that. An absolutely phenomenal opening season. That gives season 2 a lot to live up to, but I totally had faith in the writers of this show to continue this prowess. I just hoped they wouldn't get cocky like they did with Arrow and throw the whole show in a blender. That would be unfortunate. We'll talk about the horrible fourth season of Arrow later, though. No, The Flash season 2 isn't nearly as bad as Arrow season 4. Overall I still think this was an enjoyable season. But I will admit that they did get stuck in the mud a bit this season. There came a point where Supergirl and Legends were the two shows in this universe that I was looking forward to on a weekly basis instead of Arrow and The Flash. But The Flash did pick up towards the end and thus when push comes to shove, I think The Flash barely tops Legends as the best show in this universe. Supergirl is a close third and Arrow is a very distant fourth. The problems with season 2 of The Flash started out right away. We had this epic thing going on with the singularity that formed at the end of season 1 and instead of picking up right where we left off, we do this "six months later" shindig. What?!?! You're not going to show us how things turned out? You're just going to tell us? That's lame.

Turns out Barry has become very butt-hurt with the whole thing. He's feeling so horrible about Eddie's death and Ronnie's death that he just chooses not to associate with team Flash and do things on his own. We spend most of the first episode trying to get him un-butt-hurt so we can have a show again. And oh yeah, Ronnie died. But it was so sudden and unexplained that I was sure that he was just stuck in Earth-2 or stuck somewhere in time and that they would bring him back. Nope. Not this season anyways. Franz Drameh was brought on as Jefferson Jackson to take over as the other half of Firestorm. Robbie Amell showed up later in this season as Earth-2's Deathstorm, but they killed him too. I haven't done in-depth research on Robbie Amell's relationship with the show, but I'm beginning to wonder of they were planning on using him as Firestorm still with both this show and Legends, but had some issues of some sort and decided to dump him instead. If you know more about this, feel free to let me in on the secret. Maybe Robbie Amell just didn't want to commit full-time to a TV show. That happens. If that's the case, I can't blame The Flash, but it did make for quite the abrupt end to his story arc. I mean, him and Caitlin got married at the end of season 1 and now he is dead with not much explanation. We didn't even get to see him die. The show just told us he died.

Anyways, I wasn't super impressed with the season opener of season 2. I thought it was kinda lame. In the second episode, though, we introduce Jay Garrick and Zoom, who are here because of the singularity that was formed. We have introduced the multiverse on this show! This is fantastic! I don't know how many earths there are in the multiverse, but this opens the show to an endless number of possibilities. There's a different set of circumstances on each earth leading to an endless number of potential stories to follow. Right now we are all about Earth-2 on season 2 and everyone one of our characters has an Earth-2 doppelganger which is a lot of fun. It took us a while to get there, though. Right now we just have to deal with Jay Garrick, who claims he is the Earth-2 Flash and his arch-nemesis Zoom has now gained entrance to this Earth and wants to destroy Barry because Zoom is obsessed with being the fastest man alive. Also introduced is Earth-2 Harrison Wells, who is not Eobard Thawne. He's just a guy who is obsessed with saving his daughter Jesse, who has been captured by Zoom. This Wells, who our teams calls Harry, will do anything to save Jesse, even backstab team Flash, who have a hard time trusting him anyways considering what happened with their Harrison Wells.

That's a lot of intrigue and mystery introduced in the first half of the season with these characters and that was one of the great things about this season. We as an audience were playing a guessing game this whole season as to who is Zoom, what are his motivations, can we trust Harry, and can we trust Jay Garrick? I spent the whole season speculating and reading opinions by others as to what was going on. It was a lot of fun. But before we started answering all of those questions, The Flash had to do their part in setting up Legends, which went a whole heck of a lot smoother here than it did on Arrow. Heading off to Legends was Victor Garber as Dr. Martin Stein, Franz Drameh as Jefferson Jackson, Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart, and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory. It was also on The Flash where we introduced Ciara Renee as Kendra Saunders, aka Hawkgirl, and Falk Hentschel as Carter Hall, aka Hawkman. This started as a budding romance between Cisco and Kendra, which I really liked. Out of all the guys that flocked to Kendra, four of them total, Cisco was the one I liked the most with her. But when he learned who his new girlfriend was, that naturally ended about as fast as it started. Poor Cisco. These Legends drop-offs were missed, but the show continued without missing a beat because I liked our new characters.

Let's talk about those new characters. The first new character was Patty Spivot. She was a new character that I absolutely adored and in which I think the show completely dropped the ball. In fact, I think she was the best new character on this season. Immediately it gave Barry a believable love interest. I don't ship Oliver and Felicity on Arrow, but I loved Barry and Patty. They were perfect. In fact, some would say they were too perfect. Apparently the show thought that, too, because after spending so much time on her and Barry, they just wrote her off the show. Why? Because Barry was idiot and wouldn't freaking tell her he was the Flash. Not even when she figured it out on her own, because she was that awesome. She wasn't your typical clueless girlfriend who had no idea her boyfriend was a superhero. And she was willing to forgive him if he would just admit it. But he wouldn't. Why not? Because he loved her too much and didn't want Zoom to use her against him. Which made no sense because everyone on Team Flash was someone Barry cared deeply about who would work just as well for Zoom. Why not let Patty join the team? She would've made a great addition to the team. But no, halfway through she left for a new job. And there's no way her and Barry could do a long distance relationship. It's not like he has super speed or anything.

So Patty left the show around mid-season. I thought they would bring her back towards the end, but they didn't. I suppose they could still bring her on in the future. I mean, it would be quite the waste to spend so much time on her character to just drop her. How about we talk about a character that they will be bringing back? Wally West, who I also really like. In the comics, Wally West becomes Kid Flash, so it didn't take too long before I realized that he would become a speedster like Barry. The question was just when. And they did shove the foreshadowing down our throats with the Fast and Furious moments. Hey look! He likes street racing. He's obsessed with speed. And he eventually becomes obsessed with saving the city after the Flash saves his life. I wonder what that could mean? In all seriousness, though, I did like Wally's story arc. Keiynan Lonsdale improved throughout the season as an actor and by the end he was a great addition to the show. Speaking of future speedsters, the other one is Jesse Quick, Harry's daughter and another comic book character. Once they save her from Zoom, she joins the team and is also a great addition to the team. Her and Wally both get hit by the dark matter towards the end. Does that mean that they were going to be speedsters this season? Nope. That was just a tease.

Let's fast forward a bit. We do have some great individual stories with the likes of Grodd and King Shark. Visiting Earth-2 had me about as giddy is a little kid on Christmas. That was so fun with a ton of great Easter eggs. Killer Frost, Reverb, and Deathstorm on Earth-2 were all phenomenal and it really made me excited for the future of Cisco and Caitlin on the show. Also on Earth-2 we see that Zoom has some mysterious person trapped in his lair. Who the freak is that? That led to a lot of fun speculation throughout the second half of the season. I think I changed my mind on who I thought that was after every episode and we didn't see who it was until the very end. So we finally start revealing what the heck is going on with Zoom and, surprise surprise, Zoom is actually Jay Garrick, making it the second straight season that a mentor on Team Flash turned out to be the villain. Points for originality there. And poor Caitlin. First her husband dies then her new almost boyfriend turns out to be the villain. She just can't catch a break, can she? But that's okay because I never liked the Jay/Caitlin romance in the first place. She moved on way too fast after the death of her husband. It felt rushed and Teddy Sears and Danielle Panabaker had no chemistry. But we don't need to debate that romance because it died pretty quickly.

After we learn that Jay Garrick is Zoom, Zoom shows up and kills Jay Garrick. What? That was confusing, but in a good way. I just hoped they were going to be smart with it because it could've gotten messy pretty fast. Turns out all my theories were mostly wrong. We learn that if you run fast enough, you can create a time remnant. Don't ask me how that works because I'm still kinda confused. I essentially see it as cloning yourself, which is how Zoom was able to be in multiple places at once. Pretending to be a good guy on Team Flash and terrorizing the both earths. That's pretty smart. But he essentially teaches Barry how to defeat him, which is kinda dumb on his part. But also interesting because Barry learns how to be stronger from his enemy. For the second straight season. Points for originality. And yeah, Jay Garrick is not really Jay Garrick. He's Hunter Zolomon. Hunter Zolomon just trapped the real Jay Garrick, Henry Allen's Earth-3 doppelganger who was the Flash over there, and stole his identity. He did this so that he could play both hero and villain. One of his time remnants could be the hero Jay Garrick and he could be the villain Hunter Zolomon, aka Zoom. That's a pretty darn good twist for this season.

Here's the question of the hour. Was Hunter Zolomon a good villain? A superhero show is only as good as the villain, right? The answer is that he kind of is. I actually really liked his backstory. Essentially it was the exact same as Barry's, but instead of making him stronger and motivated, it ruined him and turned him into a psychopath. Thus we had the contrast of how two people can go through the same situation and come out of it very differently. Hunter Zolomon kept telling Barry that they were the same, which is why he killed Barry's father right before the finale. And he was right. They were the same. In terms of their upbringing anyways. It taught that despite your situation, you have power to control who you become. If you are caught in a horrible situation, you can either let it consume you or you can choose to learn from it and become stronger. So this was great. The best villains are the ones with the best backstories. Another advantage Hunter Zolomon had was when he was in his Zoom outfit, he looked and sounded menacing. That's not always needed for a good villain, but it certainly helps. There are two problems with Hunter Zolomon, though. The first is what I've been alluding to. There's a lack of originality here because this is the same exact villain arc from season 1. But more worrisome was his plan. Destroy the world. Or in his case, the whole multiverse. The villain trying to destroy the world is the most cliche you can get. I got bored with it. Sorry.

How about that finale, though? The episode itself in its entirety? Meh. The ending? Holy freaking cow. First off, I do say that I like Barry's story arc at the end. He was just able to come to peace with the death of his mother and was happy to have his father back when Zoom grabs his father and kills his father right in front of Barry. This breaks Barry and I love seeing a broken superhero rather than a perfect superhero. Barry is broken and thus he is bound and determined to race Zoom. This is what Zoom wants. If Barry loses, the multiverse is no more. Barry doesn't care about those consequences, especially not in his broken state. Zap. Team Flash turns against Barry and locks him in a cage. This was cool, but then their plan sucked. Trap Zoom and banish him to Earth-2 and close the bridge forever so that he can't race Barry? Yeah that's a genius idea. Totally going to work. It kinda does, except for Joe gets caught with Zoom. And you really think you can close the bridge forever? Plus, they forgot to consult Wally, who frees Barry and after five seconds of anger, they're all besties again and totally on board for Barry racing Zoom. It was all filler to me. But that race was super boss. And they didn't kill Zoom. They just let the time reapers grab him and turn him into the Black Flash. Teddy Sears is coming back folks!

Following that fight, there were two additional moments that I loved. First is the reveal of the guy in the mask. As I mentioned earlier, turns out it is the Earth-3 doppelganger of Barry's dad. The real Jay Garrick. And this means we finally get to see John Wesley Shipp in a Flash uniform because he is the Earth-3 Flash. This is cool because John Wesley Shipp played the Flash in the short-lived 90's TV show. I never watched that, but I learned that fact shortly after season 1 started. I thought that was really cool that they would bring him back and let him be in this show. But now they let him dress up as the Flash again? Super awesome! Even if it's just for this one episode and this moment, it was totally worth it. I hope he is back, though. And I've heard some speculate that perhaps he goes over to Legends next season. I'm not sure if that'll happen, but I would be totally on board with it if it did. The second great moment of the finale was the very end. In Barry's broken state, he makes the dumb decision to go back and save his mom. You know that this is going to create all sorts of crazy consequences and he's going to have to go back in time again to stop himself. This is a huge story arc in the comics called the Flashpoint Paradox. Barry goes back to save his mom and ends up back in the present with all sorts of messy consequences.

How long is this story arc going to last? I hope for longer than a couple of episodes. In fact, I think it would be kinda cool if it were the entirety of season 3. This means the show runners have the ability to do whatever the heck they want. All bets are off the table and thus I'm excited to see where they take it. My personal hopes? I want Killer Frost and Reverb back. It would totally mess Barry up if he learns that two of his best friends became villains because he was selfish enough to go change the past. I'm also guessing that he loses his powers because of this, making it impossible for him to go back and change things immediately. I want Reverse Flash back and crazier than ever knowing that Barry messed up his plans. I'm also excited to see Tom Cavanagh playing a third reincarnation of Harrison Wells in three season. This being the Earth-1 version of Harrison Wells that wasn't killed and taken over by Eobard Thawne. Jesse will be back and so will Wally. Maybe one or both of them will actually be a speedster. It should be fun! So yeah, overall season 2 was a bit more of a mixed bag than season 1 for me, thus I prefer season 1 over season 2. But in the end I still have positive feelings about season 2 and I'm very excited for season 3. The fall can't come fast enough!

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