After waiting with bated breath to find out the aftermath of last season’s finale, we’ve got our answer. Central City, despite the damage wrecked by the singularity, is in good shape. Oh, there’s a lot of rebuilding to do—some of which is carried out in secret under the cover of darkness by an unknown Samaritan—but, all in all, the city has healed from its brush with death, even celebrating the man they laud for saving the fair city. Our Scarlet Speedster, the Flash.
Unfortunately, Barry’s not doing as well as those denizens he saved. It’s been six month since the incident and the young Mr. Allen has gone emo—reminding the friends he pushed away just how little (in his mind) he did to save everyone. Despite their desires to help, Barry only sees the losses. Wells. Eddie…and Ronnie Raymond.It’s Flash Day, folks
It’s not until we get our first Flashback that we understand Barry’s sadness. Though he was able to stabilize the singularity, Ronnie and Stein’s Firestorm matrix eradicated it by separating inside the massive cyclone. Though Barry was able to save the unconscious Stein as he fell, Ronnie wasn’t as lucky. And that’s how we have Barry in such disarray. He doesn’t see himself as the hero, despite the Flash Day being celebrated in his honor. He wants to do nothing more than run but how long will he be able to do it by himself?
It takes some convincing but Barry does attend Flash Day…only to have it interrupted by a man who looks exactly like Al Rothstein, the murder victim he and Joe had been investigating earlier in the day. There’s a big difference with this overpowered monster—he’s alive and swats Barry like a fly. He even breaks Cisco’s “boot”—a prototype weapon used to de-power meta-humans. Though the beastly newcomer is driven away, he’s still at large. When Iris confronts her father about Barry’s distance, she tells Joe in no uncertain terms that “Barry can’t do this alone anymore.”Atom Smasher’s not a fan of the Flash celebration
Keeping his own company at his lab at the station, Barry gets a visit from Harrison Wells’ attorney, Greg Turk. Mr. Turk drops off a flash drive with a recorded message for Barry’s eyes only. He needs to view it before the attorney can finish STAR Labs transfer of ownership to Barry, quite the gift for a man that wanted the Flash dead. Barry refuses to watch but is called away by an intrusion at STAR Labs. When he gets there, the entire gang (minus Caitlin) has gathered. Cisco and Stein surmise this new villain, this Atom Smasher, is drawing on radiation to power himself. Still, they don’t have a way to stop him just yet but that doesn’t stop emo-Barry from taking the behemoth on mano-y-mano after Cisco locates him. The fight goes even worse the second time around and Barry escapes just before Atom Smasher pops his head off like an olive. He makes it back to the lab before collapsing and…
Young Barry refuses to eat, still angry at his mother’s death and father’s incarceration. Joe reminds him it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay not to be strong all the time. The words reach Barry and the pent up emotions leak out. “It’s okay, son,” Joe tells a wailing Barry, “I got you.”
Barry wakes from the memory, hearing Joe’s same words of “I got you” as he tries to make sense of his latest failure. Joe derails Barry’s pity train, reminding Barry he’s not the only one to blame for the events leading to Ronnie’s death. They all had a hand in it. He remarks on Barry’s late night rebuilding projects but maybe it’s time to start with things that really matter.
The conversation leads Barry to Caitlin. He’s purposely stayed away from her, a reminder of his failure. But Caitlin pulls the blame blanket from Barry’s shoulders and onto her own. The two make amends and when the Wells flash drive falls to the floor, Caitlin gives Barry the courage to watch it.
“We were never truly enemies,” Wells starts on the video, “I’m not the thing you hate.” And then, to the surprise of Barry, Caitlin, and the viewing audience, Wells does a good thing. He confesses to Nora Allen’s murder. After Joe gets a preliminary thumbs up that the confession will get Henry Allen out of Iron Heights, the gang makes the plan to take down the Atom Smasher. It’s Caitlin’s idea to overload the Smasher with radiation and Barry does so by leading him into a chamber at the nuclear plant and flooding him with rads. It works and before he dies, Barry asks the Smasher why.
“He promised he’d take me home if I killed you.”
“Zoom…”Team Flash: together again.
With victory over the latest threat complete, Barry gets to do what he’s been fighting to do for the past fifteen years. He sees his father, Henry Allen, free from prison. Everyone gathers to celebrate at the house when Stein makes a speech. He mentions “Kadima”, a Hebrew word meaning “Forward”. It’s clear he believes it’s that time for all of them to no longer let past tragedies haunt them. They all need to move towards a brighter future. It’s a sentiment Henry shares though not in the way one would expect. He promises to be there for Barry but understands the city needs the Flash. So, as quickly as he’s freed, Henry leaves Central City to allow Barry room to be the hero Central City needs, not just Henry Allen’s son.
Though it’s hard, Barry lets him go and returns to an upgraded STAR Labs to find the gang’s all there. Plus one.
The plus one is the mystery man seen following Barry throughout the episode.
“My name is Jay Garrick,” he tells Team Flash, “and your world is in danger.”
We just couldn’t leave things on a positive note, now could we?
Though there were some very good moments in the season two premiere, “The Man Who Saved Central City” seemed to be more of a placeholder for the real action coming soon. The Atom Smasher (played by WWE’s Adam Copeland, AKA Edge) had an eye blink of screen time and his transformation from normal to supersized seemed sloppy and rushed. His purpose—to remind Barry of the team he formed with the others and as a portent of the big bad in Zoom—was serviceable. Ronnie’s death was a pointless necessity with Robbie Amell’s decision not to return and it played out that way on the screen.
Now, that’s not to say there weren’t golden hints at a kick ass season two. Jay Garrick’s appearance and the ominous mention of Zoom was good enough. But how about Cisco’s random memory of Atom Smasher? Does this have to do with his death in the skewered timeline? Does this mean the Atom Smasher was a part of that same timeline and, more importantly, how will that play out as the season goes on?
While our first taste of the Flash was okay, it was more of a whet the palette, more of an appetizer than a full course meal. Considering the phenomenal quality of season one and the reminders of that (the wonderful chemistry between our main characters, for example) it’s fair to say that things will only get better as we take the journey into the future and beyond with Barry and Team Flash.