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“The thing that happened to you, Tony, it happened to me. But it didn’t just give us abilities. It made us more of who we are. You got strong, I got fast. Fast enough to beat you. You used your gift to hurt people. Not anymore."
We have a monster problem on The Flash. These meta-humans of the week aren't really doing it for me, and none less so than the big bully of "The Flash Is Born," Greg Finley as Girder/Tony Woodward. He's a mean metal man, but mostly he's just a bully. Just an amotivational, prairie-flat, one-note bully. He used to bully Barry in school, and now he's still doing it. His big diabolical scheme for the episode is to take Iris to their old elementary school to show off his wrestling trophies and force her to write about him the way she writes about The Streak, and that's hardly a plan that should strike fear into the hearts of Central City's citizens. Barry defeats him just by running fast and punching hard, and we once again get to watch Barry Allen ask the Star Labs employees how fast he has to run to achieve a certain goal. I have an idea, Barry: just run as fast as you can, and we'll see what happens.
So, weak-ass villain stuff aside, "The Flash Is Born" had some great moments, particularly any between Detective Joe West and Dr. Harrison Wells, two suave gents who sure know how to carry a scene together. It's interesting seeing Joe feel out Wells regarding Barry's mom's murder, as that's a theory we've all posited around here that I feel like must not be true if they addressed it so overtly on the show. So who is that yellow and red tornado, now making the ill-advised decision to terrorize Joe by threatening Iris? I don't imagine Joe will take that threat sitting down, and I'm excited to see him get even more invested in this mystery for reasons that have nothing to do with Barry's poor, boring dad. And hearing the news about Wells' late wife, Tessa Morgan, gives that character some intriguing depth that's more than the usual "is he evil or not?" stuff to which we've been treated so far.
Two of our generally least engaging characters were given much more to do in this episode, with both Iris and Eddie carrying a couple of storylines that mattered for once. It was a great idea to give Iris the opening and closing voiceovers of the episode - such a small thing made her feel more real, less like window-dressing. And, I admit, it was fun seeing her punch out Girder and dub Barry (with Barry's help) The Flash. She's starting to feel like a legitimate character, and not a moment too soon. Rick Cosnett finally won me over as Thawne this week - it's nice that he picks up on the tension between Barry and Iris and tries to smooth it over, and he was especially gratifying when he decides to train Barry after realizing that this week's bad guy is a former bully of Barry's. Eddie used to be short and fat and unpopular, so he dealt with his own bullies before becoming Officer Pretty Boy, and he really warms up when he takes Barry under his wing. Very nice episode for these two.
Caitlin and Cisco continue to be my favorite, bemoaning their own bullies and putting a lot of impassioned thought into precisely how many bugs Barry swallows on an average day of whooshing around the city. My favorite moment of the episode is when Caitlin relocates Barry's dislocated shoulder with nary a sign of sympathy, all as she's chastising him for his masked visits to Iris. "'Cause that would be reckless, and a little creepy." CRACK. Caitlin, you rule.
Overall: a weak episode with a weak villain, but a reminder that even the weakest episode of The Flash has plenty of compelling character stuff to keep us invested.
Coolest moments of the episode:
"Nice cross." "I think I broke my hand." "Me too."
While the supersonic punch itself was only okay, Cisco yelling "Supersonic punch, baby!" was pretty great.
When Eddie's talking about the gym coach who taught him how to fight, and he refers to her as "she." A little thing that made me happy.
The utter disgust with which Caitlin recalls her own bully! "Lexie Laroche. She used to put gum in my hair." There are no words to describe how great Panabaker's delivery was there.