CW’s comic book adaptation Arrow has returned for its 3rd season, this time bringing a spin-off along for the ride. The Flash kicked off on October 7th, with Arrow‘s 3rd season opener hitting on the 8th alongside an encore presentation of The Flash. Here are our Impressions of both episodes.
Kat Taylor – Writer
When serving as the spinoff for a show as good as Arrow, it’s hard not to have high expectations – and it’s hard not to compare it at the outset to Arrow’s own pilot. While nowhere near as overstuffed as Gotham’s pilot was, this episode still felt a bit too (ahem) rushed. As if the writers were really, really eager to get to their own status quo but couldn’t quite manage to take the time and do the leg work in getting there.
On one hand, The Flash still needs to be judged by its own merits – especially because, by virtue of its premise and main character, it’s going to be tonally quite difference from Arrow. At the same time, it’s hard not to feel a bit disappointed in comparison to what our origins of Oliver Queen accomplished in its first few episodes.
For one thing? While Grant Gustin is affable enough in the role (and I think will become even more so once he grows into it) Barry’s a bit too much of a good guy for his own good. One of the things I love about the first Sam Raimi Spider-man film is that, upon discovering he has all these new powers, Peter Parker’s first instinct is to seek out how he can use them for his own benefit. Which is how I imagine about 95% of people would respond in that situation. Going after the greater good? Putting yourself in danger on behalf of saving the lives of others? That’s a huge leap to make, and not one that most are going to willingly consider; Barry did so without a second though…which gave him too much measure of being without flaw (and thereby a less interesting, less relatable character). Compare Oliver Queen’s pilot, where we learn that, prior to the boat crash, he took along his girlfriend’s sister (who was now dead because of it), and then we later see him kill a guy in order to protect his secret. The immensity of Oliver’s flaws as an individual speak greatly to his appeal as a character.
We already have the team assembled, he already has his costume (which…was frankly a bit too convenient), already most the major characters know about his newfound powers, and we’re already rushing headlong into the meta-humans stuff. This kind of rapid-fire plot development really takes away from character – and Arrow’s meticulous time spent with its characters is a large part of why it’s achieved so much success and quality.
One of my greatest hopes for the series is in Tom Cavanaugh’s character, who was demonstrated in the final scene to be potentially the most ambiguous – and interesting – figure on the series, if done right. All the more fun since I’ve only see Cavanaugh in humorous roles before, and the possibility of him being something entirely different here is enticing.
I’m sure I’ll stick around for a while, and I certainly want the series to succeed, even if I don’t end up watching myself – if for no other reason than the fact that I really want this continuous DC universe on television to take off. Just based on what we’ve been given so far, it could be potentially awesome.
Tyson Gifford – Editor in Chief
I had quite a different take on this pilot. Kat mentioned Sam Raimi’s Spider-man adaptation, that movie was going through my mind during much of the episode, There is a clear channeling of Raimi’s Spider-man in the first episode of The Flash. From the shows first moments with Barry’s narration, his crush on a childhood friend who doesn’t understand his affection, his nerdy demeanor, all of it tastes of Spiderman.
My biggest issue with the series, so far, is in the forced relationships of the secondary characters. It just wasn’t quite believable, though I’ll chalk that up to pilotitis for now. I also took issue wit the costume. Like Kat, I just found it too convenient, especially the lightning bolt shaped professionally molded and polished “sensors”. It was all a bit much. I think that the readiness of the costume (designed for firemen, yet in Barry’s petite-male size) reflected the readiness of the characters. It is never a good idea to try and tell an audience which characters they like, or to over force tropes to appeal to an audience. It is an unfortunate choice, though of a far lesser evil than the many faults of the Gotham pilot.
I enjoy Grant Gustin as Barry Allen despite not enjoying him in Arrow. I feel that the answer to this is all in the tone of the shows. Arrow is, essentially, the real Batman series on TV, it is dark, full of grimy voices, morally questionable characters, and interpersonal traumas inflicted upon characters by people they love/loved. The Flash, on the other hand, is Spider-man, lighter, with a more outright heroic lead. Although I prefer the darker nature of Arrow, I like that The Flash stands in contrast.
That being said, I hope that The CW stacks up the lightness before delivering a nice gut punch of darkness. With Arrow, Oliver was already a weary soldier, his path was about finding his own humanity amongst the ruins of his former self, transitioning from vigilante to hero. With The Flash, Barry is starting pure, and coming into action without the need of hardship to sculpt him. Barry has powers, and powers act as the quick fix to living out his heroics that Oliver had to earn. There is a reason we earn our strengths though, trauma and pain doesn’t just sculpt our bodies, it sculpts our instincts, it sculpts our willpower. Barry is lacking that sculpting, and my hope is that this deficiency will be rectified in a dramatic way that tests him.
My primary concern with the series at this time is that it will take the Smallville route of unheroic and unintelligent actions being sold as heroic and wise decisions, and that bad-guy of the week stories will hinder character development.
Overall though, I was happy with The Flash, happier than I was with Gotham, and happier than I was with the Agents of Shield pilot. I am excited to see where it goes.
Check the next page for our impressions of Arrow’s 3rd season premiere.
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