The Flash: Flash Reborn

flashreborn

Barry’s MIA, so the team picks up the slack

Returning from summer vacation, The Flash is back with, “The Flash Reborn.” Iris takes over the voiceover chores with Barry still missing after last season’s finale. It’s been six months with the others carrying on Barry’s fight, and it’s not just the opening that Iris has taken over.

The opening scene is Kid-Flash, Vibe, and Joe West chasing Peek-A-Boo all over Central City, and not really doing that well. STAR Labs is short-staffed, with Harrison dead, Julian gone, Barry missing, Cisco in the field, and Caitlin having walked out. Iris is barking out orders from the Cortex, and is a bit rough on our heroes in my opinion. But, she’s the one to see the pattern that helps the others capture the rogue meta-human.

Back at STAR, the field team is happy with themselves, but Iris isn’t. We learn it’s been six months since Barry disappeared into the Speed Force (interestingly, the same length assigned to Supergirl’s off-season), and that one out of every three metas they fight gets away. Iris pushes at them all to get better, and Cisco comments that they’d be doing better if they weren’t a man down. Everyone glances at the display holding the Flash costume.

At the West house, we see that other things have been progressing since we last checked in on the characters. Cecile is moving in, and they are having some friendly, even humorous, disagreements about some of Joe’s stuff. It’s the first, and one of the few, times we see Iris smile this episode. After dinner, talk turns serious, and Joe mentions they’re going to have to hire someone to replace Barry at the Forensics lab. Joe and Iris argue a bit over how to keep going in Barry’s absence.

Iris’ solitary night of sleeping on the couch of her and Barry’s loft is interrupted by a loud explosion from outside. Central City is under attack again, now from a flying samurai in red armor? That’s different. Iris gets back to STAR while Vibe and Kid-Flash suit up and hit the streets. The samurai isn’t impressed, defeats them fairly easily, and announces that if the Flash won’t show up and fight him, Central City will die.

A disheartened team meets back at STAR to strategize. Cisco pushes for getting Barry back, and reveals he’s been working on it, consulting with Earth-2’s Harrison Wells, Mercury Labs’ Tina McGee, and Team Arrow’s Curtis (Mr. Terrific) Holt and Felicity (Overwatch) Smoak. Iris seems vehemently opposed to this plan, to everyone’s surprise, and is even angry with Cisco for working on it, suggesting it, and not telling her. Gee, with a reception like this, I can’t imagine why he didn’t bring it up earlier. Iris overrules everyone and pushes for a plan to take out the samurai. Why is she in charge again?

Cisco goes out to a really seedy looking bar later, and just about when I was wondering what the hell he was doing there, we get to see the bartender. I guess Caitlin had to do something to pay the bills when she left STAR, and Killer Frost could make a hell of a margarita. Cisco eventually talks her into helping with his plan to bring Barry back.

The next day, Iris walks in to STAR barking orders to what turns out to be an empty room. She traces their van, and it’s out at the old Ferris Air facility we’ve seen several times in the series (Ferris is also where Green Lantern Hal Jordan works in his secret ID). Out there, Cisco has assembled his team to try and rescue Barry from the Speed Force prison. There’s a lot of cool special effects and general building of suspense, and Iris gets there just in time to see it not work, distributing glares to anyone in her range. But, after Iris complains and Caitlin and Joe make up for Killer Frost’s actions, a big rift opens elsewhere, and a naked, bearded Barry staggers out. Success?

Tensions are running high back at STAR, mostly thanks to anti-cheerleader Iris, when Cecile calls with some mixed news. She has Barry, who was passed off from the State Troopers once someone figured out who he was. The bad news is, he’s sitting on the floor of the room they’re keeping him in, scrawling weird symbols on the walls and spouting occasional bursts of nonsense. To me, what he’s writing looks like Interlac, the language from the Legion of Super Heroes’ era in the far future. And Flash has some connections with them in the comics. He doesn’t really respond to, or seem to recognize, anyone, so they take him back to STAR to figure out what’s going on.

Everyone is worried, and then even more puzzled after all Caitlin’s tests indicate Barry is perfectly healthy, unusually so. They bat around theories as to what’s wrong with him, with no one really sure. Iris makes one of her emotional appeals to him that usually works when Barry’s having problems, triggering their special emotional connection. In this case, it triggers something else, and he blurs, his eyes flash with power, and then he throws what seems to be a super-speed tantrum, trashing parts of the lab and knocking over several of his friends before he is stopped by Caitlin’s cool assistance.

They try and bluff the samurai, with nearly disastrous results for one of the team. Cisco gets an idea about trying to decode Barry’s scribbles, and gets an answer… sort of. It translates the symbols into words, but the message doesn’t really make any sense, or sound much like something Barry would say. Later, Cisco sulks in a quiet lab, regarding a shrouded project. Caitlin finds him and, after making a Frankenstein joke about what’s under the sheet, gives him a pep talk. It’s nice to see that even with everything that’s happened, these two are still such good friends.

Joe goes down to the cell they’re now keeping Barry in on the Pipeline, and shaves him. Barry smiles, but still spouts gibberish, or at least things that don’t relate to what’s actually happening around him. Joe and Iris talk about strength and faith, and then the mysterious samurai’s deadline runs out. Iris goes to Barry’s cell, says, “Come get me,” and leaves. When the samurai faces down with the CCPD, Iris walks past them all and gives herself up as hostage, telling the villain that Flash will come for her.

Joe rushes back to STAR and yells at Barry that Iris is in danger. Finally, this does it. Barry bursts out of the cell (glad that worked so well in damping his powers), grabs the new suit Cicso made for him, and then speeds off to the windmill farm where the samurai brought Iris. How Barry knew where to go, I’m not sure. I get they have trackers, but we never see Barry checking. There’s a very cool fight with great special effects that Barry wins, rescuing Iris and revealing something surprising about the samurai.

The wrap up scenes help establish a new status quo and give hints about what’s to come. Caitlin runs more tests on Barry, and pronounces him perfectly healthy before agreeing to come back to STAR. She goes and quits her job at the bar where we see all isn’t what it seems. Barry says he feels fantastic, goes home with Iris, then rushes off when they hear sirens. And we see what looks like the power behind the samurai, most likely this season’s big bad. I think I know who it is, but I won’t give the name for spoilers.

What I liked: I’m really curious if they consciously mirrored the Supergirl and Flash season premiers. Both featured characters having trouble getting over a loss, becoming really work driven, and had a six month gap. Seems like a lot of coincidence if it wasn’t planned. The big build up then let down at Ferris upped the tension nicely. I like that Kid-Flash and Vibe were carrying on for Flash, and Joe’s covering for Barry’s job was a nice detail. I like that Flash’s newest suit from Cisco is closer to the comic book look, and that each costume has been working towards it. The new developments with Caitlin are interesting, and work better than, “Oh, I got better during the break.” And, of course, best of all, Barry is back. I’m interested in the new villain, and thrilled it doesn’t seem to be a speedster this time out.

What I didn’t: Mostly Iris. I don’t know what her damage was, and even her explanation didn’t really seem to cover it for me. She was damned annoying most of the episode, although I give her points for risking her life to snap Barry out of whatever state he was in when he came back. I get that they wanted to show how important Flash was, but doing so by making Vibe and Kid-Flash look borderline incompetent was a cheap trick.

I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. I wonder when we’ll see another Wells, either Harry, a new version, or Jesse for that matter.

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