Central Park probably isn’t the show you want to be central to your family.
We like fast.
We grab espressos at the drive-thru, eat our Minute Rice (if we can wait for the water to boil) and buy time-saving devices, paying extra for same-day delivery. We like food fast, our cars faster and our Internet connections positively flaming. You’d probably even like this television review to speed up and get to the point already.
So, given our need for speed, is there a more fitting superhero for the 21st century than the Flash?
Don’t answer that. No time.
Barry Allen wasn’t always so speedy. In his day job as a Central City crime scene investigator, Barry’s known for two things: his steady, deliberate mind and always being late. But that was before Central City’s first (and last) particle accelerator blew up during a fierce thunderstorm. Barry was struck by a bolt of physics-defying lightning that rebooted the perpetually tardy guy into an earthbound F-22. And just like that, a whole new world opens up for him. Rush-hour traffic? Pish. He’ll be at work in five … seconds. Slow Wi-Fi? Never mind: He’ll just run to the library and look up what he needs before most of us can type Google.
Sure, Barry’s clothes are prone to catching on fire when he really starts motoring. But thanks to his intelligent friends at S.T.A.R. Laboratory, he’s got a nifty suit that resists those annoying friction burns.
Most of us would enjoy such superpower. Me, I’d be able to wake up way later on workdays, and this review would already be done. But Barry’s a bit more altruistic. Instead of using his speed to impress his friends and clean the house ever so quickly, he becomes Central City’s prime protector—a man determined to help the helpless, bring the guilty to justice and clean up the city’s streets in … well, a flash.
‘Course, all that’s more difficult these days, what with strange holes having opened up between Barry’s native Earth and various alternate realities, space portals and other dimensions, all of which allow for a constantly rotating bevy of baddies to jump in and spoil Central City’s Yelp ratings.
Forget about the grim Gotham over on Fox or the gross splatter on Netflix. The Flash reflects Barry Allen’s sunnier, more innocent personality—a superhero you can feel good about. This show feels positively old-fashioned at times, a place where unabashedly good heroes battle nefariously villainous villains. Sure, maybe Barry experiences the occasional moment of self-doubt or deals with a moral quandary or two. (He’ll even steal some civilian clothes from time to time when he forgets to bring a fresh set with him.) But despite his mother’s death, there’s no tortured soul lurking inside that red hero’s outfit of his, no simmering gothic ennui. This guy’s a hero without an asterisk, a Central City denizen who is as good as they come, at least on the screen.
Barry is married, and many of his fellow crime fighters dip their toes into the romantic stream—including Barry’s “future” daughter, who travels back in time and brings with her a same-sex attraction. Foul language can sometimes flit through the script. And The Flash, like all superhero properties, shows us flurries of violence; people sometimes get hurt or even die. But in a television landscape filled with dark antiheroes, the Flash still feels like a bright guy who always tries to do the right thing … right now.
Amidst marriage troubles, Barry suspects that his wife, Iris, may not be Iris after all, and he sets out to discover the truth and rescue the real Iris from a mirror dimension.
In order to disrupt the power circuits of a man’s prison cell, a woman steps into the forcefield surrounding it and is vaporized. A woman with knives for arms attacks Barry, cutting and stabbing him several times (though he later recovers thanks to his healing capabilities). She is then killed by her “mother,” crumbling into pieces of a broken mirror, from which she was originally created.
A superhuman with control over dark matter uses his powers to throw another man across the room (the thrower’s eyes and veins turn black while he does so), rendering the man unconscious. He then chokes a woman before releasing her. A man is shocked and thrown into a door from a power surge but survives due to his superhuman powers. A woman nearly freezes to death after losing control over her cryokinesis. Two women collapse when they are attacked telepathically.
The fake Iris taunts Barry about sharing a bed together without realizing that she wasn’t his wife. We see a man’s midriff as he examines his body for injuries. There are a few misuses of God’s name. We hear ”h—” a few times as well. A man says that fate has cast him in the role of “savior.” Someone says “Thank Elsa” (a reference to Disney’s Frozen) after curing a friend with cryokinetic abilities.
Someone threatens to kill. People lie. A man hacks into his wife’s computer. Some people attempt and fail to break a man from prison.
Barry and his friends at S.T.A.R work to uncover the identity of the latest villian, Cicada, a man who posseses meta powers as a result of a futuristic time change. Barry, Iris and their daughter from the future, Nora, fight a new female criminal who uses meta technology to try and kill Flash, and become famous while doing so.
Meteors fall from the sky, destroying buildings and vehicles and causing chaos in a city. The S.T.A.R team discusses a villain who has killed many people. Superheroes are hypnotized and sent to murder people (unsuccessfully, thank goodness). Tension and anger exist between a mother and daughter as they argue. Women forcefully punch men.
Two young women flirt and call each other “cute.” Couples kiss and women wear slightly revealing outfits. A man unbuttons the top of his shirt. God’s name is misused twice and “a–” and “h—” are each heard once. A man uses a stand in word for the s-word. Someone says “God’s own truth.”
The Flash and his team track down a powerful new enemy, a man who claims to have “the world’s fastest mind.” His name is Clifford DeVoe, and he’s a wheelchair-bound professor who suffers from a very aggressive, ALS-like disease that’s only kept in check by his engineer wife’s fancy replenishing chair. Team Flash simply calls him The Thinker.
Barry “The Flash” Allen is the only person who suspects DeVoe at first. He bends a couple of laws to confirm his suspicions, first breaking into the DeVoe house (where he’s caught on a surveillance camera) and then violating a restraining order (which Prof. DeVoe dismisses, thereafter revealing his true nature).
In (ahem) flashback, we see how DeVoe got his superpowers: in the same particle-accelerator explosion where Flash got his. We also witness the man being struck by lightning, which powers up his “thinking cap” (designed by his wife) but nearly kills him at the same time. (We see his skeleton underneath has he’s rocked by electricity.) His wife finds him, lying lifeless on the sidewalk, and she believes him to be dead at first. Four years later, he reveals how he manages to stay alive: His wife removes the top of his skull (revealing a rather sterile-looking brain underneath), and a fancy doodad plugs itself into him. We also hear, briefly and generically, about some of his apparent victims. DeVoe’s wife slaps Barry.
We see the DeVoes kiss. Barry kisses his fiancée, Iris. There’s a reference to Madonna’s song “Like a Virgin.” Someone anticipates opening a bottle of champagne for a celebration. Characters say “d–n” once, “h—” twice and misuse God’s name once.
Flash must work with Earth Two’s Harrison Wells—the doppelgänger of his mother’s killer on his own Earth One. He has a new metahuman to track down, too—Doctor Light. On Earth Two, she was a small-time thief imbued with the power of a star. But her body double on Earth One is none other than Linda Park, Barry’s old girlfriend.
There are some nice messages here about teamwork, bravery and resilience in the face of tragedy. “Everyone loses someone they care about,” Wells says. “The real test of character is what you do once they’re gone.”
Barry and police detective Patty Spivot share a quick kiss. During their date, she says she had a “reputation,” then hastily adds, “Not that kind of reputation!” She tells Barry she once arrested one of her dates for public intoxication. Somebody else wistfully talks about getting drunk.
People are thrown around by Doctor Light’s blasts (with Flash speeding around to put couches underneath falling victims). Flash and Light knock each other around, and one knocks the other out. Someone shoots a bullet at Light’s helmet, knocking it off. And Light accidentally kills someone with a beam of light. We hear about previous deaths.
Characters say “a–” once and “d–k” once.
A particle accelerator goes haywire during an electrical storm, and Barry Allen is struck by a weird bolt of lightning. When he comes to months later, he learns the lightning gave him super speed. “I don’t think that bolt of lightning struck you, Barry,” fellow superhero Oliver Quinn (the main character in Arrow) says. “I think it chose you.”
The physics-defying storm also created a villain who can control the weather and who now thinks he’s God. “Why in the h— would God rob banks?” Det. Joe West asks—inspiring the bad guy to try to destroy the city as a tornado. Barry dismantles the tornado with his speed, and Joe shoots the man, apparently killing him.
We hear that someone else dies in a fiery explosion. Joe’s partner is shot in the neck and later dies. Barry damages cars while trying out his super speed, and he breaks his arm. He gets punched by a bad guy and, in flashback, we see him pummeled by bullies. (His mother lies to his dad, saying he won the fight, and Pops is pleased.) Barry’s mom is trapped in an indoor lightning storm and is shown lying dead. (Barry’s father is hauled away for murder.) A plane explodes; cars crash.
Upon awakening, Barry marvels at his bare abs. Iris kisses someone and asks Barry not to tell her father. We hear “h—” more than a half-dozen times and “d–n” twice. God’s name is misused once or twice, along with two or three injerjections of “jeez.” There’s some discussion of fecal matter.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).
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