On this week’s episode of The Flash, Barry has a hard time balancing his personal life and crime fighting, leaving Iris upset and annoyed. When Joe finds out about Barry’s extracurricular heroics, he disapproves of him putting his life at risk, afraid that his adoptive son might get hurt. Meanwhile, a man named Danton Black can self-replicate and uses his power trying to kill Simon Stagg, an unethical scientist for whom he used to work and was ultimately cheated by.
Barry starts using his powers not just to track down meta humans, but to generally save people in everyday life threatening situations. Barry saves a bunch of people from a burning building with the help of Cisco who monitors his vitals and gives directions from the lab. When Wells and Caitlin find out about Barry’s heroics, they chastise him for putting his life at risk when he’s in such a unique position – a scientific wonder and maybe the only one who can help bring in unwilling meta humans. When Joe finds out, he is even more upset at the thought that his young, unskilled son is entering dangerous situations. He also chastises Barry, telling him that just because he’s fast doesn’t make him bullet proof and that he should leave the crime fighting to professional crime fighters – the police. Barry says something to the effect that Joe isn’t his father and shouldn’t be trying to discipline him as one, which deeply hurts Joe. Barry refuses to give up working with Star Labs and helping people, believing that he can make a difference.
Despite this determination, Barry starts experiencing dizzy spells, which becomes slightly embarrassing when he attends Dr. Simon Stagg’s (William Sadler) science presentation with Iris and faints while trying to apprehend a mysterious gang of would be assassins. It turns out Barry’s dizzy spells are simply due to his changed metabolism and low caloric intake, an easy dietary fix. The would be assassins are really one man named Danton Black (Michael Smith), a scientific researcher who used to work for Stagg and now wants to kill him. Stagg stole his research and fired him, leaving him without access to the work that could have saved his dying wife. Barry has a crisis of faith when he encounters Black and fails miserably to apprehend him. He tells his Star Labs team that Joe is right, that he’s not capable of this kind of crime fighting.
Wells goes to talk to Joe, telling him that he knows he’s scared his son will get hurt, but that he can do amazing things if only he had faith in himself – which is impossible as long as Joe doesn’t have faith in him. Later, it is reported that Black has infiltrated Stagg’s offices and Joe admits to Barry that he was right – that the police are not equipped to deal with meta humans, but that Barry is. Barry suits up and confronts Black, who makes an outrageous amount of copies of himself. He knocks through them at super speed before any of them can react and finds the real Black – recognizing him by his fatigue and effort from controlling his copies. He knocks him out and his army collapses. Black reawakens and Barry accidentally throws him out a window. He tries to save him from the fatal fall, but Black grows a second pair of hands and throws off Barry’s grip, falling to his death.
Wells goes to see his rival Simon Stagg. Stagg is astounded by Barry’s abilities and imagines the commercial possibilities. Wells knows Stagg only too well, that he pretends to be a philanthropist and humanitarian, but he’s really only out for personal gain and power. Wells stands from his wheelchair, throwing Stagg off his guard, and stabs him in the chest. Wells tells him it’s not personal, but that the man who will one day become known as The Flash must be kept safe.
Barry and Joe share some pizza while Joe pledges that together they will help Barry’s innocent father get released from prison by finding out what really happened to his mother that night. Barry apologizes for saying that Joe wasn’t his father, and that in a very real sense that’s exactly what he is to Barry. Joe is overcome and beams happily has he sits down to have some pizza.
Barry and Joe
The main subplot of this episode, and far more interesting than anything else, is Barry’s relationship with his adopted father Joe. We didn’t get a real sense of the father/son dynamic during the first episode, or any real information about their history together after the murder of Barry’s mother. Here, we get flashbacks to the early days where Barry keeps running away to see his father but Joe won’t let him. Barry knows that his father didn’t kill his mother and wants to see him. Finally, Barry succeeds in running all the way to the prison to visit his father, who tells him that it wasn’t Joe who wouldn’t let Barry see him – it was he who didn’t want Barry to see him that way, locked up like a criminal.
Joe loves Barry like his own son, and is clearly devastated when Barry seems to fee otherwise. It’s times like these when Jesse L. Martin is just amazing in this show. As good as the show is, I sometimes feel he’s still the best part, if not clearly the best actor in it. While Joe’s fear for Barry is well founded and understandable, his lack of faith in Barry’s abilities is a little harder to understand. Wells tells Joe this, that Barry has amazing abilities and a fierce determination, but Joe’s lack of faith undermines all that. What Barry needs to believe in himself, but can’t do that if others don’t also believe in him. Joe comes around, knowing that making a difference is important to Barry, and tells him he believes in his abilities and has faith in him.
At the end, Barry tells Joe that he was wrong to say that he’s not his father – because that’s exactly what he’s been to him from the very beginning. This is another moment when Martin shines as Joe, because he is overcome with a happiness that he can barely contain. It is subtle, but he’s obviously bursting at the seams with that gladness, and it’s a moment that fills your heart with the same joy because it overflows from him in that small moment, washing over you. Jesse L. Martin is amazing
Barry and Iris
With all Barry’s crime fighting, he keeps forgetting about Iris and their appointments to meet up. Iris is in school and taking a journalism class, needing Barry’s help with a story on Simon Stagg to explain the science behind his presentation. Barry is caught up in the rush of crime fighting, almost forgetting to attend Stagg’s presentation with Iris, and then forgetting to meet up with her later to help her with her article. Iris is less angry than she is concerned about Barry’s sudden neglect. She tells him that she wants to know what’s going on with him, but he can’t because he made a promise to Joe not to involve Iris in his new superpower. It’s also more than that, because Barry is in love with Iris, but can’t find it in himself to tell her – especially not while she seems to be happy and in love with someone else.
Wells is a pretty mysterious figure. We knew from the end of last week’s episode that he could walk – why he keeps up the pretense of his paralysis is unknown – and that he has access to future information regarding the Flash. Is he a villain? Or will he become one in his attempts to do what he thinks is right? It’s all pretty mysterious. We know he’s fostering Barry into becoming the man who will one day become known as the Flash, and whatever his overarching interest is in this, we know he wants to keep Barry safe – for now. Wells is a surprisingly ruthless character. The fact that he would kill his scientific rival in order to prevent him from taking advantage of Barry is pretty maniacal. I know he’s being pragmatic here, but it’s pretty cold stuff. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Wells backstory and how he came to know future details of the Flash, and what exactly his interest is in Barry. Is her here to change history? The future newspaper he was looking at last week said that the Flash had disappeared. Is he here to prevent that, or to make sure it happens? I think it all ties back to a future event, a future history that must either be changed or preserved. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.