This post will feature potential spoilers for any of you who haven’t watched The Flash or Arrow.
In 2012, the CW, in a sort of ballsy way, gambled big time on a “B level” superhero known as the Green Arrow. Calling the show simply “Arrow,” they cast a relatively unknown actor in Stephen Amell and told their story of a present day Oliver Queen struggling to accept what he must do to protect his city, while incorporating a strong and arguably better flashback story of Ollie being stranded on the island of Lian Yu. Wait…isn’t the article titled “The Flash: So Far, So Good, So Watch It!”?
Well, yes, but part of what makes a show like The Flash so “good” is the groundwork that was laid in Arrow, which takes place a couple of years before Grant Gustin became the “Crimson Speedster.” The story that Berlanti, Guggenheim, and Kreisberg started telling in Arrow spawned an amazing shared universe that is only rivaled by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can actually remember watching the introduction of Barry Allen in Season 2, Episode 8 of Arrow and thinking, “They didn’t even make him fast, how lame!” After some hard selling from a buddy of mine I broke down last summer and jumped into Arrow again. Was the first season slow? Yeah, a little, but it gave you great character building and some pretty dark and brilliant twists by the end of the season. From John Diggle to Slade Wilson, Arrow was making sure they told a story that would resonate with fans globally.
As Season 2 jumped to a running start, all bets were off, and I was hooked! While watching Episode 8 of this season, titled “The Scientist,” a magical moment happened as I realized they were actually doing things correctly! The writers built the back story of Barry, and in this episode integrated him into the world of the Arrow and what Ollie had actually been up to at night. Previously, I had been frustrated that Barry had no powers, wasn’t fast at all, and was rather clumsy. Out of context, this particular episode hadn’t sat well with me, but in that moment I saw a glimpse of the vision that the writers had. One universe, two heroes (at first), and cohesive writing for both shows. It was a universal win-win. The Arrow would go on to face his greatest enemy in Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson, where…(SPOILERS!)… .
Anyway, this year, as Arrow was gearing up for a new season, the CW gambled even more and went with a special effects driven superhero in The Flash. Surprisingly, though I am a heavy comic reader, I had never read a Flash comic (or a Green Arrow one for that matter), and still the show instantly had me hooked. It even convinced me to start reading these comics regularly. So, what makes this show so good?
Let’s begin with a little back story. Barry Allen, like most heroes, is a regular guy who is “gifted” powers that allow him to run at supersonic speeds. However, Barry isn’t the only Flash or even the first Flash, but he does have one of the darkest stories in the DC Universe. In the show, the death of Nora Allen (Barry’s mom) essentially sets in motion every future event leading to the birth of the Flash. This is not the worst thing to happen to Barry, however. His darkest moment actually happened way back in the comic maxi-series “Crisis on Infinite Earths” number 8, where Barry gave his life to protect Earth and it’s people. After his death, the Barry Allen character stayed vanquished from the DCU for 23 years before returning in “Final Crisis.”
The writing on The Flash has done two things on a weekly basis: it’s kept me guessing and kept me wanting more. The introduction of some pretty great villains also helps. I mean, think about it: What would Batman or Spider-man be without their rogues gallery? Villains like Captain Cold, Boomerang (who appeared first on Arrow), Reverse Flash, and Gorilla Grodd have helped shape The Flash into something truly remarkable. Not knowing the intent of any particular villain, while adding in some phenomenal acting, and voila, the recipe for a great show, right?
We aren’t quite done yet though, as there are some character dynamics that really put the show over the top. The Iris West, Barry, Eddie Thawne love triangle adds some romantic flair, since Barry grew up in the same house as his crush (Iris) and never had the courage to tell her how he felt. Joe tries to be a father figure to Barry while his real father is locked in prison for the murder of his wife, but we all know that he is innocent as early as the first episode. Something else that really sold me was at the end of an episode, when the Flash logo appears, you assume the episode is over, but there is almost always a post-scene teaser. These teasers are nice because they don’t affect the subplot of the current episode and they help you to understand and dig deeper into the psyche of each character. Admittedly, most of the scenes involve Doctor Harrison Wells, the man who is responsible for creating the Flash and who might have intentionally given Barry his powers.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? Alright, to save you from any spoilers, I’ll leave you with this: The order in which you watch these shows WILL matter, and I want to explain that in detail. Watch the first two seasons of Arrow, then, BEFORE you start Season 3, you will want to start Episode 1 of The Flash. Keep in mind that Season 1 of The Flash and Season 3 of Arrow have a pretty major and epic crossover event. Definitely watch S01E08 of the Flash and immediately after watch S03E08 of Arrow. The crazy part of this crossover is that it wasn’t even the mid-season finale! The ninth episodes for both shows serve as a “holy shit” moment at the mid-season break.
Now, enough talking about it, or, on your behalf, enough reading about it, and GO WATCH these shows as soon as you can! The first two seasons of Arrow are on Netflix, so no excuses! (Unless you don’t have Netflix, of course…) If you are computer savvy, you can torrent the third season of Arrow and the first season of The Flash. If you aren’t, then you’re in luck, because I’ll be writing a post soon explaining in detail how you can download torrents to watch. Look for that some time next week. I will also be reviewing The Flash and Arrow when they return on March 17th and 18th.
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