CW Paradox: The Flash Season 2

CW Paradox: The Flash Season 2 by Mike Charest , May 25th, 2016 at 5:45pm Share on Facebook Share to TwitterThe Flash exploded onto the CW scene as one of the premiere shows in superhero television. Arrow may be the godfather of this growing universe, but The Flash enabled the jump into supernatural material and the large majority of the DC playbook. I’ll say this much: The Flash is among the most ambitious shows on Earth, any Earth for that matter. For that reason, Season 2 delivered a handful of both positives and negatives.There’s a somewhat unavoidable factor that I think holds back all of the CW’s programming, as well as several other networks. The 23-episode format, for lack of a better way to sum it up, does not work. I don’t mean in terms of money or ratings. There is simply no way to fill 23 hours of network television, even after the subtracted commercial time, with meaningful content. I don’t care if you have the best writers in the world; that’s just too much television. Let’s break down the CW’s “Flarrowverse” for a moment. If Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow each receive a full season starting next fall, the CW will essentially be asking you to watch an astounding 92 hour-long episodes in order to fully understand the connected universe for one additional season. Sure, most fans will pick and choose what they watch. I’ve yet to finish Supergirl or start Legends. But that slate is the furthest thing from accessible. On top of that, the content itself is stretched out. The Flash’s first season took over two months to really get rolling. Once it did? Amazing. But that amount of filler breaks the momentum of even the highest quality shows. 12 to 15 episodes per season would allow the writers to condense the material into a more cohesive and consistently thrilling story.The moment Season 1 got realThis issue forces me to judge these shows on somewhat of a curve. Because I imagine that isn’t the sort of thing that is at all up to the writers and producers. Taking this into account, The Flash Season 2 entertains about as consistently as it possibly can. The chemistry between this cast is electric, pun intended. You could have fun watching them do nothing but sit in a room and talk, which is what the CW occasionally asks you to do with so many episodes. I think I’d watch a beginning to end season containing nothing but Cisco and Harry banter. Grant Gustin is magnetic on screen, and continues to renew my weekly ticket to Feeladelphia. Jesse Martin is the best TV dad ever. Candice Patton rallies against the often-stereotypical role of “the girl”. This trope is as irritating as it is dated, littered with nagging and misunderstandings with the protagonist. But Iris’ undying support and positive presence is quietly the heart and soul of this show. She’s the only one who isn’t constantly shouldering blame or moping around. Even Cisco takes his occasional turn to claim responsibility. Iris knows she could theoretically be blamed for some of the gang’s problems, but her unique outlook is one that the other characters could learn a few things from in the dealing with adversity department.Dammit Iris, stop making me not miss PattyThe Flash’s second season took the many ingredients from its predecessor and upped the ante. The constant pseudo science and exposition is a huge guilty pleasure of mine because they sell it so well. I know it’s all nonsense, and that makes me love it even more. While I imagine Neil Degrasse Tyson would be vomiting profusely, I’m too busy having fun. Cisco’s humor and augmented significance took him from an amusing side character to a full-on show stealer. On Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman show, he often references the show’s intended themes of “Heart, Humor and Spectacle”. The guy would know; he directed a great episode. That’s apparently a phrase repeated by the writers themselves. And I think that’s why they essentially get away with murder on some of the finer details. The characters share a genuine emotional connection, viewers either smile or cry for the full hour and, considering the smaller TV budget, the visuals are impressive.I do love the character and personality of this show, and I did enjoy this season. With all that said, there is some unprecedented nonsense going on after this Season 2 finale. Cumulatively, you could pick apart their first 45 episodes for some lapses in logic or imperfect thought processes. I compare that to when you set the table for dinner, and a few silverware items are out of place. After this latest stunt, it’s more like trying that rip off the tablecloth trick and everything explodes. I want nothing more than to nerd out over Flashpoint Paradox as much as the next Flash fan. It is arguably, maybe definitively, the greatest Flash story ever told. And now we’re going to receive some version of it on live-action television. One would think this is entirely great news, and it is on a few levels. I’d love to see them claim Thomas Wayne Batman and wink at the film studio that won’t give them Bruce. But in the context of this show and TV universe, that season-ending twist is enough of a head-scratcher to erode a viewer’s skull.This adaptation is easier said than doneIf they really think this all the way through, Barry saving his mother should effectively end the entire CW universe. If you believe in the Butterfly Effect, there’s a chance Oliver Queen never even becomes the Green Arrow. Barry Allen probably doesn’t become The Flash. For all we know, Wells never blows up a particle accelerator and there aren’t even meta-humans. Of course, they could find a way to magically have everyone end up where they need to be via different means. But that was the entire Earth 2 problem this season. When the plot demanded it, things were the same. When the plot demanded it, things were different. Every single change or non-change came off as contrived. The time travel has never been perfect, and it doesn’t have to be. When Barry goes back to confront fake-Wells/Reverse Flash, and miraculously the only change is that the Pied Piper is now good, we can all turn a blind eye. When Barry first goes back in time last season, and for some reason there aren’t two Barry’s, we can give them a pass. But Barry saving his mother digs a hole that will be impossible to climb out of.The first of several sloppy sequencesThe greatest Flash episode in the show’s young history, for me, is without a doubt the Season 1 finale. Time travel is fully explored, crazy science and alternate universe themes are fleshed out, yet the whole thing still manages to make sense. And to top it all off, Barry being told by other Barry to not interfere and just listen to his mom die was as beautiful as it was painful. This second finale completely wipes out that episode, as well as every single Flash episode we’ve ever seen. To be honest, it wipes out the entirety of the CW timeline. If you’re telling me Bruce Wayne dying instead of his parents is a believable enough Butterfly Effect on paper, then I can guarantee both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow should no longer exist as we know them on television.Arrow will be unaffected, because reasonsBut you know Arrow’s Season 5 won’t abide by this; they’ll just move forward from wherever the Season 4 finale leaves them. If they do the sensible thing and change everything, fans who only watch Arrow are confused and angry. There is no correct way to go about this, unless they had set Flashpoint up with a massive crossover event that established the changing timeline on each show. We saw shades of the sloppy relationship between programs when Barry was seen zipping out of a scene with Oliver, even though he was actually stripped of his powers on The Flash the night before. Producers claim the shows just aren’t on the exact same pace, but that’s already a wavering in the timeline they once shared. As this universe gets bigger, it’s getting messier.Corny as she was, admit it. Killer Frost was funZoom was actually pretty awesome. While anonymous, he was mysterious and the most intimidating CW character to date. Then the talented Teddy Sears brought a healthy mix of charming and creepy to the character. I like the idea of revealing fake Jay as Hunter. But Zoom’s motives are questionable at best. He could’ve taken over the world and killed all his enemies at any time, especially after Barry inexplicably gave the villain his speed. But he doesn’t, just because, and is also weighed down by a poorly developed fauxmance with Caitlyn that doesn’t go anywhere or amount to much. Instead of committing to either his love for Caitlyn, his serial killer/homicidal father background, or the idea that his artificial speed was killing him, they decided to half-develop each. As a result, none of his backstories really stick the landing.Enter ZoomHenry Allen has a different name in another universe, Jay, even though every single other character shares the same name and basic history in other worlds. A reveal that lasts seconds is never worth sacrificing logic that lasts forever. The constant erasing of timelines and killing of doppelgangers has watered down the very concept of death. Eddie’s death was impactful, and incredibly well done, but we don’t even get a full week to let Henry Allen’s murder sit on our minds. Yet we don’t really have him back either, so we’re not happy either. It’s a strangely blasé feeling that enhances neither smiles nor tears. One moment from Wally sums this all up in one second. He takes a moment to point out that a Barry Allen very quietly died, sacrificing himself to save the multiverse. Our Barry seems almost completely unaffected, calmly stating that he was willing to die. And then Wally literally says well, let’s not think about it. If that’s not a direct admission of death no longer meaning much on this show, I’m not sure what is.Doppelgangers make characters expendableIt’ll take time for me to figure out what I really think of The Flash right now. Of course, much of it comes down to how well they execute a Season 3 that I’ll absolutely watch. The most likely conclusion, one I’ll reluctantly accept, is the fact that this show doesn’t have to make much sense. When Arrow took a few bad ideas and went downhill in Season 3, it was both sloppy and miserable in tone. At least The Flash can still make you laugh, feel and fall in love with these characters. Great conversational writing and acting chemistry can plow through just about anything if you’re willing to not get too hung up on the plot. Will I shake my head when Season 3 somehow ends up in STAR labs with Barry, Cisco and Caitlyn taking down the meta-human of the week even though the show’s very fabric of reality has been altered? Sure. But I at least know I’ll be having fun. Oh and one last request. Let’s see a non-speedster villain for Season 3. I’d appreciate if the fastest being in the history of fiction doesn’t get outrun every other episode.