The Flash: Things You Can’t Outrun (1×03)
Synopsis: We get a bit of backstory on Caitlin Snow, her fiancee Ronnie (played by Robbie Amell), and the night the particle accelerator blew. Meanwhile in the present #TeamFlash is battling a bad guy called the Mist who can turn himself into gas and kill people who cross him.
Every week the Flash proves that it’s one of the best comic book series on television and this week was no exception. Granted, the metahuman of the week thing is already threatening to get a little bit old but it’s not like that’s an issue unique to the Flash. Gotham is going through the same issue right now. It doesn’t help that the two of them both deal with green gas baddies in one way or another. Coincidence, yes. Worrisome in regards to the creativity of future DC shows and their weekly bad guys? Maybe. But at least both shows keep the stories interesting. And this week the Flash definitely changed things up and raised some very interesting questions. At least I thought it did anyway.
For a decent chunk of this week’s episode we shift gears a bit and turn the focus a way from Barry Allen and a little bit more towards #TeamFlash. One of the things that has made both Arrow and the Flash such great shows are the supporting characters and this episode takes the flashback format and gives us a little insight as to what happened back before the particle accelerator went kablooey.
With the metahumans seemingly all being the result of the particle accelerator explosion it’s no surprise that at some point we were going to go back to that day and figure out what happened. In trying to sort out the origins of this week’s metahuman bad guy, Barry’s new adorable scientist friend Caitlin Snow has to basically come to terms with the traumatic effect the particle accelerator explosion had on her life. We knew already that Caitlin’s fiancee was killed in the explosion that went on to allegedly paralyze Harrison Wells and turn a bunch of regular, ordinary people into super freaks.
But we learned more about Ronnie Raymond.
He was an engineer and the day of the explosion he – along with everyone else – was celebrating the completion of years of work. Ronnie and Caitlin were talking about getting married and their honeymoon and all kinds of cutesie stuff. It’s adorable. Robbie Amell who plays Ronnie is adorable. But it was also doomed to horrible angst. When things went wrong he realized that he needed to go inside the particle accelerator to fix them. He didn’t tell Caitlin that’s what he was doing, instead taking Cisco with him and in stereotypical science fiction fashion ordered Cisco to close the door on him if something went wrong.
Surprise, surprise. Something goes wrong.
The flashbacks this episode offer new insight not just into Caitlin but also Cisco who so far as seemed like little more than a bumbling sidekick. There’s a deeper guilt there, it seems, and hopefully we’ll see him grow in future episodes. But this episode is largely about Caitlin. It’s good that she makes her peace with the particle accelerator because understanding what happened the light it all got screwed up is key to understanding the metahumans – and containing them.
This week’s bad guy – name Mist – can turn himself into green gas and basically gets into people’s lungs and kills them. It’s pretty creepy and kind of cool how they do it. I mean it’s a fantastic idea for a villain and the way he kills people by effectively suffocating them? Pretty awesome. He takes out a crime family and a judge before #TeamFlash figures out that this guy was on death row and was being executed the night of the explosion. Instead of dying, he turned into the Mist and he’s taking out his vengeance on the people that led to his death. After taking out a judge he goes after the cop that put him away – Joe.
Barry and the team figure out how to beat Mist the hard way by Barry losing a fight to him and trapping part of his toxic essence in his lungs. It comes close to killing him but they are able to come up with an antidote and a way to beat him by wearing him out so his particles have to reform.
He goes off to save Joe who is at Iron Heights talking with Barry’s dad. In a touching moment, his dad forgives Joe for not believing him about killing his wife because he always believed in Barry. And then, of course, the Mist guy comes in and takes out Joe while Barry’s dad sits behind the glass helpless. But don’t worry. Barry arrives in time to save Joe and sneakily obscures his face so his father can’t tell it’s him. Then he goes off and defeats the Mist, knocking him out.
And here’s where the moral questions come in.
How do you detain someone who can turn into mist and escape just like that? Harrison, it turns out, has a plan. Because of course he does. Harrison tells them that they can use the particle accelerator to contain him. So, now #TeamFlash is in the private prison business, it seems. I mean, Caitlin phrases it beautifully: “So, we’re just supposed to get used to working above a makeshift prison housing evil people with superpowers?”
The implications of this are super dark. They are unlawfully imprisoning people without a trial. I mean, okay, this guy was being executed. Maybe we can argue that he has had his due process. But what about the next metahuman of the week whose got dangerous powers, does bad things, but has never been properly arrested or tried? I’m not sure I’m cool with this.
And of course they are going to eventually break out. I mean, of course they are.
Not next week, though!
No, next week we get to see Felicity and Barry reunited and it’s going to be so adorable. I can’t wait.