Gustin to be back in a flash on the CW

The Flash

Season 1: Recap/Review

Grade: B+

Starring: Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdés

Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg

For those who are tired of the mainstream superhero, the CW’s “The Flash” goes back to the iconic superhero’s classic DC comic book roots.

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is The Flash, a forensic scientist with the Central City Police Department who gets super speed in the aftermath of a city-wide lab accident. With the help of the disgraced Star Labs scientists Cisco, Caitlin and Dr. Harrison Wells, he faces off with villains and finds ‘meta-humans,’ or people affected by the same lab accident. In typical hero fashion, Barry seeks to find out who killed his mother and framed his father for her murder.

In its first season, “The Flash” delivered a steady stream of milestones for the titular hero. The Flash ran backwards through time (accidentally) and revealed a shocking secret about his mentor, Dr. Wells. He faced off with memorable comic-book foes like the Reverse-Flash and a telekinetic gorilla named Grodd. He also harnessed his speed so that he can run through walls.

“Fast Enough,” the finale, aired May 19 and packed quite a punch, answering the questions posed at the start of the show, keeping a few extra ends loose and slightly untying others. The Reverse Flash, a villain from the future, offers Barry a chance to go back in time to save his mother from dying and keep his father from being framed and thrown in jail. In exchange, the Reverse-Flash gets to use Star Labs’ resources to get back to his own time. Much of the episode is character-heavy, with Barry asking his friends and family if he should go back and change his life. The action itself is left to the last 15 minutes, with an unexpected and heart-wrenching ending, as a black hole forms above Central City.

Gustin gives a sterling performance, at times both forceful and heartfelt, filling his red superhero suit with a the humble trappings of a classic superhero. His acting balances with Cavanagh’s Dr. Wells, who is both a father figure and an occasional psychopath. Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdés are the resourceful Caitlin and Cisco, their performances making the more confusing science sound palatable.Hearing things like “You’ve got to hit Mach 2 to ensure the stabilization of the space-time continuum” can make even the heads of hardcore science junkies hurt sometimes.

But all DC superheroes don’t exist on their own.

“The Flash” is a spin-off of the action series “Arrow.” Creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg used “The Flash”’s science fiction origins for light-hearted source material, as opposed to the grittier, crime-oriented “Arrow.” The two shows also complement each other, with several crossover appearances this season.

The partnership of “The Flash” and “Arrow” created a DC television universe that is beginning to mirror the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also like Marvel, that universe is growing, with the CW’s newly announced addition of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” in 2016 and possibly CBS’s “Supergirl” later this year. While “Arrow” may have been the first show, the success of the more recognizable Flash gives DC superheroes an early foothold on the small screen.

Ultimately, The Flash’s inaugural season is a self-contained set filled with suspense and pure sci-fi fun. In just one season, the show hit its stride and became a flagship for other shows to follow. The finale wraps a great season and hints at a second with a split space-time continuum.

With such a high bar set, it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here.

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