In episode 2 of the first season of The CW’s The Flash, called “Fastest Man Alive,” we are a few weeks into Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) new life as, well, the fastest man alive, following his transformation into a “metahuman” after being struck by lightning during the breakdown of Dr. Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) particle accelerator. We also learn more of the history, and likely future, of the relationship between Barry and Joe, find out that Iris is becoming more intrigued by the unidentified and very speedy new hero of Central City, and are introduced to the foe eventually known as Multiplex.
The episode begins with Barry, acting as The Flash (currently still only referred to by a baffled Central City populace as a “red streak”) saving several people form a burning building, with the aid of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) communicating the location in his earpiece while monitoring the situation from S.T.A.R. Labs. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) walks in and expresses her displeasure that Cisco and Barry (who has by now returned to the lab in a flash, of course) are using Barry’s newfound talents without fully understanding what they are, or how they may affect Barry. Barry tells her that he is fine, though he omits the fact that following the fire rescue, he experienced what seemed to have been a headache, or dizzy spell.
We can tell that Barry is already enjoying his ability to be able to help people, and perhaps this stems from his childhood, which we flashback to a few times in this episode. First, we recall a time when Barry, living with Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) in the wake of his mother’s murder, and his father being falsely sent away for the crime, runs away from home in an attempt to visit his father in prison. Joe catches up to Barry and brings him home, and tells him he cannot see his father. Young Barry storms upstairs, telling Joe that he hates him and that he is not his real father. You can see this affects Joe, and the father-son-type dynamic between Joe and Barry is a theme that repeats throughout the episode.
Back in the present, Barry is summoned to his “day job” with the police, who are investigating an armed robbery (having left his civilian clothes at S.T.A.R. Labs, however, Barry has to quickly zip into a clothing store to buy a suit). Security cameras at the robbery scene show one gunman clad in black, but Barry’s surveying of the scene reveals several sets of footprints, all seemingly of the same size and type of shoe.
Later, Barry accompanies Iris to a function she is covering, where scientist and philanthropist Simon Stagg (guest star William Sadler) is receiving a Man of the Year award for his work with organ regeneration. Fans of the DC Comics universe probably recall Stagg as a less-than-philanthropic character, but his outward appearances have most people here seeing otherwise, at the outset. Iris is hoping to get a quote from Stagg for an article she is writing for her journalism project, but Stagg’s bodyguard Java brushes her off and escorts Stagg out. Soon after, the gunman from the robbery security camera arrives at the event, this time accompanied by a number of similarly clad accomplices. As they flee the scene, Barry pursues them, but fails to stop them, and ends up passing out.
Finally forced to tell his team at S.T.A.R. Labs about his dizziness, Barry undergoes some tests on a treadmill (which has been “Cisco-ed” to keep up with his great speed), and the team determines he has been suffering from hypoglycemia, and needs to take in a high number of calories to keep his metabolism up. During this time, Joe has gone to Barry’s office to see him, and discovered Barry’s wall of clippings related to his mother’s murder — and also notices a S.T.A.R. Labs sweatshirt draped over Barry’s chair.
Joe shows up at the lab following Barry’s tests, and warns the crew there that, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” when it comes to Barry and the other metahumans that they have revealed to Joe are also out there. Joe is concerned for Barry’s safety and doesn’t want him playing hero. Barry again tells Joe that he is not Barry’s real father, and it hits Joe hard.
We then see Java meeting with the gunman, and it’s clear that Java aided in allowing the gunman to get close enough to Stagg to try to kill him, which is the gunman’s ultimate goal; we later find out the man is Danton Black (guest star Michael Christopher Smith). Black specialized in cloning, but Stagg stole his research, and Black is out for revenge.
Java beats down Black after Black insists he works for him, and walks away. Black then reveals that he is also a metahuman, with the ability to duplicate himself. Black and several “copies” of himself pursue and kill Java.
Once the police are aware it is Black who is after Stagg, Joe and Eddie (Rick Cosnett) show up to protect Stagg. Three Black copies arrive to finish their job, and Joe sees Black duplicating even more. Barry arrives just in time, saving Joe from being shot. Black and his duplicates give Barry a beating, and he just escapes being shot himself. Stagg is saved for the moment.
At the lab, Barry is feeling defeated after encountering the metahuman Cisco has temporarily dubbed “Captain Clone” (he promises to think of a better name).
“I’m fast, but I’m no warrior,” Barry says, dejectedly, echoing the concerns that Joe has had about him not being immortal, and not truly ready for battling crime. We then flashback again to young Barry finally able to get in to see his father in prison. His dad tells him it wasn’t Joe who didn’t want him to come, but he himself who didn’t want Barry to see him in this position. Joe arrives and takes Barry back home.
Back in the present, Joe is talking with Stagg when Wells shows up. Stagg and Wells know each other, and appear to be professional rivals. “Don’t get up,” Stagg cruelly jokes at the expense of the wheelchair-bound Wells (though we know that Wells isn’t actually confined to the chair). Wells hints that Stagg harbors some secrets of his own, as he implies Stagg is pretending to be a philanthropist and humanitarian. Once Stagg leaves, Wells talks to Joe about Barry, saying that “doubt is his real enemy” and that Joe’s doubting of Barry (probably stemming from the overprotectiveness of his father-figure role) may be holding him back. Wells claims that he is also concerned for Barry’s safety, though following the ending of last week’s episode, it’s hard to fully know what Wells’ real game is at this point.
Barry meets Iris at Jitters, where Iris tells Barry that she has decided on a new angle for her journalism project — looking into the mysterious “red streak” that has been saving people around the city. Barry looks a little nervous, but then Caitlin calls and tells him to get back to S.T.A.R. Labs immediately — we see while she is talking that Black is there.
But it turns out to be a Black copy. Caitlin has managed to “grow” him from a sample of blood on Barry’s suit from his fight with Black. The clone in front of them is pretty much helpless until summoned into battle by the “prime” himself, Black. Suddenly, the clone *does* get such a battle call, and begins moving, only to be shot by Joe. With the clone called into action, the team knows that Black is planning another attack on Stagg. Joe tells Barry that police can’t stop him, and only he can.
Black confronts Stagg at his office, but is stopped by Barry, who swoops Stagg away into his office. There ensues a pretty cool battle throughout the building between Barry, Black and Black clones (in general, the Multiplex effects for the duplicating and clone attacks are pretty good for a television series). Black tells Barry that the revenge is not about Stagg stealing his research, but about Elizabeth, the woman he loved. Black says he was close in his research to being able to grow a new heart for his ailing love, but when Stagg stole the research, that sealed her doom. Barry tells him that does not give him the right to murder, and the battle continues, with Black eventually duplicating himself into dozens of copies in a Matrix-like battle. Barry is getting his ass kicked, until Wells reminds him via headset to look for the “prime” — the original Black — through any signs of weakness, given the intense energy Black would have to keep up to maintain his clones. Barry zips through the army of clones, knocking many over, until he encounters a man who is sweating and determines this is the prime. He knocks Black out, and looks back to find that all of the clones have now been put out of commission.
Black gets up and leaps out a window, with Barry speeding over to grab him. But it is apparent Black does not want to go on; he generates a duplicate arm out of the one Barry is holding, and uses it to free Barry’s grip. Black falls to his apparent death. Later, Cisco has indeed come up with a cooler name for this enemy — Multiplex. (In the comics, Multiplex was usually seen as an enemy of Firestorm, so with Firestorm expected to show up later in The Flash series, who knows if Danton Black will find a way back.)
As the episode wraps up, Joe shows up at Barry’s office with pizzas and tells Barry that he found his clippings related to his mother’s murder. Joe tells Barry that he will help him find out who killed his mom, and clear his father’s name. Joe admits that Barry was right, he’s not his father. Barry agrees that Joe may not be his biological father, but brings up the fact that Joe fed him, clothed him, taught him to drive and to shave, dropped him off at college. “That sounds like a dad to me,” Barry says, fondly, and the two sit down to the pizza, having new understanding of each other.
But that’s not quite the end. Like last week, “Fastest Man Alive” ends with more teasing about what Wells is up to. Wells visits Stagg at his office, and they talk about the metahuman Stagg calls “the man in the red mask” who has been zipping around town. Stagg says he is determined to get this man and harness his power, when Wells arises from his wheelchair, stunning Stagg. But that’s not his only surprise — Wells stabs Stagg, telling him that the “man in the red mask” will one day be known as The Flash (referencing last week’s ending, when Wells was somehow able to see into the future, at a news headline from 2024 detailing The Flash’s death). Wells says that the Flash must remain safe. Whether he’s saying that out of genuine concern, or a more ominous reason, is yet to be seen.
NEXT WEEK: Next week’s episode of The Flash, “Things You Can’t Outrun,” introduces supervillain The Mist, and flashes back to the night Caitlin’s fiance Ronnie Raymond (guest star Robbie Amell), who in the comics is one half of Firestorm, was supposedly killed.
Top Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Bottom Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved