When you grow up as a nerdy kid and then get superpowers, you’d probably dream of getting to beat up a childhood bully. That scenario gets a lot less dreamy when that bully has received super powers of his own.
The Flash is still trying to get Iris to stop writing about him. He makes another late night visit to the coffee shop to try to convince her of the danger of writing her blog. While he’s in the middle of his “interview” he gets a call that someone’s in the middle of a high speed chase. He runs off and gets to the scene in time to save a kid from getting hit by the getaway car but, when he confronts the criminal, he breaks his hand on the guy’s face and has to run. When he gets back to his day job, he finds out that the guy with the metal face is Anthony “Tony” Woodward, someone who used to bully him when he was a kid. Having to deal with Tony brings up a lot of memories of his childhood and how Joe tried to teach him to fight but also told him it was alright to run from a fight he couldn’t win.
After identifying Tony as a metahuman with the ability to turn his body to metal, the STAR scientists try to come up with a way for him to defeat Tony. Cisco even creates a metal dummy, nicknamed “Girder” for Barry to train with. However, Barry immediately hurts himself on the dummy. His healing abilities really get a workout in this episode, as he spends a lot of time in the lab with Caitlin patching him up. Eventually, Cisco comes up with the idea that Barry would have to move at a speed of Mach 1.1 to hurt him. Cisco and Wells seem to think this is an acceptable idea, but Caitlin’s against it. She points out that Barry could break every bone in his body if he tries this and does it wrong. To be honest, Cisco seems to just love the idea of Barry moving fast enough to create a sonic boom, no matter what the circumstance is.
Barry seems to be willing to let things play out until Tony goes to see Iris. He walks in to the coffee shop to ask her questions about the Streak and if she knows where to find him. The incident riles Barry up enough to go after Tony directly. Of course, that strategy fails spectacularly as Tony beats him up again and leaves him for dead. Caitlin and Cisco fish Barry out of the wreckage of the hideout and call the police. The next day, Eddie reports that they lost track of Tony. Needing to blow off some steam, Eddie takes Barry to hit a punching bag at the station. Eddie also ends up giving Barry some fighting pointers that he got from his own gym coach. We also find out that Eddie was bullied as a kid and the son of a politician.
All of that advice gets put to the test when Tony kidnaps Iris. You can see the realization of Joe and Barry’s worst fears as Iris has been put directly in danger because of her infatuation with the Flash. Tony takes Iris to the school that they went to and tries to convince her to basically become infatuated with him instead of the Flash (whom he presumes dead). Iris pulls a fire alarm which allows the police to locate her. Barry arrives on the scene and tries to take on Tony for the third time, with pretty much the same results. He runs away from the school but only far enough to allow him to build up the speed that Cisco recommended. He manages to hit mach 1.1 and delivers a “Super sonic punch” that knocks Tony to the ground, but it’s Iris that ends up delivering a sucker punch that ultimately knocks the villain out.
Barry seals Tony in the Pipeline and takes the opportunity to reveal himself to his foe. He gives him a speech about how their powers made them more of what they already were and how he had tried to hurt people. He walks away coolly as Tony is locked away and then does a little celebration dance as soon as he’s out of sight (because who wouldn’t do that). He also goes to see Iris and ends their standoff. He lets her talk to him about the Flash and has a Peter Parker/Clark Kent moment as the girl he’s into gushes about his alter ego. When she starts thinking of what to call the guy other than “The Streak” (because he said he hated that name), Barry subtly suggests “The Flash”. Iris updates her blog and provides the voice over for the end of the episode.
The other big thing that happened in this episode involved Joe and Dr. Wells. While Eddie and Barry were out gathering information earlier in the episode, Joe had gone to approach Wells about helping him find Barry’s mother’s killer. At first, it seemed like he was befriending Wells but, he was really investigating him as a suspect. It turns out that Wells showed up just one month after Barry’s mother died. He’s also the only one who’s created metahumans and it’s looking like a metahuman was the one responsible for the death. Eventually, Wells offers up the explanation that his wife, Tess Morgan, was the reason that he started over. It was her work with him that led to the particle accelerator being created but she had died in a car crash well before it was completed. The story convinces Joe, who marks Wells off of the list as a possible suspect. As he’s working on his investigation, he’s visited by the same yellow and red tornado that killed Barry’s mother. The man in the yellow suit, steals Joe’s research and leaves a message on his wall. The message is that he stops his investigation or Iris will be killed.
- Nerd excitement
I loved how excited Cisco and Barry got about certain things in the episode. Cisco’s would be Barry’s super sonic punch and Barry’s would be how he celebrated finally beating his childhood bully and then getting to look cool in front of him.
- In a “Flash”
I liked how Barry ended up being the one to suggest his own name to Iris, even though he had tried to tell her that was his name before (and not the Streak). Although,
- Name drops galore
“Man of Steel”, “Iron Fist” and “a man who’s on fire and doesn’t burn up” as well as Keystone city and Garrick where all in this episode. Obviously, “Man of Steel” is a reference to DC’s big blue boyscout. I don’t think Iron Fist was intentional since he’s a Marvel character, but it was still in there. The “Man on Fire” is probably Firestorm. Heat Wave was teased in an earlier episode but he’s probably not going to actually be on fire but a man with a flamethrower just like Captain Cold’s cold gun. Keystone city is another location in the DC Comics and is most notably where Wally West (another Flash) comes from. Finally, “Garrick” is likely a reference to Jay Garrick who is the first fictional character to be known as “The Flash” aka the Golden Age Flash.
- Doctor Snow
It seems like Caitlin has been the one relegated to patching Barry up when he inevitably gets injured. That dynamic is quietly becoming this show’s version of Oliver and Felicity from Arrow. I also noticed when Cisco pointed out that certain things on Barry won’t grow back. By the same logic, wouldn’t these repeated injuries actually start to deteriorate Barry’s body after a while? For instance, he dislocated his shoulder in this episode. Normally, when that happens to a person it makes it much more likely that it’ll happen again. If that’s the case Caitlin’s job of providing immediate medical care is actually really important for Barry to heal correctly.
It’s always a good sign when an episode seems like it was really short because time flies when you’re having fun. Girder may have been the most genuinely unlikeable villain that the Flash has run up against yet, so it was fun to see him get put away. I also liked how we finally saw the realization of Joe’s fears about Iris getting involved with the Flash. Admittedly, I felt like they kind of forced that angle in the first episode of the series but, now that it’s paying off a bit, I understand why they forced it. It’s also worth noting that even though Iris was the damsel in distress in this episode, they tried to play for some gender equality points. Iris was shown to be a better fighter than Barry when they were kids and she’s the one who ultimately takes Tony out. Also, Eddie mentions that the teacher that taught him to fight was a woman. I’m sure that was no accident since Iris seems like she’s going to need some more saving. With the yellow flash now directly targeting Iris it’s going to be something that’s at the forefront of Joe’s mind. That’s gonna (hopefully) make finding this unknown metahuman a priority for Joe and Barry.
I don’t think that this episode made anything clearer as far as identifying the identity of the reverse flash or what Wells true motives are. If anything, it probably made it harder to figure out. Right now the assumption is that Wells is some kind of time traveler who has a vested interest in the survival of the Flash. This story about his wife could mean that he’s going to have some “Mr. Freeze” angle where he needs Barry’s powers to somehow save his wife. Another theory is that he’s got a completely assumed identity, which could mean that the Tess Morgan he’s talking about is just part of his cover. Another option is that he’s not actually a time traveler but someone who happened to get information from the future somehow. Right now, the show is painting a picture that makes it look like, whatever his reasons, he is the man in the yellow suit. He’s the only person, besides Barry, that knows Joe is looking in to the case and Joe suddenly gets threatened. That looks really suspicious but, the way these shows are written now, the most obvious suspect is rarely the actual culprit.