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The Flash And The Two Faces Of Fear

Written by  Published May 18, 2016 06:31
After reading the synopsis for The Flash in the list, I found out that while not necessarily labeled as such both episode 21 The Runaway Dinosaur and episode 22 Invincible were perfect to review together in a thematic comparison format. While I have broken down each episode of the season individually thus far I was looking for a chance to do a starker example of theme and device for the show and this sat ready as a perfect opportunity for me. 

When we last left these pages together, Barry had just been “killed” and both Jesse Quick and Wally West had been rendered unconscious by the particle accelerator recreation. Zoom had Caitlyn hostage. But it has now been two weeks and I am hoping to spend far less time recapping the plot events this week than in exploring the similarities and differences of the two episodes.

One more after today and we get Kevin Smith’s season finale in a race against Zoom…but that’s after this.

So let’s get this monkey smoking…




The SYNOPSES from TVGUIDE.com13230844 10205944898651731 970841892 o
Season 2
Episode 21
May 10, 2016
The Runaway Dinosaur

With Barry gone, the team must figure out a way to handle the return of Girder, an old enemy. Realizing Girder is retracing his steps from his last attack, Iris volunteers to act as bait to trap him in S.T.A.R. Labs. Meanwhile, Barry fights to return to his old life.


Season 2
Episode 22
May 17, 2016

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After Zoom unleashes an army of Earth-2 meta-humans on Central City, Barry is shaken when he sees their leader is the Black Canary's Earth-2 doppelgänger, the Black Siren. Meanwhile, Wally takes to the streets to help the Flash stop the meta-humans, which worries Joe; and Iris and Henry become concerned about Barry taking on Zoom.


During the season we have discussed how it is the quintessential sophomore superhero story, told in modern voice, about how the hero finds the transition between rookie and confident veteran. Continuing in this vein, the two episodes we are discussing are a coin and the coin represents fear. In 21 we see that it is Barry’s fear of letting go of his mom that is keeping him from being the hero he needs to be. The Speed Force itself plays the role of mentor and flips Barry’s fear into confident virtue and love so strong it is unnerving to his friends. In 22 we see that what in fact has happened is that Barry now has no fear. Not for anyone or anything and this keeps him from being the hero he needs to be as well. It is two extremes demonstrated by a single character brilliantly by the writing team – which is hands down the most fearless in television (but not too fearless ha ha.)

13230863 10205944898571729 2015520168 oIn two very distinctly differently paced episodes, the creative team has managed to show a broad spectrum of thematic fear while still telling the best superhero battles on TV – including Black Siren (a doppelganger Laurel Lance from Arrow). The dreamy almost ephemeral quality of Runaway Dinosaur enhanced the trepidation inside Barry while the frantic, nearly manic pace of his overconfidence in Invincible dragged all the right soft parts out of the viewer at the right moments, like the approval of Wally from Joe, the sacrifice of Wells for Jesse and the death of Henry Allen.

While we could discuss content all day long, it is the approach to these two episodes that make them stand out. While the payoff is what The Flash is all about they did not rely on the finale to deliver it all. Instead they let Wally in on Barry’s secret in 22 and in 21 we see the first glimpses of Jesse’s soon to be revealed powers. There were what seemed gratuitous shots of the Velocity 9 (which weren’t gratuitous) and more than that, if you love the show and were paying attention – they already revealed the identity of the man in the iron mask too.

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The writers and actors together created a double episode moment of clarity that not only justify (via story) the entire narrative for the season but thematically they paid off the entire thing. Barry got confident. He got cocky. He lost his father over it. Now remember that the main theme all year was restoration from the evil done to them last year. Forgiveness, a key all year will come full circle next episode. We will not only see the final battle against Zoom bit we will also see if he learned the lessons taught in the early part of the season.

Flash is getting better and better because of the fearless dedication to the narrative dictated by theme and intention. That is where it becomes art. While Flash is fun and action packed as a staple, it is the consistent and fearless marriage of theme and device that make for its intangible undertones and emotional connection with the audience.

Tell the monkey to crush his butt…

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