Flash fans, please don’t speed off because of this post’s title.
I’ve always had a particular penchant for fictional super-beings who save the world. Despite their unrealistic nature, they enthral me: with their displays of power, moral struggles and internal conflicts against the forces of evil. So as a committed DC fan since birth, I speedily watched three seasons of the TV Series: The Flash. For the most part, I love it: the show breathes life into the scarlet speedster with high quality SFX, thrilling plot-twists and quirky characters…also providing me with a source of tantalising philosophies for my blog series, Philosophy in the Flash. So Flash fans, please don’t speed off scared because of this post’s title…
After a while of watching, I found some fundamental flaws in CW’s The Flash. From Iris West’s questionable role on the show to the never-ending persona of Harrison Wells, I hope you enjoy my ranting list of critiques on the hit series.
*SPOILER ALERT* The following article contains spoilers for Seasons 1, 2 & 3 of the Flash
✍Flash Flaw #1⚡️
Caitlin + the Love Interest
From Season One’s Pilot, Caitlin Snow has captivated me with her serious yet sweet, intellectual -yet sometimes irritating- personality. She is a role model for women’s empowerment in the science/medical sector and demonstrates some admirable qualities of kindness, willpower, compassion and loyalty (even when tested by her alter ego, Killer Frost). But one thing that has frozen my feelings towards the character, is her sudden usage as the ‘go-to’ love interest. From Ronnie Raymond (S1), to Jay Garrick (S2) and Julian Albert (S3), it seems every time a new and attractive male joins Team Flash, she is the apple of their eye.
Caitlin has been reduced to the ‘re-usuable plot point’ wherein she continually loses (by death or departure) this companion and is put through a process of grief and separation. In Season 1, Ronnie died, was alive, disappeared and then died again. In Season 2, Jay died, was alive and then died again. In Season 3, (a slight variation to the formula), Caitlin disappeared, died, was alive (as Killer Frost) and then finally departed from Julian.
Hopefully, Season 4 varies from this overused formula…
✍Flash Flaw #2⚡️
The Unending Harrisons, Harrys and HRs
Harrison Wells (played expertly by Hollywood heavy-weight Tom Cavanagh) is perhaps one of the most captivating characters on the show. But after the Earth 1 character’s death in Season 1, the writers at Team Flash clearly agreed with me. They created another version of Wells by the name of ‘Harry’ (a foul-talking father and fraudster) for the Earth 2 doppelgänger in the show’s second season. But after returning Harry to his own Earth, they again revived the character in Season 3; this time as another doppelgänger from the multiverse: the author and entrepreneur, ‘HR’ of Earth 19. I love Harrison Wells, please don’t misunderstand; but three versions of one character seems enough for now.
✍Flash Flaw #3⚡️
The Speedster Villain Cliche
Each Season of the Flash, fans are presented with a new metahuman threat that Team Flash must face each episode. From monsters to gorillas, tricksters to ‘turtlemen’, the gang continually succeed to imprisoning, punishing and bringing justice (typically in the unrealistic space of a few days to a week) to every random meta-criminal that is thought up.
However, every season the ongoing villain (invariably an evil speedster), serves as the greatest cliche of the show. Season 1’s Reverse Flash was actually intriguing but by Season 2, the Flash archetype of betrayal by an ally and friend became all too tiring; with Hunter Zolomon (the evil speedster, Zoom) posing as trusted friend and ally, Jay Garrick; which was just a tad too similar to Eobard Thawne (Reverse Flash) posing as trusted friend and ally, Harrison Wells in Season 1.
In Season 3, we encountered Savitar: God of Speed. Again, as in both previous seasons, Barry had to be ‘fast enough’ to meet his match and save the people he loves. The speedster villain formula is one that works (as I’ve explored in ✍The Reliance of the Hero & the Villain on One Another: ‘Binary Opposites’⚡️) but if it is recycled time and time over, it’s going to get old very quickly.
✍Flash Flaw #4⚡️
Iris West: Hero or Hinderance?
Seemingly the last person to discover Barry’s speedster alter ego in Season 1, Iris West– despite being Barry’s life love interest- has a limited role in the show’s crime-fighting unit. As I’ve previously examined in, ✍Trust, Alliance & Lies: Is it Noble to Lie?⚡️,Barry entrusted pretty much everyone with his secret… except for Iris, who he typically is supposed to have complete faith and trust in. Arguably, it wasn’t fair nor morally right for Barry to have left the one person he should trust, ‘out of the loop’ for her own safety…particularly when he was trusting relative strangers in comparison. But when Iris did ultimately become apart of Team Flash, the only role Iris seemed to develop was that of a supportive friend, love interest and ally who gave Barry self-esteem speeches every time he was on the brink of failure or harm.
Without powers, genius level intellect, scientific skill or knowledge of tech, Iris craves to be more useful…but in attempts to be, unwittingly exposes herself to dangerous situations wherein Wally, Barry or others rescue and chastise the damsel. Perhaps Iris does it (subconsciously) to even the field in her relationship with Barry or maybe- surrounded by Team Flash, feels inadequate with no fundamental skills other than journalism. Whatever it is, the show needs to further affirm the on-screen adaptation of Iris as more than just a ‘hinderance’, love interest and motivational quote spewer.
This said, the role reversal of crime-fighting expertise seen in Season 2’s Earth 2 Iris and Barry relationship, (wherein Barry was the tag-along hinderance and Iris was a ‘police officer hero’), varied up the roles a bit and provided the character with more deserving attributes.
As seen in Season 3, the struggle of defining Iris’ role in Team Flash paved a more independent and valuable version of Iris West… but let’s hope Season 4 has more to offer.
Well, my ‘rant’ of Flash frustration is finally over.
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