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The Flash recap: 'The Man Who Saved Central City'

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Unlike other networks, The CW has learned how to balance the necessary action intensive fight scenes prevalent in comic book storylines with the emotional devastation that usually accompanies it.

In that regard, The Flash's second season premiere delivers exactly what its audience is promised.

While there are plenty of moments where hero Barry Allen dons the infamous red jumpsuit to take on the villainous scum running rampant through Central City, it's the moments on screen where he's not in costume that the premiere truly succeeds.

The second season picks up six months after the cliffhanger finale fans were left with last season.

The giant wormhole that threatened to devour the entire city (and, subsequently, the entire world) has somehow been destroyed, but the question as to how that happened isn't one that The Flash is interested in answering within the first few moments.

Instead, the show makes the better decision to explore the aftermath of the alluded trauma that occurred when Allen and his team worked on closing the rapidly expanding hole tearing apart the very fabric of time and space.

The Flash Allen Hospital

Barry is in a state of self imposed isolation (a common motif most superheroes will face at some point during their tenure as costumed defenders) and has distanced himself from the S.T.A.R. Labs team — including best friend Iris West (Candice Patton), Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) — taking on "house calls" by himself.

At first it's unclear why he's decided to turn his back on the team that made him into the superhero the city celebrates, but ten minutes into the premiere, all is revealed.

Using a series of cliched flashbacks and dream sequences, the audience learns that in the attempt to stop the wormhole from becoming too large to contain, Allen runs back into the storm, zipping around in endless circles — as a decent callback to the first time he took on a metahuman as Flash.

Despite his best efforts, it's not enough, and while he's situated in the eye of the storm, separated from his crew, they decide that the only way to stop it is by sending in Firestorm — a metahuman pair made up of engineer Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein.

The incredibly risky decision works and while the wormhole is sealed, it's not without devastating consequences to the S.T.A.R team, including the death of Raymond.

This is where the episode really begins to pick up. Unlike other series, The Flash does an excellent job of not only assessing the damage done to every character, but actually takes time away from more stereotypical genre moments to explore the emotional stability of Allen following the transpired events.

Flash

It's the first time he seems to understand that the type of work he's inexplicably become involved in carries with it a series of losses. Barry has to learn to cope with those losses, as the man who carries the burden of being one of the few people that can stop the unprecedented violence wrought upon the city by newly discovered baddies, not just as Central City's beloved superhero.

The Flash is still a show about a superhero at the end of the day, however, and the writing team does introduce a new villain for Allen to take on that inevitably reunites him with his team.

At the beginning of the episode, welder Al Rothstein is found dead (or so it is assumed) by the team and brought to the city's morgue. However, when Rothstein (dubbed the Atom Smasher) shows up to Flash Day (a celebration thrown in Allen's honor where he's given the key to the city) and starts wreaking havoc on the congregated community, Allen figures out what's occurred and decides to try and fight him own his own.

Speeding off toward a nuclear plant where Rothstein is gobbling down as many barrels of radioactive waste as he can to increase his super strength, Allen soon learns that while he may be talented in his own regard, he's simply not enough to take down the new monster slamming his way through the city.

Reunited with his team at S.T.A.R. Labs, he finally accepts the help they've been offering for months, and thwarts their newest enemy by tricking Rothstein into following him back to the nuclear lab where their first fight took place. After a quick game of cat and mouse, Allen manages to trap him in a radioactive chamber and reverse the effects unleashed onto the baddie when he was first killed.

Picture the opposite of the now legendary Dr. Manhattan scene in Watchmen.

Despite a few decent on-screen punches, the actual Atom Smasher storyline is one of the weaker parts of the premiere.

Flash Atom Smasher

There's nothing ostensibly wrong with it, and it's no different from other fights Allen has had in the show's first season, but against the backdrop of the emotional ruin he's coping with for the majority of the episode, it feels like wasted time.

It would have been better for the premiere to focus entirely on Allen and his various relationships, following his team as they reeled from the death of one of their own, before moving back into defending the city as Flash in the second episode. In fact, it's the events that take place after Rothstein's, erm, final death that make the premiere stand out.

Harrison Wells (mastermind of S.T.A.R. Labs) leaves Allen a video in the wake of his death, and although he is hesitant to watch it at first, it provides the teenage superhero with information he's been aching to hear for the past fifteen years: A full confession in the murder of his mother and the last piece of evidence he needs to get his father out of prison.

It's a rare joyous moment in Allen's life that predictably doesn't last too long. Despite his plans to get an apartment with his father and begin their life anew, he's crushed when his dad informs him that he needs to leave Central City and start a new life on his own, away from the crime-ridden, tumultuous city.

It's the most emotional Allen gets in the episode ("You're the only family I have left," he admits) and it's a side to him we don't get to see too often.

And while the angst-ridden scene may seem like it's been pulled straight from the pages of a comic book, it's the type of character arc that's so vital to a show like The Flash developing a character fans are emotionally attached to.

The scenes with his father had to be cut short to include the Rothstein fights, and while the action may have rounded out the episode to include a little bit of everything, the sacrifice the writing team had to make was cutting short arguably the most important part of the episode.

It finally ends with Allen reluctantly dropping his father off at the train station and heading back to S.T.A.R. Labs to meet up with his family of science enthralled engineers, but it wouldn't be The Flash without one last surprise.

Just as they are settling in and admiring the new Flash costume (which now has a newer version of the iconic yellow lightning bolt embroidered on the chest), a stranger appears in the halls of the lab, armed with one extremely ominous declaration.

"My name is Jay Garrick. Your world is in danger."

Oh yeah, the original Flash is back.