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Fandom Speaks: The Flash Fandom Reacts to S2 Premiere

A flurry of Tumblr posts were tagged #TheFlash and submitted last night after the season two premiere of The CW show aired. The activity level resembled a chaotic boardroom.

Opinions of the episode were divided and spurred many a passionate meta discussion that spanned from confusion and disappointment in how the singularity storyline played out to excitement and anticipation of Zoom’s entrance into Central City’s lore, and finally ended with largely agreed upon disgust for Barry’s father, Henry, at placing the burden of his departure at Barry’s feet.

Take a look at the lists below to get an idea of the overall thoughts flying around the fandom on the morning after the season premiere.

Agreed Upon By Fans:

  • The opening sequence with no explanation was VERY confusing
  • The resolution of the singularity storyline was disappointing
  • Ronnie (Robbie Amell) dying (leaving) is understood as being because of Robbie’s career and current film projects, but fans are still disappointed at seeing him go.
  •  Cisco, as always, is beloved. He is considered one of the fandom’s cinnamon rolls.
  • Barry is also a cinnamon roll. A precious one. When he cries, the fandom cries. And his sweater vests/cardigans are much appreciated by all.
  • Everyone is glad to see Iris on Team Flash and finally NOT being kept in the dark.
  • The Flash signal sent most into uncontrolled giggle fits
  • All seem to love and appreciate the running joke of anyone being able to walk into S.T.A.R. Labs at any time.
  • There is much rejoicing that the writers (along with Joe, Iris, and the gang) won’t allow Barry to wallow in his self-loathing and guilt.
  • There is much anger over Henry’s departure and the reason he gave for leaving. There is also much speculation that the reason is likely an excuse and there’s something else going on.
  • And the fans go wild with excited anticipation at the prospect of Zoom’s entrance onto the Central City landscape.

While there were more questions than answers in the episode, there were some fans who very eloquently expressed their criticism of certain aspects of the show while remaining loyal and dedicated to the story itself.

Before we take a look at some of the questions we were left with, let’s take a look at some of the most articulate meta posts from fans (used with permission, of course):

Tumblr user mf-luder-xf says –

“So, as always, I enjoyed The Flash premier. The show is consistently good; good at entertaining me, good at characters, good at balancing everyone’s screen time. But…I have some quibbles.

For one, I think they let a MAJOR opportunity go. The singularity was such a huge part of the finale and then it’s a) hardly there or addressed in the premier and b) was used as a plot device to kill a character that’s already died once.  I just don’t have the mental ability to mourn him again. So, one of the singularity’s major plot devices in the premier is kind of a moot point. It felt like the lazy writer’s way out: talking around the plot device instead of taking the time to depict the action and come up with a creative way to solve the problem or have it have meaningful consequences. I mean, WTF was that technobabble Stein was spouting that led to Firestorm going in anyway? Like, I am queen of watching shows with technobabble and I am hard pressed to think of technobabble that made less sense structurally (i.e. how it was worded) or in terms of the context of the show. It legit felt like words randomly tumbling out of someone’s mouth. And how did Ronnie supposedly die? Was his essence burnt up? Sucked into the vortex? Why did we never focus on Barry actually seeing something happen to him? It felt very hand wave-y on the part of the writers. Don’t look behind the curtain!

Honestly, why DIDN’T they use it to send Barry to another timeline/universe? What a perfect opportunity wasted. Even if it had only lasted one episode, exploring a timeline would have added a layer of complexity to the show by posing a “what if?” Now, maybe we will still get this since we do have Jay from a different universe. But the opportunity of Barry being sent hurtling into another ‘verse is gone. It’s a huge storytelling device lost.

And second, did John Wesley Shipp have to leave for another gig? Because that is the only reason I can think of for that ending. What an absurd argument: “you can’t grow if I’m here”…but it’s okay if your other father figure is here? And, I’m a recently freed prisoner who hasn’t seen my son for more than an hour or so at a time for 14 years but I am going to IMMEDIATELY leave where he won’t get to see me at all? Like, WTF is that. Poor writing is what that is. Why redeem Wells/Thawne so early if the plot point of redeeming him leaves the same ep and maybe is never seen again? And why, if Wells made that vid, did he give Barry such a hard time in the finale? “I will literally kill you and everyone you love to get back to my timeline, but if I die instead, oh, we were never really enemies.” ????”

Tumblr user juniperjazz says –

“I think I started watching TV instead of liveblogging it? Weird.

Anyway, wow! Just… wow.

Between the cracks at the inconsistencies in last season’s writing, the drama that actually made sense and went places, and the reworking of how characters fit together, I really liked it.

The opening scene was a head-scratcher. I’m not quite sure what was going on there. Was it a dream? An imagine spot? A weird Eva reference? What?

I love Vibe’s new place on the Metahuman Task Force. It gives him a few more decent straight men to bounce off of (he was never entertaining with Panabaker, I’m sorry) and he gets to do some cool stuff. I loved his fourth wall breaking moments pointing out the ridiculous bits from last season. I just hope that his work on the task force isn’t going to be the series’s Worf.

Despite Panabaker’s non-chemistry with literally everybody, her scene with Barry really worked because the writing was clear and followed from stuff that happened before. It was a legitimately touching moment when Barry realized that he was going to get his dad back.

The freak of the week had interesting powers. He was not an interesting character, but the fact that he was doing this mostly under duress was a nice touch. Made his death a bit tragic.

Things happened! And there was a through line of cause and effect! People did things for clear reasons! It almost makes me forget how unlikable or bland nearly everybody was last season. Almost.

The world building is still sketchy though. Why is Barry still maintaining a secret identity? Why isn’t he working closer with the metahuman task force? How does he actually function within the moving pieces of the world?

Iris still doesn’t actually have a character. She’s mostly a foil in this episode and it’s still painful to see that.

I’m still a bit unclear why Henry left though. They could have gotten at least three episodes out of him trying to readjust and live with Barry and finding out that it’s just not working and… I feel a bit shortchanged.

Season one of The Flash was bizarre. There was thirty percent of a good show there, but something was happening on the writing stage that didn’t click. The continuity had… issues (remember that one episode where Barry’s powers were electricity based?), the world building was non-existent, the formula was bizarre, and somebody had it out for Iris. I really hope that stuff is fixed. I don’t want to be let down by this show again.

Though overall, things are looking up for The Flash.

I dare say, I’m feeling pretty hopeful about it.”

And Tumblr user coldtomyflash says – 

“Okay, so a few things to note. This isn’t a play by play, there’s really just a few major things I want to address.

1 – The Dream

Barry’s dream pits him against Captain Cold and Heatwave, two Rogues but not meta’s, and their clear goal is to kill him. We know that Barry knows that Len isn’t looking to kill him outright because he’s already had the chance, and yet in that dream, Len is telling him to die. I think this indicates to a certain extent how Barry thinks Len perceives him and what Len wants, in part because he detests Len after the betrayal and in part because he really doesn’t understand Len’s motives.

But note how in the dream, Barry doesn’t save the day alone. He does so with Firestorm, because Barry doesn’t care about being a solo hero near so much as he cares about being alongside friends. That’s very clear a moment later with the scene of all his friends around him, Ronnie and Martin, Caitlin and Iris, Cisco and Joe, and of course, Eobard. The inclusion of Eobard is very telling, especially. We see that Barry still has very mixed feelings about him and what he means to Barry. Barry still craves his approval but balks at his duplicitous nature, and his presence in Barry’s dream is both wish fulfillment and also unsettling, even to dream-Barry. It’s a blend of the “Harrison Wells” he thought he knew and the Eobard Thawne that the man actually was.

2 – The Lone Hero

I know we’re all tired of the “go it alone” trope and clearly they divested of that plot within half an episode, so the writers are tired of it too, but I’m not against it’s inclusion. It’s clear that Barry is laboring under a lot of guilt about the deaths of Eddie and Ronnie, Just look at his track record: mother (twice / he had to let it happen), Eddie (while saving Barry / the city), Ronnie (while saving Barry / the city). Barry just saw three of the people he loves and cares about die within the span of a few hours, and he blames himself for literally all of their deaths. He always watched Eobard get wiped from existence, and though he hated Eobard, we also just established that he more than hates him, that Barry has a lot of complex emotions for the man. In any case, Barry blames himself for all of those deaths and for the many others the singularity might have caused, not to mention the rampant destruction of Central City. He has a massive burden on him and he is clearly suffering, and withdrawing and striking his own path is very natural given his mindset. He’s grieving, guilty, and so clearly depressed. Isolation is to be expected, though it’s unfortunate.

And it’s not just the massive survivor’s guilt and depression causing him to go it alone. Beyond that, Barry is laboring also under the inability to see himself as a hero when the true heroes are passed away and unsung, lost to obscurity though it was their sacrifices that saved the city. He is hating himself for that, for taking the credit for saving the city when his choices brought about the destruction in it, and for taking the credit of the people who saved his life when he blames himself for their deaths. Barry’s guilt complex is layered, here.

Finally, Barry is afraid, like downright terrified; that someone else he loves will die. Eddie was a great detective, Ronnie was a goddamn nuclear man, and they both died (as heroes, but nonetheless). Barry must be so scared that Iris, Caitlin, Cisco, Joe, anyone else he cares about might die. So he wants to keep them away, far away. He not only blames himself, but he sees himself as this epicentre of death: it follows those he cares about and it’s always because of him, even his mother.

So yeah, the isolation is natural. If anything, it was a little rushed that the team all came back together like a happy family toward the end of the episode, but we haven’t seen the whole process so far, and there’s probably been a lot of back-and-forth and in-between moments we can imagine. Cisco and Caitlin have doubtlessly had conversations about her striking her own path, and he took her coming to Flash Day as a sign she was maybe ready to breach that topic again. The meta task force has been established and the people of Central love their hero so Barry must, as they said, move forward.

3 – Joe West

Okay…. so… you guys might know by now that I have some complex emotions toward Joe West, because he is a very complex character. Let’s dive into his scenes a bit though. He’s working on a great wavelength with Iris and Cisco – everything there is open and honest, comforting, nonjudgmental, and basically what we’d hope to see from healthy relationships. His scenes with Barry had so much potential. I was stoked to see that Joe sent the others away so Barry could wake up without a crowd, that he was anticipating Barry’s needs (something that should come easy after raising him). The flashback was great, Joe comforting a younger Barry, getting through to him.

You know what wasn’t great? Joe pinning the deaths of Eddie and Ronnie on Barry.

Okay, in the interest of fairness: Barry’s actions and choices were a direct precursor to the singularity. His decision to come back and stop Eobard leaving this time was a direct precursor to Eddie shooting himself. But let me be clear: the actions of another individual are never, ever, your fault. You may antagonize and push and prod and want to own some responsibility for your own actions, and you should, and Barry should – his decision to go back in time was idiotic, and him recognizing it is a good thing. But Eddie and Ronnie made their own goddamn choices. And yes, I know that Joe also said that, but he only said it after literally saying their deaths were Barry’s fault. He knows that his son is depressed and grieving and coping with massive amounts of guilt and instead of saying something along the lines of “I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of validating your guilt and your self-vilification, Barry,” Joe instead chose to… well, validate Barry’s guilt. Did he think it would help? Did Barry just need to hear someone blaming him so he could prove to himself he was tough enough to handle that kind of accusation? Did he need to have others heap the blame on him because if others blame/hate him he doesn’t hate to blame/hate himself so much?

It frustrated the hell out of me. Joe shouldn’t be saying it was his fault. You know what that line should have been? Here: “I won’t say it’s not your fault. Your actions have consequences. Everyone’s do. You don’t know what those consequences are gonna’ be until you act, though. Sometimes you can guess pretty well, and maybe next time we know not to travel through time, Barr. But Eobard Thawne had you – had us all – wrapped around his finger and right where he wanted us. He planned this for years; he knew all of your buttons to push. Are you to blame? Truth is, Barr, we’re all to blame. I encouraged you to go back. Cisco and Ronnie built that damn time machine. Dr. Stein did the math and all of us stood by and helped you do this. We all knew the risks, son. The person most to blame has been wiped from existence in some way I’m still not sure I understand. But Eddie and Ronnie – they had their choice and they made it. And given a do-over, I think they’d have made the same choice, time and again. They chose this, Barr, and they’re responsible for that too. You don’t get to take all the blame on yourself just because the city points to you and says you’re the hero. What you do instead is live up to that – not by rushing in and trying to get yourself killed to absolve this guilt complex, but by being brave enough to let me, to let Iris and Cisco and Caitlin and Dr. Stein – to let us help you do right by the city that Eddie and Ronnie died trying to protect.”

OKAY? That’s what I wanted Joe West to say. Listening, Flash writers? Give me a call, okay?

4 – Henry Allen

Okay. Okay. I know, okay?

But the thing is, I’m not pissed. I know a lot of people are pissed, but let me explain why I’m not.

I’m not pissed because Henry Allen wasn’t being forthright with Barry. Look at the man’s body language! That is not the face, the movements, of an honest man! He’s curled in on himself, closed face, nervous and tense, drawn back, and relieved when Barry doesn’t question him on what he says.

No, he’s not lying about where he’s going or what he’s doing. He’s lying about why.

Henry Allen has been in prison – a maximum-security state prison – for almost 15 years. He no longer really knows how to interact with society. Look at technology in the last 15 years, look at science, and look at, in the world of the Flash, meta-humans and messes far bigger than he’s ever been equipped to deal with. He lost his wife, his life, and in many ways, his son. Now he’s suddenly given that life back. He never expected to get it back. Henry made peace with being in prison for life a long time ago. And suddenly he’s free. 

He has zero idea what to do with himself. Sure, he could take a course or three, get caught up with technology. But look how he almost panics when Barry mentions that he might be able to practice medicine again. He doesn’t want that, isn’t ready for it, and doesn’t think he should. Think about how much medicine and various practices must have changed since he was a doctor. He has zero desire to step into a hospital – he’s been in prison! He isn’t ready to be in charge of patients and have nurses patiently waiting for instructions (or giving him instructions, as might be the case if he’s ready to listen).

Henry is peace-ing out because he is not ready to handle this: this freedom, this city, this reclamation of his life because it cannot be reclaimed. He can move forward, but to do so, he needs to not pretend that he’s going to go back: back to living with this son and being a doctor and living in Central City and pretending he hasn’t spent 15 years in Iron Heights. So he needs to go. And he needs Barry to be okay with him going.

The thing is, if Henry were to say: “son, I can’t handle this, I’m old and scared and you have superpowers and the city is relying on you know and I don’t know where I fit in all this but it’s too much for me to handle right now” Barry would have talked him down, told him it’s okay, that they’ll make it work, find space to build that relationship. But Henry isn’t ready for that. He needs his space and time to get his head on straight. To see the world. To not be cooped up in a city that’s only going to remind him of everything he’s lost. So instead of telling Barry that he is terrified and needs to cut and run, he tells Barry that he’s leaving because Barry needs to grow into his role without being distracted by Henry.

Why? Why say that?

Because, and this is shitty of Henry (and Joe), he’s leveraging Barry’s guilt complex. Barry has just accepted that he’ll try to be the hero of Central City and step fully into that role in a more authentic way than he has been, trusting and relying on others. And there’s a nugget of truth in what Henry says: he really doesn’t want to hold his son back. But he also doesn’t want to worry his son, because if Barry was distracted by worry about him, again he’d try to talk Henry out of leaving, or find a way to look after him. So Henry uses a tool he knows will work: he tells Barry that Barry needs to rely on the people he already has as a family, and that he needs to be the hero. And he convinces Barry, because Barry is shit at arguing around his guilt because he feels it too deep, that Barry is best suited to grow into that hero role without Henry around for a while.

He’s kind of saying, “you’re already saved me, now go save everyone else.” And Barry can’t argue with that.

It’s shitty and it hurts and I’m so mad. But I’m not mad at the writing, per se. Well, if I take the writing at face value than it’s lazy and I am mad at it. But if I read between the lines then I’m not mad at all about the writing, just sad and mad at the characters for being ridiculous. And I do choose to read between the lines in this way because I feel like if you look at their faces, especially at Henry’s in that scene, so much more was said than the simple words. 

Henry doesn’t know how to fit here and it terrifies him, this all terrifies him, so he’s cutting and running and convincing Barry it’s because it’s in Barry’s best interest so that Barry can’t fight him on it.

5 – Miscellaneous

I actually really enjoyed this episode. It’s not the best episode, but the writers have shown from season 1 that beginnings aren’t their strong point (they’re damn good with endings though). There were things that frustrated me, but Cisco continued to be great, Caitlin was tragic and I’m sad about what happened to Ronnie but excited with where this leaves us for Caitlin, and I love that Iris is part of team Flash now, same with Martin (who I’m suspecting feels the need to be part of this because he’s missing his other half and this is the only connection he has to Ronnie, now).

I’m excited for what’s coming next :)”

Overall, fan opinion of the episode seemed to be divided. Other more individualistic criticisms included a request that the women on the show stop having their lives revolve around men, giving the example of Caitlin watching the video with Barry as being fan-service and saying that Iris should have been the one acting as Barry’s partner and confidante, there to comfort him rather than Joe.

 

Another fan thought that the villain of the week scenario was beginning to get old while others thoroughly enjoyed Atom Smasher.

 

And still another fan brought up the point that the entire timeline should have been messed up after Eddie killed himself because Wells should therefore have never existed, which should have meant that he never had the chance to kill Barry’s mom. This one definitely made us go “Hmm…”

 

The questions that fans were left with, though, were much more abundant than anything else and we all know that when a person has questions, they tend to stick around to see if they get answered. So let’s take a look at what questions will be keeping many fans coming back for more.

 

Was Henry’s behavior and the way that he left a possible foreshadowing of an upcoming Roscoe possesses Henry storyline? 

 

Did Henry leave because there were too many mentor/father figures hanging around?

 

Where was Iris’s reaction to Eddie’s death? Will we get a chance to see her mourning him?

 

Is Eobard Thawne REALLY gone? He’s not that kindhearted so what’s his game plan?

 

Now that Wells is gone and Henry is out of jail…where does that leave Barry as far as his life’s purpose?

 

 

Speculate in the comments what you think the answers might be and check back next week for another The Flash edition of Fandom Speaks!

 

Written by Erica Schaaf

Erica is a former social worker and mother of three who has been writing since she was a child. She currently writes fanfiction for the Veronica Mars and The 100 fandoms and is published on Kindle Worlds as well as fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. She hopes to one day have the chance to be a fly on the wall on set of her fave shows while filming!

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  1. It’s S.T.A.R. Labs, actually. “Scientific and Technological Advanced Research.” If it was Starr, then Power Girl would be involved and that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

    Though Power Girl totally fits into the dimension hopping theme of this season. Heck, the more I think about it the more I want to see that because she’d bring a fascinating dimension to that theme.

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