Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Yellow Streak and the Red Pill: The First Seaon of the Flash



To understand what I'm about to tell you, you'll need to do something first.  You need to believe in the impossible.

Can you do that? --Barry Allen

That is an excellent opening for a superhero show. 

It's the first line from the Hugo nominated(*snicker*), pilot episode of the Flash.

It's an outright, if politely worded demand, that you suspend your disbelief for just a little bit.  Just long enough, that you won't dismiss out of hand the outlandishness that will shortly follow. 

That was simple but brilliant and it kept me glued for the next twenty-two weeks or at least it kept my Tivo glued but...you know.

I can't tell you if it will keep me around more than that.  As strong as the start was, the rest of the series has often been weak.  Part of it is their need to bend the knee to comic book cannon.  Part of it is Blue Pill illusion.

Don't get me wrong the show has had some very strong moments otherwise. The Prison Break brothers as Captain Cold and Heat Wave have been great.  Bringing back Mark Hamill as as the Trickster was a spectacular bit of fan-chum.  The All-Star Team Up, much to my amazement, actually worked.

Time for a quick over view.

Meet our new TV Flash. Barry Allen.
Now with extra smirk

A man with a sprinters physique and a sprinter's focus. It has cost him a relationship with the love of his life...his step-sister.  Yeah, awkward.



Meet Barry's Dad.
I don't see the resemblance myself.


A lifer at Iron Heights pen for the murder of Barry's Mom.

Yeah, awkward.



Meet Iris West, a Black Grrl with a thing for white men.  It happens but it's never really addressed in the show. 

No seriously, my Dad actually approves.


Yeah, really awkward.  So moving on very, very quickly.




Iris West in the silver age Flash managed the impossible and actually landed her hero. Married him and changed her name to Iris Allen and everything.


Suck it, Lois!



Suck it, harder Steve!!



In this iteration Iris is engaged to Eddie Thon.  Both a traditional bête noire for both Barry and a mean trick for the comic book fans who thought they knew something the rest of audience didn't.

She isn't interested in Barry at all, on the grounds that it would be gross and wrong.

Iris is completely right about this.

Barry is effectively her stepbrother.  They have lived together since the night in 2000 when the Reverse-Flash killed Barry's mom and Joe Allen took Barry in.  Which would have made Barry about nine at the time.

Step-sibling romances went out of vogue at about the turn of the last century.  I'm not sure what the hell the writers were thinking of.  Admittedly the Barry/Iris romance has an even bigger problem.  There is almost zero on screen chemistry between the leads.  There are more sparks going off between Iris and Eddy.  Normally, producers would just admit they made a casting error and find a new Sally Loveinterest. Except that Barry and Iris are canonical. So the shows writers have spent a year trying to pound a round peg into a square hole. Even after a much better option presented itself.


Barry: If only we had bathed together as children
 Felicity: I may have dodged a bullet here.


And then there was Hollywood's Big Blue Pill Lie.

The cruelest illusion that the entertainment complex has ever inflicted on men.


That if you are in the friendzone with a girl, that you are really and truly in love with, you can win her heart by confessing your love for her.

This. Never. Works.

Ever.  And I do mean ever.

When you are stuck in the Friendzone, you are almost always staying in the Friendzone.  That is a very tough truth for men to face.  And its one of the biggest reasons men first pick up the Red Pill in the first place.

To quote Heartiste:
 
"Admitting your feelings to a girl buddy is an extinction level fail that will harden her disgust at the thought of you as a sexual partner. If you have a hard time fathoming the fail here, imagine a morbidly obese woman who has been a friend of yours for years suddenly shoving her bratwurst tongue down your throat in a moment of unrestrained lust."

These are wise words.  Learn them to your good profit or ignore them at your exteme peril.


And sure enough after half a season of moping and turning down girls with a hot librarian vibe so he could continue to mope.  Barry confesses his love of Iris to Iris.  Naturally after an extended period of brooding, a freaking miracle happens and she returns his love.

Then interestingly, they moonwalked it away in the next episode.  After a spot of time travel, Iris was properly irritated and repelled by Barry's unwelcome, relationship redefining advances.

Usually when there is moonwalking like that, orders from on high are involved.

I'm not entirely certain how much of this shows problems are being dictated by Warner Brothers.  Earlier in the season they had a Lois and Clark vibe going between Iris and Barry's alter ego.  It was actually working but they suddenly pulled away from that as well.  The failure to launch of Barry and Felicity was clearly commanded from on high.

It's possible that a love triangle between a hopeless nerd, his hot step-sister and his superhero alter ego was what the producers had in mind all along.  That makes Barry's hopeless oneitis understandable if no less creepy.  However given that WB is PC SJW HQ, this plot line probably became viewed as hopelessly regressive.  Iris is too good of a feminist, to be panting after a superhero, like sad sorry Lois Lane.  Just a guess on my part but I think its a good one.

 My own Red Pill fantasy for the show, was to have Eddy be a player who starts mentoring Barry on the mysteries of Game.  Barry utilizes these lessons to steal away Eddy's girl as the Flash. After all the Flash was already running the hot/cold/hot/cold game on Iris.

Eddy (conspiratorial whisper): So did you try it out on that girl yet?

Barry (sheepishly smiles): A little...

Eddy (big smile): Its working isn't it?

Barry (almost giggling): I think it is.

Eddy (triumphant smile): Told you.  Intermittent rewards and only give back only 2/3rds of what she gives you. 

Barry:  I feel kind of guilty.  She's already in a realtionship...

Eddy (interrupts): All is fair.

Barry: But...

Eddy (interrupts again): ALL IS FAIR.

Barry: Well if those are the rules.

Eddy: They are Barry.  Believe me they are.

Barry: Okay then.

Eddy would later find out what his best friend was doing behind his back and the rest writes itself.

That of course is impossible for Warner Brothers.  So we had a season with some very promising starts and some jarring sudden halts.  I expect more of the same next year.

Spoilers below:



The final episode looked promising.  I actually thought for a moment that Eddy and Iris were going to stay together.  Barry's oneitis appeared to be understandingly resolved with Iris, (*who to my startlement said she never thought of herself as a hyphenated type.  Doubtless Future-Barry insisted*).  In a fairly lame and hokey effort to resolve Iris's love life, The writers opted to have Eddy kill himself and thus destroy his great-whatever-grandson the Reverse-Flash.

It had been a reasonably thoughtful episode on the intricacies of time-travel up to that point with only a few LAV sized plot holes. (*available on request in comments if your'e interested*)  And at the last moment they whizzed all that right down their legs.

The first season of the Flash, in miniature.  I'm hoping for better next season...But I'm not expecting it.



Final note: on the final episode.  Causality doesn't work like that!  If Eobard Thon is banished from existence why is Barry's mother still dead?  Why does STAR Labs still exist?  Why is Barry still the Flash?


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