THE FLASH Bullies Its Way Through


Episode 106 “The Flash is Born”

[Photos: Cate Cameron/The CW]

It’s one of those “go here to get there” episodes, giving us a full hour to establish the official name for Barry Allen’s costumed crime-fighter persona. But it does also give us a few moments when Joe almost figures out a few things.


Main plot: Barry’s childhood bully, Tony Woodward, returns to Central City after ten months being somewhere else letting folks think he was dead after falling into a vat of molten steel just as the particle accelerator exploded. So he’s now got the ability to morph his skin into steel. Like a Girder.

Now, Girder is actually what Cisco calls the sparring robot he builds for Barry, but he also applies the name to the new nemesis, so it’s probably going to stick.

The Flash Is Born

Woodward is just a typical one-note bully character given to us by the show writers to flesh out some back story for Barry. And he’s not really that interesting as a character, mainly because he doesn’t have any dimension at all. The show even recognizes this when Barry says “Bully then, bully now” as he’s confronting Girder in their old elementary school. Woodward has kidnapped Iris and taken her there, not because there’s any particular meaning to it, other than this was where Tony went to school with Iris. No other thought than that. He’s not a very creative villain.

But he’s only a catalyst, anyway. Several story threads weave in and around his appearance in Central City:

  • Iris writing about the Streak.
  • Barry facing his “bully”.
  • Barry and Eddie bonding.
  • Barry and Iris reconciling.

The Flash Is Born

The threat to Iris comes front and center after being an element last week. Flash tells Iris she needs to stop writing her blog, as it will make her a target because people will think they know each other. Iris says she was originally doing it to support a friend of hers, but she understands there’s a need for hope in the city, and she’s just going to have to take her chances. But in the end, when Barry realizes that Iris is going to do this no matter what, his best bet is to reconcile with her and make sure he’s close enough to try and prevent too much fallout.

Barry also gets some “guy time” with Eddie this week. Iris’ boyfriend wants to make nice with the man who’d like to be Iris’ boyfriend, only nobody knows that but Barry and Joe. Eddie figures he needs to be in good with Iris’ best friend, even though he’s sensing some tension between the two. Eddie isn’t quite sure what’s going on between Iris and Barry, but he’s trying to do his part to smooth things out.

That includes blowing off steam by hitting the Central City police department’s gym, where Eddie inadvertently gives Barry a piece of solid advice — you only need one shot, but you have to make it count. It’s an odd bonding moment for the two of them, but it works toward establishing a better relationship between the two.

Joe, in the meantime, goes to Wells to get help on trying to solve the Nora Allen murder. He saw Barry save a kid from being hit by Girder in the Hummer, and it reminds him of how Young Barry described what happened to him the night of his mother’s murder. That instantaneous transport — now Joe’s seen it, and he figures that maybe someone with Barry’s skills may have been there that night. Wells points out that the murder happened fourteen years before the accelerator explosion. So it’s highly unlikely that someone like Barry existed back then.

It’s at this point, I’m thinking that Joe needs to take just a little tiny step further to trip over the possibility for time travel, but he doesn’t. Instead, he lets Wells deflect him, and later over a drink, when Joe starts to ask a few pointed questions about Wells himself, the professor gives up the name Tess Morgan. Another deflection?

Turns out, Tess was Wells’ wife, and the two were working on the particle accelerator research together in Maryland before Tess was killed in a car accident. That sent Wells off to Central City, where he could start over without anyone knowing who he was. He opened his lab one month after Nora Allen was killed. And while Joe’s suspicions of Wells may have been alleviated, he’s still trying to put the pieces together to find out who really killed Nora. Joe is just barely close enough to get it, too.


Now, at this point, there are four people who know about Joe’s work: Joe, Barry, Henry, and Wells. So the suspect list is short for guessing who blasts into Joe’s house in a red and yellow tornado of superspeed and steals all of the case files. The Reverse-Flash also leaves a threat — a knife in a photo of Iris. It’s clear that someone doesn’t want Joe pursuing this.

Wells, however, is probably not that guy. Even though there are hints that he’s Professor Zoom, or Reverse-Flash, or maybe Older Barry, or (insert your pet theory here), it’s still too soon to know who he really is. But it’s clear his “mission” — self-directed or on orders from someone else — is to protect Barry Allen and perhaps prepare him for whatever is coming in 2014. Barry has to be able to handle a crisis.

Despite the Tess Morgan story, we still can be reasonably certain that Wells is from the future, and that his name (H. Wells — come on…) is an alias. Is he Hunter Zolomon? Rip Hunter? Booster Gold? Probably not. The likely candidate is still Hunter Zolomon, but there’s also the question of whether Wells has come back in time to make sure Barry gets his powers. Otherwise the timeline disintegrates, maybe because it’s already been tampered with due to Professor Zoom’s meddling in Barry’s life by killing Nora. Instead of preventing Barry from becoming the Flash, it actually provides the impetus for Barry to work for the police. And since Reverse-Flash’s existence is predicated by the existence of the Flash, maybe RF felt he had to go back to make sure Barry’s trajectory went the right way.

Time travel always makes my head hurt.

Speaking of trajectory, it was quite satisfying to watch Barry hit Mach 1.1 and create a sonic boom just before punching Tony at 837 miles per hour.

Easter Eggs:

  • “a man of steel” – Wells delivers the line in reference to Tony, but it’s an obvious nod to that other DC Comics character.
  • Garrick’s Wharf – on the wall next to the Rusty Iron Ale brewery; named for Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the early days of DC Comics. The two finally met in the first crossover, Flash #123, in which both were running to rescue someone from a falling… girder.


  • Unit 52 – call sign for the radio car sitting outside the West house; 52 frequently shows up in all DC Comics shows, especially since the New 52 hit the shelves.
  • Carmichael Elementary – maybe named for Clifford Carmichael, an arrogant genius who frequently bullied Ronnie Raymond (who’s already shown up and will return as Firestorm).
  • Firestorm – Iris is hearing stories about a “man on fire” who doesn’t burn. This is Firestorm, and may likely be the Ronnie Raymond/Jason Rusch combination.

One final thing: these “prisoners” in the MetaJail. Obviously, they’re not going to tell anyone they’re locking up crazy metahumans beneath the Big Bad Machine that Went Boom. But what’s that like? Are they put into suspended animation, maybe? Otherwise… food? Someplace to sleep? A bathroom?

And oh, by the way, the police cars should have Missouri license plates on them. Just sayin’…

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “Plastique”]



Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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