Both the Flash and the show that bears his name test the limits of their speed tonight, as “Power Outage” is the most frantically paced hour to date. It’s a little early in the series’ run to play the hero-loses-his-powers card, and stuffing three supervillains into the episode is a bit much, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving week and such overindulgence can be forgiven. This was a night to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The primary threat this week is Farooq (Michael Reventar), posthumously dubbed Blackout by Cisco, who happened to be climbing an electrical tower when the particle accelerator exploded. Farooq’s friends were killed and he was transformed into an electrically-powered metahuman. Feeding on electricity, Farooq saps power from both Central City and Barry Allen, who is left without his superspeed abilities. It’s a turn of events we know will be temporary, but it does result in at least two revelations important in the long-term.
First is the refreshing fact that Barry absolutely loves being the Flash. In a universe of tormented, brooding superheroes who rue the day they were cursed with special abilities, Barry is the most relatable because he reacts the way we would expect to react in his situation. The delight he takes in the opening sequence when the mugger demands his wallet is infectious; instead of being grim and vengeful, he strips the guy down to his underwear and deposits a cop on the scene. It’s not that Barry is a completely frivolous person—his Iris-related angst and his quest for his mother’s killer are evidence of that—but the joy he takes in his powers is a big part of what makes The Flash such a fun show.
The other fallout from Barry’s temporary power outage is a glimpse of vulnerability on the part of Dr. Wells. As it turns out, he isn’t completely omniscient. The future revealed in the first episode, in which the Flash disappears saving the world from a crisis, is not set in stone. It’s simply a possibly future, one which Wells is awfully anxious to preserve. This humanizes him to some degree, especially once he realizes that Barry’s impulse to help people is not at cross-purposes with Wells’ need to preserve the Flash at all costs. That said, Wells is still as shady as ever, releasing Girder from his cell to do battle with Blackout in order to buy Cisco and Caitlin time to restore Barry’s powers. (Admittedly, this does solve a problem noted in last week’s review, namely that the Flash revealed his identity to Girder. This leaves only the Mist as prisoner in the most underpopulated super-prison ever.)
In the end, Barry’s powers are restored, not through a jump-start (though that helped), but by getting over a case of the “yips.” We are informed that his powers are stronger than ever, but any elaboration on that fact is left for future episodes. He is powerful enough to overload Farooq, which puts an end to one threat. That’s plenty of excitement for one episode, and yet, there’s still another supervillain at work in Central City this night, as the power outage provides the Clock King an opportunity for an escape attempt during a prisoner transfer at the police station.
As played by Robert Knepper, the Clock King has already appeared on Arrow, which means we’ve now had three crossovers with that show in advance of next week’s big two-night “Flash vs. Arrow” event (following Oliver Queen in the pilot and Felicity a couple weeks ago). He’s an amusing addition to the episode, but a little extraneous, especially since the end result of his appearance is another Iris-in-peril scenario. At least this time Iris is able to extract herself from danger (with an assist from a wounded Eddie), which is incremental progress, I suppose.
- Easter egg: Among the names of those “killed” by the particle accelerator explosion, Wells mentions Ralph Dibney. Are we due for an appearance by the Elongated Man at some point?
- Tonight’s stinger had Wells extracting a sample from Farooq, ostensibly to find out how he was able to sap the Flash’s powers. Except he wasn’t actually able to do that, right? Temporarily, sure, but now that they know the quick-fix for the power outage, that doesn’t seem like such useful information to have.
- The Clock King was played by Walter Slezak on two 1966 episodes of Batman. No doubt the teenage Clock Prince will turn up on Gotham at some point this season. Everyone else has.