WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
Three episodes in and The Flash has certainly hit the ground running. Whilst all other comic book series that we’ve seen in the past few years – Arrow, Agents of SHIELD and Gotham – have struggled to find their feet in the early stages, The Flash has been excellent since the get go, and Things You Can’t Outrun really enhances its status as the strongest comic book show on TV, or at least in my opinion. It’s just so good, and there hasn’t been a bad episode of this series yet.
Lighter than its parent show, Arrow, The Flash has consistently been fun. The casting choice of Grant Gustin as Barry Allen is great and the supporting cast has been mostly strong as well, as Things You Can’t Outrun fleshed out Caitlin in this episode, introducing us for the first time to Ronnie Raymond, played by Stephen Amell’s cousin, Robbie Amell (who’s come off from playing the lead role in recently cancelled The Tomorrow People), who was Caitlin’s fiancé before he died in the explosion that gave Barry his powers (and also will return in the present, presumably as one half of superhero, Firestorm). It was great to learn more about Caitlin and, whilst there are only a few subtle hints that have planted her in the direction of becoming Killer Frost just yet, I’d actually prefer it if she stayed on the side of the good guys for at least a couple of seasons. Of course, there’s always the option for the creative team to make Caitlin not end up on the side of the villainous metahumans.
However, the villainous metahumans keep on coming. We’ve had fairly forgettable villains in the form of Multiplex and the Weather Wizard, but Things You Can’t Outrun can’t quite break that trend just yet, as it seems to be mainly focusing on fleshing out the likes of Caitlin and Harrison Wells (who gets another sinister end credits scene this episode where it is revealed he was observing the transformation from Barry into the Flash), as well as, of course, Barry and the West family. Joe West has already proven himself to be a better detective than Lance did at this stage of the season in Arrow, and it’s great to see that he continues to work with Barry and STAR Labs in this episode. It makes a refreshing change that he knows Barry’s identity from the get go, and it’ll be interesting to see how this develops over the series.
With the strong negativity surrounding another weak metahuman of the week in the form of the Mist, Things You Can’t Outrun propels The Flash further in the direction of becoming another formulaic show. It’s the most likeable comic book series on TV as of this moment but, with yet another forgettable bad guy, there’s never been anything to give The Flash the boost that Arrow had from villain-of-the-week into a more serialized format. We haven’t had the HYDRA revelation that catapulted SHIELD into greatness. Whilst, yes, they happened in the latter stages of their seasons, it would be nice to move away from the individual formula. Maybe one to three episode mini-arcs like Person of Interest had before it became mostly serialized. That would be great to see, and hopefully it’d be something that will change in the wake of the upcoming Arrow crossover.
The flashbacks in this episode that we got to see continued, and it seems that this show is adopting Arrow’s route in that regard. We got to know what Cisco, Caitlin and Harrison Wells were all doing on the night when everything went wrong, and it was handled pretty well for the most part. However, without the driving momentum that Arrow had (Barry was never stranded on an island, for one) the risk is still there that they could become repetitive.
On the whole then, despite a few flaws, Things You Can’t Outrun was mostly excellent. Fun, entertaining and well written, this series continues to impress and next week’s episode can’t come quickly enough. With the added awesome news that this show, like Gotham, has been picked up for a full season order, it’ll be great to see what happens now.