“Things You Can’t Outrun” doesn’t do much to change the show’s structure, but it does allow a supporting character some development and it doesn’t slow the fun pace that the show has embraced. If The Flash is dead set on new baddie of the week each episode, they do need to make sure that there isn’t too much overlap, and considering tonight’s bad guy is pretty similar to the pilot’s meta-human who could control the weather, they’re already close to that particular problem.
Luckily it’s only episode three, and with the news that the show’s picked up a back ten episodes, they’ll have plenty of time to sort these rough patches out. As long as the episodes continue with the energy that it has and the touching character moments with Barry and co., it will be an enjoyable journey.
This week we learn more about Caitlin’s backstory and why she is so guarded. She lost her fiancé, Ronnie (Robbie Amell), during the accelerator explosion. Ronnie acted the part of a hero and ran down to try and stop it, telling Cisco that if he wasn’t back in a certain amount of time that he’d have to lock the door on him to save as many lives as possible. The time passes and Cisco is forced into making the impossible judgment call by closing the door on his friend, just as Caitlin runs down to talk to Ronnie one last time. The two speak with Ronnie, who tells them that he’s directed the explosion upwards, saving lives, while he watches a swell of flames round the corner.
So, if you weren’t already feeling the weight of the anvil dropping on your head, Caitlin later describes the two of them to Barry as being like fire and ice. We get it! Caitlin, and is some respects, Danielle Panabaker, is benefited from working with Grant Gustin for most of the episode and opening up. Panabaker isn’t the most charming screen presence, and considering the show has molded her into a Felicity type of character (without the quirky asides), that could be a great detractor. Luckily enough, as Caitlin confronts past demons, connects with Barry through their understood grief, and shares a sweet moment with Cisco at the end, she becomes all the more likeable as a character.
Elsewhere, we go through the motions of what we expect from the past two episodes. Barry has to struggle through feelings of self-doubt again as he confronts a foe who can transform his body into poison gas. He had previously been a man on death row and had just gotten his injection when the accelerator affected him. Now, he’s taking revenge on those who put him there. Barry faces off with him after he kills the judge who ruled against him and is nearly struck down and saved by his fast-acting metabolism. The team learns that Joe is next on the hit list, and Barry races to save him.
Joe is visiting Barry’s father in prison, wanting to tell him in person that he’s realized his mistake and is ready to get him out of jail as a free man. It’s a well-acted and nice moment for the two, but boy, all I could keep thinking during this moment was that Barry currently has an abundance of father figures in his life, and I have a hard time believing that all of three of them will make it to the end of season one. Hopefully I’m wrong, but superheroes always seem to need to hit their darkest moment before rising above it to be the best that they can be.
Barry saves Joe in time and goes on to save the day. The science trio transforms the accelerator into a prison for meta-humans and Barry shares a moment with Joe and his father.
The episode ends with another hint at who Harrison Wells is, and while I’m loving Tom Caranagh in the role, I’m ready for something different.
A good, if nothing new, episode of The Flash, but it’s one that keeps me excited for it each week. Next week: Felicity!