When it comes to superhero stories, there are classic tropes that must be gone through at one point or another. This applies especially to those heroes with powers. There’s of course the adjustment to getting powers phase, the “abuse” of powers phase, and the classic getting your powers taken away story. The latter can be sometimes overdramatic and pointless, as we know the hero will get their powers back eventually. With the latest episode of Flash, the writers took the idea of Barry getting his powers taken away, and wrapped it into a powerful episode that allowed numerous characters to shine.
“Power Outage” was a very literal title, as the villain Blackout arrived to literally drain the city of its electricity, and kill a certain doctor for making him that way. Before I start out with the story, I really want to give props to the character of Blackout. What could have been a simple one-and-done villain like The Mist or Girder turned into a rather sympathetic character. From the opening scene where he tried to make sure his friends stay alive, to the scene with Barry where he showed how devastated he was that he inadvertently killed them. It was all great stuff. Sure, he went power hungry at the end and was bent on revenge, but at least they tried to make him a worthy villain.
The overall story featuring Barry losing his powers was actually rather compelling despite its cliche premise. From the initial shock Barry showed of not being the Flash anymore, to the desire of the others to get him back to his hero form, and then the fear when Blackout appeared and turned this into a true horror episode as they had no way to truly defend themselves. It was tense, and you almost didn’t know how it was going to end.
Truly though, what made “Power Outage” great though was Harrison Wells. With every episode we seem to get another to this multi-faceted character, and each new layer is something awesome to behold. Tonight’s episode was no different. Cause here we got to see a true connection to his “being from the future” arc in the form of Gideon, his (seemingly) A.I. computer that’s still attached to the future he (assumingly) comes from. I love that they used the paper from the pilot as a backbone to this episode, and showed how the future changed when Barry lost his powers. Going so far as to say that Barry Allen was not “in” the future at all. Infer what you will, but when over 3200+ newspapers and articles DON’T have someone’s name in them, it means they’re either dead, or so unimportant it’s criminal.
Even more though was the lengths Wells went to protect Barry and “save” the future. It’s clear that Wells knows something so important in regards to Barry that he NEEDS him to survive or else. And time and time again we’re seeing how far he’s willing to go to do that. In this case it was freeing Girder to fight Blackout. A very cool twist, and a worthy, albeit short, redemption for a character who honestly didn’t make too much of an impact when he premiered last week.
This episode was also about a tale of two Barry’s. On one hand, we got to see the noble side of Barry as he tried to talk down Blackout from his villainous rage. On the other hand though, we saw the stereotypical “I’m nothing without my powers” fallout. For Barry that honestly didn’t work, as his job at the CCPD honestly does allow him to save people. He’s been doing that long before he was the Flash, and it would still be there if he wasn’t the Flash. Then when he was revealed to have the “yipps” and didn’t have his powers because of a mental block? Didn’t hold water much.
The unexpected twist in this episode was the return of Robert Knepper as The Clock King. In the short storyline he was given he was allowed to show off the genius that was touched upon in his Arrow episode. What made this “B story” so great was how it was done with precision and believebility. Also, the foresight of Clock King to wear kevlar was a nice touch. I thought the back and forth between him and Joe was great, as Joe knew every quote Tockman made. What shouldn’t go unnoticed though was that Tockman still managed to be sympathetic here, as he talked about his dying sister once again.
The only true downfall in my in regards to “Power Outage” was the short scene between Iris and the Flash. Why? Because it broke the point in my mind of the Clock King story. Iris got to be the hero and take out Clock King herself, showing not only that “ordinary people” could protect themselves, but cementing the idea that Flash can’t be everywhere at once. Instead, Barry rushed in, apologized, made a flirty line, and then ran off. Further making this more like an Arrow/Laurel love story than a Barry/Iris love story.
Overall though, “Power Outage” was a fantastic episode, and easily one of the best of the season. The “truth” about Wells is slowly beginning to unfold, and it’s a blast to watch. His conversations with Barry and Cisco were amazing, and I can’t wait to delve into this mystery more. As for Barry, he got to grow a little as a character and as a hero, as we found out his powers are evolving. Sure, there were some bumps, but it was still an epic episode.
Now, bring on the crossover!