The first season of Flash was one of the most unexpected and fantastic surprises of the past year. It was an amazing show with action, intrigue, fun characters, a fantastic story arc, and an overall optimistic worldview that was lacking in other superhero movies or TV shows. It was so good I waived my typical rule of not letting my boys watch a primetime superhero show (Arrow, SHIELD) and allowed them to watch Flash–they loved it as well and we still watch some of the older episodes. The first season finale is one of the best episodes of superhero TV ever.
But now the second season is two episodes in and while the storyline continues to build there are a couple of troubling morality implications. I’m not condemning them…yet…but I am concerned. Head after the break to find out what has me troubled.
[SPOILER ALERT: THIS POST CONTAINS FLASH SEASON TWO SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST TWO EPISODES]
There are two main moral problems I have with the Flash right now, all based in the first two episodes.
1. What’s with all the killing?
In 1980, Queen famously sang
Flash! A-ah! He’ll save every one of us!
Granted, they were singing about some other Flash guy, but they could have been singing about the TV show 34 years in the future. Because they’re Queen, that’s why.
In season one, Flash and the Scooby gang went up against a number of metahumans. But in almost all cases, those metahumans were captured and put into a special prison designed by Dr. Wells. Granted, it turns out he had a special motivation for not just straight-up killing bad guys–he was a bad guy as well and maybe it helped having some that he could use in the future–but the whole not killing thing set a nice tone for the show and also allowed some bad guys to be revisited in what was otherwise a villain-of-the-week format.
We’re now two episodes into season two of The Flash and we’ve seen two metahuman villains. Both of them were intentionally killed by The Flash. Atom Smasher was lured into a radiation chamber in order to overload his absorption power and kill him. Sand Demon was blasted with lightning in order to fuse his cells together like glass so that he could be shattered. These were not incidents that happened in the heat of battle. These were the anticipated, planned, and intended results of the Flash’s action.
I mean, when a bad guy from the future–a guy who is so cruel he tried to go back in time to kill his rival while that rival was a small child and, when he couldn’t do that, decided to kill his rival’s mom out of spite–has a more humane method of dealing with criminals than our hero, what does that say about our hero’s sense of justice?
In the first season, when the hero was under the sway of a bad guy and only incarcerating metahumans, there actually came a point when the district attorney found out and had a problem with what was going on. The Flash and team was acting as their own judicial system, putting bad guys in prison without a trial. That was a welcome moment of reality in an unreal situation.
If that same moment of reality were to happen in season two it would be to arrest the Flash for multiple counts of first degree murder.
2. Caitlin Snow ignores her reality, starting to stray from marriage
This is a strange one. Caitlin is super smart, we know this from every episode ever. In the first season she was also super sad because the accelerator accident blew up her fiance. We’ve all been there. Totally understandable. And she didn’t get over that pain in the nine months since the accident and the start of the first episode (that’s how long Barry was in a coma).
A few more months passed in the first season and Caitlin was faced with the growing knowledge that the love of her life might not be dead. Turns out he was back as Firestorm. She was happy that Ronnie was alive, but then sad when he had to leave to figure out how to control his powers. Because…reasons. Not like STAR Labs is actually the best place to figure out how to control metahuman powers. Whatever.
In the first season finale, Caitlin was beyond thrilled that Ronnie returned to help stop the Reverse Flash. And, like most romances in a season finale, they decided to get married. Because they didn’t want to be apart anymore especially since Ronnie had figured out his powers. They got married, then Ronnie goes and separates inside a singularity and he’s missing in action. This is what happens when you don’t plan the honeymoon, people.
Now in season two it is six months later and while Caitlin has moved on to a new job, she’s also apparently moved on from Ronnie. Let’s be clear: a singularity opened in the sky and evidence not only mounts that the singularity leads to a new world–by the end of the second episode this is explicity stated. You don’t have to live in a comic book universe to put these things together–RONNIE ISN’T DEAD! His body was never found because he was in a portal to another world that happened to close.
You don’t have to list in a comic book universe to come to this conclusion, but Caitlin is living in one and she’s super smart. And yet, faced with all this information she isn’t searching for Ronnie or wondering how she can find him. Nope. Instead, she’s making googly eyes at Earth-2’s Flash because when he takes his shirt off he’s got big…brains as a free lance chemist/physicist (what the hell is that job, anyway?).
Maybe the show is trying to set up a deeper emotional arc that will lead Caitlin to become a metahuman/villain Killer Frost as hinted in the season one finale, but it sure feels artificial and, when put into her context, of questionable moral value. She married Ronnie and knows her universe is a bit weird, but apparently she’s over that whole wedding vow stuff.
I still thoroughly enjoy the Flash but I’m hoping they rediscover their moral high ground before murdering and cheating become the new norms.