EXPeriencing ‘The Flash’: Season One

Cover photo via MoviePilot.

I typically think of myself as a Marvel Universe fan. I immersed myself in Marvel in the early 2000s when I saw X-Men and Spider-Man in theaters. They were fun, had intriguing characters, and everyone was full of powers that I craved as a teenager. (To the point that I was writing X-Men fanfic before bed…) While I do love Christopher Nolan’s Batman, I’ve never really cared for Superman and my knowledge of the rest of the DC Universe is zilch.

I was looking for a new show to binge on Netflix late in December, mostly because I knew Terry was sick of being drawn into Worst Cooks in America. After scrolling through every TV show available on Netflix, and having heard good things about The Flash, that’s what we turned on. The pilot was very good. It was entertaining, and I liked Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, Iris, and Joe’s characters. All were interesting and layered and well-acted. Despite Terry telling me decades’ worth of backstory about Barry Allen and all the various Flashes, Reverse-Flashes, and the Justice League, I know so little about DC and The Flash I was able to watch the show with an open mind and let this be my first interaction with a new superhero.

I enjoyed the show at first. But man, it grew on me fast. To the point where it may be one of the best shows I’ve seen in the past couple years, right up there with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. (I like superhero shows, okay?) I think the reason it grew on me so quickly is because the pacing was spot on. It starts with the particle reactor explosion that causes a freak storm turning Barry into “the Streak” (thankfully that name doesn’t stick), and turns many other people in Central City–mostly criminals, of course–into “metahumans.” But the first season isn’t just about Barry growing as The Flash and catching metahumans. It swiftly evolves into that and his renewed quest to discover who killed is mom 11 years ago and set his dad free from prison. Now that Barry is a “speedster” (the dumbest name for an ability ever, sorry), he’s noticed some similarities between his abilities and those of the mysterious Man in Yellow who killed Nora Allen.

These two plots–catching criminals and investigating Barry’s mom’s murder–tie together nicely as you get more and more hints into who dun’ it. The viewers know much sooner than Barry himself does. Along with the pacing, this definitely helped keep me intrigued. When is Barry going to figure it out?  When is he going to go back in time to try and stop it? Oh yeah, did I mention there’s time travel? There’s time travel. And it’s a good kind of time travel–the kind where one changed decision creates a new future, the kind that changes everything…

For instance, the finale. I won’t get into the finale, but ho. ly. shit. That was Walking Dead levels of emotions I felt at the end of The Flash. Time travel is no joke, my friends, and when a dead parent is involved, well, let’s just say it gets you right in the heart.

The one downside to The Flash and it being my first foray into DC TV shows is that I completely skipped Arrow. I’ve heard good things about Arrow, too, of course, but Terry was vehemently against watching the show. His point of reference for the Green Arrow is “a poncy, goateed Robin Hood who shoots arrows with punching bags on the end of them.” I don’t blame him, that does sound pretty lame. But, there is a lot of crossover with Arrow where references flew right over my head and I had very little knowledge of who this random new character was. Not to the point where I didn’t understand the plot, but I knew I would have appreciated what was going on far more if I knew what had happened on Arrow that week.

Possibly needless to say, and after that intense finale, Terry and I started watching Arrow this week to get caught up before watching Season Two of The Flash. I’m looking forward to learning more about the characters in Starling City, especially Resident Bad Ass Felicity Smoak. And when Barry Allen shows up on Arrow, as he inevitably will, I will be a happy camper.

EXPeriencing Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ (Season 2)

Cover image via Hypable. Caution, contains some spoilery things.

I have previously noted my fangirl love of the Marvel cinematic universe, so it’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was a little iffy about it when the first season premiered on ABC, so I didn’t watch it as it aired. I waited until it was on Netflix, which was both an excellent and poorly timed decision. It was an excellent decision because it reeled me in immediately and I was hooked from the first episode so I could watch them all in basically one sitting. (In fact, I liked it so much, my husband, Terry, bought me a S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy Alumni phone case for Christmas. It’s awesome.) It was poorly timed because by the time I was done binge-watching it, Season 2 was already several episodes in on ABC, and I couldn’t find the first episodes streaming online anywhere. Rather than steal/buy them, I waited.

Finally, a few weeks ago Season 2 went up on Netflix, and Terry and I got to bingeing. I really enjoyed Season 2. It plays off of the end of Season 1 and the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. well as Coulson and his team work to rebuild the organization. It also incorporates the smaller story arcs–particularly the character-driven ones–nicely: Fitz/Simmons, Skye and the search for her parents, Coulson and the fallout from the TAHITI project, new characters who have joined the team (like mercenary Lance Hunter, played by Nick Blood. I’m a fan.), etc. Together with the overarching enemy of Hydra, these story and character arcs really make the season.

NickBlood

Hey, Nick. How are ya? (Source)

As Terry and I were getting to the last few episodes of the season, I realized one of my favorite things about the show, particularly Season 2, is how well-crafted the antagonist(s) are. I say “antagonist(s)” specifically because there’s not just one. Far from it. Yes, Hydra is the “main” enemy and will be until all its heads are cut off. But throughout the season, other enemies rise and fall, become allies, or go from ally to enemy. From Ward, to Skye’s father, to the “enhanced individuals,” to S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, Coulson and his team’s antagonists are ever-shifting–and that’s a good thing. If they were just going after Hydra for 22 episodes, it’d get kind of boring. With several different people and organizations squaring off against S.H.I.E.L.D., though, the show always stays interesting, and you never know what ride is in store for you each episode.

As my husband put it, it’s very much like The Walking Dead in that regard. The walkers are always there, and they’re always the overarching enemy (like Hydra). But there are other bands of people, individuals within the group, cannibalistic towns, and so much more that creates a threat to Rick and the group. You never know who to trust, and when you add the threat of zombies on top of it, it makes for an incredibly compelling show.

At this point, if you like the Marvel cinematic universe movies but you’re not watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., time to get with the program. In fact, if you’re not watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you’re likely going to start missing out on important details in the movies (for instance, if you didn’t know that S.H.I.E.L.D. had fallen when Age of Ultron came out, that was probably a bit of a shocker for you). So, if you like Captain America and Thor, all the action those movies provide, and a sprawling interconnected world, I would highly recommend you check out Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Also, let me remind you that this is a Joss and Jed Whedon show. Picture Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with established superheroes and all the force of ABC/Disney behind it. There are strong female characters all over the place, great action scenes that almost always further the plot, and intricacies and mysteries that can only be etched out over 22 hours, rather than 2. So if you were feeling a little underwhelmed by Age of Ultron, I think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will help you feel like your action can be smarter.

If I haven’t made it clear enough, I really like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. When Terry and I finished watching the last episode Thursday night, we both wanted more, and not just because the cliffhangers were intense. The show and characters really captivated us, and when the season ended, we didn’t want to let go yet. All weekend we’ve been lamenting that we finished the season and now we don’t have anything else to watch that even comes close to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So in the meantime before Season 3 premieres, I guess we’ll just keep re-watching Daredevil, and I’m going to search for a gym that trains you to work out and fight like a spy…