Whatever Happened to “The Fastest Man Alive”?

Barry Allen has always been my Flash, which is surprising for a lot of people because Wally West is the most popular one. Now, gun to my head, I’m an X-Men girl, but Barry Allen’s Flash is one of my all-time favourite superheroes, even though I couldn’t afford comic books as a kid and had to get all my info from cartoons and Wikipedia pages. Barry’s story, to me, has all the best parts of superheroics – a hero with an awe-inspiring sense of altruism, a romance that’s central to the story, and world-bending mythology. And, of course, memorable villains that entertain in all their iterations. Which is why, when I heard that the CW was doing an adaptation of his story for TV, I was more than a little apprehensive.

Thankfully, the first season – well, the first episode, if we’re being honest – sold me completely. Between Grant Gustin’s charm, the Reverse-Flash as a compelling villain, and the sweet romance, I knew that I had found the spiritual successor to Smallville that I so longed for. Within episodes it was one of my favourite shows, and I could confidently say that it was the best superhero show on television.

It was, however, not to last.

Because – in a pattern that has become depressingly regular for the show since the end of season 2 – while the first half of season 5 started off reasonably well, the second half has devolved into a host of flaws that make the show increasingly hard to watch. To the point where the only reason I’m even caught up on the show at all is because I wanted to write about it. Between Barry being nerfed so that the villain can get away and/or someone else can save the day, the lack of Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) and Westallen in general, and the show’s inability to keep its storylines straight this year, watching has felt more like a chore than anything else.

Last year, Jess, Tatiana (hi guys!) and I wrote about the problems of the show in season 4 and what could be done to fix it. At first, I thought about doing the same for the current season, but the truth is, every single problem currently plaguing the show – at least, the ones that have been irritating me the most –  runs much deeper than a typical one-season flaw. (Though that doesn’t excuse this season’s villain, who got more tiresome than last year’s Clifford Devoe in about half the time). This article is going to take a more in-depth approach in that we’ll be looking at the show as a whole, analyse some of the most glaring problems, and hopefully come up with some solutions.

In the opening monologue, Barry says “My name is Barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive”; there are many parts of the show that go into making that saying true, and in earlier seasons, The Powers That Be (AKA TPTB, the name fans give to the people in charge of a show) had a firm grasp on what made the show great. Lately, though, it seems like Barry and his show have been stuck in a rut, so if you’ll read on, I’m going to attempt to answer the question: whatever happened to “the fastest man alive”?

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