The Flash Season 1, Episode 7: Power Outage
Written by Grainne Godfree and Alison Schapker
Directed by Larry Shaw
A superhero confronted by the loss of his powers is standard fare in comic books and TV shows. Smallville did it in its first season and later in its fifth, and it’s not surprising The Flash decided to take on the story during its freshman year.
Barry Allen’s immediate reaction is he must get his abilities back after a confrontation with the tragic meta-human villain Blackout, who feeds on electricity and has incinerated a number of innocent people, including his friends, after being electrocuted spectacularly during a prank gone awry.
Meanwhile, another villain, the Clock King, has turned the tables at the police precinct while in custody, taking Joe, Iris and Eddie hostage in the process. As Wells and his team work to restore The Flash to full power, Eddie’s life is on the line while Iris wonders what happened to the hero she named.
“Power Outage” is one of the stronger episodes of the series’ debut season, even if it is taking on a story frequently used in the genre. It speaks to Barry Allen the person, and how becoming The Flash has quickly become a critical part of his identity. Grant Gustin’s likeability in the role is what makes the story work so well; we can all identify with having an ability or aspect of our life which we feel is essential to who we are and the fear that comes with facing its loss.
We know Barry is going to get his powers back; it’s just a question as to how. Meanwhile, we get more insight into the psychology of Wells and how far he is willing to ensure the existence of The Flash, including the release of last week’s villain to be cannon fodder for Blackout.
More broadly, “Power Outage” shows how the series can keep story arcs simmering in the background, specifically the threat made to Joe and Iris at the end of the previous episode. There’s a brief nod to it only. And the release of Tony the bully also is a subtle reminder that Gorilla Grodd is waiting in the wings as a future story line.
Finally, there’s a nice twist to this episode in that the hostage situation resolves itself without Barry’s intervention, and Iris isn’t angry at The Flash for not showing up, which could have been a predictable response to create drama in later episodes.
Next week: Flash vs Arrow!