A Barry Allen Primer: What You Need to Know Ahead of The Flash‘s Series Debut

The Flash is racing to a screen near you on October 7th. If you haven’t been watching Arrow, where Barry Allen/The Flash was first introduced, then here’s a quick primer to get you started. I am only, more or less, covering plot points revolving around Barry Allen so these aren’t complete Arrow episode wrap-ups, though—beware—SPOILERS are lobbed throughout.

Arrow 2.08: “The Scientist”

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his team investigate a break-in at Queen Consolidated. A masked thief—superhuman blur on the security cams—makes quick disposal of two guards and steals a centrifuge. Initially it is believed the intruder had help lifting the hefty equipment. Enter affable and ear-to-ear grinning Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant police forensic investigator from Central City, who fibs by saying his captain has sent him to assist because their department is working on a “case with some similar unexplained elements.” Barry is positive the thief is a lone guy and, later, another security feed supports his claim.

Oliver is suspicious of Barry and asks John Diggle (David Ramsey) to look into Barry’s background. Meanwhile, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), IT technician for Queen Consolidated, has taken an instant romantic liking to Barry as they work together on identifying the mysterious intruder. Barry, who is aware Felicity has met The Vigilante/The Arrow (but unaware she’s part of his close-knit circle) unnerves her by probing a little too much even suggesting “police reports show that he uses carbon arrows but if he switched to an aluminum carbon composite he would have far better penetration.” Felicity’s wry response, “Maybe he thinks he penetrates just fine.” It’s later revealed that Barry had no official police business and is sent packing. Why did Barry begin to investigate on his own? Turns out a similar ‘speed demon’ killed his mother years ago and his father was incarcerated for her murder. He has been on a mission to clear his old man and find the real killer.

Oliver learns that the Queen Consolidated thief has been shot full of the same strength serum that Dr. Ivo (Dylan Neal) was searching for on the island where Oliver had been stranded for five years and where he developed his skills in being The Vigilante. Oliver tracks the thief down and in a climatic fight is infused with a lethal toxin. Barry, who’d been waiting at the train station to return to Central City, is knocked out with a dart to the neck, then later awakens to find himself brought to where Oliver/The Arrow is dying. Felicity pleads with him, “Will you save my friend.”

Arrow 2.09: “Three Ghosts”

Barry injects rat poison into Oliver Queen, saving his life and who immediately upon regaining consciousness chides Felicity for letting Barry in on his alter ego secret. “I decide who finds out my identity!” He also informs everyone that the person who attacked him has the ability to mass produce the serum. “Never meet your heroes, right?” Felicity tells Barry after witnessing Oliver’s lack of gratitude to the CSI for saving his life. Oliver also begins seeing ghosts of friends and family who have passed away (the episode is loosely based on the well-worn Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol) and Barry admits to Oliver that hallucinations are a side effect of the remedy he administered. Barry, in addition, earnestly suggests that Oliver should rethink the grease paint he wears as The Arrow because it is a poor identity concealer and proposes that he should consider a compressible micro-fabric. Barry also had pulled a fingerprint off Oliver’s neck that Felicity determines belongs to a man named Cyrus Gold.

Barry heads back to Central City because he wants to see the particle accelerator turned on but fails to make it in time for a front row seat. Instead he’s seen walking into his lab across the city where he calls Felicity to let her know if she ever gets tired of waiting around for Oliver Queen he will gladly go out on a date with her. Barry also says he left something for Oliver which turns out to be the mask designed using the compressed micro-fabric that will allow The Arrow to be on the run still firing his arrows with the same agility.

Barry hangs up and studies a bulletin board containing news articles of his mother’s death while a reporter, on television, says the raging electrical storm has caused “a malfunction to the primary coolant system.” Barry witnesses a massive explosion—the particle accelerator gone awry. The chemicals in his lab begin to defy gravity flowing upward and across the room as a swarm of energy envelopes the city and a few seconds later a lightning bolt surges through the skylight hurtling Barry down and backward against a metal shelf. Barry lays unconscious as a luminous glow, highlighting his veins, threads its way up his face. The birth of The Flash.

Epilogue: The episode jumps back to Oliver and his team with Diggle saying, “Even the Arrow deserves a Christmas present.” Oliver opens Barry’s gift to find the mask he had been talking about. Oliver asks how he looks with it on and Felicity responds, “Like a hero.”

Note: Originally, according to Wikipedia, Barry Allen was supposed to be in three episodes for the second season of The Arrow but that was changed and instead Arrow 2.10: “Blast Radius” opens with Felicity, off screen, in Central City visiting with Barry who is in a coma following the particle accelerator explosion. She returns, saying, “He’s still sleeping,” because she prefers that word to coma. Sexual and work tension are obviously in the air between Oliver and Felicity when he carefully states she is needed with them, though on another note, he obviously now respects Barry.

Arrow 2.19: “The Man Under The Hood”

One of the top Arrow adventures has Oliver fighting to regain his company, Thea (Willa Holland) his sister struggling to come to terms with the news her father really wasn’t who she thought, and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) now fairly certain Oliver is The Arrow and her sister is helping him. Slade (Manu Bennett) attacks Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) at their hideout and steals the “skeleton key” that unlocks any lab anywhere so he can obtain a bio-transfuser (a contraption that can take blood from one single patient and transfer to multiple patients) looking to spread his Mirakuru-permeated blood to create an army of supervillains.

Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), who are close friends of Barry Allen (and will be part of The Flash’s supporting cast), are working at a S.T.A.R. Labs warehouse doing inventory. They are almost killed by Slade looking for the bio-transfuser but they manage to escape bumping into Diggle and Felicity. Felicity knows both of them from her time in Central City when she was at Barry’s hospital bedside and in an awkward exchange Cisco reveals that a woman named Iris is looking after Barry. He describes Iris as Barry’s “something.” After Felicity and Diggle walk away, Felicity murmurs, “That’s just swell. Barry’s in a coma and he’s already moved on.”

Later, Oliver reveals there is a cure for the Mirakuru, and Felicity goes to meet Cisco and Caitlin at S.T.A.R. Labs to have an antidote produced.


Wrap-Up: At first, Grant Gustin may not come across as a leading man material but I believe looks can be deceiving in this case and he has the chops based on his two Arrow performances to succeed and become the definitive Flash for this generation. Hard to gage the Cisco and Caitlin characters on a few pithy scenes but they seemed likable enough. In a nice tip to television Flash history it has been announced that John Wesley Shipp has been cast as Henry Allen, Barry’s father. Shipp starred as The Flash in the 1990 version.

Your thoughts? Are you looking forward to seeing the “Crimson Comet” return to the small screen on a weekly basis? What did you think of his intro on Arrow and Grant Gustin?

David Cranmer is the publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and books and editor of the recent collections The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform and Other Stories and A Rip Through Time: The Dame, the Doctor, and the Device.


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