Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reviews of 'The Flash' Season 2 premiere & 'Gotham'

"The Flash": What happened to Team Flash?

Well, Barry Allen has distanced himself from his stepdad, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin, whose onscreen connection with star Grant Gustin is as strong as ever), West's daughter (and Allen's best friend) Iris and his STAR Lab partners for the six months since the finale of the first season.

What Allen learns is as The Flash, he can't continue fighting metahumans in Central City by himself — or at least be successful at it — so welcome to Team Flash 2.0, now with the very likable and down-to-earth Dr. Martin Stein (who gets a hug from Cisco for aptly naming the Season 2 premiere baddie Atom Smasher).

Beware of major spoilers from here on out if you haven't watched this episode yet. Also, after the jump, look for a short review of this week's installment of "Gotham."

The greatest twist was Dr. Harrison Wells leaving STAR Labs in his will to Allen. And I don't blake Barry for dreading watching the video of Wells' private message to Allen and his living will.

Who knew Wells could do the right thing — even after his death? His message is just as complicated as his character arc was. Just when I think Wells is the No. 1 scumbag, he shows great character by fully admitting to killing Allen's mother.

Wells' admission means Barry's father gets released from prison after fourteen years. Actor John Wesley Shipp once again shows great care for Gustin's Allen — and like Martin, all of Henry Allen and West's interactions with "their" son ring true. You can tell each of these actors enjoy working with each other and this is apparent onscreen.

I was surprised to hear Barry's father say he was leaving Central City — as I'm sure other fans were. His presence would create some fascinating complications and subplots for Allen, Joe and Iris West, but I'm sure there's time for that later in the season.

Then again, the cameo of Jay Garrick will give Team Flash plenty of challenges. This wasn't as strong of a premiere as I had expected, but it was enjoyable overall and had some nice moments, especially as Allen and his extended family celebrated his father's new freedom. Grade: B

"Gotham": Just when I think I'm done with "Gotham" (as seen in my review of the second episode of this season), the FOX series pulls me back in with a really strong episode like Monday's.

This is where we see the Joker-esque Jerome come into his own — only to see him surprisingly stabbed to death. Who saw that coming?!? Certainly not me. I'm confident we haven't seen the last of this mysterious new millionaire, possibly yet another character we expect to become The Joker.

Monday's highlight was Alfred Pennyworth hitting on and flirting with Dr. Leslie "Lee" Thompkins. (Can you blame him?!?) His reaction to seeing Detective Jim Gordon kiss Thompkins was priceless ("Bugger!"). Equally priceless was Alfred good-naturedly accusing Bruce Wayne of knowing about their relationship, but not telling him.

It was a relief seeing Alfred (Sean Pertwee) finally have some genuine connection with actor David Mazouz, whose Bruce Wayne remains stiff and uninteresting. I blame this more on Mazouz than Pertwee, who has played Wayne's guardian and butler with great dignity while the young teen hasn't brought much to his character. This episode was the first time in which Wayne actually steps up to be the hero he needs to be eventually and show compassion and concern for someone besides Selina Kyle.

Important to any Bruce Wayne story is his connection with Alfred Pennyworth. I became a part of Team Alfred last season when we got to see the butler and former soldier kick some ass. Monday we got to see that again — and we need to see more of Wayne's guardian kicking butt and taking names. Not all the time, grant you, but every three or four episodes would be about right.

The gorgeous Morena Baccarin's chemistry with Ben McKenzie's Detective Jim Gordon is hot, hot, hot; you can see why the two are a real-life couple. After some misgivings, I can say the two characters make a great couple.

All around good stuff! Grade: A-

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