The Flash RECAP: Powerless Before the Awesome Might of Dick Lasers (S1:E7)
Previously on The Flash: Seventeen people, including Caitlin’s fiancé, died in the STAR Labs explosion; the old accelerator ring has been turned into a metaprison; and Barry is smug that he imprisoned his childhood nemesis.
Ten months ago, three youths are drinking and hanging out under some power lines, because that’s what youths do for fun. One of them, Farooq, is climbing a converter tower while his friends giggle at him to come down. He insists the view of the particle accelerator from there is outstanding, and they’re missing out. And he does indeed have a great seat for the explosion… and is the first to notice the weird dark matter pulsing out from the epicenter. He yells at his friends to get in the car. They obey, but he’s stuck on the tower. He’s struck by an electrical overload of some sort when the shock wave passes by. He falls from the tower, and his drunk friends run over: by their reaction, he seems to be dead (spoiler alert: he’s not dead).
Harrison is rolling into his secret chamber at STARLS, and he removes his FAKE glasses and stands up to interact with Gideon, his weird computer. He’s keeping oral journal entries about Barry, and he’s making another one, on day 311 since Barry was struck by lightning. Harrison exposits for us that Barry has begun using his speed in his everyday life, and we get a montage of Barry oversleeping and using his speed to get ready, fixing coffee in an instant for everyone in line, and toying with a mugger dumb enough to pick him to mug. Harrison thinks his casual reliance on his speed is hindering his development, and he brings up the 2024 digital newspaper we saw back in episode 1 (as an aside, the other headlines besides “FLASH MISSING, VANISHES IN CRISIS” are “Wayne Tech/Queen Inc Merger Complete,” “Red Skies Vanish,” and my personal favorite “Woolly Mammoth Charms at Zoo”). Apparently the headline still being there means that the future is still “intact,” so Harrison isn’t worried about Barry yet. Also, the article was written by “Evan Gibson” who is an in-universe reporter in Star City, which is neat.
Harrison returns to the lab asking after Barry, who is late, which is apparently normal for him. When he speeds in, Harrison dismisses Caitlin and Cisco to admonish Barry in private. He reminds Barry that Team Flash is at his disposal as part of trade: they help him with the superheroics, he lets them study his abilities, and lately he’s been a little dismissive of the studying part. Barry offers all the blood or MRIs the team needs, but Harrison really needs his speed. He needs Barry to go faster. Barry gets a text that he’s needed at the scene of a homicide, and Harrison tells him to remember his powers aren’t just about him.
At the scene, the body is completely charred, burned to a crisp. Joe and Eddie are confused because the area is filled with combustibles, but the body is the only thing burned. There are arc blasts around it, though, and Barry takes pictures while Joe points out that there aren’t any live wires floating around, so how did he get electrocuted?
Barry takes a close-up of the stiff’s burned-off face to help with ID. Apparently he is an expert at facial reconstruction, in addition to every other forensic technique known to man. I guess that’s par for the TV course, though, and I shouldn’t complain about it TOO much. But hey, at least Abby’s lab on NCIS is freaking STERILE. Barry thinks that Joe seems off, and we get a brief FLASHback of last episode, when the red/yellow death streak stole Nora’s murder case file and warned Joe away. But Joe is fine.
Barry takes his corpse face shot to Team Flash, which uses facial reconstruction software to build up what the dead guy looked like in about ten seconds. They immediately ID the reconstruction as Casey Donahue from the DMV database and discover that he worked at an electrical substation. They also discover, instantaneously, that somebody used Casey’s ID to enter the substation, and it’s experiencing a “power drain.” Barry speeds off to investigate.
Our friend Farooq from the beginning of the episode is sucking up all the electricity, and he sends a bolt at Barry, who dodges. He tells Barry that he has to “feed,” and finally catches him with a bolt, though Barry gets away. Farooq is very growly and has on a lot of eyeliner, so we know that he’s a bad guy now, and Barry clearly just went around the corner, because Farooq hits him with another prolonged bolt. Team Flash advises him to escape, but Barry’s speed has been cut off by the electric shock.
He apparently makes it back to STARLS, though, and runs on the treadmill to demonstrate his sudden slowness. Caitlin is annoyed that his DNA somehow untransformed itself, but Harrison more helpfully suggests that Farooq’s power must not be strictly about electricity, but about siphoning power. Barry is concerned that it might be permanent and heads off to warn Joe about the new metahuman, and his own restrictions.
Barry and Joe are sitting in the Worst Lab Ever, looking glum, and Joe casually tosses a coffee mug over his shoulder, hilariously. It crashes to the ground, and Barry is indignant. The scene isn’t really funny, though: Joe says that Barry has to get his speed back because the city relies on him now, and Barry is concerned that the police might try to confront Farooq. Iris stops by (literally anyone can walk into this lab at any time) in time to remind us that cops are awesome, and if they can’t protect the city, the Flash will. Subtly, Barry asks about the totally hypothetical situation of the Flash being unable to help. Joe interrupts him before he gets any more obvious than he already is.
As Barry gets on the elevator at the police station to return to STARLS, he passes a man in watchmaker’s glasses being escorted by two uniformed cops, who compliments him on his watch and sadly intones that they took all of his timepieces. Barry awkwardly suggests that he shouldn’t have done whatever it was he did. (comic check: IT’S CLOCK KING!)
Harrison hurriedly asks Gideon to show him the future. The newspaper pops up, but this time the headline has changed: “RETURN TO SENDER: U.S. POST OFFICE SHUTS DOWN PERMANENTLY.” Also, the Wayne Tech/Queen Inc merger fell through, but Carla the Woolly Mammoth is still charming, luckily. Harrison is really concerned and asks Gideon to look for references to the Flash. It doesn’t find any, nor any references to Barry Allen. Harrison is angry.
In the lab, Barry is staring gloomily at the Flash suit. He tells Caitlin that it feels like a part of him is gone, even though he only had his speed for like six weeks. She tries to reassure him that he’s still him with or without the speed, but he disagrees; he’s not even sure he can live without it. Cisco comes in at that moment with an ID on the new metahuman: Farooq Gibran (comic check: Farooq, a.k.a. Blackout, is a character that only existed during the AU time period called Flashpoint. That’s interesting; not sure if it’s relevant, though.), who had supposedly died the night of the STAR Labs explosion.
As they’re talking, an alarm goes off, and Cisco rushes to his computer to find Farooq on security camera outside STARLS calling for Harrison. At the police station, Captain Singh asks Joe to cover for him ‘til the shift is over since there’s only one thing going on: the transfer of William Tockman (comic check: a.k.a. CLOCK KING).
Angry that he’s not being answered, Farooq fries a nearby transformer, unplugs the wires, and begins sucking up the electricity, causing the lights to flicker all over the city. In the police station, Tockman is subtly picking his cuffs behind his back, and as the lights dim, he steals the gun of the officer guarding him and shoots the guy in the back, then demands everyone’s guns on the floor. Geez, Singh leaves for ONE MINUTE… Another uniformed cop gets up to protest, and Tockman immediately shoots him too. He approaches Joe, taking him and Iris in, and remarks that there’s a “striking resemblance.” Farooq apparently eats all the power everywhere, and the lights go out for good. He shoots his newfound power at a door, and Team Flash hears noises apparently indicating that he’s inside the building.
A SWAT team arrives at the police station, with Singh coordinating, and an officer exposits that there are hostages inside and two officers have been shot. Singh gets a phone call from Barry, who can’t get in touch with Joe, and tells him what’s happening. To the team, Barry demands his powers back immediately, which is dumb, but luckily Harrison has a theory: if Barry gets a “jumpstart,” his speed might return. If only there was a powerful source of electricity nearby… The team comes up with a plan involving a generator and the treadmill, and in the meantime, Barry wants to talk to Farooq.
Singh is talking to Tockman on radio, asking for his demands and telling him to send the civilian hostages out to safety. Tockman demands a helicopter, a vegetarian takeout meal, and a laptop in 53 minutes or he kills more people. While he’s talking, Eddie eases up from behind a desk, taking aim, but Joe shakes his head and Eddie re-hides. Singh protests that he needs more time because of the blackout, and Tockman quotes Benjamin Franklin at him.
At STARLS, Barry confronts Farooq, saying that he isn’t going to hurt him and wants to talk. Farooq recognizes Barry as the Flash and starts to “feed” on him more, but Barry stops him and says he wants to keep talking. Farooq exposits that his friends tried to give him CPR after he fell from the tower, and when he woke up, they were dead: he had electrocuted them. Barry tells him it isn’t his fault, and Farooq says he knows—it’s Harrison’s fault. Barry tries to placate him again, but Farooq has had enough and shoots a bolt of energy at Barry that knocks him back through the doorway behind which the rest of the team is hiding. They quickly close the door, and Harrison sends the team to prepare to try to jumpstart Barry using the treadmill. Cisco doesn’t want to leave Harrison, but he tells Cisco that Barry is his most important creation and his future means more than Harrison’s.
At the police station, Tockman is peering out the window, and Joe urges him to end the standoff now and promises to talk to the DA about mitigation. But Tockman already hates the DA because they denied his request to visit his dying sister. Quietly, Eddie sneaks around the room while Tockman’s back is turned, and he fires a shot pretty much point blank. But Tockman whirls and fires two back; he’d been wearing a vest. So is Eddie, but one of the bullets hit him in the arm judging by the blood, and he doesn’t look comfortable.
Caitlin deposits a breathless Barry on the treadmill and starts to connect it to the generator as they hear Farooq get through the door, and they both quickly hide. Meanwhile, Harrison manually opens the door leading to Girder’s cell. He tells Girder that he’s willing to let him go if he kills Farooq on his way out. Harrison is quite the murder pimp, isn’t he?
Farooq blasts his way into the treadmill room, claiming he can smell the electricity coming from Barry and Caitlin, but he hasn’t found them yet. Cisco is trying to get the generator online in the meantime, and suddenly the lights come on. Farooq moves away to investigate the lights coming on, I guess? And Barry runs to the treadmill, prepared to take his shock. As Farooq moves slowly through the lab, he is very suddenly punched by a very metal fist. He goes down, and his answering energy bolt doesn’t do much more than sting Girder.
Caitlin is refusing to turn on the power to the treadmill, concerned it will just flat-out kill Barry, even though this is the 7th episode of the season and obviously it’s not going to do that. Barry tells her that it’s literally their only chance, and if Caitlin really believes that Barry is meant to be the Flash, she should turn on the power. She does. Barry absorbs all the energy and is thrown across the room; he’s okay, but he tells Caitlin that it didn’t work.
At the hostage situation, Iris pleads with Tockman to let them take Eddie out to the paramedics, but he disagrees. He quotes Thoreau this time, and Joe correctly identifies the source, as he did with the Ben Franklin quotation earlier. Tockman is impressed enough to tie a tourniquet around Eddie’s arm to stop the bleeding. Iris warns him that the Flash is coming for him, but Tockman doesn’t think so, for reasons I can’t fathom. Maybe just because he isn’t there already?
Cailtin and Barry move through the labs, maybe looking for Harrison and Cisco, and come across Girder getting tossed around. He says he’s never run from a fight, but he’s obviously injured. Barry tells him to stay with him, but Girder just tells Barry to run and is still. At the police station, Tockman hears the helicopter arrive and is pleased that it’s early.
Barry and Caitlin make it to the generator room with Cisco, and Caitlin immediately gets to work drawing Barry’s blood to try and figure out what happened. Barry is in a state of disbelief that Girder, a.k.a. his childhood nemesis Tony, is dead, assuming that he escaped during the power outage. Cisco says that’s impossible, and Harrison enters the room-slash-conversation to admit that he released Tony to try and slow down Farooq. Barry is a little stunned that Harrison used Tony that way, and Harrison says that it was Tony’s life for theirs. Barry chooses this moment to have the revelation that Harrison doesn’t actually care about people and yells that he and Cisco and Caitlin and everybody are just pawns to him.
Farooq is still moving through the labs, looking for Harrison for revenge. They need to get out of the facility, but they won’t be able to get past Farooq to the main entrance. Cisco suggests the garage and the mobile lab van. Caitlin is somehow analyzing Barry’s blood with nothing but a laptop and tells him that his cells are regenerating rapidly again, but he still doesn’t have his speed. Harrison suggests that it’s a mental block, not a physical one. Barry isn’t sure how that’s possible, but the lights going out again indicate that they don’t have time to talk about it, they just have to get away.
Tockman has decided to take Iris with him on his helicopter ride away from the police station, and Joe desperately offers to trade places. Tockman refuses, but Joe plays on his lost time with his sister to convince him to let Iris say goodbye to Eddie, who is still bleeding out, even with the tourniquet. Tockman agrees to a twenty-second farewell. Iris pleads with Eddie to hang on, and he whispers something in her ear that stops her crying. She kisses him, and then Tockman pulls her away and up the stairs.
The team is running into the garage, and Barry starts up the van. But the engine suddenly goes dead, as does the garage door and Harrison’s wheelchair: Farooq has found them.
Tockman is pulling Iris down the hall, and we FLASHback to a few seconds prior and her goodbye to Eddie: he’d whispered “ankle holster” to her, and she’d taken his gun before Tockman pulled her away. Now, she’s prepared to use it. He looks vaguely stunned and annoyed, and he knocks at Iris’ arm. Downstairs, Joe hears a single gunshot and yells Iris’ name.
The team is gathered together as Farooq approaches, and he raises his hand to blast them. But Harrison calls from behind him, reminding Farooq that he’s there to kill Harrison. Harrison acknowledges that he hurt a lot of people when the accelerator exploded, and Farooq yells that he doesn’t even know their names. Harrison begins listing names. First: Jake and Daria, Farooq’s friends. Then those who probably died in the STAR Labs facility: Ralph Dibny, Al Rothstein, Grant Emerson, Will Everett, Bea da Costa, Ronnie Raymond (comic check: Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. Elongated Man, was a BFF of Barry Allen; Albert Rothstein, a.k.a. Atom-Smasher, has been in Infinity, Inc., the JLI, and the JLA; Grant Emerson, a.k.a. Damage, has been in Titans and the JSA, and he restarted the universe during Zero Hour; Will Everett, a.k.a. Amazing Man, has been in the Justice League and the JSE; Bea da Costa, a.k.a. Fire, has been in the JLI and the Super Buddies; you know that Ronnie Raymond is known as Firestorm).
Harrison says that he has to live with being responsible for their deaths and offers himself for punishment rather than Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco. Farooq agrees and hits the FAKE wheelchair with an energy bolt, sending Harrison flying across the room while Barry yells.
But this seems to break his mental block—we see yellow flash in his eyes, and then Farooq’s energy bolts slow as he fires at Harrison again, because Barry’s moving him out of the way (and apparently energy beams travel at less than Barry’s current top speed of about 850 MPH).
With Harrison on the other side of the room (how this equals safety I do not know), Barry goes to retrieve his suit (because you get points for style in superhero world) and confront Farooq again, dodging his energy blasts, mostly.
Farooq finally nails him and begins to siphon energy from Barry again, his bolt turning from blue to yellow-red. When it’s over, Farooq falls over and Barry speeds off for the police station, apparently still powerful, so it’s unclear what the energy exchange actually was.
Barry arrives in plainclothes…because this hostage situation definitely requires Barry and not the Flash? Of course, it doesn’t matter because the situation is already resolved: Eddie is being wheeled out on a stretcher and Tockman being escorted out with a bandage on his leg. Finally Barry spots Joe and Iris sitting together on the stairs, and instead of joining them, he just smiles.
Caitlin zips up the body bag on Farooq and exposits that Barry’s body contained more energy than he could handle, so he overloaded and died instead of shorting out Barry’s powers like before. The others turn to leave, but Barry stays to apologize to Harrison for saying that he didn’t care about people. Harrison waves him off, admitting that he doesn’t like people much, but he’s still a futurist and wants the world to be better. Also he cares about Barry. Aww. Barry isn’t sure that’s enough, but he nods anyway.
Barry brings flowers by a very-drugged Eddie’s hospital room and tells Iris that he was trying to eat all the ice cream before it melted during the blackout. Because he’s very funny, when Iris leaves the room for coffee, Joe casually knocks the flowers from Eddie’s tray table, and Barry catches them this time. Eddie sees, but Joe reminds him he’s high so Eddie just giggles.
Flash meets Iris at the coffee machine, and she’s not amused by his absence during the hostage standoff but ultimately figures she has to save herself sometimes. They vaguely flirt, and Flash speeds off, leaving Iris to return to Eddie’s room without coffee.
Harrison is back in his lair, dictating another log entry on Barry. In it, he says that he thought Barry’s need to save people was a distraction, but now he realizes it’s a motivator. And the headlines on the 2024 newspaper are back. Harrison heads back into the lab to find Barry already lacing up his shoes for research time on the treadmill, early for once. Barry starts to run, and Harrison grins only a little evilly.
The cell containing Farooq’s body opens, and Harrison unzips the body bag. Harrison exposits to no one that he would love to know how Farooq was able to steal Barry’s powers, and takes a vial of blood. So basically Harrison is stand-in for Batman in the CWU?