The second season of The Flash introduced popular comics character Wally West, played by Keiynan Lonsdale; though firmly a supporting character, Wally was part of several interesting plotlines and grew into a more heroic individual across the course of the season. This was to be expected, of course - Wally West is known to many as being the secret identity of the Flash’s similarly speedy sidekick, “Kid Flash”. There was much debate as to whether or not we’d see Wally take on this mantle during the second season; ultimately, we didn’t, but some intriguing publicity photos and the first trailer for the third season make it fairly clear that Wally West will become a superhero fairly soon.
Exciting though this is, I must admit I’ve got more than a few concerns about just how a second speedster will factor into the show.
Though it does look, currently, as though Wally will initially be the only Flash during the “Flashpoint” arc, I have little doubt that he will eventually become a fully-fledged hero in his own right, and work alongside Barry in the field in much the same way that we saw Roy Harper take up the mantle of Arsenal over on Arrow. In this situation, it worked – though both Oliver and Roy had essentially identical skillsets, neither really felt redundant.
I worry, though, that it wouldn’t necessarily be the same case with The Flash. Right now, one of the chief complaints levelled at the show is that it can be quite formulaic; though they managed to move past it somewhat in the second season, there was often a basic recurring set up across each episode. Barry would investigate the villain, and fight them; he’s incapacitated during this first fight, for reasons essentially linked to his own incompetence, and by the end of the episode has learned how to get around the problem previously posed to him – usually the solution is, of course, some variation on “go faster”.
Naturally, I understand the need to fill runtime, and given that these episodes are built around the advertisement breaks to some extent, it also makes sense to structure cliffhangers into the plot – so obviously, yes, you need the villains to be able to stand up to Barry. It’d become difficult to take the villains seriously if they were entirely unable to make any sort of threat.
And yet, by the same virtue – it’d be difficult to take Barry and Wally seriously if, between the two of them, they’re consistently beaten by the same formula. The show would need to shake things up, possibly dramatically, to present scenarios that retain a level of dramatic weight – after all, both of these two individuals are exceptionally fast. That between two of them they’d struggle to take down petty thieves is, to be honest, somewhat unlikely.
My fear, really, is that the solution is going to be some variation on “Barry and Wally can’t work together effectively, and more often than not are a bigger obstacle to each other than the villain”. And while that’s entirely fine for a while, it would get old quickly – you can’t rely on something like that as a crutch for long. Realistically – or as realistically as one can demand, given that this is a superhero show – The Flash is going to have to find an entirely new approach to writing in challenges for their heroes.
The manner in which two super-fast individuals would work together is one which has a lot of potential to be quite fascinating; in some regards, it has the potential to entirely revitalise The Flash, moving it to a new and compelling style of action and plotting.
I just hope that this potential is used to its full extent.
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