Sunday, June 12, 2022

Fastest Man-Child Alive 3: The Ship of Non-Fools

I began this series of posts with discussing my dismissal and then conversion to the "SnowBarry" contingent of thinkers who feel that Barry and Caitlin are clearly a more natural couple than Barry and Iris, not based on wishful thinking but the evidence of their actual behavior in the show.  Barry & Iris's grand amour has always been Received Tradition. Essentially, it's simply something we are informed of as fact, loudly and repeatedly, and that makes it so.  

Even as received tradition it's a lie: Barry & Iris were always a terrible couple in comics.  It's obvious to any well-read comics fan that the comic book couple that CW's Barry & Iris are actually patterned after are Wally West & Linda Park.

Your mate, "lightning rod" or not, is not safe from Barry Allen.

It's okay; I heard he has an AMAZING new boyfriend name Cristiano.

Other media do have to build their own versions of the world of the original IP; television's Oliver Queen certainly didn't wind up with Black Canary, after all (any of them).  But showrunners can become short-sighted and it shows quite a lot in the Flash.

For one thing, the writers (since there are many of the course of such long-runner shows) are understandably focused on the trees of that week's story ... so focused that over time the forest becomes incomprehensible.  I'm not just talking about idea-bombs like "Barry Allen built Gideon?!", which seemed really neat at the time, but before anyone figured out how to make it work the timeline got rewritten so many times, it wasn't clear whether it mattered.  

Or, just maybe, don't introduce questions like that unless you already have the answers already planned, laid out, and agreed upon by the showrunners.  Maybe that's just how I think, I dunno.

I'm talking about basic world-building questions you can overlook for one episode that become impossibly glaring when one episode turns into eight years' worth of episodes.

Questions like: "Who runs/works at S.T.A.R. Labs and how?"

Ah, no, that's the answer to, "Who does NOT run/work at S.T.A.R. Labs?"
Thank you for playing.

I could belabor this problem, but anyone who watches the show gets it. It's an ENORMOUS facility, that had a city-shattering accident, with a (still) badly damaged roof, that (apparently) has only 4 or 5 employees, no one running it, no security (apparently), no stated source of income, a fleet of satellites and has whatever tech it requires, with the only limitations being scientific, not financial.  It's less believable than the Speed Force OR even Barry & Iris.  

Now, any comic book reader could fix this and probably with only a handful of throwaway lines, like "thanks to all those DEO/WayneTech/DCCompanyEntityNameHere contracts!" 

The writers can do it when they want to.

I did MYSELF, nearly by accident, in conversation with a friend about the missed opportunity when they decided that HR's attempt to turn the facility into the Flash Museum would be a "failure"; I suppose they wanted HR to fail at everything to set up his sacrifice at the end of the season, because CW.  I automatically said, "they could have used it to mention that Dexter Myles was the exec running STAR Labs skeleton operations on Barry's behalf and that he wanted to continue the idea for PR's sake, it's so obvious, you would never even have to have to SEEN him."  Instead, they wasted him here.

There's a plethora of other such lost opportunities (like the Justice League HQ that gets introduced and, as far as I can remember, never gets used again).  But the Trees-vs-Forest problem also plays into the Caitlin-vs-Iris issue.  The showrunners were so convinced of their Iris Forest that they ignored the accumulated Caitlin trees, which pointed to an entirely different conclusion. What a different--and I daresay more mature--show it might have been had they had the courage to let Iris be Barry's sister and Caitlin his eventual love interest, rather than forcing them to be the reverse. 

Tell me you can't feel that.
I swear if there were sound you'd be able to hear her ovulating.

If Barry has a consistent flaw in the show, it's that he's resistant and slow (at best) to re-examine (let alone change) his initial assessment of any person or situation.  Barry is way too overconfident in his own gut opinion of everyone and everything, which is pretty much the least scientist-like attitude I can imagine.  What better way to break that pattern than to have him finally give up on his childhood obsession with Iris and move on to an adult relationship with someone more compatible?  

"And, we, Barry, have decided that means you WILL give me two children.
Begin. And don't stop until they arrive."

Unfortunately, the show is hellbent on disproving free will, so Barry is no longer free to change the past OR the future, and Bart and Nora MUST be born now, and it looks like the rest of the series will be Barry paradoxically ensuring his own misery by creating the Reverse Flash through his own unwillingness to re-examine his initial assessment of Eobard Thawne.

I would say, "Oh, Barry, never change," but why bother?

Of course, what I (and most SnowBarry 'shippers) overlook here is the obvious.  Can't speak for others, but I'm overlooking it because I'm a sexist male chauvinist pig (are we still called that?), so I only look at the issue from the MAN'S point of view: What should HE do, and what does HE deserve?   

If you look at it more broadly, it's obvious why Barry is with Iris and not with Caitlin.  Iris is numb to putting up with Barry's shit because she grew up with it; they are already family. She has to deal with him anyway, and he's a rich, funny, brilliant, sexy superhero, with the world's briefest refractory period; Iris is no starry-eyed fool, she knows a good deal when she sees one. 

This is what Iris would be without simp Barry weighing her down like a red-pajamaed albatross and I would watch ALL her movies.

Barry isn't with Caitlin because he doesn't deserve to be.  Caitlin may have more chemistry with Barry (like... a lot) but moving on isn't her strength, either, and he's absolutely terrible at helping her with it (as recently demonstrated), he's a constant emotional mess (also not her strength), he's... he's a boy. Watch the show. Caitlin clearly wants, and deserves a man. She'd LIKE Barry to be that man, but he's NOT, and she knows it.  

Iris knows what Barry is, but... she's okay with it. She accepts him as he is, which is often called "love". Healthy? Probably not.  You could make the case that she's an enabler not a supporter.  On the other hand, it may simply be... realistic.  If Barry & Iris don't seem romantic (certainly not as super-romantic as the show pumps them as), it's because their relationship already started past the limerence part of falling in love because they grew up together. You could make that case that -- if you subtract all the goofy 'lightning rod' mushy talk-- it's a more realistic depiction of an actual grounded relationship than most 20somethings get on teevee.  Probably because mostly 20somethings don't have relationships like that; Barry & Iris don't resemble, say, Caitlin & Ronnie as a couple as much as they do Joe & Cecille. It certain helps give them that Old Married Couple feeling when they spend more time dealing with their two 20something kids' screwups than having their own sexy-time adventures.  

Except Joe & Cecille have a child who's been born whom we can't see whereas Barry & Iris have children we can see who haven't been born.

And now Barry's driven Caitlin off Team Flash with his insensitivity and self-righteousness. Obviously, the real-world reason for this is Danielle Panebaker's contract for the next season hasn't been sorted out yet, so it has to be open-ended whether she'll be back as a hero, a villain, or ... not at all. SO TOO, Candice "Iris West-Allen" Patton's contract, which is part of the reason her 'time sickness' leaves HER status open-ended.  

Meanwhile, in Midway City, an ovulating Patty Spivot gets an urge to check the train schedules...

All of which leads to our next post in this series...


Anonymous said...

The thing I want to see more of in shows is male / female relationships that don't go in a romantic direction. Or maybe, relationships that had been romantic at some point in the past, but didn't work out, and after much time could be revisited in non-romantic form.

As a good example of the former, you know how the Flash and Supergirl get along incredibly well, and even though there's no romance between them, there's certainly chemistry? More of that.

In the comics, I wish they'd do Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris as the latter case: after a failed romance. Hal and Carol understand each other so well that they click as "just friends" who are trusted confidantes.

I'm not fundamentally opposed to romances in superhero shows, I just find that they are far too given to cliches and manufactured drama.

Anonymous said...

So you'd rather Barry and Kara just be super-friends?


-- Jack of Spades

Dave said...

Two things here:

The first is that, if Barry and Iris don't get/stay together, there's no Bart or Nora, which is a major argument in favor of their breaking up. It's hard to think of two more annoying characters, and this is a universe that includes EVERYONE on Batwoman.

The second is that you kind of talk around this, but it's not so much an issue of what STAR Labs does, but how Barry can afford to run it and pay for two (or more) full-time employees and the utilities on the salary of a CCPD forensic specialist who shows up for work maybe once a month.

Scipio said...

"which is a major argument in favor of their breaking up. " THAT made me laugh.

As for STAR Labs, it's not that Barry pays for it. We know that's not the question. Barry's apartment alone tells us that's not the case. STAR Labs pays for Barry. Barry stays at CCPD because he only has to go in once a month and with Kramer and Singh in charge, he's basically Flash on retainer.

The question is how does STARs pay for itself? That's a pretty easy handwave; "um.. patents and stuff." What is NOT an easy handwave is "WHO RUNS STAR LABS". Even if its past products, projects, and investments generate gobs of money SOMEONE has to run all of that.

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed to have just learned that Amanda Pays as Tina McGee has already appeared on the CW "Flash" show, because I would love to introduce Tina McGee as the visionary financier behind STAR Labs. I'd do it as, she was involved in research into extradimensional energies in its beginnings in the late 80s / early 90s, and the massive wealth she has accrued, she puts right back into pure research via STAR. (There could be a later retcon that the extradimensional energy she studied was caused by the Barry Allen of another world.)

Way to ruin this for me, CW.

Anonymous said...

The answer to both the mysteries of Barry's jobs may be that he's the fastest bureaucrat alive. He does all Kramer and Singh's paperwork for them, and the admin work at STAR, at super-speed. His bosses at CCPD aren't going to fire him, because then they'd have to do their own budget requests. And Cisco can probably whip up a VR version of Barry to sit on Zoom meetings and randomly nod and go "uh huh" – call it Project Gideon.

-- Jack of Spades

Scipio said...


Dick McGee said...

"If Barry has a consistent flaw in the show, it's that he's resistant and slow (at best) to re-examine (let alone change) his initial assessment of any person or situation."

He's the Flash. Being the Fastest Man Alive comes with making hasty assessments of new situations and people, which aren't really hasty to him. By the time he's had a five minute conversation with someone enough subjective time has passed for him that he could have written a novel, painted his house, written another novel, and gone over to China and back for some authentic takeout. The only really surprising thing is show bad his quick judgements are most of the time, but I suppose he gets bored midway through and speed naps through a lot of important details.

Only person in comics who makes worse snap decisions is Thanos.