why I liked the season finale of The Flash
June 3, 2015
I’m finally caught up on The Flash and now I’m going to talk about why I liked that finale so much.
And it’s not just because I actually had to leave the room to pull myself together after that one scene, because my friends were there and I was blubbering incoherently, and I usually only do that when I’m by myself.
So last week I spent six days reading unpublished short stories and novel excerpts and critiquing them. All the writers at this workshop are published, accomplished writers, but one issue comes up over and over again, and that’s pacing and tension. Are things happening too quickly, not quickly enough? Is the reader looking forward to what happens next or just plodding through? Is there too much information or not enough? Is the tension genuine or contrived? Get any of these points wrong, the piece usually fails.
And then I come home and watch this episode. This was actually a sedate episode, action wise: Barry is going around and asking advice about what he should do. These all turned into really big conversations about fate, relationships, meaning, regret. And they sparked conversations among all the secondary characters about the same kinds of things. One of these conversations led to an instant wedding which was just fantastic and I cheered.
Any one of these conversations could have anchored an entire episode of another show, and I thought it was brilliant that The Flash put them all together — not just that, but each conversation triggered the one after it. This led to such a build up of emotional energy, that by the time the one big action sequence actually starts — Can Barry run fast enough? Will he survive? — the tension is almost unbearable.
And then when we think he’s made one decision, he changes it. It’s unexpected, but not in hindsight. In hindsight it’s perfect, and all that emotional tension breaks. And that’s why this scene, which could have been too sappy and maudlin (and maybe was for some people) became so freaking powerful.
And then just when we thought it was all over, there’s one more big astonishing action free-for-all, and I kind of lost it, even more than I already had.
Pacing. This episode built tension with a bunch of conversations, and every one of them was necessary for the pay off.
AND THEN CLIFFHANGER ARGH! The only other thing I have to say is that helmet better go somewhere and not just be a throwaway easter egg.