The Goodness of the Flash

Today, I’m going to work on something a tiny bit different from things I’ve written in the past. I wanted to explore and discuss the Flash, specifically the CW TV show because the Season 3 finale just aired this week. If you could care less about superheroes or would rather see something more INFP-related, I’ll indulge such interests in other post. This is also just a random compilation of thoughts, sometimes and sometimes not well-articulated.

Of course, I warn anyone reading this because spoilers do ensue below for all three seasons.

Out of all of the superheroes out there, I feel most connected to two of them: Spider-Man, from the Marvel universe, and the Flash, from the DC universe. This may be in part because I’ve probably indulged in the mythos that is Spider-Man and the Flash more than any other superhero.

Currently, I probably connect the most to the Flash out of all of the superheroes for two reasons: age and personality.

I’m about the same age that Barry Allen is in the Flash TV show. He’s just gotten out of college and works for Central City Police Department as an assistant forensic scientist. He’s still trying to find his place in the world.

As an INFP, however, I definitely connect more to his personality, and I believe his personality is close to that of INFP.

Barry Allen follows his passions intensely. His mother was murdered when he was a kid by something Barry describes as “impossible”. His career choice, working in forensics and working to stop crime is in part due because of that fateful day when he was a kid. He is passionate; he tries to delve deep into anything others may regard as weird or impossible in an effort to find the man who killed his mother.

When out saving people because of his incredible powers of speed, he becomes passionate as well; his persona of being a masked hero being a mantle he eagerly takes up every day. From the very start, only a few hours after realizing his incredible powers, he uses his new abilities to go out and save people, to go out and do something meaningful with his new gifts.

He is often awkward, shy, enthusiastic, emotional, loving, funny, and quirky.

During moments of trauma or stress for Team Flash, Barry is often the one who volunteers to be emotional therapy for members of the Team, inspiring them or helping them through tough emotions like doubt or grief.

He is the most trusting of all the members of Team Flash. For instance, when Earth-2 Harrison Wells or “Harry” comes, even though he looks exactly like the previous villain Barry instantly gives Harry the benefit of the doubt.

He isn’t the reluctant hero; rather, he is the enthusiastic hero. Like many INFPs, he will wholeheartedly support a meaningful cause and throw himself at it.

Barry Allen is also a man of self-doubt. He worries that he isn’t good enough or fast enough. Barry doesn’t always know if he can make it or be successful, and he will often sacrifice himself if it can mean at least one person is saved. It often takes loved ones, family, and friends to inspire him near the climax of a story arc to such emotional intensity and motivation that he is able to defeat any obstacle in front of him.

What’s truly “depressing” about the show is that Barry Allen is hardly a selfish hero. When struck by lightning after Well’s particle accelerator blows up, he is only one of a few metahumans that don’t turn evil when gifted powers. When he is selfish, however, he tries to use his powers to go back in time to save his mother (he does this twice actually), but his actions have severe consequences across space and time. He often has to pay for his mistakes when acting as a selfish hero.

After Season 1, after having gone back in time but failing to save his mother, his wormhole breach causes members of Team Flash to sacrifice themselves. That same breach causes countless other troubles to erupt in Central City, notably, allowing a villain from an alternate universe to come to Barry’s Earth, a villain who causes much more damage than evil Harrison Wells did.

After Season 2, after having gone back in time and succeeding at saving his mother, thus creating Flashpoint, Barry realizes he has made a terrible mistake. Sure, he’s happy, but his life isn’t the same. He goes back in time yet again, letting the Reverse Flash murder his mother, only to come to the present to find that nothing is the same as he left it before Flashpoint and in the worst possible ways.

After all of these events, he is heartbroken and burdened by the mistakes he made and by the consequences and deaths he’s caused. Barry carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wishes he could save everyone, but he can’t.

What I loved most about each three of the finales in the past is that while Barry often believes he needs to outrun and out-punch the villain of that season (all three big-bads have been speedsters like Barry), but in the end the villain is defeated by unconventional means.

This was also mentioned by Captain Cold, Barry’s enemy/ally in the penultimate episode this season. “Your goodness is your strength.” as Snart says to Barry, concerning means of defeating the villain, Savitar.

This is why I love Barry Allen and the Flash show so much. He doesn’t defeat villains by out-punching them, like the Avengers do. He doesn’t need to snap necks, like Superman did with Zod, or blow up the villain, like with Iron Man in literally all 3 of his films.

He sacrifices a happier life in Season 1, coming back to the future to save his friends from the Reverse Flash.

He shows both Zoom and Savitar mercy, refusing to kill them, as they manage to cause their own demises moments later.

I’m pleased with the end of Season 3, as Barry decides to sacrifice himself and be the prisoner needed in the Speed Force. Instead of being punished or having to face “hell” as Jay Garrick, Wally West, and Savitar had to face previously, Barry is given rest in the Speed Force. The Speed Force forgives his mistakes, in part. While he must pay for his mistakes by going to Speed Force prison, he is given mercy as well. Goodness rewarding goodness. (Of course, Barry Allen is coming back next season, but it makes for a good cliffhanger).

Barry Allen’s story is one of suffering and triumph. Barry loses both his parents and many friends and loved ones. While he struggles to use his powers unselfishly, he shows that he is a flawed hero. Of course, if we were in Barry’s literal shoes, wouldn’t we try to go back in time and change things? However, in the end, he proves that he isn’t like Eobard Thawne, Hunter Zolomon, or Savitar, who all turned dark when things went wrong for them. His suffering doesn’t define him as a person. It makes him a more sympathetic hero and inspiring person when he is able to be a light in darkness, good when there is evil,  and triumphant in suffering.

As an INFP, an avid story lover, and well, as a person, the Flash is an inspiring character to me.

For those of you who read all of this long “fanboy” rant, I commend you. Hopefully you’re a big Flash fan too (and I didn’t spoil it for you). I may do more “essays” like this later.

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