Last night, fans got their first look at Arrow's interpretation of Barry Allen in the 30-second preview for December 4th's episode, titled "The Scientist."
This morning, The CW have released an additional look at the episode that couses more on Barry specifically (whereas the whole previous preview was Oliver Queen-centric and built to the Barry reveal in the final moment).
It gives us a bit more of a sense for just what Barry is doing in Starling City--although fans who have been listening carefully probably already know a lot of it.
Watch it here to see if you agree with our assessment and then check out what we have to say about it below.
We're guessing that's not just a reference to the Dustin Hoffman classic Marthon Man, but a portent of what's to come for Barry. Fans have speculated since it was first referenced in the season premiere that the particle accelerator could turn out to be the source of Barry's speed-based super powers. That the very first shot of Allen puts the two in frame together may not be an outright confirmation of those theories, but it feels pretty close.
Next, we get one of Geoff Johns's favorite storytelling devices. While we see it in almost every police procedural, when done in superhero comics, I've come to call this the "Rip Hunter Chalkboard."
Johns used this device frequently and to great effect during 52 and later Booster Gold, where Time Master Rip Hunter used a similarly cluttered and confusing blackboard, covered in cryptic and tantalizing hints of what was to come and how time was "broken." Ironically, that series (and the previous incarnation of the DC Comics Universe) ended when Barry Allen started fixating on...well, what's on Barry's Rip Hunter Chalkboard.
As seen at top, Barry is examining a bulletin board covered in clues, Post-It notes, newspaper clippings and more pertaining to the unsolved (for him--the system officially closed the case years ago) murder of his mother.
Nora Allen has always been part of Barry's life, introduced around the same time as he was in the '60s, but never really played a major role in-story until Geoff Johns used her as a plot device in Flash: Rebirth and later Flashpoint (although the revelation that she was also the mother of supervillain Malcolm Thawne, better known as Cobalt Blue and revealed as Barry Allen's twin brother, was a major plot point in the late '90s).
In those stories, Johns (who co-wrote "The Scientist" with The Flash's showrunners) revealed that Barry had chosen to go into crime scene investigation after his father was falsely incarcerated for his mother's murder when he was young. Believing her killer to still be at large and her father's vindication possible, that was a driving factor in his quest for justice both in uniform and, later, as The Flash.
In Arrow, it seems that Barry is following up on leads that suggest his mother was killed by a serial killer--that tracks with what's been teased about the episode up until now, but begs the question as to whether it will sync with the comics, where she was killed by Flash's arch-nemesis Professor Zoom. You can see "1998" and "2000" on pieces of paper attached to the timeline, so it's clear that Barry has not only been at this for a while, but that he believes the killer continued to operate at least for two years after his mother's death before resurfacing now.
Of course, if it was Zoom, his time-travel capabilities might seem wildly out of place in the world of Arrow, but would certainly explain the seemingly-random pattern and the fact that they describe the killing as "a case with unexplained elements."
It's worth noting that Barry seems to have suspects. There are at least three separate men represented by photos on the left-hand (1998) side of the timeline, and while one of those might be Barry's father (two of the sets of photos are clearly booking photos from the police), that still leaves two who are not.
And, really, why would his dad be on there? This is for his reference, right? And he certainly knows that his dad was a suspect.
It does seem--from "Everyone's going to find out Oliver's the vigilante," at least--that we've got a reason for the mask to go on, as well as a follow-up to last night's reveal that Vertigo had figured out his identity. At the time, I wondered whether he might have reported back to Brother Blood, and it now seems likely. Who's that guy that Brother Blood tells to introduce himself? Is he the same as the musclebound dude in the next shot with the headpiece who's punching someone (looks like a cop)? Probably not--and if not, who's that guy? He looks a bit Bane-inspired...!
And of course we have the idea that the nerds are apparently uniting, since it implies here that Felicity knows Barry. Will that be a previously-existing relationship, or just that she gets along with him in the early part of the episode and thinks to call him later?