The Flash isn’t a show that’s grounded in reality. Episodes like “Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash” where Cisco and Ralph are shrunk to miniature versions of themselves and where Cecile developed telepathic powers are reminders of that.
Yes, it’s hysterical. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But The Flash is the only DCTV show that’s able to pull this off.
It’s nice when The Flash reminds us what kind of show it is. A show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has fun with the ridiculous of it all. A show that, while it can tackle serious issues and emotions, at its core it’s a show that thrives on having fun with a world of many twists, turns, and powers.
I have to admit, I enjoyed this episode. In fact, it kind of made Ralph a tolerable character. Not that I’m super confident that’ll continue. But it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.
This was also an episode that seemed to blend the hilarity (the shrunken Cisco and Ralph) with the serious (Barry helping clear Big Sir’s name.) You see, The Flash isn’t carelessly funny. Like it isn’t funny to distract from the fact that nothing else is happening. If you’re not looking close enough it might be hard to see it. But The Flash is able to capitalize on characters and circumstance and situations in a way that allows the full spectrum of human emotion.
This was a filler episode. No ifs, ands, or buts about that. Just like next week’s will likely be a filler episode. The downside of these 23-episode seasons. These villain arcs can usually be complete in about 16 episodes. So we get episodes like this, which serve to drive individual character story (Barry’s in this case) while awaiting the major storyline’s return.“Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash” was exactly what I needed. It was hilarious, enjoyable, heartfelt, and also left me a little shocked at the end. It’s nice to enjoy The Flash again.
Let’s break down this episode, which includes the power of hope, the price of selflessness, and the strength in vulnerability.
The Power of Hope
Hope. It’s what all of our heroes represent. Fictional heroes, like The Flash. Real-life heroes, like doctors, firefighters, nurses, police officers, teachers. They all thrive on a sense of hope that they bring to the world.
The world isn’t a perfect place. It can be beautiful and it can be downright ugly. It can be uplifting and it can be a black hole. It can a straight road and it can be a winding road. The world isn’t fair. But that doesn’t mean you stop living.
In the case of Big Sir, he’d been incarcerated long enough to learn that the most dangerous thing in prison is “hope.” What is there to hope for in prison? More pudding cups? Certainly not hope that you’re wrongly-convicted self will be cleared of the charges brought against you. So why bother hoping when things are hopeless?
Hope is something worth fighting for even when it might not seem like there’s anything worth fighting for.
When the world is ugly, when you’re at your lowest, what stops you from sinking to the very bottom? Thoughts. Thoughts of your loved ones; thoughts of sunny days; thoughts of better days ahead.
Even though Barry wasn’t able to clear Big Sir’s name (as the guilty individual refused to confess), Big Sir understood exactly what Barry had been talking about earlier in regards to hope.
“I forgot what hope felt like. It’s not a bad thing.”
Things might not have worked out, but Big Sir discovered the power of hope. Discovered what that can do for an individual. Just the thought of something going right or the thought of justice being served is enough to inspire your soul. Hope is what keeps us going. It’s what heroes inspire within their cities. The only thing stronger than fear is hope. And this episode reminded us of that.
The Price of Selflessness
When it comes to heroes, we expect them to win. They’re the good guys. The ones that are doing what it takes to help those that need help; to help those that can’t help themselves; to help those that deserve it. The good guys always win, right? That’s not the case. Sometimes — more often than we’d believe — the heroes lose.
Easily my favorite thing this season, besides the glorious Westallen we’ve received, has been the return, mind you, the evolution of the Barry Allen I’ve known and love. A character that, even when he’s making mistakes or doing things that aren’t exactly legal, is doing it not for himself, but for someone else; someone else that deserves that help.
Barry’s evolution into the hero that he is today has come at the expense of mistakes — both minor and massive in nature. There was a time when I honestly disliked Barry Allen the person. Season 3 Barry Allen. Because the thing that I’d seen in Barry in season 1 — a selfless nature blended with incredible bravery — had seemingly been erased by this desire to perfect his own life. Not that it’s something we all wouldn’t do (not going to lie, I’d like to try and perfect my life if I had super powers.) But when you’re actually the hero, you’re held to a higher standard. You’re expected to be a pillar of strength, hope, and selflessness.
So honestly I cannot rave enough about Barry’s growth into the hero he has become this season. He’s been in prison for two episodes now, and the only thing he’s asked of his team was to help his new friend in prison.
In this episode, Barry’s friendship with Big Sir continued, and he learned that — like Barry and his father — Big Sir was also wrongly convicted of murder. Wrong place, wrong time. My goodness, birds of a feather really do flock together. First Henry, then Barry, now Big Sir. Something needs to be done with The Flash’s justice system to ensure the right people are imprisoned.
Barry put himself on the line to help Big Sir. He reached out to his friends, who actually caught the guy that had framed Big Sir. But he wasn’t going to give a confession. He’d rather rot. If it was any question that Big Sir was a good man, he comforted Barry in this time when he felt like he’d let him down — by giving him hope for something that wasn’t going to happen.
Barry recognized that this man was a man worthy of belief; a man worthy of a happy ending that you usually only get in movies. So he gave it to him. When the cameras weren’t on Barry, he used his abilities to ran Big Sir to a monastery in China, where Big Sir could live out his life in peace; where he could get his happy ending.
But it didn’t come without a price.
In the midst of Barry’s heroic ending, the Warden had a trick up his sleeve. He’d installed a camera right next to Barry’s cell — a camera that Barry didn’t know about and couldn’t outrun. And the camera, as the Warden showed Barry — caught “The Flash” on camera. He uncovered Barry’s secret.
But before Barry could escape, the Warden had put some kind of drug in Barry’s pudding to knock him out, and then dragged him to a metahuman prison cell where he couldn’t escape. He then called Amunet Black, who deals metahumans to her customers, and let her know that he had a real treat.
While heroes might win and save the innocent in the process, there are times when they lose. When the cards seem stacked against them, as they seem to be against Barry right now. Right now, Barry is losing. But he’s not giving up; he’s not running (not that he could run right now.) Heroes stay and fight. And we’re about to see Barry fight.
The Strength in Vulnerability
Leave it to The Flash to find a theme in a person developing telepathic powers. But that’s exactly what it was able to accomplish in this hour as Cecile learned and Joe both learned something quite important that will certainly help their relationship moving forward.
It’s not easy being vulnerable. Opening yourself up in a way that feels naked. It’s something that a lot of us fear and even fewer of us are actually able to confess.
Vulnerability — fear of being vulnerable — was the theme for Joe and Cecile, who continue to navigate their love story. And, interestingly enough, the thing that unlocked this important discussion was Cecile developing temporary(?) telepathy, which allowed her to clearly read Joe’s thoughts.
Obviously it was something that affected their relationship in this episode. Cecile thought that knowing what Joe is thinking would strengthen their relationship. But Joe was running afraid — afraid of opening himself up in that way; without his permission.
But Iris helped Cecile unlock the secret to this all. It’s not about what Joe was thinking so much as it was about what Joe was feeling. And that’s when Cecile discovered the key to not only making up with Joe, but to strengthening their relationship.
Joe was afraid of all the ugly thoughts in his head. He feared that Cecile would look at him differently; would look down on him for it. That is, after all, why we all fear being vulnerable, whether it’s with a significant other, friend, or family member. We’re afraid of the judgement; we’re afraid of letting the walls down; we’re afraid of all the different ways it could go wrong.
Cecile, after hearing Joe’s feelings about his fear of vulnerability, then divulged her own ugly thoughts and showed Joe that it didn’t make him think any less of her. If anything, it made him understand her more. And that’s something that’ll only help them in the long run.
10 Things About ‘Honey, We Shrunk Team Flash’
- While The Flash can just be ridiculous sometimes, you have to love how it embraces its own ridiculousness. Shrinking two of its characters is something that none of the other shows could ever get away with or pull off the way The Flash did.
- Keep preaching the power of hope. It’s something that everyone, especially in this time, needs a reminder of.
- Miniature Cisco and Ralph provided some unique and hysterical comic relief during this hour. Just brilliantly executed all around.
- Seriously, I will never get over watching Iris carrying huge guns. Slay, baby girl, slay.
- NEVER EAT UNSEALED PUDDING FOR REALS.
- Is there really only one therapist in Central City?
- God, I love this selfless, evolved Barry Allen. Can I keep him forever and ever?
- Big Sir got his happy ending. Good for you, man.
- How terrible must it be for someone to read your mind? How terrible must it be the read other people’s minds?
- Seriously, Barry can’t catch a damn break. Should’ve known that he wouldn’t get a happy ending after giving Big Sir his happy ending.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.