Sometimes shows, and especially episodes like “The Flash & The Furious,” prompt us to ask questions. They make us think about our preconceived notions of the world around us. They ask us to wrestle with our angels and demons. Or, heck maybe they just make us wonder what’s going to happen next. This week’s episode of The Flash was neither the best nor the worst of the series. It did, however, leave us with a number of questions. Notably:
Where Is That Masked Man?
First and foremost, I find it necessary to ask…Where was Barry Allen this episode? I don’t know his official screen time, but it certainly felt like he wasn’t in the episode much. And he accomplished even less while he was there.
Of course, on a show like The Flash, there will be episodes when the hero will take something of a back seat to another character’s plot. But this didn’t feel like Barry taking a back seat as much as an entirely different vehicle. Possibly in a completely different state. Barry had so little presence this episode, I had to actually wonder if Gustin had to take time off to plan his wedding or something.
Flash fought a bad guy for a minute, got put in the pipeline, and spent the rest of the episode reading a book, I guess. His barely-C-plot treatment on his own show is somewhat unusual, but more odd was the timing of an episode with so little of the titular hero. The Flash has been off for a month following their mid-season finale, and they decided to bring back the show and get people excited by giving their hero all the excitement and action of reading a romance novel?
Girl, I guess.
But now I can see why their promotions for (supposedly) this episode were actually for next episode.
Next Question: Why?
Let’s talk Cisco for a moment. Poor, beleaguered, hasn’t-had-a-proper-storyline-of-his-own-in-forever Cisco.
Cisco, ol’ buddy ol’ pal. This comes from a place of love.
Cisco had arguably the closest thing he’s had to a non-romantic plot this episode when he realized he might be able to create a metahuman cure. Well, except that it wasn’t really non-romantic, since his motivation to do so stemmed from the rather inexplicable conclusion that his metahuman abilities (or perhaps metahumans in general) are holding him back from having a family.
Um. Okay. What?
The thing is, I actually think Cisco’s attitude in this episode would have made sense…a few episodes ago. You know, after he almost died. At that point, being worried about what his theoretical future death might do to his theoretical future family would have made more sense. But since this hasn’t seemed to be a concern for him in the last few episodes, it was jarring to say the least. Particularly in the way the writing presented it.
We’re on a show where the hero is quite happily married with his daughter from the future a big part of the season. Cisco even recognized this, but he waved it away as, “Well, I’m not the Flash. I don’t want to be the Flash.” Well, okay, you don’t have to want to be the Flash, but if your concern is having a family one day and you see a real world example of how you can be a meta, you can even be a hero, and you can also have a family…I’m not getting…why you think…you can’t.
I’m sorry. This attitude of “Barry and Iris can be happy with their family and Caitlin and Killer Frost have their family, but my abilities are the reason I can’t have one and therefore I want a cure” really just seemed like a jump he hadn’t been building to thus far this season.
Since it doesn’t feel like his character has been building to this, it feels like an example of, once again, a character being written to justify why a plot is happening, rather than the plot being moved forward by the characters. The Flash has a pretty bad track record of doing that with Caitlin (and, don’t worry, she’s not immune from that this episode, either. More on that in a minute). So I guess it’s refreshing they branched out more this episode. And, to be fair, of all the inexplicable writing for the characters this episode, one could at least see where Cisco’s could theoretically have come from. So in that sense, he’s doing pretty good for this episode.
Let’s move on to the characters who fare rather less well.
Also…What? Seriously, WHAT?
Barry thinks Reverse Flash is maybe redeemable? Two episodes ago, he was ready to declare Eobard the embodiment of all evil – and who could blame him? But this week, he’s suddenly ready to tell Nora that maybe there’s good in him.
Flash is a hero. I get it. And a common trait of heroes like the Flash is that they see the good in people. Or they try to. But. Come. On.
This is so contrary to Barry’s entire attitude towards Reverse Flash the entire series. Heck, to his attitude two episodes ago! It would be entirely understandable – even justifiable – for Barry to say, “as a hero, I always want to believe there’s good in everyone. But I just can’t make myself believe that about him.”
Nora doesn’t have to buy into that mentality. She doesn’t have to believe Eobard is beyond redemption just because her dad does. She could go her own way. But the fact that he inexplicably declared there might be good in Eobard this episode is so very clearly to set up whatever Nora’s going to do next (and then his response/possible self-flagellation in response) that it’s downright maddening.
Can we stop having characters do a 180 in order to justify plot? Which brings us to…
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???
So let’s talk Caitlin and Killer Frost.
I’ve written before that I hoped that the retcon of Killer Frost’s character this season (once again) was leading to something. I had hoped that, through this retcon, the writers were heading towards a really solid storyline for her character. I would settle on some level for her being utilized well in the show.
My hopes. They are dwindling.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Was Killer Frost better utilized this episode? Nope. She showed up at the final battle to create a wall the villains’ car phased through. Then the repentant villain made the roads icy, which eventually led to their defeat (sort of). Hey, Frost remained conscious, for once! So…progress?
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the real problem this episode, which was the Caitlin/Killer Frost subplot regarding the cure. While Cisco is gung-ho about creating a cure, Frost stops him. Why? Because she says that the cure in the wrong hands could get rid of her.
First of all…no. It couldn’t. The show just spent an entire half of a season making it extremely clear that it very much could not. In fact, that’s pretty fundamental to the entire premise that she’s their secret weapon against Cicada. Let me reiterate this so it’s clear: She is their secret weapon for the very fact that she isn’t like other metas and the “science” that causes Cicada to remove everyone else’s powers does absolutely nothing to her!!!
I swear to god, it wasn’t that long ago that this was established. I know Frost gets retconned a lot, but can they maintain a certain level of consistency for six whole episodes, at least?????
Then Frost punts the Idiot Ball to Caitlin, who gamely picks it up and runs with it. She’s uncertain if they should create a cure, too. Why? Well, see, she’s decided she really likes having powers – although she was desperate enough at one point to risk the lives of everyone she cares about to get rid of them. So others might too! So maybe a cure is bad?
I don’t normally curse in reviews, but I simply have to ask:
What. The. Fuck?
It’s fine and dandy that Caitlin has had a change of heart about Killer Frost. (Once again, it behooves me to point out that her situation with Killer Frost is vastly different from the situation of every other meta human, who don’t generally have multiple personalities with whom they’ve become warm and fuzzy for no good reason!) She loves having powers now! She and Killer Frost hold metaphysical hands and go skipping through fields of daisies together on a regular basis! That’s great.
But she also met Plastique, and she knew why Plastique was so desperate to find a way to live her life without, you know, accidentally blowing people up. She is surely aware at this point of Griffin, who went from 16 to dead of old age in a matter of hours. Who would want a cure, Caitlin? I don’t know. You honestly don’t think there’s even a chance that there are other metas out there who would definitely give absolutely anything to get rid of their powers because of the threat they pose?
Nobody at all?
Even after Cisco has mentioned Fallout, who exudes toxic amounts of radiation???
Oh. Okay then.
The way Caitlin (or, let’s be honest, almost every character) was written in this episode is downright baffling. More, it was simply unnecessary. They could have achieved the same result in a way that makes more sense for both Cisco and Caitlin (and doesn’t forget what they just spent almost a dozen episodes establishing about Killer Frost).
Cisco wants to create the cure because, you know, there are a number of very good reasons why a cure for metahuman powers might be something they would almost definitely need at some point. And because they’ve met metas in the past who have downright begged for one. He considers taking it because life as a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Caitlin is concerned about a cure because, sure, she can definitely see how it would help metas who are literally dying without it. And it wouldn’t affect her in any way. But what if the wrong person got their hands on it and gave it to other metas without their consent? What if someone gave it to Barry? It’s not like S.T.A.R Labs has been world-renowned for their impenetrable security system, so it’s not an unreasonable concern.
There are actually valid points to be made on both sides. And there are even valid ethical concerns they could have both discussed or even debated this episode. What happens when they face off against the next Snart? The next Zoom? Would they have the right to give metas a cure – even established villains – without their consent?
But I guess writing both smart characters as being smart and not having them toss the Idiot Ball back and forth wouldn’t have given the writers cause to write a fight that wasn’t necessary to come to terms with something they never really seemed to disagree about anyway.
Seriously…what? Why? Huh? What?
Other Points of Interest
Hey, they came up with an excuse for why Joe is MIA on the show! That was nice!
(New) Questions of the Hour
- Basically…all of them. Just…all of them.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.